After a gap of almost two weeks, the Premier League returns as crunch time awaits both teams and FPL managers. Gameweek 27 was the highest scoring of this season, and with an average of 61 points, every manager who captained Sergio Aguero was in for a treat.
The Argentine produced a ruthless display, putting four goals past a hapless Leicester City and Kasper Schmeichel in goal. Mo’ Salah kept his glorious run going with a goal and an assist as a new hero emerged for Newcastle in goal, Martin Dubravka.
Advance planning for gameweek 31
With several Premier League teams vying for FA Cup glory, gameweek 31 at the moment features only five matches, which could fall to four, depending on the result of Tottenham’s match against Rochdale.
With Liverpool playing Watford, goals are a given considering the corresponding fixture finished 6-1 to the Reds last season, with the reverse leg ending 3-3 at Vicarage Road earlier this campaign.
Salah is a safe bet for the captaincy, and we recommend you go with three Liverpool players, preferably one of Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino and a defender, Virgil Van Dijk looks like the safe bet.
Huddersfield is another team in which interest remains high, especially after their 4-1 humbling of Bournemouth. With Alex Pritchard and Steve Mounie coming into form and with fan favourite Aaron Mooy back in the thick of things, any of this trio plus goalkeeper Jonas Lossl could be worth a pick.
Everton and Bournemouth players deserve a consideration, but given the yo-yo nature of these sides, not many merit a mention. Theo Walcott and Oumar Niasse may be drafted in from the Toffees, while comeback man Callum Wilson and Charlie Daniels remain at the forefront of FPL selection.
Mane picks up steam
The third luchador of Liverpool’s three amigos up front, Sadio Mane has possibly been the most overshadowed of the trio this season with the magical Egyptian Salah working his magic on the opposite wing, and Firmino earning rave reviews for his all-action displays up front.
Which is why it was opportune that Mane’s hat-trick against Porto in mid-week Champions League action came as a timely reminder to both Jurgen Klopp and FPL managers that the Senegal man could still mix it up.
Six goals and five assists isn’t too shabby a return for the ex-Southampton man, but he has a long way to go to match his tally of 13 goals and 7 assists from the previous season.
Barring an away game against Manchester United, Mane has a clear run of fixtures as Liverpool long to cling on to their Champions League spot. Priced at 9.3 and selected by only 7.5%, Mane could be a useful differential to have in your team.
Mahrez, Hazard returning to contention
The 2014-15 and 15-16 Players of the Season return for crucial games and they could very well make or break FPL teams this weekend.
Missing in action since handing in a transfer request, the Algerian Mahrez must do what he does best as Leicester host a Stoke team, which has performed miserably in their travels. Having been beaten 5-1 last time around, the Foxes will look to bounce back against a Potters side and Jamie Vardy and Mahrez will be key.
Eden Hazard, priced at 10.7, hasn’t had the smoothest of seasons and that shows in his ownership as only 8.1% of managers continue to back him. Fortunately for those gaffers, Hazard has proved somewhat consistent over the last six games, scoring six goals.
With a daunting trip to Manchester United next up, owners might look to avoid drafting in the Belgian till next week. But Antonio Conte has switched Chelsea’s formation to a false nine with Hazard operating in that position, flanked by Willian and Pedro.
Against United, Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud may get the nod but fans should not discount Hazard’s ability to influence the game. Now fourth in the form charts, the brilliant Belgian is making it count towards the end of the season.
Salah, Kane fight for captaincy
Aguero may have lit up the PL last week, but with a trip to Arsenal, FPL owners may not be as keen to captain the Argentine, especially not when more lucrative options are available.
Salah will be leading the charge for captaincy this week, as he continues to defy pre-season predictions. Should he manage it, this could be Salah’s 13th-double figure total this season, an incredible return from the Egyptian.
West Ham should not prove too tricky an opposition but the shadow of Kane looms large over this gameweek. The Englishman hasn’t got into double digits since gameweek 23, and as Spurs visit Crystal Palace, Kane still has the highest number of away goals (12) this season.
Firmino and Mane also present interesting alternatives, as Vardy and Wilson remain a choice for the brave. As Brighton entertain Swansea, the Seagulls’ pair of Pascal Gross and Jurgen Locadia could make for maverick choices.
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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2018 17:38:10 IST