Triple GW35: Transfer Plans

How did I fare in GW34?

In easily my most catastrophic week of the season so far, my FPL team only managed to accrue 35 points in total. Considering I also took my fifth 4-point hit of the season, I ended well below the Top 10k average and almost doubled my rank from 67th in the world to 129th.

My nightmarish highlight reel this week consisted of captain Kane blanking despite a 4-0 Tottenham win, Vardy missing a catalogue of chances against Southampton and Alexander-Arnold, Jota, Salah and Shaw all failing to feature due the protests at Old Trafford.

Bad luck:

- Fofana was taken off at half-time to help Rodgers manage against 10-man Southampton.

- Harry Kane blanked against possibly the most porous defence in the league.

- Five players missed out, only to be covered by 1 point off the bench. Rob Holding chose an excellent time to mysterious miss out of Arsenal’s squad altogether!

- And perhaps most unluckily of all, Manchester United have been awarded a triple gameweek the week after I transfer out Bruno. Ouch!

*Many will wonder why I transferred out Bruno Fernandes in the first place. As I was destined to field only 7 players in blank GW36, I felt Kane and Harrison would cover that week well, and that Kane’s fixtures between GW34 and GW36 (Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves) were superior to Bruno’s (Liverpool, Aston Villa, Leicester). Fixture rescheduling is simply part of the game and I have to roll with the punches, even if it hurts losing Bruno just before a triple gameweek.

Good luck:

- At least my goalkeeper finally returned a clean sheet … thank you, Lloris!

Bad judgement:

- Opting for Harrison over El Ghazi was regrettably a poor decision. I should have paid more attention to Leeds’ regression in attack since Raphinha’s departure from the team.

Good judgement:

- It’s hard to find many positives after last week, but I’m pleased to have brought in Joel Ward as a budget defender between now and the end. He has a promising double gameweek in GW35 and plays Aston Villa during blank GW36, so if Hodgson can keep Palace somewhat tight at the back, he’ll prove a profitable differential.

How am I going to manage the Manchester United triple gameweek?

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The triple gameweek announcement certainly sent a sinking feeling to my stomach, as now I only have Luke Shaw from Manchester United’s squad.

With everybody destined to captain Bruno Fernandes this week, it feels like a make or break moment in my season and at 129th in the world, the stakes are high!

However, after looking at the schedule, it’s a gruelling and punishing week for them and I can’t see many players playing 270 minutes across the three games.

Solskjaer’s selection against Roma tonight will give us some indication, but even then it’s three games in five days for the players.

Below I have listed my favourite options from Manchester United this week and indicated the approximate number of minutes I expect them to play:

1. Bruno Fernandes – United’s talisman, on penalties and rarely misses out. His explosive potential makes him the best option in my opinion. Will likely start two and feature of the bench in the other. (xMinutes: 200-220)

2. Harry Maguire – has started every game for Solskjaer since arriving at Old Trafford. Defenders require less rest and recuperation after matches. He could miss one but Lindelof and Bailly have never played together before. (xMinutes: 250-270)

3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – has little competition for his position and both Williams and Tuanzebe have lacked first team action. I would expect him to start all three but play deeper in all three games to conserve energy. (xMinutes 250-270)

4. Mason Greenwood – likely to start two of the three games with Cavani and Rashford nursing minor injury concerns. He has the potential to explode and earn multiple attacking returns. His minutes against Roma on Thursday will offer vital information. (xMinutes: 180-200)

5. Luke Shaw – excellent assist and bonus potential from defence but likely only to start two of the three because of Alex Telles’ capability. As a defender, he’s also unlikely to feature at all in the game he’s benched. (xMinutes: 180-200)

Obviously, if you already have two or three of these assets in your team, you’re in a strong position. I would have zero reservations captaining Bruno Fernandes this week if he were already in my team.

However, an important aspect of United’s triple gameweek is it is immediately followed by a blank. Much like last week, I still need to pay attention to the state of my team in GW36, otherwise I’ll need to take copious hits just to field eleven players.

Unless you are perfectly set up to manage through blank GW36, I would consider your transfer decisions very carefully this week. I certainly won’t be heading into GW35 with three Manchester United players.

