Fantasy Football Shambles

Many moons ago, there was a thing called club football. Teams, rather than nations, would compete in a competition called the Premier League. Fans engaged in a little game called fantasy football to take an extra interest in the action and importantly, matches took place on a weekend. Thankfully, we get all of that back this weekend.

I might be being overly dramatic but that international break felt like two years, not two weeks. The Premier League not only returns this weekend but we’ve got some bonus midweek games too. That means 10 teams are playing twice and yes, that smell is the possibility of mega points.

First though, let’s review last week. Whenever it was. My score of 43 beat the average of 26 comfortably and saw us get a lovely green arrow up to 12,114th. There were only five games so this worked out quite well, especially as I kept my free hit back for this week. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the doubleheaders.

Double delight

With Liverpool only having one game, this is a big week for Manchester City. They begin the weekend with a trip to Fulham and their leaky defence. If this was the only game in the week you’d still be stocking up on Man City assets. Throw in a home game with Cardiff on Wednesday and you’ve got the almost perfect doubleheader. Aguero and Sterling will be top of a lot of people’s shopping lists if they aren’t already owned.

There’s always the risk of rotation from Pep but there’s also a Premier League title to win. The FA Cup game next Sunday is just a few days before the Champions League clash with Spurs so to my untrained eye I’d say it’s more likely players would get a rest for the cup game. Aguero and Sterling seem absolutely pivotal to Man City’s success and surely they will start both games, even if they are withdrawn early once the damage is done.

Man Utd might not be in the FA Cup semi-finals but they do take on two semi-finalists this week. A home game with Watford is followed by a trip to Wolves where of course they came unstuck in the cup. Two tough games of course but will those two have an eye on their semi-final clash next weekend?

Another onion in the ointment is that new permanent manager Ole Solskjaer has some injury problems to contend with. Lukaku, Rashford and Shaw all missed the international fixtures but the extent of those injuries is yet to be revealed. Paul Pogba seems to be ok though so I’d say he was a must have for a two-game week.

Chelsea are rivalling Man City in the fixture stakes. They travel to Cardiff on Sunday before hosting Brighton on Wednesday evening. Anything less than six points would be a huge surprise and the likes of Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuain will come into consideration.

Brighton (nine) and Cardiff (seven, joint with Fulham) lead the table for penalties conceded which immediately brings Hazard to the forefront of my thinking. With those fixtures, if you are free hitting it’s certainly worth considering doubling or even tripling up.

Tottenham will finally play a home game at their new stadium on Wednesday when they welcome Crystal Palace. Before that though, they face the tricky trip to Liverpool. That’s a tough game to call and one I’d probably avoid from an FPL perspective, so your lust for Tottenham assets comes down to how quickly you feel they can adapt to their new home.

If this was a comic book I’d say Harry Kane was a certainty to score a hat-trick, but it isn’t. This game is traditionally a tight affair and whilst I think Spurs will win, Palace travel quite well and this is an unusual situation.

With that in mind, Palace aren’t a terrible option for the two-game week. They start at home to Huddersfield, a match they will be expected to win. Batshuayi, Zaha and Townsend are all fairly priced and Milivojevic at £6.3m is interesting given how many penalties he scores. Watford and Wolves are harder to predict as although they play twice, both have rotated their squads around the latter stages of the FA Cup.

Singletons

Arsenal only play once but a home game with Newcastle should give them plenty of encouragement. Lacazette and Aubameyang have been good picks all season, especially at home. Newcastle don’t win many away from home and I don’t expect that to start here. Arsenal don’t have a blank in week 33 whereas many of their rivals do, so if you’re not on a free hit this is a good chance to get ahead of the curve.

Liverpool also don’t have a blank next week but face Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday. It’s a huge game and a lot of focus will be on Mo Salah’s form, or lack of. Sadio Mane has carried Liverpool’s threat in recent weeks and he’s my main suggestion here, but there are far better options this week.

Captain

I think the main decision is between Aguero and Sterling. I’m working on the fairly obvious theory that two games are better than one. Eden Hazard is also a contender for that reason but his form has been patchier than the Man City duo so it’s a bit more of a gamble. Whoever you pick, make sure it’s somebody playing twice.

My team

As mentioned, the free hit chip is active for me. I wanted to binge on players playing twice and although there’ll be another opportunity in week 35, that’s a bit late in the season for my liking. With the FA Cup backstop in place next weekend I think there should be less rotation in this game week. My squad currently is:

Kepa, Laporte, Wan-Bissaka, Shaw, Hazard, Sterling, Son, Milivojevic, Pogba, Rashford, Aguero. Subs: Four no-hopers.

Rashford, Shaw and Wan-Bissaka all have doubts over them so we’ll see what the press conferences bring on Friday. I couldn’t fit Kane in but at £12.5m I had to make some decisions. No doubt I’ll be tinkering right up to the deadline.

That deadline is 11.30 Saturday, 30 March. All that is left to do is for me to wish you good luck and may all your arrows be green. See you next week!