Last week, it just took one Man City fixture announcement to catapult Sergio Aguero from a forgotten man to a would-be savior of our FPL seasons.
Before long, it seemed like every manager on Twitter was confidently taking the plunge and triple-captaining the Man City marksman. By the time Double Gameweek 27 finally kicked off, the excitement was palpable.
Owned by - 1.1M Transferred in by - 378K Captained by - 533K Triple captained by - 160K
Owned by - 1.1M
Transferred in by - 378K
Captained by - 533K
Triple captained by - 160KMarch 5, 2017
This is like Christmas Eve as a kid
This is like Christmas Eve as a kid
But, as is often the case, it found a way to troll us, ending with the whimper that was City’s 0-0 draw against Stoke.
Amid all the clamour to bring in two or three Man City players, the week’s top scorers came in the unlikely forms of Dusan Tadic (SOU, 7.0) and Marko Arnautovic (STO, 7.1) - with Stoke defenders all returning double figures to boot!
As a strategy, there was sound logic to placing the triple captaincy on Aguero, and those who elected to hold onto their chip should be feeling more relieved than smug - future Double Gameweeks don’t hold any more guarantees than this one did.
Now, the altogether different challenge of the dreaded Blank Gameweek 28 has drifted into view like a tumbleweed, leaving many wondering how best to approach it.
Strategy to get the most out of a Blank Gameweek
First of all, let’s establish what NOT to do - and that is buying players who won’t be playing in GW28.
Kane - 100k
Gabbiadini - 33k
Alli - 23k
Pedro - 17k
Redmond - 15k
Zaha - 13k https://t.co/jNqHc3YLAb— FPLPriceChanges+ (@FPLPriceChanges) March 9, 2017
You may want them for your team in the long term, but unless by some miracle you can already field a full 11, buying them now just makes no sense. You’ve probably already missed any price rises, and imagine the horror of watching them get injured in a cup game before they even have a chance to score you some points.
There is some good news, however - BGW28 represents an excellent chance for you to jettison a lot of that dead wood from your team and lay a solid foundation for the weeks ahead - and here’s why…
In a regular Gameweek, the decision whether to take a hit or not mostly comes down to whether you can answer ‘Yes’ to the following question - "Do I think there’s a good chance this new player will score at least four more points than the one he’s replacing?".
If that’s a coin flip, then strong scoring potential in the following two Gameweeks can often tip the balance in favour of taking the hit.
Now consider the current situation - you probably have a few players who you know for a fact will get 0 points in GW28 - after all, they don’t have a fixture! Without those appearance points to consider, the chances of that extra player scoring at least four more points than who he’s replacing just got a whole lot better.
It’s a low-risk strategy too, because even if all goes wrong and he just gets the two appearance points, it’s only cost you a -2 hit instead of the usual -4.
But before you go transfer-crazy, remember - those teams who blank in GW28 can look forward to one double Gameweek - two in the case of Arsenal, Man United and Southampton - later in the season.
So unless you’re planning to wildcard straight away in GW29, whoever you bring in for a hit should ideally be players you want to keep for the long haul.
Here’s the best of the bunch.
With a goal and an assist each, the Liverpool midfield ‘wheel of fortune’ stopped at Sadio Mané (LIV, 9.5), Roberto Firmino (LIV, 8.4) against Arsenal last week.
But with 20 shots (including 11 in the box) in his last four matches, Philippe Coutinho (LIV, 8.2) is threatening to once again punish Mané devotees like he did against Leicester.
Just to confuse us further, Liverpool play three of the next four at home and Firmino’s stats at Anfield are impressive - but keep an eye on injury news before you press that transfer button.
Update: Firmino is a doubt for the Burnley game.
Klopp on Firmino: "He couldn't train. We have to wait and see." pic.twitter.com/EljkDjhVMs— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 10, 2017
With Snodgrass yet to find his feet and Andy Carroll’s fitness as precarious as ever, Manuel Lanzini (WHU, 6.4) is the standout pick for anyone putting their faith in the Hammers.
Joint-second among midfielders for goal attempts in the last four Gameweeks, much like the rest of his team, the departure of Dimitri Payet has been the making of him. The Argentine's home form in particular has caught the eye, with three goals in his last four.
Manuel Lanzini since becoming the main man:
Starts - 6
Goals - 3
Assists - 3March 7, 2017
West Ham’s next eight fixtures look tasty right up until GW36 - perfect timing for those planning to wildcard in preparation for the expected mammoth Double Gameweek 37.
With 10 chances created, 12 goal attempts and (most importantly) 42 FPL points in his last six games, Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA, 7.7) has finally become the Mr Consistency we all knew he could be.
