Scouting the Doubles – Gameweek 34 – The Defence

In the first of a two-part series, we assess the options on offer among the three teams set to play twice in Double Gameweek 34.

We start with an analysis of the defences, scanning the likeliest sources of points both in terms of clean sheets and attacking returns.

Manchester United approach their double in fine defensive form, with five shut-outs in their last eight league matches.

Jose Mourinho’s side also boast the second most resilient rearguard in the Premier League, conceding just 24 times in 31 fixtures ahead of back-to-back trips to Burnley and Manchester City.

In spite of that promising record, United’s involvement in Europe could ultimately dictate how we view their prospects.

If, as expected, they proceed past Anderlecht and clinch a place in the last four of the Europa League tonight, there’s a fear that Mourinho’s recent rotation policy could continue to blight our plans.

Having served up attacking or defensive points in eight of his nine league matches, Antonio Valencia – whose 16% FPL ownership is more than any Double Gameweek defender – has the potential to emerge as the star performer.

Yet the Ecuadorian has started just one of the last three Gameweeks, with Mourinho citing fatigue as a major factor.

With United looking to grab a place in next year’s Champions League via Europa League success, can the Red Devils’ boss be trusted to hand Valencia back-to-back league starts as the schedule intensifies?

Wins in both Double Gameweek 34 matches would enable United to climb above their neighbours into fourth spot, so there’s still plenty to play for in the league.

While Valencia has the greatest upside, goalkeeper David de Gea, along with Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, could perhaps be more secure picks.

De Gea has started all but one league match this term, while injuries to the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have limited Mourinho’s options in the heart of defence, lessening the prospect of rotation.

On the downside, Bailly has no attacking returns to his name, while Rojo has found the net on just one occasion.

The trip to Turf Moor seems the likeliest source of defensive points, but it’s worth noting that Burnley have scored in all but one of the last 11 in front of their own fans – only Spurs have kept them out over that run.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough have the most appealing pair of matches among the Double Gameweek contingent, travelling to Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon prior to a midweek showdown with Sunderland at the Riverside.

Earlier this afternoon, Steve Agnew ruled Victor Valdes out of the trip to Bournemouth, with Brad Guzan set to deputise again. It remains uncertain whether the Spaniard will miss both matches, though, which diminishes the appeal of either stopper for the pair of matches.

Ben Gibson – having played every minute of the season so far – is the most reliable in terms of pitch time. Priced at 5.0, he’s the costliest option amongst the Middlesbrough contingent and has been snapped up by almost 42,000 FPL managers already.

Elsewhere, George Friend has yet to start under the new manager, while Fabio da Silva – the only Boro defender to create more than ten chances for team-mates this term – remains a doubt, having limped off early against the Gunners due to a knee problem.

The on-loan Calum Chambers missed six matches with a foot injury prior to Monday’s clash with his parent club but, having stepped up his fitness, could also come into contention.

Crystal Palace have a harder task on hand, with a trip to Liverpool preceding a midweek visit from high-flying Spurs.

Although the Eagles have four clean sheets in seven, only one of those shut-outs has arrived in the last four Gameweeks.

To make matters worse for Big Sam, he’s without the influential Mamadou Sakho for the Anfield clash as the on-loan centre-half cannot face his parent club.

Having returned to action with a sub appearance off the bench against Leicester last time out, Patrick van Aanholt will now be pushing for a starting berth at the expense of Jeffrey Schlupp.

The Dutchman has already struck four times this term and, with six goals to his name in the previous campaign, offers the strongest prospect of points at either end of the pitch. Joel Ward looks nailed-on under Big Sam but, coming in at 4.8 to Van Aanholt’s 4.9, offers less value and has a single assist accrued this season.

Meanwhile, Martin Kelly has started each of the last three but looks no more than a budget enabler. At a similar price, keeper Wayne Hennessey could still profit from save points between the posts.

The Top Targets

Ben Gibson – with Valdes sidelined for at least the first match, Gibson offers the safest route into the Middlesbrough defence for a pair of favourable fixtures. A goal and assist isn’t overly convincing, though his total of 13 bonus points is more than any defensive team-mate – 11 of those arrived when his side have earned a clean sheet.

Eric Bailly – like Gibson, the Ivorian’s propensity for picking up bonus points could be vital – his tally of 13 is more than any defensive team-mate. With Mourinho heaping praise on both Bailly and Rojo due to the injury situation at centre-half, the summer signing’s security of starts seals the deal for us.

Wayne Hennessey – having started every league match since Gameweek 12, the Welshman offers a hassle-free route into Big Sam’s backline and can expected to be kept busy, at the very least, in a tough pair of fixtures. Owned by 3%, Hennessey has served up 16 save points in 23 league outings this term.

