The Premier League has provided a feast of football this week. Liverpool and Man City exchanged places at the top of the table on three occasions, Manchester United lost to Wolves again and Tottenham finally moved into their new home. With the dust barely settled on the mid week games, attention for FPL managers now turns to the rather bleak looking week 33.
Why is it bleak? There are only six games to keep us going, although there are two FA Cup games but these are of little interest to fantasy football managers. With 8 clubs not in action, there may be some sparse teams this week. The biggest misses will be both Manchester clubs, whilst the absence of Tottenham and Wolves is also less than welcome.
With that in mind, here’s an FPL assessment of the six games taking place this weekend, starting with the Friday night game.
Southampton vs Liverpool – One to watch: Sadio Mane
Liverpool players will dominate FPL selections this weekend. This is their chance to move back to the top of the table and as we all know, every game counts at this stage. Salah and Mane have been prominent picks all season but Roberto Firmino has returns from his previous three games. That could make him an interesting differential, with Liverpool clear favourites to beat Southampton. Both Mane and Salah have 17 goals apiece though, with Mane in the far better form recently. You can’t help but feel Salah is due though.Embed from Getty Images
The Saints shouldn’t be taken lightly. They beat Tottenham in their previous home game and have improved drastically since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over. They have struggled for goals but James Ward-Prowse has three in his last four and is priced at just £5.3m. At the back, young Jan Bednarek commands a regular place and is priced at just £4m. That makes him a viable option for the run-in if you’re looking for a squad filler.
Bournemouth vs Burnley – One to watch: Josh King
Like Southampton, Burnley’s win last week has taken the pressure off this one a touch. Cardiff don’t have a fixture so there is perhaps less desperation around this than there might have been. Bournemouth haven’t been in good form for a while now with just one win in eight games. They have had tough fixtures in that time and they always play one way – it’s just a question if Burnley can deal with Bournemouth’s own fab four. Brooks, Fraser, Wilson and King are the main source of goals for the Cherries and it’s the latter I’ve picked out here.Embed from Getty Images
For all Wilson has got the headlines and an England call up, Norwegian King has matched him for goals. Sure, some of them have been penalties, but surely that is all the more reason to select him? He scored twice in the last home game against Newcastle and Burnley have struggled for clean sheets all season. Sean Dyche’s men haven’t had a good campaign by any stretch but Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) has had a real breakthrough year and looks a great prospect.
Huddersfield vs Leicester – One to watch: Youri Tielemans
It had been coming for a while but Huddersfield were finally relegated at the weekend. They are just playing for pride now and whether that makes any difference to their play is hard to predict. They have already been playing freer under Jan Siewert with barely any change in results so I don’t think they will be a factor here. Leicester though are going in the opposite direction. As rivals Wolves and Watford have the FA Cup to contend with, Brendan Rodgers is steering Leicester towards that 7th place. This is a great opportunity to put the pressure on.Embed from Getty Images
Jamie Vardy’s return to form has been obvious but part of his success can be attributed to those behind him. James Maddison (£6.8m) looks back to his best but the arrival of Youri Tielemans (£6.1m) has made a big impact. From just 7 games he already has four assists and a goal and offers a budget route into Leicester’s attack.
Newcastle vs Crystal Palace – One to watch: Wilfried Zaha
Only a point separates these two sides and a win for either will put them on the verge of safety. Their close proximity in the table suggests a tight game here. Newcastle have improved at home since Miguel Almiron arrived whilst Crystal Palace find it easier to score on the road than they do at home. Rondon against Dann and Tomkins looks a key battle, but it’s Palace who offer the better FPL prospects.Embed from Getty Images
Michy Batshuayi has added a focal point to their front three, with both of his goals so far coming on the road. He will likely be flanked by former Newcastle man Andros Townsend and the always threatening Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian laid on two assists against Huddersfield last weekend and he will fancy his chances of upsetting a backline with no clean sheets in four games.
Everton vs Arsenal – One to watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Unai Emery has tinkered with the Arsenal system a lot this season but seems to have settled on a back 5, especially since Hector Bellerin was ruled out for the season. Unfortunately he seems to have decided there is only room for one of Lacazette or Aubameyang, much to the frustration of FPL managers everywhere. With Lacazette starting Monday’s win over Newcastle, it may well be Auba who gets the nod here but really we’re into the realms of guess work. With a Europa League tie with Napoli around the corner, this trip to Everton doesn’t look much fun.Embed from Getty Images
I’ve therefore opted for an Evertonian in this fixture. The Toffees have looked excellent value for their previous two victories and should be higher in the table. Sigurdsson pulled all the strings against West Ham and I expect he could do the same here. At £7.3m he’s not especially cheap but with penalties and other set pieces under his watch he is always a threat.
Chelsea vs West Ham – One to watch: Eden Hazard
I really wanted to type Callum Hudson-Odoi above but I just don’t trust Maurizio Sarri to play him again. At just £4.2m he would be an excellent FPL addition, if only he had guaranteed game time. Instead I’ve gone for the rather more obvious choice of Eden Hazard. Chelsea have blown hot and cold at home (and away for that matter) but I don’t think West Ham have a stoic backs to the wall performance in them. They were all over the place against Everton and whilst I’m sure they can’t be that bad again, they would have to improve massively to upset Chelsea here.Embed from Getty Images
West Ham’s attacking options looked like good FPL options a few weeks ago but they are falling by the wayside now. Arnautovic, Anderson and Hernandez are struggling for form and fitness but that sums up West Ham’s season. Peaks and troughs.
In the OffsideRulePod league, I managed to reclaim top spot despite some rotation threatening to ruin my free hit plans. Captain Aguero did his bit in one game whilst Hazard and Son came to the party to save my week with Wednesday night points.
There’s a lot to play for still as we head into week 33. There’ll be another bumper schedule in week 35 where 8 teams will play twice but we’ll worry about that later. Remember, there’s a Friday night deadline this week! Good luck with your teams and I’ll be back next week to do it all again.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798