Usually the rare sight of two teams with a pair of Double Gameweeks in a row would have FPL managers gleefully doubling or even trebling-up on both. Not this time.
Instead, we are left looking glumly at the Arsenal and Southampton squads, knowing deep down that there’s not a player among them we can confidently rely on for a significant points return over the next two weeks.
How has it come to this?
It’s a particular problem for the legions of managers set to wildcard this week in preparation for a GW37 Bench Boost as they ponder how to spread their resources between players with three, four and five games left to play.
Arsenal and Southampton - what you have, you hold
When it comes to the ‘Double Double Gameweek’ teams, while it’s hard to justify selling players from either team, managers should think carefully before recruiting more.
If you’ve kept the faith with Alexis Sanchez (ARS, 11.5) all through his near-barren spell of the past six Gameweeks, ditching him now simply doesn’t make sense - especially ahead of the visit of a depleted Man United side.
Mourinho says he will pick a side to face Arsenal on Sunday with one eye on the Europa League tie against Celta Vigo. #MUFC— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) May 4, 2017
The same goes for Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU, 6.5), who continues to attract interest, despite seeing his gametime curtailed of late.
Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU) has only finished 90 mins once in 7 games, being subbed before 60 mins in 3 of his last 4 #FPL outings. Outbound.— FPL Statistics (@HypeTrainStats) May 4, 2017
But unless for some reason you don’t already own one of cut-price Southampton pair of Maya Yoshida (SOU, 4.5) and Jack Stephens (SOU, 4.2), those extra fixtures alone should not entitle a player to place in your squad - especially for non-wildcarders.
There's far too much uncertainty in the Arsenal backline to recommend anyone other than the premium-priced Cech, Koscielny and Monreal - and why would you want them anyway? None offer much in the way of attacking threat and they play in a defence which has kept just three clean sheets in 2017.
Shots on target allowed per game,
Second half of the season: 5.8
Ranks 19th, only Sunderland worse.— James Yorke (@jair1970) May 1, 2017
For those who haven’t completely given up hope of wiping that smug smile off the face of whoever’s been dominating their mini-league all season - and figure the Double-DGW teams are the best shot they have of doing it - there are players who offer some faint hope.
A missed penalty against Hull summed up the entire season for Dusan Tadic (SOU, 6.9) - all promise, but little in the way of points return.
But the Serbian’s ‘shots on goal’ and ‘chances created’ stats have been up there with the best of them at times this season, including recently - could the next four games finally see him live up to his potential?
That fluffed penalty could be good news for James Ward-Prowse (SOU, 5.0). Although interest has cooled since his absence against Hull, his dead-ball ability and rock-bottom price could yet make him a reasonable fifth-midfielder pick for Bench Boosters.
Back at the Emirates, potential suitors will be hoping that Theo Walcott (ARS, 7.3) can reproduce his hat-trick heroics on the final day of last season.
His recent lack of starts in a concern, but with Arsenal facing four games in 10 days, he’s guaranteed at least some pitch time, possibly up front, which may increase should he impress.
The same could be said for Olivier Giroud (ARS, 8.0) and Mesut Özil (ARS, 9.4), who mirror Walcott for big-points pedigree as well as poor form - but represent a painful step up in price.
So in terms of consistency and regularity of starts, few players from either team can be relied upon. But if you’re prepared to leave well alone, you could steal a march on your rivals now by snapping up assets from teams that have both and are sure to be on the top of everyone’s shopping list next week.
As those crucial end-of-season fixtures approach, FPL managers are scrambling to get the “essential” players in place - Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and (possibly) Sanchez. We must now consider another name to add to that list - Gabriel Jesus (MCI, 8.7).
An injury to Sergio Aguero has thrust the young Brazilian into the FPL spotlight, depriving the more canny FPL managers of what could have been a cunning transfer.
Seems to be a wall of silence around Aguero and his possible injury. Doubt he'll play Saturday, but beyond that who knows— Sam Lee (@SamLee) May 4, 2017
The extent of Aguero’s injury has been unclear but, in truth, Jesus was always going to start in front of him anyway and should be back to his lethal best after completing 90 minutes against Middlesbrough.
Should Aguero’s injury turn out to be as serious as feared, his absence also makes the task of picking up Leroy Sané (MCI, 7.7) much easier.
