The upcoming Fantasy Premier League Blank and Double Gameweeks are now starting to come into focus.
Preparing for these early on can provide you with an opportunity to climb the ranks and outscore your mini-league rivals later in the campaign.
In this article, we’ll be assessing when the altered Gameweeks are likely to fall.
What are Blank and Double Gameweeks?
A Blank occurs when a Premier League fixture is postponed and rescheduled to a different Gameweek.
The two teams involved in the postponed fixture will not play in the Blank Gameweek, but they play two matches in the Gameweek that the fixture is moved to. This creates a Double Gameweek.
The most common reason for postponements in FPL is when fixtures clash with the later rounds of the two main domestic cup competitions.
This season, postponements will be caused by clashes with the EFL Cup final (Gameweek 27), the FA Cup quarter-finals (Gameweek 31) and the FA Cup semi-finals (Gameweek 33).
The postponements in Gameweeks 27 and 31 are certain to cause Blanks as there is a full round of Premier League fixtures in the midweek after Gameweek 27 and there’s an international break immediately after Gameweek 31.
The postponements in Gameweek 33 are also very likely to cause Blanks because there are Champions League quarter-finals in the following midweek. Premier League matches are rarely played on the same night as matches from UEFA’s elite club competition.
What do we know about this season’s Blank Gameweeks?
We will start by looking at the fixtures in each of the upcoming Blank Gameweeks.
You will notice in the screenshots that each fixture has a “Blank Percentage” which is the probability of the fixture becoming a Blank, calculated using the bookies’ odds for either team to reach the stage of the cup competition that occurs on the same weekend.
Although it has not officially been postponed yet, we can safely assume that Everton vs Manchester City will be a Blank fixture. Pep Guardiola’s men won the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion by a 9-0 scoreline, effectively sending them to Wembley already.
The second Blank fixture in Gameweek 27 will either be Burnley vs Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea vs Brighton.
This Blank will be decided next Thursday night when Chelsea host Tottenham in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final. Spurs won the first leg 1-0 but will be without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for the second.
Gameweeks 31 and 33
The FA Cup third round has now been completed, which saw seven Premier League teams already falling at the first hurdle.
We now know that Fulham vs Liverpool will definitely go ahead in Gameweek 31.
We also know that Huddersfield vs Leicester and Southampton vs Liverpool will both be played in Gameweek 33 as planned.
The other 17 fixtures in these Gameweeks are still at risk of becoming Blanks.
Crucially, that means Liverpool are currently the only team who we know will not have a Blank fixture caused by clashes with the EFL or FA Cups.
Furthermore, the Reds will only get a Double Gameweek this season if one of their fixtures is postponed (and moved to another Gameweek) due to another reason, such as bad weather.
Gameweek 31 will clash with the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, causing a maximum of eight Blank fixtures. Gameweek 33 will clash with the semi-finals of the FA Cup, causing a maximum of four Blank fixtures.
The fourth round of the FA Cup is on the weekend of January 26th, which means it does not clash with FPL. It takes place a few days before the Gameweek 24 deadline.
Likewise, the fifth round of the FA Cup does not clash with the Premier League either. It will be played on the weekend of February 16th, a week before the Gameweek 27 deadline.
Also, there won’t be any fifth round replays in 2018/19. That means all the Gameweek 31 Blanks will be confirmed before the Gameweek 27 deadline.
In each of the last two seasons, the FA Cup quarter-finals have caused six postponements and the semi-finals have caused four. It is unlikely to create that many again this year.
Based on the Blank percentages, there will probably be three to five Blank fixtures in Gameweek 31 and two to four in Gameweek 33.
What do we know about this season’s Double Gameweeks?
It is impossible to predict exactly how the Blanks fixtures will be rescheduled but we can make logical assumptions based on what has happened in previous years.
In the last three seasons, the later rounds of the domestic cup competitions have caused a total of 33 fixtures to be postponed, 29 of which have been rescheduled to the midweeks in Gameweeks 34 and 37.
These have been the only midweeks towards the end of each campaign that didn’t feature Champions League matches.
It appears as though the Premier League have reached an agreement with UEFA so that rearranged fixtures are only played on the same night as Champions League matches if there are no other available dates.
In 2018/19, the two free midweeks towards the end of the season without Champions League ties are in Gameweeks 32 and 35. Therefore we can confidently predict that the majority of the Blank fixtures will be moved here.
The Gameweek 33 Blanks will be confirmed on the weekend of March 16th, which is only two-and-a-half weeks before the midweek in Gameweek 32
This could mean that the Gameweek 33 Blanks are more likely to be moved to Gameweek 35, and the Gameweek 31 Blanks might be more likely to be moved to Gameweek 32.
Here is this season’s probable Blank and Double Gameweek schedule:
Blank Gameweek 27
EFL Cup final
Blank Gameweek 31
FA Cup quarter-finals
Double Gameweek 32
Blank Gameweek 33
FA Cup semi-finals
Double Gameweek 35
There is also the possibility that there could be another smaller Double Gameweek if a team gets three Blanks. However, there is no obvious space in the schedule for this.
A rearranged game could perhaps be moved to the same midweek as the Champions League semi-finals in Gameweek 36 or 37 when there’s more likely to be a night when another Premier League team isn’t involved in European action.
In the last six seasons, a total of three top-flight fixtures have been moved to the same night as the knockout stages of the Champions League but, on each occasion, they have been on the same night as fixtures between teams from other European nations.
Chelsea, Man City and Spurs are three of the teams who could get three Blank fixtures due to clashes with the domestic cup competitions but there might not be enough available midweeks to accommodate three rescheduled fixtures if either team were to also reach the semi-finals of the Champions League or Europa League.
To avoid this potential backlog of fixtures, a Gameweek 27 Blank could potentially be brought forward to the midweek in Gameweek 25.
This would not be possible if either team involved in the Blank needed a replay in the FA Cup fourth round and it would also only give fans planning to attend the rescheduled fixture around 11 or 12 days’ notice. This would be particularly unfair to Spurs fans planning to travel to Lancashire to attend their fixture away at Burnley.
If a Gameweek 27 Blank is moved to Gameweek 25, it will be announced a few days before the Gameweek 24 deadline. It seems unlikely to happen, but it is a possibility.
A Gameweek 27 Blank could also be brought forward to the same weekend as the FA Cup fifth round in Gameweek 26 if both teams were to be eliminated in the fourth round.
Stay tuned for another article from Ben Crellin later this week, focussing on the potential strategies to help us navigate the Blank and Double Gameweeks.
When we know more about which teams will and won’t be affected by fixture changes, we will publish some more content.
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