After a long international break and a mini gameweek, we are back with the real deal. FPL returns to gameweek 32, with Chelsea facing Tottenham in the game of the weekend. Mohamed Salah lit up gameweek 31, with a rare display of four goals. Managers who had captained the Egyptian would have scored 58 points! Phew.
European knockouts, European dropouts
It was a tumultuous Champions League Round of 16 for the English teams as their number dropped from 5 to 2, with the remaining candidates facing each other in the quarter-finals.
Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea all dropped out in contrasting ways as Liverpool and Manchester City progressed. This is significant, especially from a City point of view, as Pep Guardiola has the Premier League title all but sewn up.
There is no doubt that City’s manager will want to keep the winning momentum up, but with the Citizens 16 points ahead of United, with only 24 to play for, the Premier League is for all purposes, priority dos.
While this could result in City playing weakened squads ahead of European midweek assignments, Liverpool are still in a race for the top four and may not have the same luxury. The Reds play the first leg of the all-English tie at home this Wednesday night, with the reverse fixture at the Etihad the following week.
For owners of Man United, Spurs and Chelsea players, those three clubs are in the FA Cup semifinals, but with top four berths at stake, they will field full-strength teams in the PL. And if you are brave enough to have an Arsenal player in the line-up, they play Thursdays.
Striker Russian Roulette
First, Harry Kane had to go get himself injured. Next, it was Sergio Aguero. All of a sudden, half of all FPL squads find themselves in a striking crisis, with two of the most reliable sharpshooters in the game out injured.
Jordan Ayew’s injury means that a popular third striker option is also ruled out and managers must look for alternatives. Which forwards should be trusted? Cue Jamie Vardy, that patron saint of FPL managers with striking conundrums.
The 31-year-old Englishman is a certainty for the World Cup and seems to be improving towards the end of the season. He is also obviously, the highest scoring forward outside the top six, and continues to bag a few against the big guns as well.
Liverpool and both the Manchesters have been scored against as the Leicester City man proves to be an invaluable asset to both Claude Puel and his FPL fanbase. He has seven in his last 11 and is also on penalty taking duties.
Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are considerably more expensive, but the former is on a good run of form. Roberto Firmino is a whole point more expensive, but Vardy could give you that extra cash you need to recall Kane or Aguero later.
Gayle, Wood, Cedric: The differentials
Huddersfield appear to be a team slowly running out of steam and haven’t scored in three games. The Terriers visit St. James Park on Saturday and could be in line for a lesson from Rafael Benitez’s men. Dwight Gayle, at 6.1 is your man here. Jamal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie also present valuable propositions.
Another team that appear to be going through the motions are West Brom, Alan Pardew’s men dead last and a long way off safety. Burnley scored three at West Ham the other week, with Mark Wood netting two. Wood’s stock has never been higher.
Southampton have struggled themselves and they visit David Moyes’ men in London, looking to nick precious points for survival. Wingback Cedric Soares could be pivotal here, as a clean sheet beckons.
Captain fantastic: Salah la la la
Honestly, Mo’ Salah’s consistency is so frightening that he tends to make the captaincy recommendations a tad redundant. Four goals against Watford means that the Egyptian is a mere 34 points away from smashing the 300 barrier, with seven gameweeks still left to go.
Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have the joint record for a 38-game season with 31 goals. By the time that Salah, 28 goals in 30 matches, is done with the campaign, that record could be well shattered. Our advice: Put your eggs in the Salah basket and run with it.
Firmino’s record of 14 goals and 8 assists make him a worthy candidate against Crystal Palace but even the Brazilian, if he does play the FPL, must be picking Salah as captain, ahead of himself.
Son Heung-Min in Kane’s absence and at home is always a good bet, as is an in-form Lukaku. City do tend to score a lot of goals and the centre forward will enjoy the lion’s share of chances. In Aguero’s absence, it will be Gabriel Jesus answering that call. 8 goals and 5 assists in 1109 minutes ain’t too bad from the Brazilian.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Mar 31, 2018 09:22:53 IST