Despite Manchester United’s comeback win on Saturday at the Etihad, the destination of this year’s Premier League title is not in dispute. The same cannot be said of tens of thousands of Fantasy Premier League mini-leagues all around the world, for many of which this weekend will be crucial. It’s a double gameweek for 8 of the 20 clubs, meaning some potentially huge points totals for those who have been shrewd enough to plan ahead. But the schedule over the coming four weeks makes things far more complicated than they seem, so here to explain why and to help with their top five player picks are our friends at Armchair Fancast - the weekly podcast discussing all the latest happenings from the Premier League. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, and follow them on Twitter here!
- Kasper Schmeichel (LEI, £5.1): A quick glance at the statistics suggests that Schmeichel is easily the most in-form goalkeeper in FPL right now. That’s actually a little misleading, as his average has been bumped up by his 15-point showing at Brighton two weeks ago when he kept a clean sheet and saved a Glenn Murray penalty. That being said, he hasn’t conceded more than one goal in any of the Foxes’ past five matches, and the two games Leicester face this week are promising: especially at home versus low-scoring Southampton.
- Jan Vertonghen (TOT, £6.0): Like Leicester, Tottenham are a side who play twice this week and will still have five games left once both those fixtures are said and done. Granted, first up they face Man City – but Pochettino’s men will see this as the best moment in the season to face the soon-to-be champions, given their mini-crisis of confidence over the past ten days. All of this makes the inclusion of one or more Spurs players a no-brainer for your squad: Kane, Alli, Son and Eriksen are all obvious choices – but don’t sleep on their ever-dependable centre-back who has played more minutes than any of his teammates this year, and has an impressive 13 clean sheets to show for it.
- Paul Pogba (MUN, £7.8): People will remember last Saturday as the day when pundits stopped questioning whether Paul Pogba was worth the £89 million that United paid for him. His two goals against City capped a thunderous second-half performance, and he should find plenty of opportunity to build on them this week: first at home against hapless West Brom, and then on the south coast against a Bournemouth team who left acres of space for Crystal Palace to attack last week. If the Cherries do the same against United then Pogba and pals might well be in for a feast.
- Jack Cork (BUR, £4.5): As we’ve mentioned during the past couple of weeks, Burnley are the only team who play twice this week as well as having a fixture next week, so anyone playing well for them deserves your consideration. It doesn’t hurt that they have rediscovered their form lately too, and have actually been more free-scoring over the past four games than at any other time this season. Like Vertonghen at Spurs, Cork is the most-played member of his squad this season, and his goal at Watford last week helped to show why. He’s a bargain at £4.5 and having him in your team might save you another costly transfer ahead of next week’s limited schedule.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS, £10.8): It might seem odd to include a player whose team only plays once in a double gameweek, but look at it this way: seven of the eight teams with two games this week have nothing scheduled next weekend. Unless you still have a wildcard in your pocket, that means you’re going to need to retain some players from teams who only play once this week, or else you won’t be able to put out a full team seven days from now. With that in mind, Aubameyang seems like an excellent choice – he’s scored five times in Arsenal’s past four league games, and the Gunners have winnable fixtures over the next two weeks against Newcastle and West Ham. They also have two games in week 37, so their star January signing could be a valuable asset if you keep him until then.
Author: Dave Bradshaw