In this weeks FPL Guest Q&A article, we are joined by our regular guest LetsTalkSoccer who will be sharing their thoughts on the most popular questions ahead of GW28. This week we will be discussing form v fixtures, the best mid-priced midfielder, blank gameweek 28 and the top captaincy options.
Thanks to all those people that sent in their questions to us, we have picked out the most popular ones that have been asked. Like always if you enjoy the content, please give our Twitter account a follow along with our FPL guests this week.
“Form v fixtures”
The ideal is both: form AND fixtures. But that seems to be a tall order at the moment.
As this season has shown, FDRs can be misleading. All teams – short of Liverpool for the most part – concede goals with some regularity. Just because a player’s upcoming fixtures have a red-ish tint, it doesn’t mean goals can’t be scored, assists made or even clean sheets kept.
Because of this, we favor the in-form players. Players like Calvert-Lewin (a player we don’t own ☹) can score against opponents regardless of what the FDR table shows. He appears to a keeper for the remainder of the season despite having five FDRs of 4 over the next six fixtures. Form like his trumps fixtures all day every day as far as we’re concerned.
The end-of-season push (just 11 gameweeks left) can make for tense times. If you’ve got in-form players, we say keep them. And get as much out of them as you possibly can!
For those that don’t have in-form players, or maybe have players whose form is on the decline, chasing points can be a tricky, unrewarding endeavor. The key, really, is to find those players that are on the upswing of their form. Bruno Fernandes is a good example, if you brought him in for GW26 or even GW27. He’s just getting hot it seems.
Doherty could be another one to watch: on good form (3 clean sheets and an assist in the last three games), and also has favorable fixtures as icing on the cake. Despite poor form for what seems like an eternity, Vardy (we do own him 😐) could be a player on the rise. If his form does finally click again, he could really reward his owners. All of this requires various levels of risk. But, as they say: “No risk no reward.”
Our suggestion: Identify those players whose form is on the rise. Whether it’s the eye test, a gut feeling or data-driven observations, find the up-and-comers as far as form goes, and base your selections off whatever criteria is important to you. A good balance of “template” players and those on the cusp of rising could make for a fun GW28, and maybe rest of the season.
Form v fixtures has always been an interesting debate in FPL, one that can split opinion within the community. Personally we think that having a flexible approach towards this topic is the most sensible and successful formula across a season.
Over years gone by, it seems that the Premier League has been divided into mini leagues with the usual suspects dominating the top 6 places. However this season, more than any, has seen the rule book tossed aside and sides are getting rewards against the big teams.
Aside from Liverpool, the second least games lost is Man City, Wolves and Arsenal on 6. Whereas Chelsea (9), Spurs (9) and Man Utd (8) have all struggled this season to win games, becoming much easier to beat than years gone by. This has meant teams like Sheffield United, Wolves etc have had plenty of joy against these big teams, putting real pressure on the top 6.
For us, we think analysing players solely based on fixtures has become a bit unnecessary for certain teams this season. The evidence is clear that the teams are not performing at the same level as years gone by, making more players potential FPL assets during tough periods. A strong example of this is the Everton duo Richarlison and Calvert Lewin, who have proved to be excellent value under a rejuvenated Ancelotti side.
‘Form’ can be defined by many different metrics, whether it is based solely on FPL output or identifying the potential in underlying stats. For us, form is still a great measure of making transfers, as form also benefits your FPL team. Players with good form usually coincide with price rises, which over the final few months can prove valuable when jumping on a player early and gaining those rises – opening doors in the future.
Our top tip as mentioned before is to be flexible on your approach, don’t dismiss one or the other. We discussed the fact that fixtures don’t hold the weight that they have over past seasons, and whether that is going to continue into next season, it needs to be acknowledged over the next 11 gameweeks.
“Best mid-priced midfielder?”
If we’re looking at players in the £6.5 to £9.0 range, we like Bruno Fernandes. And here’s why:
- He’s on good form: 1 goal and 2 assists in his first three appearances for United.
