Sunday, 19 February 2017

European Roundup - Part 1

UEFA Champions League (UCL)


Déjà vu! Gunner’s fans say it year after year at the same period of the season. Arsenal breeze through the UCL group stage and into the knockout phase only to stumble at the first hurdle and pack their bags to head home. Once again, this seems the most likely outcome unless there is a miracle recovery at the Emirates in the second leg against Bayern Munich. In the opening encounter Arsenal were completely dismantled 5-1 to a far superior Bayern team. Everything that Arsenal are accustomed to dominating in matches was reversed. Passing, possession, goal attempts all favoured the home side and left Arsenal looking like schoolboys. For FPL managers this result can create headaches in selecting Arsenal players. However, the UCL is a whole different standard of competition. First team regulars Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott performed fantastically throughout the group stage, however saw a significant decrease when up against the might of Bayern. Lucky for FPL managers, no teams in the Premier League equal the power that Bayern possess, meaning that Arsenal should get back to winning ways once they recommence league fixtures.

So, Should FPL managers stick with, or ditch their Arsenal selections?

Alexis Sánchez

Sánchez has been in another stratosphere in comparison to his Arsenal team-mates in terms of performance and influence this season. There has been recent speculation about Sánchez jumping ship from the Emirates for a more successfully club in search of trophies. The likes of Juventus, PSG AC Milan and former club Barcelona are all lining up transfer bids for the Chilean. As of now Sánchez has chosen to stick with the Gunners. However, the UCL loss to Bayern could be the last straw for Sánchez’s loyalty to Arsenal. Sánchez has registered 20 goals and 11 assists in all competitions starting 31 of his 33 matches this season, mainly in a striking role. Although Sánchez was far below his usual self at striker against Bayern, his underlying stats were quite good and don’t diminish his FPL prowess. Missing a penalty was the only blemish Sánchez had in the game, albeit scoring on the rebound. Registering a goal from 2 shots (both on target), Sánchez had 2 successful dribbles (4 attempts), 2 aerial duals won and made 2 key passes leading to goal attempts. In total, Sánchez was involved in 4 of Arsenals 7 total shots. Arsenal only managed 26% possession but Sánchez was highly effective the few times he had the ball. It is unlikely that Arsenal will ever have such low possession in the league therefore Sánchez is still a must have for FPL managers. Sánchez’s only downfall when returning to league fixtures is that his head might have already left Arsenal and he is waiting for the summer transfer window to move on. This mindset could cause his contributions and FPL points returns to decrease as the season draws to a close.

Mesut Özil

Performing far below the heights of last season, Özil hasn’t been a mainstay in FPL manager’s squads this year. However, his underlying stats have been quite good, and a meagre 6.5% ownership makes Özil a good differential pick for the backend of the season. Arsenal have a very favourable run-in and will more than likely be without European commitments making Özil and attractive alternate choice. Starting all 7 fixtures in the UCL, Özil orchestrated Arsenal attack in the group stage, scoring 4 goals and providing 3 assists, having 1.8 shots per game above his average of 1.6 shots per game in the Premier League. In the first playoff game against Bayern, Özil was asked to perform far more defensive duties than usually expected but performed relatively well for such an attacking minded player. Registering 5 successful tackles, Özil was second best on field only to Arturo Vidal, ahead of defensive team-mates Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs. If Özil applies himself defensively while sustaining his attacking threat, FPL managers could relish in his possible points returns heading into Arsenals easier fixture run and double game-weeks. 

