We’ve got yet another Double Gameweek of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) to contend with as we get set for the penultimate round of matches before the March international break.
With there not being a stand-out chip strategy for Gameweek 29 (see the results of our sidebar poll), we’ve eschewed the usual ‘Free Hit/Wildcard’ approach and are instead bringing you a club-by-club guide to the half-dozen teams who have two fixtures.
Following our look at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, we now turn to three of the less-fancied teams who ‘double’: Newcastle United, Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Unlike the two north London clubs, all three of these sides are then blank in Gameweek 30 – so caution is advised unless you are using a Free Hit in one of the next two Gameweeks.
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The Magpies go into Thursday’s clash against Southampton on the division’s joint-longest current unbeaten run of eight matches.
Looking ahead to Gameweek 29, it could be argued that they will be facing Chelsea at an opportune time (three days after the Blues’ trip to Norwich and immediately before a Champions League tie against Lille) and will be swiftly renewing acquaintances with an Everton side they blew away a month ago.
However, fixture congestion is also a factor with Newcastle during this busy period of back-to-back Double Gameweeks. The Chelsea game, in particular, could see a few changes, coming as it does around 65 hours after full-time in the clash with Southampton.
“Possibly. I think it’s difficult to give you clarity at this moment in time for obvious reasons, but, possibly, I think we will look to try and make the right decisions for the team.
“In our position now, I think with the run that we’ve been on, I’ve been reluctant to change things because the team has lacked rhythm for a long, long time. So when you get rhythm, I think you want to try and enhance that, not disrupt it. So I’ve kept changes to a minimum.
“It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the players I’m not using. I believe that they can all play a huge role in the future, but I’ve just got to deal with the here and now.” – Eddie Howe, speaking on Wednesday, on whether he might rotate in the next three matches
The last time Howe encountered a three-game week and a turnaround of under 72 hours, for instance, only two outfielders started all three matches:
Above: Newcastle players sorted by starts in Gameweeks 16-18
Martin Dubravka (£4.4m) is, injury permitting, someone we can rely on for two starts and he’s part of a backline that is in good form, having kept three clean sheets and conceded just three goals in his last six outings.
Only one team have conceded fewer shots on target and big chances in their previous half-dozen games, so Newcastle’s improvement at the back hasn’t been a fluke. However, the quality of opposition is something that has to be considered, and Dubravka will surely be able to boost a meagre save point tally at Stamford Bridge.
The Slovakia international is arguably the stand-out budget goalkeeper of Gameweek 29, for those on a budget with their Free Hit, and an option for Fantasy managers who are playing the Bench Boost.
Above: Newcastle players sorted by minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI) in 2022
Looking at the expected goal stats during a defeat-less start to 2022, and it’s Ryan Fraser (£5.3m) who emerges as the stand-out pick.
A total of 13 shots and as many chances created over these seven games has seen him accumulate an xGI of 3.45, which is actually enough to lift him into the top ten performing players over that period – not bad for a budget pick.
Joe Willock (£5.8m), meanwhile, lurks just outside the ten best players for goal attempts (16) during this time.
However, we bring you right back round to the threat of rotation. Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.8m) Bruno Guimaraes (£4.9m) seems very likely to get starts in one of the next three matches, while the likes of Miguel Almiron (£5.1m) Sean Longstaff (£4.4m) could also get look-ins in midfield.
Even the cut-price Fabian Schar (£4.3m), who has caught the eye with back-to-back attacking returns, carries a slight risk, as his one and only benching under Howe came in that aforementioned three-game week back in December.
Thursday’s teamsheet against Southampton will perhaps tell us more: if Fraser, Willock or any others get a rest in that game, they are potentially back on the menu for Gameweek 29.
Monday night’s hammering at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur would have been a red flag to many FPL managers who were considering an Everton player for Gameweek 29 but the result was merely a continuation of some Jekyll-and-Hyde form at home and away.
Middle of the road for results at Goodison Park in 2021/22, they are rock-bottom in the ‘away’ league table.
These up-and-down performances have continued into the Frank Lampard era, with fine displays on Merseyside against Brentford, Leeds and Manchester City punctuated by depressing defeats to nil on the road.
The good news is that they’re on home soil for their double, with matches against an out-of-form Wolves and Newcastle to come.
Initial turn thoughts to Anthony Gordon (£4.5m), who Lampard said was one of the few positives to emerge from the Gameweek 28 spanking in north London.
The corner-taking youngster is top or joint-top among Everton players for goal attempts, shots in the box, penalty area touches and xGI since Lampard took charge, starting all five matches under his new boss.
Above: Everton players sorted by goal attempts since Frank Lampard took charge
Elsewhere, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) Richarlison (£7.5m) have done precious little to warrant Fantasy interest, especially with fellow ‘doublers’ Alexandre Lacazette (£8.3m) Harry Kane (£12.3m) in such good form in the forward pool. Demarai Gray (£5.5m) has been seen for all of 37 minutes under Lampard, meanwhile, with injury and illness rendering his match-sharpness a doubt for the upcoming Gameweek.
At the back, Everton’s fixtures are arguably the pick of the bunch among the six teams who double – but they’ve just been thrashed 5-0.
Uncertainty over how Lampard will react to Monday’s mauling in personnel terms will be amplified by the return of Ben Godfrey (£4.7m); will Mason Holgate (£4.2m) or Michael Keane (£4.7m) lose their place or their manager will go to three at the back in the bid to stem the flow of goals?
Jordan Pickford (£4.9m) is perhaps the safest route into the Everton defence, then, for playing the fixtures and hoping for those for more positive showings on home ground. Only Illan Meslier (£4.8m) has faced more shots on target than Pickford from Gameweeks 24-28 (Lampard’s first five fixtures), which doesn’t smack of a backline in great form but at least should help the England international compensate for any clean sheet loss .
Sunday’s opponents Wolves have the second-worst xG tally in the last four matches, meanwhile, losing three of them.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Despite their ‘double’, Brighton will be at the bottom of many managers’ shopping lists. The Seagulls have neither form nor fixtures on their side, with their Gameweek 29 matches against two sides in free-scoring mood.
Graham Potter has previous for some unpredictable tinkering and he may be even more prone to some changes with Albion in dire nick at present, although fatigue-led alterations might at least be less of a concern with the generous Saturday-Wednesday turnaround and the subsequent two -and-a-half-week breather.
Defensive assets like Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) are hard to make a case for with just two clean sheets in 14 matches and four losses on the bounce, with Sanchez probably the pick of the bunch – especially for those using the Bench Boost – given that he has the capacity to rack up plenty of saves to compensate for what seems like two likely clean sheet losses. With Tottenham Hotspur something of a feast-or-famine outfit, there will be at least be some hope that the Burnley/Middlesbrough incarnation of Spurs turns up at the Amex rather than the swaggering side that put a combined nine goals past Leeds and Everton.
As if to underscore the uncertainty with Potter, anyone of note from an attacking perspective – Leandro Trossard (£5.9m), Alexis Mac Allister (£5.2m) Neal Maupay (£6.5m) – has tasted bench duty in the last three Gameweeks. One goal for Albion in their last four matches is also a league-low.
just one Brighton player, Pascal Gross (£5.7m), ranks among the top 60 FPL assets for expected goal involvement in their last six matches, so there really is little incentive to buy Brighton players in Gameweek 29 if you don’t already own them.
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