- He’s on penalty kicks: Or at least it seems based off a sample size of 1!
- He’s on free kicks and corner: Increases his opportunities to score and assist.
- He’s motivated: As the new guy in the team, and from another league altogether, he’s out to prove that he was a good get, worth the money and belongs in the Premier League.
- He’s got an important role: On the attack, the ball goes through him.
- He’s on a surging team: United seem to be finding their form, and a confident team is always a dangerous one.
From a statistical standpoint, he’s averaging nearly 3 shots per game, 2.3 key passes/game and almost 85 touches/game (which is higher than KBD’s 81.4 touches per game and Maddison’s 70.9/game).
Mid-priced midfielders have stepped up to the plate this season, with the likes of Richarlison, Mahrez, Grealish and Maddison in the top 10 points scorers. Coming into the back-end of the season, picking the right mid-priced midfielder is important to gain those small margains over other managers.
For this particular question, we have considered players £8.8m and below.
Following on from question 1, Richarlison is the perfect example of a player exceeding expectation from tough fixtures. The Brazilian has thrived against the top sides, scoring goals against Arsenal, Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. And Everton have come into a tough run of fixtures, facing Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester and Spurs in their next 6 league matches.
We have highlighted Richarlison’s record against these top sides and we think he can continue his run over this period. Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs in particular have been defensively poor this season, conceding more goals than the likes of Crystal Palace and Wolves.
We have mentioned James Maddison in our GW27 article and we have to include him again in this. The Leicester man has gone through a tough period recently alongside his team, blanking in 10 of his last 11 league matches. Whereas Richarlison was a form pick, Maddison is firmly in the fixture pick, and we think he has value to give to managers.
Maddison has struggled in front of goal from a FPL perspective, but his underlying stats have remained strong during a tough period for Leicester. He has registered 14 shots and 22 key shots over the past 7 league matches.
He now comes into a fine run of fixtures, playing bottom half sides Norwich, Aston Villa, Watford and Brighton. Aston Villa (52) and Norwich (51) have the two worst defensive records in the league, and we think it is a great opportunity for Maddison to return to form. Of course it is hard to look past the barren run he has endured, but at 20% ownership he could be a excellent pick to boost the ranks over the coming gameweeks.
“How to navigate blank gameweek 28”
As hopefully all FPL managers know by now, GW28 is a blank for four teams: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Man City and Sheffield United. Chances are that you have at least a couple, if not a few, from these teams.
Which presents a problem potentially: How do I field a team of 11 players that have fixtures in Week 28? Hopefully you’ve planned for this via making transfers over the past couple weeks. If you didn’t, you have five options: 1) Use Free Transfers at no cost to your team; 2) Make more transfers than you have Free Transfers for, thereby taking a hit; 3) Use your Free Hit chip; 4) Use your Wildcard chip; 5) Do nothing and field a side with less than 11 players.
“Should I use my Free Hit this week?” “Is this a good gameweek to Wildcard?” “Should I take a hit?” – We’ve received a lot of these kinds of DMs this week. Our answer is always the same: “It depends…”
It depends on the players currently in your FPL team. It depends on who you’re willing to transfer out and who is a must-keep for you. It depends on how big (or small) a hit you’re willing to tolerate. It depends on how many total changes you’d like to make to your team overall. It depends on whether you’re OK playing just 10 (or 9) players rather than replace anyone in your side.
Answering those questions will help lead you down the path that’s right for you.
If you’ve got a lot of value tied up in a player or two that’s not playing this weekend, you might not be willing to transfer them out. If you think that you’d prefer to use Free Hit during a potentially larger blank GW or maybe even a double GW, you might want to save the chip. And so on.
Our opinion: We think it’s worth holding onto the Free Hit chip for a future gameweek. And if there’s a chance of a large double gameweek brewing, we think it could be wise to hold onto the Wildcard until that’s figured out. To us, assuming that making a free transfer or two won’t get the job done, we favor the ideas of either taking a “small-ish” hit (what defines “small” is up to each individual manager) or even playing a man or two down. We feel that chips hold so much value in upcoming weeks that they’re worth holding onto until all of the details are finalized.