Theo Walcott

Starting the 2016/17 season off well, Walcott was considered a handy option by all FPL managers. 3 goals and 2 assists in the first 6 games made the Arsenal midfielder one of the best performers in his position. Dropping off the pace with injury in GW18, Walcott has just recently been promoted back into the starting XI in league competition. Arsenals first leg playoff against Bayern Munich saw Walcott drop back to the bench. This has been a regular occurrence in the UCL for Walcott this season – 2 starts and 3 bench appearances. However, Walcott has managed 5.4 shots per 90 minutes of game time in the competition making him a goal threat with every touch of the ball. When substituted on in the 65th minute against Bayern, Walcott had little to no impact as Arsenal struggled in every aspect of the game. With Arsenal having a blank in GW26, Walcott won’t have seen much game time in multiple weeks. Not having scored since GW17 against Manchester City, Walcott might not be the best inclusion in FPL squads. Instead, Alex Iwobi on the other wing could be a prized possession for FPL managers as an Arsenal selection due to his low price (£6.0) and his recent nailed on status.

UEFA Europa League (UEL)


For the second season in a row Tottenham have been by far the most consistent Premier League team. With the equal best defensive record in the league (18 goals conceded), Tottenham have applied their defensive structure and assurance to European competition this season. Finishing 3rd in their UCL group, Tottenham got a second life in the Europa league (UEL). However, Tottenham faced KAA Gent in the first knockout phase of the competition and suffered a 1-0 away loss. This is not much to fear for Spurs fans as Tottenham have been scintillating at home this season in all competitions, yet to lose at White Hart Lane in the league so far. For FPL managers, this creates different dilemmas when considering team selections. If Tottenham go deep into the UEL, more work load will be thrust upon top players Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Kyle Walker. This could possibly decrease league performance output due to the multitude of games being played. Eriksen, Alli and Walker this season have become relatively fixture proof individuals. Kane however has been up and down.

With UEL in the picture, what should FPL managers do with Spurs players?

Harry Kane

Kane, this season hasn’t seen the same trust he was given by FPL managers in past seasons. Still having already registered 14 goals in the league, Kane is on track to easily pass the 20 goal barrier for the third consecutive season since breaking into the starting XI at Spurs. However, as much as Kane has done for Tottenham in the league, in European competitions he has been less than impressive. Appearing in 27 European games in his career, Kane has managed 11 goals. As a striker this appears as a decent record but Kane’s impact factor in big playoff games has been non-evident. Averaging 4.3 shots per game against stronger UCL opponents, Kane was expected to recapture top form in Spurs’ most recent fixture against KAA Gent. However, Kane’s only significant involvement was a shot that struck the woodwork. As Tottenham’s only out and out striker in the UEL tie against Gent, seeing midfielders Alli, Dembèlè and Eriksen all have more shots should make FPL managers reconsider the reasons for selecting Kane in their squads. At a price of £11.2, Kane compromises FPL squad depth with his selection. Having blanked against Hull and Burnley at home in GW16 and GW17, FPL managers have lost trust in the young Englishman. With age on his side and no credible threat to his position, it is almost certain that Kane will start every game when he is fit so that Tottenham can continue to push for the Premier league title, even with European commitments. Possibly having the easiest fixture difficulty for the remainder of the season, Kane should improve his form, but with cheaper forward options performing at high levels, FPL managers shouldn’t put Kane at the top of their selection list.

Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen

For FPL managers there has been one constant decision throughout the 2016/17 season - Alli or Eriksen? Although both have been in dazzling form throughout the campaign, many FPL managers opt for one or the other, using two other possible spurs player spots for the ever reliable Kyle Walker and Harry Kane. In the UEL, Alli didn’t do any favours for himself in the minds of FPL managers, performing sub-par with 2 shots on target and picking up a yellow card. Eriksen was only given 11 minutes off the bench, managing 2 shots off target. Throughout the league season, Eriksen has given FPL managers 7 double figure returns while Alli has only managed 4. Although this is in Eriksen’s favour, Alli has scored 11 goals to Eriksen’s 5. Amazingly assist-wise the numbers are flipped. Eriksen with 11 assists and Alli with 5 assists. Both players find themselves in very advanced positions within the team set-up, often playing just behind Kane in an attacking midfield role or alongside the Englishman at centre forward. For FPL managers only able to afford one in their squad, Eriksen is the prized choice. Eriksen is averaging 3.8 shots and 2.8 key passes per game in the league. These are the stats that lead to FPL points returns for midfielders, and both are far superior to Alli (2.4 shots, 1.3 key passes). However, in the long run it would be wise for FPL managers to double-up on Tottenham midfielders (Eriksen and Alli) with the sacrifice of Harry Kane, who has scored big returns this season but has been far too inconsistent to trust ahead of his counterparts.
Manchester United

