In this week’s edition we examine the best assets for what is likely to be the final double gameweek of the season, FPL DGW35. We look at the players with the highest ceiling for the double, while also considering those with the best fixtures in the weeks after. We also discuss the importance of avoiding ‘double blindness’ and which players with a single game look set to do well.
Article written by The FPL T.
Like many of you, the FPL Connect team and myself participated in the Social Media Boycott over the weekend. It was amazing to see such a unified effort across the FPL and wider football community. This is hopefully the beginning of positive change in how social media companies deal with abuse and hate speech.
FPL-wise it was a crazy weekend. The Premier League dropped news of fixture rearrangements just hours before the boycott, this was not accompanied by a change in the FPL gameweek deadlines that would trigger the expected double gameweek 35/blank gameweek 36 scenario.
The deadline shift was confirmed before the GW34 deadline but only via the FPL app and website, allowing just enough time for managers to alter or confirm their transfer plans.
The madness didn’t stop there. Sunday saw the planned anti-Glazer protests at Old Trafford escalate to the point where it became impossible for Man Utd vs. Liverpool to go ahead, causing both sides to blank in FPL and reducing most managers to just nine players.
This was followed up by the most captained player, Harry Kane (£11.9m), inexplicably blanking despite Spurs putting four past already relegated Sheffield United. It turned out to be a good week for those who picked a differential captain but also another tough week in what has been an unbelievably difficult season to navigate.
This week we have yet another hurdle to clear in the shape of what is expected to be the final double gameweek of the campaign. We await news on the rearrangement of the North-West Derby but logic suggests it will find its way into GW36, ensuring both Liverpool and United double in GW35 without blanking the week after.
With all double gameweeks the potential to improve or damage your rank is massive, getting the key decisions right can be season defining at this late stage. In the article below, we aim to help you nail those marginal transfer calls and identify some under the radar assets that can make a big impact.
Best Double Gameweek 35 Assets (All Positions)
In this section, we will take a comprehensive look at the best outfield players to target for the coming gameweek, maximising upside is the aim every week but the variance from good to bad is amplified when a second fixture is involved.
We’ll start by referring to the possible state of play. Fixtures expert @BenCrellin was absolutely on the money with his prediction on how the double and blank schedule would play out. He is now predicting that Liverpool and West Brom will double in GW35, with the latter blanking in GW36, and Man Utd are now expected to double without a blank to follow.
In summary, we are expecting ten teams to double in gameweek 35, with four of those blanking in gameweek 36 (see the above image for the predicted schedule).
I have excluded some of the more well owned options from the following discussion, simply because they are already in the vast majority of teams and therefore considered as ‘obvious’ picks. This includes Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m), Mo Salah (£12.7m), Trent Alexander Arnold (£7.6m), Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.3m), Emi Martinez (£5.4m) etc. If you do not own these players, I would consider them alongside the below list.
Below is the list of candidates I will be discussing, I won’t list them all out but I’ve taken a look at the fixtures and ‘most transferred in’ section of the FPL site in order to come up with some options (see in the image below)
The table above is sorted by minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI), naturally the more attacking players are near the top. The players obviously haven’t all played the same number of minutes and as such we will primarily use ‘minutes per’ stats to compare them.
We’ll start with xGI as it is a good indication of how likely a player is to get an attacking return in any given week and therefore is a great metric for working out who has the highest ceiling. The first position we will begin with is midfielders, mainly because this is where people are planning to prioritise their transfers.
Interestingly, the top three for minutes per xGI are among the worst for minutes played over the last six gameweeks. Kai Havertz (£8.2m), Mason Greenwood (£7.1m) and Diogo Jota (£7.0m) have all played less than 65% of available minutes for their sides in that time, this can potentially skew per 90 data but they also make up three of the top four for total expected goals (xG) and xGI over the period.
Clearly all three are rotation risks, Jota was set to be benched for Liverpool’s GW34 match pre-postponement for example. The question is, does rotation matter with these players? The evidence shows that when they play they are very strong options and can even outperform players who get significantly more minutes.
