Fantasy Premier League managers can keep track of the Blank and Double Gameweek permutations by paying close attention to the FA Cup fifth round this weekend.
The outcome of each match played in the competition between tonight and Monday evening will officially confirm the matches that will be played or postponed in Gameweek 31.
We will not need to wait for any replays either as the fifth round won’t make use of them this season.
If any of the FA Cup matches this weekend are still level at 90 minutes, they will go straight to extra-time and then penalties if need be.
That means we will know earlier than usual exactly how we can factor Blank Gameweek 31 into our transfer plans.
In fact, managers looking to make very long-term moves would be able to factor Blank Gameweek 31 into their free transfers for Blank Gameweek 27, which does not start until Friday February 22, four days after the final match of the FA Cup fifth round.
FA Cup Fifth Round Fixtures
Friday (Feb 15)
19:45 – QPR v Watford
Saturday (Feb 16)
12:30 – Brighton v Derby
17:30 – Newport v Man City
Sunday (Feb 17)
13:00 – Bristol City v Wolves
16:00 – Doncaster v Crystal Palace
Monday (Feb 18)
19:30 – Chelsea v Man United
The majority of the Fantasy interest in the FA Cup fifth round will be on Monday night when Chelsea face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. It is fair to say that this is the hardest tie to predict, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in better form, but Chelsea having the advantage over the Red Devils in the FA Cup in recent years.
Crucially, there are two very different potential fixture scenarios, depending on who wins on Monday night. A Manchester United victory would ensure fixtures for Chelsea in both Blank Gameweeks and remove any possibility of them having a Double Gameweek fixture outside of the one caused by the League Cup final (Brighton).
That’s because Chelsea’s Gameweek 31 and 33 opponents are Everton and West Ham, who are both already out of the FA Cup.
However, a win for Maurizio Sarri’s men would postpone their Gameweek 31 trip to Everton and put their Gameweek 33 hosting of West Ham at further risk of a Blank.
This might be the more preferable outcome for Fantasy managers hoping for more opportunities to capitalise on the Blank and Double Gameweeks.
A Chelsea win, and a Manchester United exit from the FA Cup, would not confirm any fixtures as going ahead, considering who the Red Devils’ opponents are in Gameweeks 31 and 33 – Manchester City and Wolves respectively.
With Manchester City largely expected to make light work of League Two side Newport County, Manchester United’s Gameweek 31 fixture is likely to be postponed regardless of what they do at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Wolves are away at in-form Championship side Bristol City and will be able to postpone Manchester United’s Gameweek 33 trip to Molineux on their own, by winning on Sunday afternoon and then again in the quarter-finals.
Therefore, we are likely to have more postponed fixtures, and more Double Gameweek fixtures if Chelsea win at Stamford Bridge.
Gameweek 31 fixtures at risk:
( * indicates still in FA Cup)
Man United* v Man City*
Tottenham v Crystal Palace*
Wolves* v Arsenal
Brighton* v Cardiff
Watford* v Southampton
Everton v Chelsea*
Confirmed Gameweek 31 fixtures:
West Ham v Huddersfield
Bournemouth v Newcastle
Burnley v Leicester
Fulham v Liverpool
Other important angles worth considering in the FA Cup fifth round include the Blank and Double Gameweek fate of Arsenal and Spurs.
Owners of players from these two teams, who are hoping for Doubles, are waiting on the results of Wolves and Crystal Palace, who play Bristol City and Doncaster respectively.
If Nuno Espirito Santo’s men come through their tricky tie, Arsenal will be confirmed as Blank for Gameweek 31. If Wolves lose, then the Gunners will have a fixture then and join the list of teams with no Doubles this season, their Blank Gameweek 33 fixture already confirmed by their and Everton’s respective FA Cup exits in round four.
If Crystal Palace emerge as victors from the Keepmoat Stadium then Son Heung-min (£8.9m), Harry Kane (£12.4m) and co. will have at least one Double Gameweek this season, having Blanked in Gameweek 31.
Meanwhile, Spurs’ Blank Gameweek 33 fate relies on Brighton, who face a tricky tie against Frank Lampard’s Derby. A defeat for the Seagulls in the fifth round would confirm a match for Mauricio Pochettino’s men on the weekend of the FA Cup semi-finals, and no second Double.
Cardiff, Southampton and Everton will be waiting on Brighton, Watford and Chelsea this weekend. Victories for those sides would confirm a Blank in Gameweek 31 for them, defeats would confirm their fixtures as going ahead.
Gameweek 33 fixtures at risk:
( * indicates still in FA Cup)
Man City* v Cardiff
Wolves* v Man United*
Chelsea* v West Ham
Newcastle v Crystal Palace*
Watford* v Fulham
Tottenham v Brighton*
Confirmed Gameweek 33 fixtures:
Everton v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Burnley
Southampton v Liverpool
Huddersfield v Leicester