It’s been a dire two weeks for Premier League fans, what with the international break going on, but aficionados of the English top-flight and its virtual counterpart — the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) — can rejoice for the ‘real’ footballing action returns this weekend.
However, the impending advent of Gameweek 32 brings with it a dilemma for the intrepid souls who risk heartburn every week with their involvement in the sometimes thankless world of FPL.
To ease those worry lines, The Statesman has your back with a comprehensive article to make sure your hard-earned virtual money is spent astutely and you have something to brag about till the next Gameweek comes around.
The indicators are:
Teams in BOLD are top 4 contenders.
Prices (in £ million) marked in Green indicates a rise in Base Price.
Prices (in £ million) marked in Red indicates fall in Base Price.
Fixtures: Bournemouth (H), Burnley (H), Huddersfield (A), Crystal Palace (H) and Spurs (A)
Why yes: After Watford’s mauling at the hands of a Mohamed Salah-powered Liverpool, most FPL managers would scurry away at the suggestion of a Hornets player, but their custodian warrants a second look.
The Greek, who recently deposed Heurelho Gomes, seems to be a fine shot-stopper and with Watford having routine fixtures ahead, is a solid back-up option, if nothing else.
Why no: Watford have lost three of their last five and the last two on the trot, hence most managers would want to steer clear of their backline at least. Bournemouth are a bright side and manage to score, even when they lose.
Team: Manchester United
Fixtures: Swansea (H), Man City (A), West Brom (H)-Bournemouth (A), N/A and Arsenal (H)
Why yes: With the Ivorian fully fit (at long last), United are set to finish the season on a high. The former Villareal man is easily their best defender and against a Swansea City side that haven’t won away in 2018 should be able to keep a clean sheet. The Red Devils have a double fixture Gameweek (34) coming up and another one is guaranteed for they have a tie with West Ham that has not yet been scheduled, as an added bonus.
Why no: United do not play in Gameweek 35 and their fixtures do not look routine, even on paper. Swansea City, under Carlos Carvahal, are a side rejuvenated and no longer relegation-fodder.
Team: Newcastle United
Fixtures: Huddersfield (H), Leicester (A), Arsenal (H), Everton (A) and West Brom (H)
Why yes: Jamaal Lascelles has been impressive for the Magpies in defence, so much so that don’t be surprised if a bigger club swoops in for him in the summer. He’s a threat from set-pieces and against poor travellers Huddersfield, is odds-on to register a shutout for Rafa Benitez’s side. The Magpies, who seem to have routine fixtures ahead, have a tie with Tottenham Hotspur that has not yet been scheduled, which means a double fixture Gameweek is on the horizon.
Why no: Considering he’s slightly pricier than the rest of the Magpies backline, many FPL managers would rather buy Ciaran Clark (£4.4 m) or DeAndre Yedlin (£4.4m). Newcastle struggle to score most games, which in turn invites pressure on their defence.
Team: West Ham United
Fixtures: Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Stoke (H), Arsenal (A) and Man City (H)
Why yes: With Premier League survival firmly on their minds, expect the West Ham United-Southampton tie to be a goalfest. Arnautovic will be among the usual suspects and expect him to pick up a handsome haul against the tottering Saints. The capital outfit have a match with Manchester United, whose date has yet to have been fixed, so the Austrian and his teammates will be involved in a double fixture Gameweek sometime soon.
Why no: The Hammers aren’t in great shape either and in this price range, several midfielders from other in-form sides will appeal more to most FPL tacticians. David Moyes’ men have some extremely tough games lined up, to complicate matters further.
Team: Manchester United
Fixtures: Swansea City (H), Man City (A), West Brom (H)-Bournemouth (A), N/A and Arsenal (H)
Why yes: After his sensational display for France in the international break, expect Pogba to return to his best for club as well. Swansea City may be soaring high on form, but at Old Trafford they are likely to be out of their depth and expect United’s club-record signing to give his critics a timely reminder of his qualities.
Why no: Pogba’s starting place is not yet confirmed and doubts over his on-field chemistry with new top-dog Alexis Sanchez persist. The small matter of the Manchester Derby looms large on the horizon and as mentioned earlier, United do not play in Gameweek 38.
Fixtures: Stoke (H), Southampton (H), Newcastle (A), West Ham (H) and Man United (A)
Why yes: The world’s fastest striker (arguably) is in form and with basement-dwellers Stoke City visiting the Emirates, expect the Gabonese to extend his scoring streak. His ineligibility to play the UEFA Europa League will delight prospective FPL managers to no end as the Gunners have relatively easy fixtures from now to the end of the season. An unscheduled tie with Leicester City means one double fixture Gameweek is certain.
Why no: Aubameyang is quite expensive and there are plenty of more cost-effective options out there. If the Gunners continue to make strides Europe, expect Arsene Wenger to prioritise the continental competition over the Premier League.
Fixtures: West Brom (A), Watford (A), Leicester (H)-Chelsea (H), Stoke (A) and Brighton (H)
Why yes: Burnley have gotten out of their mid-season slump and having multiple Clarets players is an attractive proposition once again. Barnes and Co will be up against bottom-ranked West Brom and it would be a surprise if they extend the Baggies’ miserable season . Sean Dyche’s men have a double Gameweek (34) ahead but crucially, play in the next Gameweek (35) as well.
Why no: With Sam Vokes (£5.7 m) back to full fitness, competition for the attacking spots has increased immensely. Chris Wood (£6.2 m) is in excellent form as well.
PS: The Gameweek deadline is 11.30 am GMT/4 pm IST.
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