Whatever the decision, we wish you the best.
There are plenty of different ways to navigate the upcoming blank gameweek 28, and it is different depending on each manager. However, with the information we already have there are a few factors to consider when making the decisions.
This upcoming gameweek has 2 fixtures blanking, whereas gameweek 31 has a possible 8 games blanking. Right now, it looks likely that around 5 games will blank during GW31, all depending on the results of cup matches. While some managers might struggle to field 11 players this gameweek, we can almost guarantee that it will be harder to do in gameweek 31.
The Free Hit chip is a powerful tool and needs to be used at the most effective time. We don’t think that the upcoming blank gameweek 28 is the best time to use it – useless managers only have a handful of players playing. If anything, this free hit chip should be saved for the bigger blank gameweek 31, and while it might not get used during this, it could come in handy.
If possible we think the best move is to play your free transfers to try and field as many players as possible this gameweek. While fielding 11 players is the ideal scenario, sometimes taking a large points hit to do so doesn’t always pay dividends. Our recommendation is to make transfers that benefit the team this gameweek, but also have an eye on the upcoming weeks.
Information is power when entering the business end of the season, so try to avoid making any early transfers. Some discussions in the FPL community have been about a double gameweek for Man City being announced before the GW28 deadline. While this might not happen, it seems a mistake to make moves before this potential announcement – unless you get priced out of a transfer.
Try to negotiate this blank gameweeks with free transfers or small hits to your side. We think that the Free Hit chip could be an excellent option later in the season, whether it be in GW31 or the double gameweeks that we know are happening at some point. When trying to chase a late boost in the overall ranks, this powerful chip could be the one that helps achieve this when used at the correct time.
Because GW28 is a blank, it removes a few popular captain options. Arsenal, Man City, Aston Villa and Sheffield United do not play, which removes players like De Bruyne, Aguero and Aubameyang – plus differentials like Grealish, Pepe, Mahrez – from selection.
Of the remaining 16 teams, here is some historical data on several available captain options vs. their GW28 opponents…
The three Liverpool players’ success against Watford really jumps off the page at us. In 20 combined appearances, they have 18 goals and 9 assists. Not too shabby. And, despite a small sample size, Jimenez has done well against Spurs.
With 4 games (2 PL, FA Cup, UCL) in just a 12-day span, there’s always a concern that we could see a little rotation in the Liverpool lineup, although with their scare against West Ham in GW27, hopefully Klopp will have his starting attacking trio hyped and ready to do bits. But, in case there is some rotation, be sure to put a lot of thought into your Vice Captain selection too.
Our top picks for GW28 captains are:
“Safe” picks(highly-owned and likely highly-captained players in Week 28)
- Salah (watford)
- Mane (watford)
Differential picks(either lesser owned and/or will not be widely chosen to wear the armband)
- Jimenez (tottenham)
- Vardy (norwich)
- Martial (everton)
- Calvert-Lewin (Man Utd)
That’s all for now. Be sure to check out more on Instagram @letstalksoccer. As always, best of luck. Get that green arrow in GW28!
As managers have probably noticed by now, gameweek 28 is the biggest blank gameweek of the season so far. Popular players such as De Bruyne, Aguero and Aubameyang all blank this weekend, opening up opportunities for other players.
Similar to Maddison, Vardy has experienced a tough run of form, only scoring 1 goal in his last 9 league matches. However as mentioned regarding Norwich, he has a brilliant fixture to regain his form, and throws up an excellent captaincy option.
A few months back, Vardy would have been a cemented captain pick this weekend, but we can see the uncertainty from managers. With easy form picks from the Liverpool camp, it can be an unnecessary risk picking Vardy at the hope of him finding form.
For us, we think he is still a great captaincy option and right now has the armband for us. The decision has assumption as the major factor, but the stats surrounding Norwich are enough to provide a strong argument.