Today, I have heard some say that triple gameweeks are so rare that it’s essential loading up, even at a cost of -8s and -12s. Some have even said that you will look back on this season and regret heading into GW35 without three Manchester United assets.

Instead (mainly because my team forces me to), I am advocating a more thoughtful and considered approach ahead of GW35. As most players will start just two of the games, a hit is unlikely to pay off instantly. Partner this with a certain blank in GW36, and taking -8s or -12s just doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. Unless of course, you already have a full team set for next week.

All in all, I’m trying not to panic. In an ideal world, my team would be littered with United assets but I have to play with the cards I’m dealt. With the games in such quick succession, the Manchester United players will likely fall victim to the odd benching, and squad-wide fatigue could scupper their performances.

I’m therefore planning on bringing in one more to accompany Luke Shaw, although I haven’t yet decided which particular asset to recruit.

What are my plans for triple GW35?

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The Bruno Option:

Bruno Fernandes is undeniably the headache of the week for my team. Part of me is desperate to right the wrongs of last week and bring him in as captain, but with a midfield of Salah, Son, Jota, Lingard and Harrison, I’d be taking out a player who plays in GW36, leaving me in major trouble moving forwards.

However, every man and his dog will captain Bruno Fernandes this week and a haul from the midfielder could seriously damage my rank. 129th in the world is a major achievement and if I go without Bruno, I’d be putting my entire season on the line.

I am currently considering the following set of transfers:

Son and Vardy OUT; Bruno and Calvert-Lewin IN (-4)

As mentioned before, a straight swap from Son to Bruno causes complications. Besides from being unaffordable, I’d lose a player that features in GW36.

Therefore, by trading out Vardy for Calvert-Lewin, I’d still stay on nine players ahead of GW36 rather than eight: Everton face Sheffield United and Leicester blank.

I would still need to take an additional -4 next week to field a full eleven, but it may be a price worth paying for Bruno Fernandes this week.

An obvious disadvantage with this option is I lose Vardy’s double gameweek, but I can at least cross my fingers that Calvert-Lewin matches him with arguably a nicer set of fixtures.

Needless to say, Bruno would take the armband if I opt for this route.

The Maguire Option:

If I do decide to swing against Bruno Fernandes, I could instead look at Harry Maguire, who is the most likely to play all three games for United, in my opinion.

Solskjaer has been rather defensive in tougher games this season and United kept two clean sheets in their last double gameweek. In order to combat their gruelling fixture schedule and fend off Champions League hopefuls Leicester and Liverpool, I wouldn’t be surprised to see three very dull, conservative affairs from United.

Therefore, I could also opt for the following transfers:

Holding and Vardy OUT; Maguire and Calvert-Lewin IN (-4)

This option would give me ten GW36 players and would allow me to use just the one free transfer next week to field a full team. Again, although it would require taking Vardy out, I would benefit from Calvert-Lewin’s extra fixture. With the extra cash in the bank, I could make an easy move from Fofana to Dallas, which would set me up nicely for the rest of the season.

Although it would be a major risk, it could pay dividends if Bruno kept quiet, as almost every manager will captain him.

My main reservation with this route is whether I have the confidence to give Maguire the armband. I would likely captain Mohamed Salah in this instance.

The Greenwood Option:

Finally, if Greenwood has his minutes heavily managed against Roma, I could bring him in instead of Bruno as a captaincy option. The transfers would look something like this:

Holding and Son OUT; Digne and Greenwood IN (-4)

Much like the Bruno option, this route would leave me with only nine players ahead of next week, so an additional hit would have to be taken in GW36 to field a full team.

However, by making these transfers, I could keep Vardy and still attack Everton’s kind run of fixtures with Digne, who is more than capable of returning against West Ham, Aston Villa and Sheffield United.

Furthermore, this option would give me an easy switch of Vardy to Aguero in GW36, who could be a great differential against Newcastle, Brighton and Everton in the final games of the season. Of course, he’s not a certainty to start, but there’s every chance Guardiola gives him a swansong once the Premier League title is wrapped up.

Solskjaer’s words tonight in the press conference, as well as his team selection against Roma, will undoubtedly help me decide which route to take. If you have any suggestions or thoughts I may have missed, don’t hesitate to let me know via @back_four_FPL or @BenWillcocks_95 on Twitter.

Good luck everyone! See you on the other side!

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