Pep has already stated that “Sergio and Gabriel can play together if that's the way we want to play. If you want to play with wingers it is more complicated for them to play”. So it stands to reason that the opposite is true, clearing the way for the pacey German to take on the Palace, Leicester, West Brom and Watford defences in City’s final four matches.
Given the recent rotation and injury uncertainty, the Man City defence is a veritable minefield, although the value offered by Willy Caballero (MCI, 4.7) is hard to resist.
Of the rest of the teams with four fixtures remaining, Tottenham continue to be the form team in the league and cannot be ignored.
The likes of Kane, Alli and Eriksen hardly need highlighting at this stage, but their goalscoring exploits have taken some of the attention off a defence that has returned an incredible five clean sheets in their last six games.
A stubborn injury to Danny Rose has seen Ben Davies (TOT, 4.9) lead a somewhat charmed life in the Spurs rearguard - but it looks set to continue for another while yet.
Danny Rose continues to step up his recovery from a knee ligament injury "with a view to returning to full training next week." #COYS— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) May 4, 2017
For those looking for a completely risk-averse Spurs option, Toby Alderweireld (TOT, 6.3) is nailed-on and has taken to venturing forward lately, registering six goal attempts in as many matches.
Best of the rest
Chelsea players will also feature heavily in wildcard teams, but come with a health warning.
Should The Blues wrap up the title by GW38 (or earlier) expect to see the likes of John Terry and Nathan Ake feature as Conte rests key players ahead of their FA Cup final on May 27.
Indeed, end-of-season matches traditionally see heavy rotation as managers of teams with nothing left to play for begin experimenting with new formations and fronge players.
Whilst this shouldn’t dominate your team selection, it provides yet another reason why those “on the beach” teams are probably best avoided - along with Man United players who are veritable FPL kryptonite at the moment.
Anyone with no Double Gameweek worth considering?
With all these Double Gameweeks on offer, any investment in a player without at least one represents a mathematical risk.
Liverpool may tempt some, but they have looked rather toothless of late and FPL managers could be better served by waiting until GW38 when they face Middlesbrough at Anfield.
The form of Romelu Lukaku (EVE, 10.3) has tailed off lately, but there’s certainly a case for including him as he eyes this season’s Golden Boot.
At best, using your wildcard on any player with just three fixtures remaining represents a gamble.
There is one notable exception to this however, in the form of the almighty Josh King (BOU, 6.2).
An injury to Benik Afobe should promote him to the role of Bournemouth’s lone striker, providing another (by now superfluous) reason why you absolutely have to get this season’s Riyad Mahrez into your squad.
And don’t forget….
The next two Gameweek deadlines come on a Friday evening rather than the usual Saturday afternoon, so get those transfers sorted in plenty of time.
Just noticed that we have 2 x Friday deadlines coming up in #FPL
GW36 deadline = 7pm, Fri 5th May
GW37 deadline = 6:45pm, Fri 12th May— Andy (@LetsTalk_FPL) April 25, 2017
For those on or looking to wildcard, FPL Fly took some time off from shutting down internet haters recently to provide a top-notch analysis of how player ownership can be used to tailor your list of transfer targets and is well worth checking out.
With huge numbers expected to captain him this week, anyone defending a high ranking would be well advised to have Alexis Sanchez in place.
For those looking to make up ground, form players like of Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.5) and Jamie Vardy (LEI, 9.9) could run riot when they face Middlesbrough and Watford respectively.
#watfordfc face a defensive crisis. Kaboul and Cathcart are already ruled out while Mazzarri won't know until Friday if Holebas can feature.— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) May 4, 2017
For those who have already played their Bench Boost, Kieran Trippier (TOT, 4.7) could be an intriguing option.
A mere £4.8m for an attacking left-back in the best defence in the league is the stuff FPL dreams are made of, and want-away Kyle Walker is seeing his starts curtailed by his notoriously hardline manager.
Pochettino confirms Kyle Walker is in contention to face WHU, but won't respond to questions on whether the full-back is unsettled. #COYS— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) May 4, 2017
Trippier could be a fantastic cheap differential, but a note of caution here - he has been subbed on late in three of the last seven games.
Fit or not, Sergio Aguero (MCI, 12.8) represents a massive outlay that is better spent elsewhere, most notably on the player likely to take his place in Man City's forward line.
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