The Differentials

Antonio Valencia – supplier of more successful crosses than any FPL defender in 2016/17, the Ecuadorian has a goal and three assists in his last nine Gameweek appearances. If he can avoid rotation, Valencia’s penchant for points at both ends of the pitch could make him a canny acquisition.

Patrick van Aanholt – how much faith can we place in a defence that faces in-form Liverpool and Spurs, both with everything still to play for? Owned by just 3%, van Aanholt still offers a chance of attacking points regardless – he sits third for total attempts (29) and joint-top with Marcos Alonso for shots on target among FPL defenders, with 12 apiece.

Calum Chambers – with Fabio forced off on Monday and Antonio Barragan failing to convince, a fit-again Chambers could return to the Boro starting XI. An average of 3.5 points per match – identical to the popular Gibson – illustrates the 4.3-priced loanee’s potential value if handed consecutive starts.

999 Comments Post a Comment
  1. JoroBG
      2 months, 4 days ago


      PvA* Valencia* Gibson*
      Zaha* Alli Sanchez (VC) Coutinho
      Lukaku Negredo* Ibrahimovic* (C)

      Forster | Alonso de Roon Holgate

      1. Hawk Eye
          2 months, 4 days ago

          Zlatan down, no?

        • The ORIGINAL Uncle Bens Reu…
            2 months, 4 days ago

            Zlatan for rashford or beneteke

        • Skloppy Kops
            2 months, 4 days ago

            Team ruined by Valdes & Fabio news.. team as if now is:

            Fabio - Valencia - Robertson
            Siggy - Alexis - Zaha - Son
            Kane - Ibra(c) - Negredo

            Bench: Pickf - Alonso - Sané - Pieters
            0FT - 0.0 ITB 🙁

            1. Spike
                2 months, 4 days ago

                It'll be ruined even more with an Ibrahimovic no show

                1. Lukedb24
                    2 months, 4 days ago

                    I'm in exactly the same boat mate. Thinking just taking it on the chin and hope Valdes comes back for Sun and then that Fabio plays.

                    I really want to save my FT and don't really want any Palace, Midd or United defender after this GW.

                    What are you thinking?

                2. Honeyman07 42
                    2 months, 4 days ago


                3. DMP
                    2 months, 4 days ago

                    -------------------De Gea----------------


                    Sanchez---King---De Roon---Alli---Zaha


                    Bench : Randolph, Maguire, Yoshida, Olsson

                    What do you guys think?

                    Play AOA with De Roon or play Harry Maguire?

                    1. Moosie the Staggie
                        2 months, 4 days ago

                        It could bite you since Hull have a decent fixture but de roon surely gets 4 points minimum.
                        I marginally prefer aoa

                    2. Jaks
                        2 months, 4 days ago

                        Repost, since I only got 1 reply:

                        So what would you do with my team, wildcarding next week!

                        Jaku (Valdes)
                        Alonso Valencia Davies (Olsson Pieters)
                        Sanchez Alli Coutinho Zaha (Siggy)
                        Lukaku Kane (Crouch)

                        A) Valdes to Hennessey (play him ahead of Jaku)
                        B) Crouch to Negredo (bench Siggy)
                        C) Siggy to Townsend (bench Crouch)
                        D) Sanchez+Crouch to Townsend + Ibra (-4) (bench Siggy)

                        Really appreciate your help guy!

                        1. Moosie the Staggie
                            2 months, 4 days ago

                            Personally i would play Valdes incase he is back for Sunderland.
                            I would opt for D but it is a risk and i understand why others will/would not.

                          • Ipswich_Monkey
                              2 months, 4 days ago

                              B by some distance for me - or do nothing and play Siggy.

                          • Weasel Boy
                              2 months, 4 days ago

                              Anyone bringing in Guzan?

                              1. Moosie the Staggie
                                  2 months, 4 days ago

                                  Was tempted, but no idea if he plays 2. I think he might but probably not worth the risk.

                                • Lukedb24
                                    2 months, 4 days ago

                                    Hell no

                                    1. Lukedb24
                                        2 months, 4 days ago

                                        He's the worst keeper in the prem and championship combined

                                        1. Moosie the Staggie
                                            2 months, 4 days ago

                                            Wow thats some endorsement.
                                            I dont know to much about the championship but i will take your word for it.

                                    2. ryacoo
                                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                      2 months, 4 days ago

                                      Hey lads, which option is better?
                                      A) Valdes to De Gea (C) FT
                                      B) Valdes to Hennessey, Lukaku to Ibra (C) -4

                                      Basically, if I go A, my captain options are: De Gea, Zaha, Kane & Lukaku.

                                      1. Weasel Boy
                                          2 months, 4 days ago

                                          I think Kane is probably better captain than Ibra dude.