Diogo Jota has played less than half the minutes of out and out striker Ollie Watkins (£6.5m) in recent weeks but has been expected to have scored more goals. FPL managers have actually transferred Jota out more times than in over the last two gameweeks, perhaps growing tired of the rotation pattern Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appears to have his front four in. Although he hasn’t returned in his last three appearances, the eye test tells us Jota has been unfortunate given the number of chances he has had.
In fact, no midfielder has had more than the Portuguese’s 21 touches in the penalty area and eight shots in the box (SiTB) since he last returned, and only Havertz has had more than his two big chances.
If we expect Liverpool to field a similar team versus Man Utd to the one that was planned on Sunday, then it seems reasonable to speculate that Jota will start against both Southampton and West Brom (should the double be confirmed). Both sides are among the worst defences in the recent weeks, each averaging around three big chances conceded per match and West Brom are particularly prone to conceding SiTB.
In the same way that Iheanacho and Crystal Palace matched up stats-wise in GW33, Jota and his two possible opponents appear to fit very well. We have a player who is active in the penalty area and turns this into a high volume of shots and big chances, playing two sides that are typically poor at preventing both.
While Jota isn’t a differential (67% top 10k ownership) his popularity is falling, with 50,000 transfers out this week already. With so few active managers playing it is likely his ownership near the top will take a sizeable drop should this trend continue, bringing him in would certainly go against the grain.
The above table is sorted by minutes per chance created (for all positions), and is a good indication of assist potential. As you can see, Shaw, Digne and Chilwell are all in the top 5 despite being defenders.
Defenders are often among the highest scoring assets in double gameweeks, with John Stones (£5.1m) famously equalling the FPL record of 27 points in DGW19 this season. The upside of using defenders to attack the doubles is they couple clean sheet points with attacking returns. If you can nail the player that gets both then a big score is usually guaranteed.
Luke Shaw (£5.4m) and Lucas Digne (£6.1m) look like the two best options (other than TAA). Shaw has been a chance creation machine this season, his 26 minutes per chance created puts him a mile clear of the rest of the options in the table above. With a double against the worsening Villa defence and good but inconsistent Leicester backline it is reasonable to suggest he has a good chance of an attacking return.
Clean sheets are obviously the bread and butter of defensive assets and Shaw’s chances of getting at least one appear to be good. Man Utd are the fourth best side for minutes per expected goal conceded (xGC) over the last six gameweeks, keeping two clean sheets and conceding just three goals in that time.
Aston Villa are the seventh best team for total xG over the last six (8.03) but when adjusted for minutes they are actually sixth from bottom, suggesting the continued absence of talisman Jack Grealish (£7.5m) is having a major effect on their ability to create quality chances.
Leicester are mid table for xG and minutes per xG over the last six gameweeks. This doesn’t scream ‘potent attack’ but given the individual performances of Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy (£10.3m), I would still rank United’s chance of a clean sheet as unlikely. Both defences have been performing well, with Leicester only one place lower than United for minutes per xGC. It is possible that the game could be cagey, but with both side’s potential to score from few chances I would be surprised to see a big score from defenders on either team.
With Shaw’s propensity for collecting bonus points, should he get an attacking return and/or a clean sheet it is likely he will surpass double figures for the gameweek and of all assets he has potentially one of the highest ceilings.
I would rank him above Digne simply due to the quality of the United backline relative to Everton’s. Although Everton have arguable an easier double they are a worse defence than United and conceded twice to Villa in GW34. They also play West Ham who are bolstered by the return of frontman Michail Antonio (£6.4m). Even a single clean sheet looks unlikely for the Toffees.
Ben Chilwell (£5.9m) appears to have beaten the Tuchel Tombola in recent weeks, starting in back to back league games. While he is posting good numbers it would be wise to avoid the Chelsea full backs altogether this week as the Blues play Man City and Arsenal in GW35, perhaps the toughest double of any side.
