As we steam towards the Saturday morning fixtures, it’s time to give one last look at potential transfers and finalize the game week 22 starting lineup. As it stands on Friday morning, on the West Coast of the US, I have three players flagged; Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (suspended), Ryan Fraser (hamstring) and Callum Wilson (hamstring). Many FPL managers would have me moving off the Bournemouth duo, but can’t argue with their 18 points last weekend. Favorable fixture against a non-existent Everton defense too this weekend.
Neither of those players are concerns right now, as I’m looking past this game week to next week, when I could reintroduce Mo Salah to the starting XI. Now, the problem I had last time with Salah, is I didn’t have much quality in the midfield to partner with him. It was reflected in the lack of points from my midfielders when compared to the defenders and forwards. That said, when I moved him, Marko Arnautovic and Sergio Aguero ahead of game week 14, in favor of Leroy Sane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane I’ve actually gained 39 points. So is the Egyptian necessary?
While I don’t intend on answering that question this week, it appears I will roll the FT and set could potentially set an unchanged starting XI, something I haven’t done all season. Last week’s starting XI finished on 70 points, second highest point total of the season since 87 points in game week 10. The only player I am giving consideration is Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Palace host Watford, on the back of two cleans in the last three games. Over that period the Hornets have scored give goals. What type of game will we see at Selhurst Park?
Goalkeeper – Neil Etheridge
From back to front this week I start Neil Etheridge in goal as Cardiff host Huddersfield. Big game for both teams and Etheridge has posted 26 points in his last three games! on the back of two clean sheets and a penalty save, his third on the season. Great shot for a clean sheet this week, as he will be my starting GK until game week 31.
Defenders – Andrew Robertson, Marcos Alonso, Virgil van Dijk
Defensively, I could clean up this week, as expectations are to grab a clean sweep as Liverpool travel to The Amex and Brighton, while Chelsea hosts Newcastle. Neither team are very offensive minded, Magies scoring just one, while the Seagulls have grabbed four goals, in the last three games. The wild card at the moment, Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Can Palace keep it tight and clean, as Watford visit?
The supporter in me says, no. Watford has started to post some good goal returns and come off a three goal game at Bournemouth. Yeah, it WAS Bournemouth, but they did look good going forward. The reverse fixture was 2-1, and Palace played catch up all game, conceding early. Not sure I see AWB as a good option, as Watford appear in form going forward.
Midfielders – Paul Pogba, Richarlison, Felipe Anderson, Ryan Fraser
It’s not the most sexy midfield, I’ll admit it. but based on Fantasy Football Fix, Anderson, Richarlison and Pogba are all highly owned by the top 1k. That, is good enough for me this week. Fraser still flagged, but feel confident he starts, as he faces an Everton team that hasn’t keep a clean sheet in eight games. No reason to think they will start this week. In fact, the duo of Fraser and Richarlison could be an excellent bet, after seeing the 3-3 draw that Bournemouth played in last week with Watford.
As for Anderson and Pogba, they could be on their last leg in my starting XI this week. West Ham’s fixtures are turning, but the resurgent Hammers travel to the Emirates to face a very leaky Arsenal defense that has conceded 11 goals in the last five games. With Arnautovic back, I like West Ham to score at least twice. Pogba and United travel to Wembley to play Spurs. It’s a big game, as United has looked good against the “cream puffs” but Pogba failed at Newcastle last week. Could “Ol’ Pogba” be a flash in the pan? I feel United is going to struggle this week, hope I am wrong.
Forwards – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Harry Kane, Callum Wilson
It’s a three headed attack again, one that returned a season high, 36 points last week. Aubameyang currently has the armband, as they face West Ham, a defense that has conceded seven goals over the last five games and who are weakened with no Fabian Balbuena in the starting XI. Kane and company host United, a defense that has kept just three clean sheets on the season. Not an overly impressive bunch at the back, which could have me leaning to Kane, helped by the fact he scored 10 against the Red Devils back in game week 3.
It’s the curious case of Callum Wilson, I held him through the festive period, as he picked up seven points over five games (GW16-21) but returned last week with a great headed goal. Bournemouth can still score, however their “good run” gets ugly between game week 24 and 29. At this point, he will probably stay on my squad, as I know I will be buying him back when their fixtures turn in game week 30. Josh King is sick as well, so Wilson could be a sneaky start over AWB this week.
NUMBERS OF THE WEEK
The 3-4-3 formation has been the most highly used this season (6) tied with the 4-3-3. In those six games, my starting XI have averaged 59.5 PPG. Over the last 4 weeks I’ve averaging 63.3 PPG. Game week 22 will be the seventh time I have rolled a FT on the season.
Ahead of the game week, I am 6 points shy of the top 100k, currently on 1246 overall points. A big week up top and I could potentially make up the 30 to break into the top 50k.
Good luck to all managers this weekend!