This week was all about one fixture: Liverpool hosted Manchester City in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal with so much at stake.
Manchester City practically have the league sewn up and could win it against arch-nemeses Manchester United on Saturday, opening the door to rotation galore as they focus on the Champions League final… if they can get that far.
Liverpool clearly hadn’t read the script and put in one of the best performances of the season to take a 3-0 lead into the 2nd leg.
This means several things for FPL:
- Manchester United assets are definitely viable for this week as Guardiola is likely to rest most of his star players.
- Liverpool will also heavily rotate so I would just avoid the Merseyside derby altogether.
- Salah is injured! An FPL manager’s worst nightmare was realised as he came off halfway through the second half feeling his hamstring. Klopp has played down the injury so I would hold on for now but it would be a good idea to have a backup plan ready to go
There are, of course, 16 other teams playing this weekend, so who else should you be looking at?
A quick note first though: the remaining postponed fixtures were announced this week and there were no surprises as they all slotted neatly into Double Gameweek 37.
As a result, my preview from last week is now officially correct and managers should plan accordingly.
That said, the number of Manchester City assets you should own will directly depend on the outcome of next week’s second leg.
Best: Spurs – Stoke (a), Man City (h), Brighton (a), (blank), Watford (h), West Brom (a), Leicester (h)
Spurs do face Manchester City in two weeks but apart from that it’s a series of teams battling relegation or battling the tedium of another mid-table finish. Mauricio Pochettino will want to wrap up Champions League football and Harry Kane is gunning for the golden boot, so ignore them at your peril.
Worst: Southampton – Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h), Leicester (a), (blank), Bournemouth (h), Everton (a), Man City (h)
With three of the current top six to come, things are not looking good for Southampton’s bid for survival. They may have two Double Gameweeks in the remaining weeks but options are very limited.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (FWD, 10.8m, Southampton at home)
Considering their fixtures and Aubameyang’s inability to play in the Europa League, he will almost certainly be a fixture of this section for the rest of the season.
I was a little concerned as Stoke held Arsenal for 75 minutes but in the end they were broken and Aubameyang scored a brace, vindicating my decision to go against Salah.
This week the Gunners face another team in the bottom three and Aubameyang will be aiming to bag a few more goals.
Riyad Mahrez (MID, 8.9m, Newcastle at home)
Leicester got another good win away at Brighton last week, although Mahrez failed to return for his FPL managers.
The Algerian winger is never quiet for long though, and this match against Newcastle is the perfect opportunity to bounce back.
There is a danger with Leicester that they will start to drop off now safety is assured, and Europe seems a remote possibility. However, I can’t see Vardy and Mahrez letting standards slip as they push their case for a place in the England world cup starting line-up/Barcelona 2018/19 squad.
Harry Kane? (FWD, 12.7m, Stoke away)
The case in favour: 24 goals so far this season and a hunger for the golden boot, Kane has a chance to become only the third player to win it in three consecutive seasons in the Premier League era.
Spurs and Kane traditionally finish the season strongly with the England striker scored seven goals in the last two matches of last season.
The case against: he had a pretty nasty ankle injury and Poch has stated categorically he will not rush Kane back. It’s not surprising considering Kane is their talisman and Spurs have shown they don’t need to rely on him by winning the last two games without him.
It will be tough to fit Kane into your squad with the likes of Lukaku and Aubameyang vying for the striker spots but it will be tougher to watch the remainder of Spurs’ matches against Brighton, Watford, West Brom and Newcastle without him in your team.
Pascal Groβ (MID, 6.0m, Huddersfield at home)
Brighton are still not quite safe from an instant return to the Championship but a win over their fellow newbies will help their cause.
Groβ has been excellent for them all season and continues to create chances, even if Murray isn’t putting them away quite as regularly as before.
Brighton are in the special group of six teams with two Double Gameweeks coming in the final weeks of the season, so you should consider their players carefully.
The fixtures turn pretty dire after their first Double GW (they play the whole top 4 in 5 games) but, at 6.0 million, you don’t need to worry too much
Marko Arnautovic (MID, 6.9m, Chelsea away)
Maybe it’s my supporter bias kicking in but I honestly feel like West Ham could get something at Stamford Bridge.
I’m sure you’ll all be laughing at me after we’re pounded on Sunday but, even if that happens, there’s a chance Arnautovic could come away with something.
The Austrian has been scintillating since David Moyes took over, with nine goals and four assists, including the winner in the return fixture at the London Stadium.
They do have tough fixtures but Arnautovic can scare defences and there’s a bonus of a Double Gameweek 37 to look forward to as well.
Ben Chilwell (DEF, 4.4m, Newcastle at home)
There have been rumblings about Ben Chilwell within the FPL community since he started at left wing in the early part of the season but rotation and poor returns meant it didn’t go very far.
However, he has two assists in two games, he has started the last five matches (and eight of the last nine) and Leicester even kept a clean sheet.
The Foxes also have two Double Gameweeks and their fixtures are a little nicer than Brighton’s, so Chilwell could be a perfect option for your defence. Just make sure you have a decent alternative in case he does get benched.
It’s pretty obvious why this is the case. Unless either manager gives us a concrete idea of their plans for the weekend, I’m expecting heavy rotation, even if it is derby day for both teams.
There is an argument that Manchester City are practically out of the Champions League tie, so why not go big against Manchester United and win the league in style? But I don’t think Guardiola’s ready to give up just yet.
It would make even less sense for Jurgen Klopp, who is right now wrapping up Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in a very thick layer of cotton wool and bubble wrap ready for Tuesday night.
You should expect none of your Liverpool stars to start on Saturday but the worst thing about all of this is we have to watch Big Sam’s insufferable gloating after he scrapes a 1-0 win over Liverpool’s U17 side.
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