In the best form in England, Man Utd went into their UEL tie against Saint-Etienne on a 16 game unbeaten run in the League. Zlatan Ibrahimović continued to dominate European competitions registering all three goals in a 3-0 win against the French opponents in the knock-out tie. For FPL managers, Ibrahimović is one of the lynch-pins in most squads (39.5%TSB). However, he was not the only stand out player in this match for the Red Devils. Midfielders Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial yet again showed why United paid such large transfer fees for each individual. Along with the midfield, United defenders were solid yet again. Man Utd looked a level above the Group C winners, leading every statistic in the fixture (shots, pass accuracy, possession, take-on efficiency and tackles). Manchester Utd players look to be a good selection for FPL managers in the coming weeks as fixtures are favourable. However, Ibrahimović isn’t the only answer to gain points returns.

Manchester United players could be essential, but outside Ibrahimović who should be included?

Paul Pogba

Against Saint Etienne, Pogba put in another fantastic performance. After a slow start to the Premier League season, Pogba has picked up as of late. From both an advanced attacking midfield position as well as defensive midfield, Pogba has been highly involved in most of United’s attacking play and has been one of the reasons the red side of Manchester has been on such a great run of form. In the UEL this season, Pogba has registered 2 goals and 1 assist from 7 games with an average of 3.4 shots per game from midfield, higher than Ibrahimović (3.2). Pogba also averages 2 key goal scoring passes per game in the UEL. Both these shots and passing stats are identical to his Premier League contributions. It is only a matter of time before Pogba begins to consistently provide big returns to FPL managers. With less than 10% ownership (9.3%), Pogba could prove an excellent differential pick in FPL for those looking to jump up the rank leader board towards the end of the season. With Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, West Brom and Sunderland coming within the next 6 GWs, Ibrahimović will be a popular captain’s choice, but Pogba’s form suggests he could provide healthy returns for FPL managers willing to put faith in the Frenchman.

Anthony Martial

Martial, like Pogba was fantastic in the UEL tie against Saint Etienne. Registering 5 shots on target from 5 efforts and 6 successful take-ons from 6 attempts, Martial lead all players for take-ons and was second only to Pogba for shots. His 100% completion for two of the most important factors in his position should persuade FPL managers to consider including Martial in their squads for the league fixtures ahead. Martial has only completed 90 minutes in the league once this season (against Middlesbrough in GW19), and only featured in more than 2 consecutive games between GW1 and GW5 to open the season. Of the 8 games Martial has played more than 60 minutes this season, he has scored or assisted in 4, showing that when he is given time, he repays the faith placed on him. Being re-injected into the starting XI against Watford in GW25 after a 3 game hiatus, Martial produced a goal and an assist to give the 2.4% of FPL managers who have selected him a hefty 12 point return. Moreover, Martial is averaging 2.5 shots, 2.6 successful take-ons and 38 touches on the ball per 90mins in all competitions. FPL managers looking for a Manchester United player to include in their squads for the upcoming games, but are reluctant to bring in the pricy Ibrahimović should turn to and utilise Martial. The £9.2 differential midfielder will virtually be playing in the forward line, giving FPL managers another reason to bring the French international into their squads. However, FPL managers will need to act fast as Martials value is likely to rise quickly should he maintain his starting spot and positon.