                                          1. ryacoo
                                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                            2 months, 4 days ago

                                            So A, but with Kane (C)?

                                            1. Lukedb24
                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                I'd captain Zaha

                                        • I Member
                                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                          2 months, 4 days ago

                                          If I plan to WC in 35 anyways is it worth to just WC now with Zaha and Negredo as placeholders for Sane and Gabbiadini and save myself 8 points in hits? The rest of the team would be exactly the same as my current WC35 draft. Thoughts?

                                          1. Jaks
                                              2 months, 4 days ago

                                              In that case, yes

                                              Negredo to Gabbi in 35
                                              Zaha to Sane in 36

                                              1. I Member
                                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                That's the plan I have in mind.

                                            • Supac Thakur
                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                Agreed, you'll also be in a better position to respond to any injuries or loss of form between now and the end of the season

                                            • Gudjohnsen
                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                Big Andy price fall before saturday? Am thinking about getting Gabbiadini for gameweek 35 instead of a hit to get Negredo for 34.

                                              • Keltoi
                                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                I have Valdes & Foster. Worth a -4 to get rid?

                                                1. semiconductor
                                                    2 months, 4 days ago


                                                2. Lukedb24
                                                    2 months, 4 days ago

                                                    Team in tatters by Valdes & Fabio news.. team as if now is:

                                                    Fabio - Valencia - Alonso
                                                    Siggy - Alexis - Zaha - Eriksen
                                                    Kane - Ibra(c) - Benteke

                                                    Bench: Pickf - Davies - De Roon - Bertrand

                                                    1FT 0.5 ITB but no wildcard so was ideally looking to save but now I'm unsure.. thoughts?

                                                    1. Moosie the Staggie
                                                        2 months, 4 days ago

                                                        Still a save imo

                                                      • semiconductor
                                                          2 months, 4 days ago


                                                      • vectorman
                                                          2 months, 4 days ago

                                                          What would you do with this crippled lot lol.. 1FT

                                                          Valdes Pickford
                                                          Rojo Mustafi Stones Stephens Yoshi
                                                          Erik Alli Walcott Haz Zaha
                                                          Kane Negredo Lukaku

                                                          Call the emergency services? 😀

                                                          1. semiconductor
                                                              2 months, 4 days ago

                                                              Just work on the defen

                                                          2. Tim Howard's Beard
                                                              2 months, 4 days ago

                                                              No mention of Barragan anywhere in the article.

                                                            • Hawk Eye
                                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                So Ibra crocked?

                                                              • Dare2Zlatan
                                                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                                2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                after going -8 this week and having Ibra I think iv no choice to but to activate my wildcard, I have a draught which includes Rashford upfront thich I think looks pretty good now!

                                                              • Hawk Eye
                                                                  2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                  Valdez out
                                                                  Ibra out
                                                                  A great opp to go top in mini-league gone...
                                                                  This is a fun game 🙁

                                                                • semiconductor
                                                                    2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                    Would u do sell siggy for king for a -4 this week or next week?

                                                                    Next week I'll use my FT to get gabi instead of negredo

                                                                  • semiconductor
                                                                      2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                      Another question if u have the time. Would u bench
                                                                      1. Siggy
                                                                      2. De roon

                                                                    • Zarm Nirzhas
                                                                        2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                        Hey please help me out here, really need some opinions!

                                                                        Grant (Foster)

                                                                        Valencia - Gibson - Alonso (Maguire, McAuley)
                                                                        Zaha - Alli - Hazard - DeRoon (Siggy)
                                                                        Benteke - Kane - Lukaku

                                                                        1. Foster to DDG for free and start DDG?
                                                                        2. Worth to AoA with that front 8?
                                                                        3. If yes, which two defenders to start?
                                                                        4. If no, which one midfielder to bench?

                                                                      • Montezuma
                                                                          2 months, 4 days ago

                                                                          Defence issues, current defence

                                                                          Alonso, Valencia, Friend, Bertrand, Brunt

                                                                          I have 1 FT

                                                                          I was going to start Alonso, Friend & Valencia, however I'm concerned over Friends DGW mins now Fabio may be back and obviously Valencia isn't going to play 2 games next week after Jose's comments and extra time last night, so...

                                                                          I'm considering a -4 and to bring in Bailly & Gibson but who for?

                                                                          I think Bailly for Valencia as he will start the 2 games but do I risk Friend or go ahead with Gibson who will play both... and if so who for?

                                                                          Bailly, Friend & Gibson
                                                                          Bailly Alonso & Gibson

                                                                          I don't have my WC, just my BB.


                                                                        • FootballGeorge
                                                                            2 months, 3 days ago

                                                                            whens the next double gameweek and who has one ?