FPL: The Title Decider – GW38 preview

How on earth do you follow that? Liverpool and Tottenham gave us two European nights to remember in the Champions League with incredible comeback victories. Now though it’s time for the last week of Premier League action and more importantly, one last chance to climb that fantasy football table.

Hopefully you have more to play for than the vast majority of Premier League sides. It’s really difficult to preview a week where only two teams have anything of note to play for. The table is even sufficiently spread out so that no club can climb a couple of places if they win their final game. It makes everything rather unpredictable and a bit of a nightmare. You can expect a host of changes as players are rewarded with first/last/complimentary appearances that may come at the expense of more established stars.

We’ll try and pick through the beach towels to try and offer some insight but it really is slim pickings…

1) Title deciders (Liverpool vs Wolves, Brighton vs Man City)

You would expect these four teams to be more or less full strength. Wolves manager Nuno has spoken of his hope to give young Will Norris some minutes in goal before the season is out – will he do that at Anfield? He’s got nothing to lose with 7th secured. Wolves have a great record against the top six so if you own Jota/Jimenez and are fearing the worst, they can still do some damage. Brighton will no doubt try and do a professional job on Man City but who really expects them to? As we saw on Monday, Man City always find a way.

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Liverpool have a Champions League final to prepare for and they look set to be without Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson here. Salah should be ok but maybe you’ll consider Divock Origi at £5m, who must be flying. After all the emotion of Tuesday though, the injuries and Wolves’ record, you wouldn’t be overly shocked if Liverpool aren’t at their best here. Man City seem to represent the best value this week, as they do most week. Four clean sheets in a row have got them on the verge of successfully defending their title and I’d say Laporte or Ederson should be in your team somewhere. The combination of Bernardo, Sterling and Aguero have all made telling contributions throughout the season and although it’s been a bit edgy recently, you’d think any of those three could have the vital say.

2) Form teams, difficult fixtures (Tottenham vs Everton, Leicester vs Chelsea)

Like Liverpool, Spurs came back from the impossible in midweek but barring an 8 goal swing (which is arguably more likely than Arsenal winning away) they have nothing to play for here. With Champions League football almost secured and no doubt one eye on the final, this may be an opportunity for some players to try and force their way into the team for the final. Son is banned after his red card last weekend so there’s going to be at least one change. Everton have been on a good run with one defeat in five and will fancy their chances of finishing on a high, especially if Spurs are below their best as they have been a lot recently. Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman have been raking in the points from full back but Sigurdsson and Richarlison have been a good source of points all season.

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As of this writing we don’t know if Chelsea have made the Europa League final. Regardless, they have nothing to play for here. They are guaranteed a top four finish and I think we’ll see some squad rotation. Leicester have been brilliant since Brendan Rodgers took over and pushed Man City all the way on Monday night. Jamie Vardy will be relishing the chance to ruffle some feathers and it may be the last time we see Youri Tielemans in a Leicester shirt.

3) The ones to miss (Watford vs West Ham, Man Utd vs Cardiff)

Watford are in the FA Cup final next weekend. Sure, they’ll want to finish as high up the table as possible but they might not make another cup final for many years. Javi Gracia has rotated the squad through a lot of the cup rounds and to be honest there are certain positions he has chopped and changed all season. Generally though I expect there’ll be changes here and with one eye on next weekend, you wouldn’t be surprised if West Ham got something here. Marko Arnautovic returned to goal scoring form last weekend but will this be a farewell appearance?

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Speaking of farewell appearances, that could apply to any number of the Man Utd squad. It seems like everybody has had their say on just how bad they have been recently and it is surely the end of the road for a number of these players. FPL stalwarts Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have been a constant in teams since December but even they have ran out of steam recently. You’d expect Solskjaer’s side to beat Cardiff here as they did in his first game in charge but quite what team it’ll be is anyone’s guess.

4) The important one (OffsideRulePod mini league)

With just one week to go, I’ve managed to stretch out a 40 point advantage. In a week where defenders went goal crazy I was indebted to 12 points apiece from Lucas Digne and Matt Doherty as well as 11 from Salomon Rondon. The last day of the season can sometimes be a little crazy though so there will be no chickens counted just yet.

ORP week 38

Whilst I await to see if my contract is renewed, all that is left to do is for me to thank you all for your company this season. We’ve been through a lot together. Good luck!

You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798

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