Daley Blind

Blind aided Manchester United in gaining another clean sheet against Saint Etienne in the UEL. Menacing in attack and strong in defence, Blind has nailed himself as certain starter in recent weeks in the united backline. Against Saint Etienne Blind managed 5 successful tackles to top the defensive duties among the Manchester United backline. With promising league fixtures to come for Man Utd, there is the likelihood that clean sheets will be on offer to capitalise on. Defensive FPL points have become a rich source of scoring for FPL managers in the 2016/17 season. For FPL managers, seeing Blind re-inserted into the left back position is good news. The potential for more threating attacking raids down the wing and possible goal assists is enticing. As Manchester United’s cheapest FPL defender (£5.2) in comparison to Chris Smalling (£5.8), Antonio Valencia (£5.6) and Eric Bailly (£5.3), Blind could be the best inclusion to capitalise on United’s clean sheet possibilities. Along with clean sheet temptation, Blind ranks above his defensive team mates for shots on target and key passes per 90mins this season, along with being on corner and set-piece duty. With these factors in mind, FPL managers should consider Blind for the points he could present to their squads and the saving in funds.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week

Manchester City and Leicester’s UCL fixtures will be reviewed along with the second legs of the UEL ties for Tottenham and Manchester United

By Luke Scali – Twitter (@LS_Potzi)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Togga - FPLHints - Week 26

If Bob Bradley showed us anything, Americans can at least make one of the worst teams in the league play like their true selves. I’m American, and the aforementioned failure weighs heavy on my heart. I’m no xenophobe, but if I were a Brit, I’d be very wary of any American trying to take my team to EPL glory.
Luckily, that’s not why I’m here. From seven time zones away, I’m an avid observer of the older, truer, more sensical “football”. And while I’m skeptical on the MLS and the USA’s place in modern football, America one-ups the world is one distinct sporting category: Fantasy Sports. Baseball, the most statistically-driven sport in the world, became the first fantasy sport over thirty-five years ago and ever-since American sports have driven fantasy into a billion-dollar industry. And as an American, I’ve been inundated with fantasy baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf and even MMA since I was a mere child.
My point is, if there was ever room for Americans in the Premier League, draft Fantasy Football is the perfect niche. And I’ll tell you, not just because I write for them, Togga’s finally figured it out.
Salary Cap Leagues checked off some of fantasy’s most important tenets: identifying value, quantifying play on the field (barely), leaning into the dream of controlling a team of world-class footballers. But ultimately, the experience left me begging for more.
I realized what it was missing: drama. It’s one thing to see Manolo Gabbiadini arriving from Napoli and decide that he’ll be a better value than Andy Carroll. It’s another matter when you might only have a 1 in 10 chance of getting the player who can change your season. Identifying a budding star isn’t enough. Just like reality, there are usually one or two or three or four other teams vying for their talents.
My biggest complaint with Salary Leagues was the inflexible scoring systems. “Soccer” is one of the least quantifiable sports on earth. The simple counting of Goals and Assists doesn’t give most players on the pitch the credit they earn. But with companies like Opta making strides to record more of the game into digestible stats, the community is coming around.
Togga has utilized Opta’s industrious nature by using their statistics. Events like Key Passes, Aerials Won, Successful Take-Ons, and Tackles Won now count for fantasy points. This is strides better than hoping your player earned a measly bonus point despite no assists or goals.
The head-to-head format, can be frustrating but the weekly battles reflect the fickle nature of football. Sometimes you’ll click on all cylinders and hand the league leaders a loss. Other times, you’ll put up a great performance and be downed by a surprise hat trick from Andre Gray.
But the best difference, by far, is the draft. There are obviously tiers, everyone understands that Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players in the league. But who’s to say that Zlatan won’t be more valuable, or Kevin De Bruyne. You aren’t limited by their price; the only limiting factor is how much the people in front of you like them. If you want Lukaku and Kane, take them both. You don’t have to worry about wasting your salary cap - just beating the other managers in your league to the punch.
Take the valuation point even further. All of the players are valued based on your own perception. This is the greatest test of knowledge; it’s why we all play. If you think that Sergio Aguero’s best days are behind him, you can pass on him and let someone else waste a pick. You can gamble on M’Baye Niang or Benik Afobe, wait for them to come good instead of wasting a spot in your starting lineup.
Advanced scoring, head-to-head matchups, roster flexibility, more talent to utilize and interplay with the teams in the league are all ways that draft leagues improve on the traditional salary model of fantasy football. Draft Fantasy Football might not be the greatest invention in the world, but it’s not dropping teams into the relegation zone. That probably makes it the best American innovation in the Premier League yet.
With 13 weeks left in the Premier League season - the two week break is the perfect time to try a draft league! Togga's app is 100% free to download on Android and Apple and users can do everything from pick a draft time, to invite their friends to host the draft right from their mobile device. Luke Dykes
Follow @WuboxNation