With Chelsea likely to play a full strength side in the Champions League and then again in their FA Cup Final with Leicester during blank gameweek 36, it will be tough to predict which assets will get enough minutes to make an impact. The difficulty of their fixtures makes a clean sheet hard to call and with Shaw being virtually guaranteed minutes there is little need to look to the Chelsea defence this week.
Sadly, the same can be said of the aforementioned Havertz and his colleague Mason Mount (£7.3m). While Mount is mostly rotation proof it is hard to imagine he plays against Madrid, City, Arsenal and Leicester, that Arsenal game in particular looks prime for rotation.
With Chelsea blanking in GW36 there appears to be little upside to targeting their defensive assets given you may only get one fixture out of them during the double gameweek as well.
Differentials and Forwards
The table above is sorted by minutes per xG and features the players we haven’t covered in detail. Mason Greenwood stands out as one of the better prospects, as discussed earlier in the article his minutes can vary but it doesn’t appear to effect his output.
It would be wise to wait for United’s Europa League lineup to be revealed, but should Greenwood get reduced minutes it is likely he will feature heavily in GW35. The Englishman was named in United’s lineup to face Liverpool at the weekend, suggesting his place in the league team is likely to be almost secure for the rest of the season.
The Aston Villa fixture looks particularly enticing, with Villa being particularly weak through middle and down their left flank, both are areas Greenwood is likely to feature heavily in.
There has been a lot of talk about Wilfried Zaha (£7.1m) since the doubles were announced, with fixtures against the already relegated Sheffield United and inconsistent Southampton it is fair to argue that Palace have one of the best sets of games for the week.
Despite playing 90 minutes in five consecutive games Zaha ranks poorly for just about every metric, offering little goal or assist threat in recent weeks. The hype appears to be largely based around the fixtures, with Sheffield being particularly leaky of late.
Indeed, the Blades are one of the worst sides for xGC total when adjusted for minutes over the last six gameweeks. However, Palace are the worst team for xG and minutes per xG in that time. We have a bad defence against a bad attack. Whilst Zaha has a reputation as a bit of a flat track bully it is hard to make much of a case for Palace as a whole. We are pinning our hopes on Sheffield defending badly enough to override Palace’s lack of potency.
Zaha is currently the second most transferred in player this week and truthfully there is little to justify it other than the Sheffield game (and potentially the Southampton game). Palace are ‘on the beach’ and we saw last season that they struggle to pick up results when there is nothing at stake. With the likes of Greenwood and Jota at a similar price it feels like going for Zaha is being differential for the sake of it, probably worth a gamble on a free hit but not a player I would want to be stuck with beyond GW35.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.9m) looks a safer bet than Zaha for those looking to for an alternative option, his numbers are middling but he is on penalties and set pieces. Everton have a good double from an attacking perspective with both Villa and West Ham struggling for defensive consistency of late. The Hammers in particular are struggling, having conceded in seven straight games and have an almost identical minutes per xGC to Sheffield United in recent weeks.
Lastly, we look at the strikers on our list. The advice is simple in this case, you hold who you own. If you haven’t swapped Kane for Vardy yet then I wouldn’t make the move now. Kane plays the potentially leaky Leeds defence and does not blank in GW36, while Vardy has one favourable fixture against Newcastle before a tougher one against Man Utd which is followed by a blank.
It’s not that Vardy is bad option, his numbers are strong and his link up with Iheanacho is likely to yield returns over the final four gameweeks. As we’ve discussed already there are a number of high impact options this week and I feel Vardy’s ceiling is lower than the likes of Jota, Greenwood or Shaw, who should be a higher priority in my opinion.
Watkins looks a good bet for returns this week, having already scored against Everton and notching his fifth attacking return in as many games. I’m not certain his ceiling is that high given Villa play Man Utd, but given they play Palace in GW36 it is likely Watkins will continue to provide good value in the coming weeks.
The Aston Villa man scores well for both minutes per chance creation and minutes per SiTB, suggesting if Villa do find the net he is likely to be involved. For those who own Patrick Bamford (£6.4m) or are on free hit, Watkins looks like a good option to bring in this week.
