We’ve got yet another Double Gameweek of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) to contend with as we get set for the first round of matches following the March international break.
This time, Burnley and Everton ‘double’, although both sides fixtures and form are far from ideal, which we’ll discuss below.
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Burnley arrive in Double Gameweek 31 on the back of three straight league defeats, a period which has seen them fail to find the net and concede a combined eight goals against Brentford, Chelsea and Leicester City.
Prior to that, performances and results had generally picked up, with a narrow home win over Tottenham Hotspur and battling draws against Arsenal and Manchester United suggesting they could pull clear of the relegation zone.
However, momentum has stalled of late, which is a concern given that their Double Gameweek 31 opener is against table toppers Manchester City, who haven’t lost on the road since the opening day.
Beyond that, a Turf Moor clash against an Everton side with the league’s worst away record is much more appealing, while there are also meetings with Norwich City and a potentially ‘on the beach’ Southampton outfit to follow. The latter forms the second-part of another ‘double’ in Gameweek 33, which means the Clarets have more matches (five) and Double Gameweeks (two) than any other team in the next three rounds.
In an attacking sense, goals have been in short supply all season, with just 22 in 27 Premier League games so far. The fact that Chris Wood (£6.7m), who left the club in January, remains the club’s joint-second top scorer in the league alongside Ben Me (£4.7m) with three is revealing.
Admittedly, they have two games in hand on most of the teams above them, although regardless of that, the attacking stats are a real concern.
|Metric||Total||Rank v other Premier League teams|
|Shots in the box||168||19th|
|Shots on target||79||20th|
Wout Weghorst‘s (£6.4m) return of one goal and two assists in his first nine Burnley appearances underwhelms, although his all-round displays have generally been good. Given the dearth of appealing forward options right now, he’s probably worth considering, too, given that at the very least, he should at least contribute 10 appearance points over the next three rounds.
Elsewhere, Maxwel Cornet (£5.9m) has not scored since Gameweek 21, although a succession of fitness problems has not helped, while alternative midfield options like Dwight McNeil (£5.6m) Aaron Lennon (£4.8m) are a little uninspiring.
Above: Burnley players ranked by xGI since the turn of the year
At the other end of the pitch, prior to their recent three-match losing streak, Burnley had improved defensively, shutting out Spurs, Brighton and Hove Albion, Watford and Arsenal in 2022. Notably, only one team (Brighton) below eighth in the table have conceded fewer goals than their 38, while their pretty total of seven clean sheets ranks a decent joint-ninth overall.
With Man City up next, defensive coverage certainly isn’t a priority, but given that they face Norwich in Gameweek 32, followed by another double-header against West Ham United and Southampton in Gameweek 33, it does add to their appeal.
Nick Pope (£5.4m) has made some crucial saves of late and put in one of his best displays of the season away to Chelsea. He has also been Burnley’s most reliable Fantasy performer, claiming 91 points. It’s a fairly modest total that ranks joint-10th among goalkeepers, largely due to a shaky start which saw the Clarets keep just one clean sheet across the opening 12 rounds. However, from Gameweek 14 onwards, the England international has rediscovered his best form, producing a further six clean sheets and averaging an impressive 4.8 points per start, a tally only bettered by Alison (£6.0m) among first-choice ‘keepers.
Meanwhile, budget defender Connor Roberts (£4.4m) has now started each of Burnley’s last 10 Premier League matches, becoming first-choice right-back for Sean Dyche. In that time, he has produced one assist, four clean sheets and three bonus points, averaging a respectable 3.7 points per match. His attacking instincts and long throws raise his potential, whilst it’s also worth noting that his more expensive team-mate, James Tarkowski (£4.9m), is just two yellow cards away from a two-game ban.
However, a word of warning, there are selection issues that could impact their defensive performances: we are still unsure if Ben Me (£4.7m) will be fit, while backup centre-half Nathan Collins (£4.3m) is suspended for the next three games after his red card at Brentford.
Frank Lampard took charge of Everton in January after a steep drop-off in form under Rafa Benitez.
However, inconsistencies remain, with their late win over Newcastle United in Gameweek 29 followed by another worrying display at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
Overall, it’s five losses in Lampard’s first seven league games in charge, with four depressing defeats on the road in all competitions.
EVERTON AWAY RESULTS IN ALL COMPETITIONS UNDER LAMPARD
|FA Cup||Crystal Palace||4-0|
|Premier League||Tottenham Hotspur||5-0|
|Premier League||Newcastle United||3-1|
The longer-term schedule is also off-putting, with matches against Manchester United, Leicester City, Liverpool and Chelsea to follow Double Gameweek 31, although they do have two fixtures still to be arranged, which should result in further ‘doubles’ during the run-in.
Everton’s recent record in attack – one goal in their last five games against Premier League opposition – is concerning, although one of the few bright sparks has been Anthony Gordon (£4.5m), who is probably the pick of the sub-£5.0m players right now and a budget enabler if nothing else. The youngster is unbeaten for shots, chances created and expected goal engagement (xGI) among his teammates since Lampard took charge and is now flourishing under a manager with a track record for trusting youth at his previous clubs.
Above: Everton players ranked by xGI under Frank Lampard
Elsewhere, Richarlison (£7.5m) Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) have done precious little to warrant Fantasy interest. The latter’s return to the side had been heralded as a key turning point for their fortunes, but he has looked far from his best since coming back from injury.
That leaves Demarai Gray (£5.5m), who started each of their Double Gameweek 29 fixtures after injury. Despite blanking twice, his four goal attempts and three shots in the box were team-leading totals. Notably, Andros Townsend‘s (£5.2m) absence having suffered a serious knee injury enhances his chance of further starts, too.
Defensively, only four clubs have conceded more goals than Everton in 2021/22, with Norwich City, Watford, Leeds United and Newcastle United the only sides to have leaked more than Everton’s 47. They also feel way too open at times under Lampard, and given the schedule that follows their ‘double’, it’s hard to get too excited about any of their options at the back.
Uncertainty over how Lampard will react to their FA Cup mauling in personnel terms is also a factor, with Ben Godfrey (£4.7m), Michael Keane (£4.7m) Mason Holgate (£4.2m) all poor last time out. Jordan Pickford (£4.9m) is perhaps the safest route into the Everton defence, then, and did at least impress for England in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Switzerland.
However, with Allan (£4.3m) still suspended and Yerry Min (£4.9m) out with a thigh injury, caution is advised if punting on an Everton defender.
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