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Gameweek 25 Review: A Great Advert For FPL

25 gameweeks have passed, chips have been played, captains have failed, many have left, but you, elite FPL player, remain to see out the rest of the season. You deserve all the help you can get from fellow FPL elites to propel you as high up the leaderboard as possible come end of season.

However, many of you, like me, are playing just for pure visceral enjoyment at this point, as all your leagues are unwinnable and your ranking makes you burst out laughing. If yes, I can help you squeeze every last drop out of these gameweeks, when the elite stress out over decisions while you sign Lazar Markovic and captain Matty Phillips just because you 'had a feeling'.

Dubious Goal Lotta Fun

West Brom's last-gasp equaliser summed up the fine margins in FPL. Many refuse to accept it but the game is based 6 tenths on luck. The popular and very funny new media sensation Sports Joe getting FPL out there to a mainstream audience this weekend amid the outrageous Gareth McAuley ghost goal below was encouraging, but also expected because the target audience is there: over 4 million players have signed up to play this season, more than any season before it. FPL is bigger than it has ever been and a blog like FPL Hints should celebrate this fact.

Truth be told, FPL is a game for every man and boy, knowledgable or not. Apart from the dubious and angering decision to award populist favourite Gareth McAuley Jonny Evans' goal, the Premier League is a great league to watch. This gameweek in particular was a good one because every game was fiercely competitive. In FPL terms, nobody other than Sanchez ran away with the points, points were aplenty and not just from the usual suspects owned by the elite minority. It was a level playing field for one and all. This is why I would like to take this review as an opportunity to advertise FPL to the every player. With blank gameweeks and double gameweeks on the horizon I want to urge every active manager to keep going no matter what along with some observations of the new-look talent to grace this wonderful league which you may or, more likely, may not want to take on board.

Lazar Focus and The Gift of Gabbiadini

Lazar Markovic could turn out to be the signing of the January transfer window if Marco Silva turns round Hull's fortunes. The signs are good. Hull have only conceded once in outings to Old Trafford and The Emirates and Silva's ambitions are clear; tighten up the backline and hurt teams on the counter attack. Who knows what he has done since leaving Brenden Rodgers' Liverpool and where it all went wrong for him to end up at the KC Stadium at Hull, but Markovic is a creative force. As Danny Murphy rightly pointed out on MOTD, Kieran Gibbs' professional foul on him was a red-card offence and on another day Hull would've got something out of the game. Markovic was part of everything good The Tigers did against Arsenal and will head the Silva revival. Every cloud and all...

Manolo Gabbiadini was the star of Saturday however, stealing the show at the Stadium of Light with a cool first half brace. His Premier League record now stands at 3 goals in 2 games. A definite one to watch, but Shane Long and Charlie Austin, when he returns from a shoulder injury picked up in December, will prove stern competition. Don't sign him yet either, with Saints having no game in gameweek 26 due to competing in the Capital One Cup final in two weeks time.