GW28 also represents the ideal opportunity to install the standout fifth midfielder of this (or perhaps any) FPL season - Tom Carroll (SWA, 4.3). Still excellent value despite moving off that hilarious £4.2 pricetag, the only way is up for the former Tottenham prospect after this assist against Burnley last week.
Fernando Llorente (SWA, 6.4) - arguably the most under-the-radar player of the season so far - has quietly scored 11 league goals this season and has struck up a great understanding with “Siggy”.
It’s still hard to trust the Swans’ defence for a clean sheet, but Martin Olsson (SWA, 4.5) and Alfie Mawson (SWA, 4.6) have each scored twice in recent games.
If you regard that performance against Tottenham as a blip and you’re happy to ride out those upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and United, there’s plenty to tempt FPL managers in this Everton side.
Romelu Lukaku (EVE, 10.1) is being sheepishly welcomed back by former Aguero owners in their droves.
A steady stream of goals, assists and clean sheets has seen our own Seamus Coleman (EVE, 6.0) grab Marcus Alonso’s title as the most in-demand defender in the game.
Seamus Coleman (EVE) is the 5th #FPL defender to reach 100 points this season. Coleman's managed 42 points from his last 5 matches.— FPL Statistics (@HypeTrainStats) February 5, 2017
For those who fancy a real punt, it’s worth noting that Ross Barkley (EVE, 7.1) has created 14 chances in Everton’s last four matches. It’s very much a case of “buyer beware” with this one, though.
A run of tough fixtures has made it difficult to assess the true extent of Hull’s resurgence, but a kinder run of games ahead could reward those willing to invest.
Attacking threat keeps Harry Maguire (HUL, 4.4) on our radar, and Polish livewire Kamil Grosicki (HUL, 5.5) is fast becoming perhaps the most intriguing punt in the game.
Tough fixtures against Liverpool and Spurs probably rules out any Burnley investment for now, but Robbie Brady (BUR, 5.5) and penalty taker Andre Gray (BUR, 6.1) could yet reward the faithful.
Playing as a striker and taking penalties has seen Joshua King (BOU 5.5) emerge as an exciting option, but while he’s not a penalties-or-bust prospect like James Milner (LIV, 6.5), a deteriorating fixture list and a pretty ‘meh’ six shots on target in his last six could have you chasing points a bit here.
Looking beyond GW28
Be careful with that bank balance - because as soon as you’ve navigated the blanks, you’ll need to have a strategy in place to get Harry Kane (TOT, 11.4) for GW29 and Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU, 6.8) for GW30.
This season has seen the near-extinction of term “essential” - but it’s threatening to make a comeback now that the Spurs striker is scoring for fun (literally!).
He’s already looking like the prime candidate for those who held onto their Triple Captain chip, and enjoys excellent armband rotation with Sanchez, should the disgruntled Chilean find his motivation.
With an incredible nine goals in his last seven matches, Gabbiadini just can’t stop scoring, it seems.
Once the Saints have navigated that tricky GW29 trip to Spurs, he looks to be the man to convert the chances which Tadic in particular has been creating at Southampton all season, to be fair.
Manolo Gabbiadini in the Premier League for Southampton:
100% take-ons completed
4 chances created
Inspired buy. pic.twitter.com/k2kAJwmCL3— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 4, 2017
Next week will also be a time to start quickly jettisoning any West Brom players you have on your books.
With 40 points now in the bag, their capitulation against Crystal Palace has all but confirmed them as the first team to join the ‘On the Beach’ brigade.
These are the teams who traditionally switch places with relegation-threatened sides to become the league’s designated cannon fodder in the final 10 games or so of the season. Avoid.
It’s hard to ignore attacking returns in each of the last six games - so why should we? Welcome back Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA, 7.7) - we missed ya!
There’s something quite seductive about the prospect of bringing in Kamil Grosicki (HUL, 5.5). Being such an unknown quantity and with rock-bottom ownership, he has all the ingredients of a season-changing punt. FPL kudos aplenty await those who put their money where their mouth is.
Those who kept Zlatan Ibrahimovic (MUN, 11.5) for that plum Bournemouth tie got a missed penalty and a suspension for their trouble. He could return, but right now keeping a player with that pricetag on your bench for another two weeks would be crazy.
Top of the League
Despite the disappointing return from triple-captain Aguero, returns from Llorente, Lukaku and Mané were enough to keep Brian Haugh and his Hauzinho's Harriers top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 251768-521616). An impressive 92 points has put Varun Ahuja’s TheRedDevils just four points behind, but with just seven players eligible for GW28, he may need to reshuffle.
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