However, the pick with most upside appears to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.5m). The England international has just returned from a short injury layoff and wasted no time in regaining the attention of FPL managers, scoring against Villa in GW34.
DCL is the focal point of the Everton attack and they have only failed to score in four games in which he has featured. His return is well timed, with the Toffees facing the inconsistent Aston Villa and West Ham defences before an appealing GW36 fixture against Sheffield United.
DCL is only 6.21% owned among the top 10k managers and with Everton’s excellent end of season fixtures he could be a significant differential for the run in. We’ve seen how valuable he can be once he gets into good form and despite posting slightly worse stats than Watkins I would pick him above the Villa man given the weakness of the three defences Everton are about to face.
To conclude this section, I would use the following shortlist to plan your transfers:
Luke Shaw, Lucas Digne, Diogo Jota, Mason Greenwood, Ollie Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
While attacking the doubles should be the primary aim this week, it is important to consider players that have strong single fixtures too. Not only this, but consider players with great fixtures from GW36 to GW38. Bringing in a player that blanks in GW36 and has tough fixtures in GW37 and GW38 is essentially a player that will cost 8 points to bring in and ship out.
I have seen many suggest that removing Jesse Lingard (£6.7m) for Zaha is a a logical play given the latter has an extra fixture. It’s this kind of move I would be wary of. Lingard is still posting good numbers despite back to back blanks and faces the inconsistent Everton defence this week. West Ham also have some of the best fixtures to end the season, while a number of key players have also returned from injury. From an attacking perspective, they are only likely to improve in my opinion.
Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son (£9.6m) are also among the most transferred out players, the latter off the back of a 12 point haul in GW34. The assumption is they are being replaced with players who double, however the points potential for the Spurs pair is still strong this week and for the remaining weeks, it seems odd to remove them.
Even on a free hit I think I would have at least one, if Leeds are without Kalvin Phillips (£4.9m) again then it makes the Spurs attackers very appealing. Leeds have only won two of the nine games Phillips has missed, losing seven and totaling an aggregate scoreline of 10-16. The Spurs players have spoken of being allowed to attack more under manager Ryan Mason, suggesting the emphasis will shift away from the more defensive style of Jose Mourinho.
It’s important to consider that Kane, Son and Lingard are players that you will likely want back quickly, perhaps even the following gameweek. Chasing a big score in a double is advisable, but only if it isn’t to the detriment of a longer term strategy and especially not if it forces you into hits to get back players you have taken out.
The player I consider to have the highest upside is Diogo Jota, the strength of his stats and Liverpool’s fixtures make him a really appealing prospect and I believe he is likely to feature in both games before a potential benching against Man Utd. The fact that tens of thousands are taking him out only boosts my confidence in him as he steadily becomes more of a differential the closer we get to the deadline.
Clearly we need to wait for absolute confirmation of Liverpool’s double gameweek, but should it be announced I can see Jota being one of the highest scoring assets and as such he would be my primary focus out of the players we have looked at.
For those who already own Jota, I would look to transfer Luke Shaw in. The United full back has been consistent all season and his creative numbers are among the very best in the league. He is good odds for at least one clean sheet and should he also get an attacking return then his ceiling could be one of the highest this week. I would avoid the attraction of Everton’s fixtures and prioritise Shaw over Digne.
Finally, Greenwood or Calvert-Lewin are the next best picks. The lack of certainty of minutes for Chelsea assets and lack of form for Zaha makes Greenwood (along with Jota) one of the standout midfielders at that price to target, especially if he is rested midweek. DCL is very much a differential right now and his upside for this week and beyond makes him the pick of the forwards in my opinion.
Ultimately no asset has the upside of Jota should Liverpool double, if they don’t then the other three are not far behind and certainly represent better value and higher upside than the other popular options we have looked at.
*Underlying statistics and tables obtained via the author’s paid subscription to Fantasy Football Scout. Fixture planner created by Ben Crellin*