Oh, and Barton is back in town. Joey marked his return with an assist for other new signing Robbie Brady at Stamford Bridge. So hang in there, captain. Keep a watchful eye on the new signings and your position could sky rocket.

Written by Kyle Norbury

Stoke fan, football fan, fantasy football nerd

Follow on Twitter: @SCFCnerd

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Seb's GW25 Preview

Top Captain Picks

1. Alexis Sánchez vs Hull (home)£11.8 (TSB 35.4%)

Over his last 4 home games, Alexis Sánchez has a shot frequency of 1 every 12 mins (7.5 per game) which is an exceptional record. Furthermore, he only has 1 blank at the Emirates in his past 6 matches there. This bodes well considering that Hull have the second worst away defensive record in the league this season. Moreover, Sánchez has dominated Hull in the past, with 5 goals (6 shots per game) and 1 assist (3 chances created per game) in his 3 games against them.

2. Gabriel Jesus vs Bournemouth (away) – £9.3 (TSB 8.8%)

Gabriel Jesus has hit the ground running at Manchester City. With 3 goals, 1 assist, 6 bonus and 24 points in his first 2 starts, he is one of, if not the most in form player in the league. In GW25, he will come up against a very out of form Bournemouth side, who have conceded on average over 3 goals per game in their last 5 matches. As a result, he should have numerous opportunities to add to his FPL point tally this GW.

3.  Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Leicester (home) - £7.5 (TSB 10.8%)

With 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games, Siggy has been a shining light in a poor Swansea side this season. In his last 4 games, he has managed on average 3 shots per game and 2 shot assists per game which highlights his attacking potential. This GW he faces Leicester, who he has not scored against before, but has still played well against, with 3.25 shots per game in his last 4 games vs Leicester. Additionally, the Foxes have conceded 10 goals in their last 4 games, which increases Sigurdsson’s appeal this GW.

Punt/Differential Picks

1. Manolo Gabbiadini vs Sunderland (away)£6.5 (TSB 0.7%)

Gabbiadini was very impressive in his first start for Southampton last GW. In this match, he netted a terrific goal, whilst managing 6 shots (all inside the box) and creating 2 chances for his teammates. Encountering Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in GW25 will provide an opportunity for Gabbiadini to continue this form, as the Black Cats have not kept a clean sheet in their last 8 PL games against the Saints.

2. Theo Walcott vs Hull (home) - £7.4 (TSB 4.9%)

Having returned to the starting line up last GW, Theo Walcott will be looking to rediscover his top form this GW against Hull. Before his calf injury which sidelined him from GW18-22, Walcott returned points in 6 of his 8 home starts, including a 13 point haul against Hull earlier in the season. Also, in his past 2 games against Hull in all competitions, he has netted 3 goals, which demonstrates how he has the ability to breach the Tigers backline, and this promises well for his owners in GW25.

3. Ross Barkley vs Middlesbrough (away)£7.0 (TSB 7.1%)

Despite Boro’s solid backline at home this season, I’m still backing Ross Barkley to be amongst the points this GW. Last time Barkley came up against Middlesbrough (GW5), he registered 4 shots (2 on target) and created 2 chances for his teammates. Also, his away form has been excellent recently, with 4.3 shots per game and a shot frequency of 1 every 20.8 mins over his last 3 away games. Therefore, Ross Barkley has what it takes to be a sneaking differential captain pick in GW25 and an alternative to his highly owned teammate Romelu Lukaku.

