The week in Fantasy Premier League: Plenty to play for as managers search for that GW38 game-changer

Fantasy Premier League managers everywhere are strapping in for the wild ride that is Gameweek 38 - especially those for whom disaster struck last Friday.

Fantasy Premier League managers everywhere are strapping in for the wild ride that is Gameweek 38 - especially those for whom disaster struck last Friday.

Despite the warnings, last Friday’s transfer deadline caught many managers by surprise, as the all-important chips they had spent weeks planning to use fell by the wayside.

Ironically, most FPL managers who failed to deploy their Triple Captain chip probably ended up dodging a bullet. Over three-quarters of active managers put the armband on one of Kane, Salah, Sterling or Jesus, with only the Spurs man managing to emerge with modest attacking returns.

Thankfully for them, Gameweek 38 has a long tradition of producing some unexpected results, and this season should be no different. Really, all that needs to happen is for results to pretty much carry on as they have been recently!

They also tend to be high-scoring encounters on the whole, the reasoning being that with few teams left with “something to play for”, players exhibit a strange lack of enthusiasm for throwing themselves into the kind of tackles that can see them spend the summer watching the World Cup in crutches.

This may seem especially true for this upcoming Gameweek, but there are still some teams who won't be taking their foot off the gas. They could be the source of that precious final-day flash-in-the-pan player who has decided the final destiny of so many mini-leagues in seasons past.

Teams with more motivation than you think

Nothing but a win will do for Chelsea if they are to snatch a seat at football’s top table next season. There could be goals in this one, even away to a stubborn Newcastle side.

I made my feelings known about the dubious merits of buying Chelsea players this season somewhere amongst the mayhem of the season-closing 3 Amigos podcast this week, but that's not to say you won’t have better luck.

Marcus Alonso (CHE, 7.1) was in the right place at the right time to score against Huddersfield last Sunday - albeit involuntarily - and might even keep a clean sheet against goal-shy Toon also.

Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.5) is a notoriously frustrating player to own over an extended period, but the prospect of having him for a single game is quite exciting. He’s basically auditioning for the likes of Madrid and PSG to help him escape likely Europa League limbo next season, too.

Another player Conte shouldn’t have rested against Huddersfield, Olivier Giroud (CHE, 8.3), is almost certain to start this one and is keenly priced for what he offers.

Liverpool’s form has been undeniably poor of late, but it’s hard to imagine anything other than a victory in their final game of the season at home.

With a gap of almost two weeks between this match and the Champions League final, we can expect a full-strength team to take on newly-safe Brighton side who will leave Anfield happy, regardless of result.

The various merits of Liverpool players have been well discussed already, but anyone looking for a differential could do a lot worse than Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV, 4.4) or Virgil van Dijk (LIV, 5.7), who both offer some promise of attacking returns.

At the other end of the table, although the idea that Swansea could overhaul a goal difference deficit of nine against their last remaining relegation rival Southampton is unlikely (100/1, according to one bookmaker), the situation could yet have a big part to play in FPL.

They will need to rely on Man City to do most of the work for them against the Saints, who could be in complacent mood after their on-pitch celebrations last Saturday.

They face a City team looking to finish the season in style on a memorably round 100 points, and Sunday could find them in the mood to hit six past Southampton, leaving Swansea needing a four-goal victory against already-relegated Stoke.

  

Granted, this is all very unlikely to have actually happened once the respective final whistles are blown - but that's not really the point.

In the likely event that Man City score early against Southampton, the crowd at the Liberty Stadium should enthusiastically suspend disbelief and scream at their charges to attack. Swansea's players must be at least be seen to have some belief and could punish a demoralised Stoke side who can’t wait for this season to be over.

Disappointed Jordan Ayew (SWA, 5.4) owners should consider keeping faith, and the likes of Tammy Abraham (SWA, 5.4) or André Ayew (SWA, 6.8) could end up being that unlikely random player who adds his name to the annals of GW38 legend.

There are a few candidates who have the form, ability or motivation for this particular accolade - let’s have a look at some of them.

 

Potential GW38 game-changers

While most teams may be lacking motivation, it’s worth bearing in mind what individual players may have at stake on the final day.

Those looking to get on various World Cup-bound planes will have their last chance to impress, as will want-away players on the hunt for lucrative transfer deals.

Given the fact that it inexplicably contains more Champions League winners than any other Premier League club, many of Stoke City’s squad will feel (rightly or wrongly) that they’re a class above Championship football, and will be putting themselves in the shop window.  

If Gareth Southgate makes an appearance at Wembley, expect the likes of Jamie Vardy (LEI, 8.9) and Harry Kane (TOT, 13.1) to turn on the style. A hat-trick could still see the Spurs man share the Golden Boot if a clearly fatigued Mo Salah (LIV, 10.4) fails to deliver against Brighton.

Premier League Player of the Month for April Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 7.0) has the form to do serious damage against a crestfallen West Brom outfit, as long as Hodgson resists the temptation to grant a confidence-boosting start to Christian Benteke.

   

Despite the goals drying up recently, Marko Arnautovic (WHU, 7.1) will want to end the season on a high.

Were it not for his limited minutes, the hat-trick potential offered by kept Aaron Ramsey (ARS, 6.8) could have seen him in millions of teams this season.

Finally, with just one game to go, you could always roll the dice on one of Man United’s attacking assets. Marcus Rashford (MUN, 7.3) and Anthony Martial (MUN, 7.8) are both set to play after Mourinho basically revealed his GW38 teamsheet last night.

  

QUICK TIP

It can be a tough read, particularly after a disappointing season, but once the final points are added, be sure to use at least one of the team analysis websites in the next few weeks.

Did supporter bias see you favour players from one team too much? Which formation worked the best for you? Resources like Premier Fantasy Tools’ Team analyser and Anewpla.net can answer questions like these and can help inform your strategy for next season.

Be sure to save a screenshot of the pages at the time, as you’ll be given a new team ID when FPL starts up again next season.

 

BUY

Now that hindsight has allowed us to more clearly see the appeal of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS, 10.7), you can expect that 23-point haul to still linger in the memory when it’s time for us to pick our teams for next season.

The Arsenal striker has enjoyed attacking returns against every team he has faced outside the top 6, and his prodigious shot accuracy rate has made him quite the bonus point magnet, too.

Even given Arsenal’s catastrophic away form, it’s hard to see him not scoring against a Huddersfield side who, let’s just say, may not be at the absolute peak of their powers on Sunday.

 

TRY

Sentiment can have a big part to play on the final day of the season, for good or ill, as managers look to reward certain players.

Now that Yaya Toure has already said his goodbyes, it looks like Wayne Rooney (EVE, 7.1) could be the prime candidate for a send-off.

In the absence of assurances of playing time at Everton, retirement at DC United now seems inevitable and it would seem churlish of Big Sam not to give him a run-out for old times sake, injury permitting.

   

Expect Rooney to shoot on sight, grab every free kick available and re-assume penalty-taking duties should one present itself.

 

GOODBYE

Practically any player from a team who are away from home with nothing to play for is at least a candidate for the chopping block this week.

Brighton defenders are set for a torrid time at Anfield, and Watford should make it six away defeats in a row when Mourinho looks to silence his critics at Old Trafford.


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