Welcome back to Dan’s Digest where we’ll take a brief look at a few thoughts before the DGW37 kicks off. The points raised here are designed to get you thinking about your moves for the last couple of weeks.
Arsenal and Sunderland are obviously playing twice this week which presents plenty of opportunities for investment, especially so late in the season as you don’t need to plan too far ahead.
Arsenal’s unbeaten run came to an end against Swansea on Monday night as they fell to a 1-0 defeat but don’t let this put you off investing in them. They had 23 goal attempts , which is the joint highest with Man City who hit 6 against QPR, showing that they had no trouble creating opportunities. Despite not registering an assist in the last 6 gameweeks, Ozil has been the most creative Arsenal midfielder with 18 chances created (7 more than 2nd placed Cazorla) and I expect him to produce some fantasy returns in this DGW. In terms of goal threat Olivier Giroud has struggled recently. A few weeks ago it was accepted that most active teams would have Giroud in for the DGW but that is looking unlikely now since he hasn't scored in his last 4 games. He’s had 1 shot on target in that time and hasn't completed a full 90 minutes of Premier League action since 4th April. That has left Sanchez as the team’s main goal threat, which is of little surprise, and will be many people’s captain selection for this weekend.
Jack Wilshere has recently returned from (another) injury and played just over 20 minutes in each of the last 2 gameweeks. With two matches in quick succession he could end up starting one and his stats have been excellent since his return with 5 chances created in just 28 minutes of action against Swansea, as well as 2 goal attempts from inside the box.
Be aware when selecting Arsenal players that if automatic qualification for the Champions League is secured this gameweek then Wenger may choose to rest several key players in GW38 for the FA Cup final.
Sunderland successfully completed the ‘smash-n-grab’ tactic against Everton last weekend with a couple of lucky goals and a solid defensive display. A home game against Leicester followed by a trip to the Emirates sees the Black Cats come up against the league’s two in-form teams. In defensive terms we can’t expect Sunderland to keep a clean sheet this week despite their shut-out against Everton simply because of who they’re playing against. However, van Aanholt has been given license to get forward at any opportunity by Dick Advocaat and is a very good option for the DGW. With 8 attempts on goal in the last 6GWs and 4 of those being in the box, the left back carries a goal threat going forward. In addition to that, he’s created 10 goalscoring opportunities for his teammates showing he has potential to add to his 5 assists so far this season.
Going forward, Jordi Gomez is on penalties which always holds potential and also has an assist to his name in recent matches. It’s difficult to choose from the striking options available at Sunderland simply because they all lack the quality needed to be consistent at this level. Danny Graham’s re-introduction to the team though offers an interesting option as he’ll play as the furthest forward and most central figure in the 4-3-3 formation.
Eden Hazard has picked up plenty of accolades this season and is the current top scorer in terms of FPL points this season. However, a lacklustre performance against Liverpool last weekend combined with just 1 goal and no assists in his last 4 games suggests Hazard may well be on his summer holidays already as far as FPL is concerned. With no shots mustered against Liverpool and a hefty price tag it might be time to ship him out to either redistribute funds elsewhere or bring in another Arsenal midfielder for the DGW.
Steven Gerrard’s final game in front of the Anfield faithful will be an emotional affair for all involved. Against a Crystal Palace side with nothing to play for and no points in 4 games Gerrard could go out with a bang. Expect the referee to give Liverpool the benefit of the doubt when it comes to challenges or handballs inside the box to give Gerrard the chance to score one last goal in front of the Kop.
An end of season trend?
Over the last three seasons we've seen 48 clean sheets during gameweeks 35-36 in the Premier League compared to just 30 during gameweeks 37-38. Similarly, 113 goals have been scored in gameweeks 35-36 in the past couple of seasons which has risen to 133 for the final two gameweeks. This is not a full-proof statistical analysis that stands up to scrutiny. However, it does suggest there may be a trend in the final few games of the Premier League for teams to open up and play more expansive football where goals are more regular and clean sheets are rarer. For this reason, and due to the unpredictable nature of the last few games, I’d suggest investing in the ‘Power 7’ frontline of midfielders and forwards rather than defenders since this is likely to be where the points are to be found over the coming couple of weeks.
GWs 35-36: 2013 = 55GC, 13CS
2012 = 58GC, 17CS
2011 = 72GC, 18CS (Bolton had 4 matches & 8 others had 3)
GWs 37-38: 2013 = 66GC, 13CS
2012 = 67GC, 7CS
2011 = 58GC, 10CS