Score Predictions

ARS 4 (Sánchez x2, Walcott x2)

MUN 3 (Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimović)
WAT 1 (Zárate)

EVE 1 (Barkley)

STK 2 (Crouch, Arnautovic)
CRY 2 (Zaha, Schlupp)

SUN 1 (Defoe)
SOU 3 (Gabbiadini x2, Redmond)

WHU 2 (Snodgrass, Antonio)
WBA 3 (Rondón, Morrison, Brunt)

TOT 1 (Kane)

CHE 1 (Costa)

SWA 2 (Sigurdsson, Mawson)
LEI 1 (Slimani)

BOU 1 (King)
MCI 5 (Jesus x2, Sterling, De Bruyne, Yaya Toure)

Star Picks XI

By Sebastian Candido

(Twitter: @_FFM_Seb)

Friday, 10 February 2017

The week in Fantasy Premier League: Lukaku’s revenge, bonus points and the Gabriel Jesus bandwagon

Last Saturday, the man formerly known around these parts as ‘Blankaku’ provided us with another timely FPL lesson...
If a player let you down in the past, don’t take it personally - if the conditions are right, he can make it up to you (and then some!). 
If you didn’t captain Romelu Lukaku (EVE, 9.8) and his four goals (what, no assist?), don’t feel too bad - only 7.7% of active squads actually did.

Of course, the reason many managers brought the Belgian in at all was because of his guaranteed fixtures in GW26 and 28, which are now just around the corner.
It’s rightly becoming a dominant factor in the transfer market, in more ways than one.
It’s even seen two of the game’s most prized assets named among the most transferred-out players this week.
To read the full article, click here...

Thursday, 9 February 2017

FF Surgery Podcast - Gameweek 25

Top 3 Picks for the Blank Gameweeks

We're now at a crucial stage of the season where excessive cup competitions coincide with league action. This leads to blank gameweeks (BGWs) where teams are unable to play certain Gameweeks due to their cup duty. This season, the BGWs are placed in Gameweeks 26 and 28, the latter being the larger of the two with only 3 games confirmed. Within all of these blanks, there are 3 players that are the standout picks for the upcoming BGWs.

1.    Romelu Lukaku
Games during blanks
GW26: Sunderland (H)
GW28: West Brom (H)

Lukaku is the new Premier League top scorer with 16 goals so far. His 4 goals against Bournemouth in GW24 were the most a single player has managed in one game this season. This resulted in a staggering 21 points and a heap of joy for captainers. Lukaku has been in great form recently with 7 goals and one assist in his last 7 games. Both games during the blank gameweek are good fixtures where he is the most suitable captain replacement for players like Ibrahimovic and Sanchez who would be blanking. No blanks and a great fixture run makes the Belgian forward a must have during this period of the season.

2.    Gylfi Sigurdsson
Games during blanks
GW26: Chelsea (A)
GW28: Hull (A)

The appointment of Paul Clement as the head coach of Swansea has turned the Welsh side’s fortunes in recent weeks and there’s no sign of Swansea slowing down and the main reason for the great form is the midfield maestro Sigurdsson. The Iceland international has been at the centre of Swansea’s output this season. He’s has provided 8 goals and 7 assists so far with 3 goals and one assist coming in his last three games. Some may be swayed away from Sigurdsson as he has Chelsea away in GW26 but by going through his recent performances, it is evident Sigurdsson is not affected by the quality of the opposition with some of his goals coming away to Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal. He also scored in the reverse fixture against Chelsea in GW4. He’s been on great form and the resurgence of Swansea from the depths of the Premier League make Sigurdsson look like a very attractive pick during the blank gameweeks.

3.    Seamus Coleman
Games during blanks
GW26: Sunderland (H)
GW28: West Brom (H)

Coleman has been on an exceptional run in recent gameweeks as Koeman has deployed him in the wingback role, which quite evidently is his preferred position. This positional change has led to Coleman accruing 1 goal and 3 assists in the last 4 games along with 3 clean sheets in the last 5 games which makes Coleman the best defensive option during this period. With Sunderland, West Brom and Hull all upcoming home fixtures, Coleman’s attacking and defensive stats are unlikely to drop, especially with the recent form of Everton, which has seen them slowly catch Man United and Liverpool who are ahead of them in 6th and 5th.

Written By: Mark Dinkha
Twitter: @_FFM_Mark