The double Gameweek 34 was truly false as predicted. Brighton and Hove Albion, who played twice during the week, lost both their games without getting on the scoresheet while conceding seven in reply. Few Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers who invested in Cardiff City players had a relatively good week thanks to their win over Brighton.
There was no shock in Tottenham's 4-0 win over Huddersfield, but the expected star of the show Son Heung-min was benched by Mauricio Pochettino, thereby disappointing 499,566 managers who decided to transfer the player in specifically for GW 34. The gameweek was salvaged by Bournemouth, who suddenly sprung to life with a 5-0 win over Brighton. Many FPL managers who had kept faith with the likes of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, and David Brooks were justly rewarded. Liverpool's usual suspects Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah delivered, so did Manchester City's Raheem Sterling. The average gameweek score of 54 papered over the several shocks the gameweek had in store for the FPL bosses.
GW 35, the third and final double gameweek promises a lot more than its predecessor. Big guns like Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal all play twice in GW 35. FA Cup semi-finalists Wolves and Watford also play their rearranged fixture this week making it a week with massive potential for FPL bosses.
The threat of squad rotation
Son's exclusion from the Spurs starting XI last week was a sign of things to come as things get hectic at the business end of the season. With four English teams still in the fray on the European front, expect more such selection shockers in coming weeks. Pochettino has already confirmed he will shuffle his pack during this week's doubleheader, while little said the better about Pep Guardiola's appetite to tinker.
Unai Emery has also used his troops wisely adding to the headaches of FPL bosses ahead of double Gameweek 35. Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Kieran Trippier, Aymeric Laporte, Sead Kolasinac are some of the most desired picks for the coming week, but few FPL managers would bet on any of these players starting both games.
The uncertainty has upset the plans of the FPL bosses who had planned and built their team for this particular week. For those looking to still finalise squads for GW 35, it is advisable to look slightly away from the top six sides and focus on Wolves and Watford for big gains this week. The two teams have done extremely well this season and have favourable fixtures in the double gameweek.
The two teams also have no European assignments and are likely to go with a settled starting XI for both their games. Manchester City, who were knocked out of the Champions League in midweek, also fall under that category to an extent.
For Wolves, Raul Jimenez has been a constant source of goals. His consistency has seen his price rise from £5.5m to £6.9m through the course of the season. Matt Doherty has also seen a similar rise from £4.5m to £5.3m. Facing an out-of-sorts Brighton and poor travelers Arsenal in the double gameweek, Wolves stars, especially their attackers, would be very much among the points. Jimenez, as things stand, is the second most purchased player this week ahead of the likes of Son, Aguero, Aubameyang, Lacazette, and Sterling.
For Watford, Troy Deeney's suspension comes as a blow for Javi Gracia and FPL managers alike, but it opens doors for Andre Gray to get among the points. Gray was unlucky not to find the net against Arsenal on Monday. Up against Huddersfield and Southampton, Gray could be in for a big week.
Diogo Jota, Gerard Deuleufou and Abdoulaye Doucoure are economical options with high points potential in midfield. Watford's Ben Foster is the most purchased goalkeeper this week. A price of £4.6m and a fairly easy fixture lists justifies the FPL bosses' choice between the sticks.
Three out of the top five defenders purchased so far are from either Wolves or Watford. So barring a few certain starters like Aguero, Sterling and, to an extent, Son, it is safer to rely on players from Wolves and Watford, who have been the picks of the rest of the League beyond the top six.
Which chip to use?
Double gameweeks are logically the best time to maximise the effect of a chip as there are more fixtures mostly involving the big teams. However, it is hard to forecast which chip will give you the best possible result. A triple captain chip can be highly potent if a player has two easy games and he is able to make the most of it. A Free-Hit allows to you to field an entire team full of players playing two games, while bench boost can be a great option if you have more than eleven double gameweek players or players who are likely to perform well irrespective of playing only once.
In double GW 32, the average of managers who used the Bench Boost chip was the highest followed by Triple Captain and Free-Hit. This order may or may not follow in GW 35, but it is a good indicator for FPL managers to make a choice.
This is the last real chance for FPL managers to make the most of their chips as there are no double gameweeks in the season after GW 35. So it makes more sense for FPL bosses to use their chip in this week itself.
Top picks for GW 35
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): City's midfield maestro is fit and running and has quietly picked up form in the last week or so. At a price of £9.7m, the Belgian is a great substitute for Sterling. His big-game performances have been top notch in the past and with Guardiola's men facing Tottenham and United, De Bruyne's your man.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth): While double gameweek players are high in demand, it would be foolish to ignore other potential point sources. Wilson and Bournemouth found form in last week's 5-0 thrashing of Brighton. Wilson will fancy his chances again against a fragile Fulham defence. The Englishman priced at £6.7m is the second most purchased striker after Jimenez this week.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea): The England international was rested in Chelsea's midweek fixture in the Europa League. The midfielder priced at just £5.2m has been a real asset for Maurizio Sarri's men recently. Loftus Cheek is beginning to get in more attacking positions and it is just a matter of time before he betters his output. The home game against Burnley could be the start of that run.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool): The Liverpool forward has hit form in recent weeks and is giving Mane and Salah a run for their money in front of goal. With Cardiff and Huddersfield next for the Reds, expect the Brazilian to rack up his FPL score.
Captaincy conundrum: Captaincy is always tricky during double gameweeks when a chip is likely to be involved. City players emerge as the best possible candidates according to me despite their tough fixture list. Expect City to respond after their European exit and Spurs and United may not have what it takes to stop them. Sterling or Aguero are safe bets. A punt on either Salah or Mane is also a sensible choice despite the lack of a second fixture. Jimenez of Wolves who has two home games is also an excellent candidate for captaincy considering he is most likely among the names mentioned to start both Wolves' games this week.