Earlier in the week, we examined the minutes played by Manchester City players over the last eight Gameweeks, with one eye on which of their Fantasy assets stands the best chance of playing both matches in Double Gameweek 32.
We now turn our attention to Crystal Palace‘s squad ahead of their double-header against Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.
Although their own Fantasy assets are very unlikely to be in demand for this upcoming Double Gameweek, we will also give Fulham and Cardiff City a quick once-over towards the bottom of this piece.
Vicente Guaita (£4.2m) has largely been Roy Hodgson’s goalkeeper of choice over the last eight Gameweeks and indeed since December of last year.
Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m) has only started one Premier League match from Gameweek 17 onwards, while Julian Speroni (£3.9m) – very much Palace’s third-choice custodian – only featured at Anfield in Gameweek 23 when both Guaita and Hennessey were injured.
While Guaita has been chiefly favoured by Hodgson over the last three months, his performance in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Watford on Saturday was far from convincing.
The Spanish shot-stopper flapped at several crosses and indeed Hennessey’s superiority at dealing with high balls was given as the reason for the Welshman’s inclusion at Turf Moor in Gameweek 29.
Huddersfield and Spurs, Palace’s next two opponents, rank in the top eight for crosses attempted over their last six matches – so there may be a modicum of concern about Guaita’s security of starts going into Double Gameweek 32.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.5m), Mamadou Sakho (£4.9m), James Tomkins (£4.3m) and Patrick van Aanholt (£5.4m) have been Palace’s first choice back four all season, not just in the last eight Gameweeks.
Sakho’s knee injury has created a void that Martin Kelly (£3.9m) and Scott Dann (£4.4m) have variously filled over the last four Gameweeks, with Kelly playing alongside Tomkins at centre-half in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Watford on Saturday.
Sakho looks unlikely to be back any time soon, so it’s a toss-up between Kelly and Dann for the vacant role alongside Tomkins – though there seems little to be gained by punting on one of these deputy stoppers over the Double Gameweek, with more secure alternatives available for a similar price.
It should be noted that van Aanholt, who was poor against Brighton in Gameweek 30, was omitted from the match-day squad at Vicarage Road last weekend, though there has been no official word on the reason.
The Dutchman has since linked up with his national team, suggesting there isn’t a serious injury problem.
Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.5m) played at left-back at Watford but has been deployed “out of position” in both central midfield and on the left wing over the last six Gameweeks.
The fact that he has lasted the course in each of Palace’s last half-dozen league fixtures potentially bodes well for his chances of starting both of Palace’s Double Gameweek 32 fixtures, though it should be said that there is plenty of competition for his place further forward.
Wilfried Zaha‘s (£6.9m) hamstring injury – more of which below – is something we will be carefully monitoring over the international break as an absence for the Ivorian could allow Schlupp to take the role on the left of Palace’s front three.
Palace’s midfield picture is a relatively straightforward one.
Luka Milivojevic‘s (£6.3m) Fantasy appeal is obvious. As well as his role as Palace’s penalty-taker, he is one of the most “nailed” players in the top flight: the Serbia international is the only FPL midfielder to have played every single minute of his side’s Premier League season thus far.
Andros Townsend (£5.8m) and James McArthur (£4.7m) are favourites of Hodgson’s, too: up until Gameweek 29, they were also ever-presents along with Milivojevic.
The Palace boss confirmed after that win at Turf Moor that McArthur and Townsend were merely rested, rather than dropped:
It was rotation. It was a third game in a week and not just any games, we had to go to Leicester that was a tough game and a good victory. We played Manchester United at home and now we came to Turf Moor.
When you have got players like Max Meyer who hasn’t started or Kouyate who hasn’t started for a while, you’ve got these type of players you can put in and give players like James McArthur and Andros Townsend a bit of a rest. It seemed to be the right thing to do.
Palace have three matches in a week from Gameweeks 32 to 33 so rotation is always a possibility as it was in the example above, although both Townsend and McArthur aren’t involved with their respective countries over the international break.
While Milivojevic has lasted the course in every single match, McArthur and Townsend have been substituted on 14 and eight occasions in 2018/19 respectively.
Max Meyer (£5.5m) has started only one league match in 2019 while Cheikhou Kouyate (£4.6m) has been peripheral since effectively losing his place to Schlupp after getting injured ahead of Gameweek 25.
When fit and free of suspension, Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) starts every match for the Eagles.
Zaha has only been substituted on three occasions this season, always late in the game.
It’s fitness that is the issue with Zaha at the moment, however, with the Ivory Coast international missing the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Watford with a hamstring injury.
The former Manchester United winger has since flown out to join his national team for their double-header against Rwanda and Liberia, though we eagerly await further updates on his condition and availability for those two matches.
Hodgson said last Saturday:
Well, you never know with hamstring injuries and strains, you have to be very careful especially with players as explosive as Wilf is.
He felt it after the Brighton game and didn’t train during the week, we took him out on Thursday just to test it slightly under controlled conditions but it was pretty obvious that it would have been an enormous risk to play in the game today and risk a much more serious injury.
With the two weeks coming up now we can only hope that he will recover in time for when we play our next game.
Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m) has established himself as Palace’s first-choice centre-forward over the last four Gameweeks and even started (and scored in) the FA Cup loss to the Hornets last weekend.
Christian Benteke (£6.3m) has been reduced to the role of impact substitute, while Jordan Ayew (£5.7m) has barely featured at all since Gameweek 25.
With Palace now out of the FA Cup, Hodgson has only the Premier League to concentrate on: positive news for those considering the Eagles’ assets.
The likes of Zaha, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, van Aanholt and Milivojevic have started every match that they have been available for and were even rotation-proof in similarly hectic periods (Gameweeks 14 to 16 and over Christmas, for example).
The benching of McArthur and Townsend in Gameweek 29 was evidence that Hodgson is not averse to resting weary legs, of course.
The impact of the international break is yet to be felt, too, with Zaha, Kouyate, Ayew and Schlupp on duty in Africa and Wan-Bissaka, Benteke, Batshuayi and van Aanholt representing their countries on this continent.
A home match against Huddersfield might seem the ideal opportunity to hand some of these key assets a breather but Palace are only five points above the drop zone and their form at Selhurst Park has been woeful this season, so Hodgson might be keen to name a full-strength side against the Terriers and not take any chances.
With Palace travelling to Newcastle less than 72 hours after they face Spurs, it could be that the second of the Eagles’ Double Gameweek 32 fixtures is most perilous regarding rotation.
Given Hodgson’s track record for stability and his trust in a select group of key players, however, the changes surely wouldn’t be wholesale.
There’ll be relatively few Fantasy managers who are keen on Fulham or Cardiff City assets in Gameweek 32, despite both teams enjoying a “double”.
We’ll keep our analysis brief for these two clubs, then, but it’s worth acknowledging that some FPL bosses may be not using their Free Hit or Wildcard in Gameweek 32 and will perhaps instead have a “fodder” option as part of a Bench Boost.
Those Fantasy managers using their Free Hit chip may also want dirt-cheap assets to fill their benches and guaranteed game-time might be preferable in case of a surprise no-show from a premium asset.
For the Cottagers, it is perhaps just worth analysing their last three line-ups as it was in Gameweek 28 that Scott Parker first took charge:
Sergio Rico (£4.4m), Calum Chambers (£4.2m), Tim Ream (£4.2m), Joe Bryan (£4.8m), Tom Cairney (£4.6m), Ryan Babel (£5.5m) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.4m) have started all three matches under their interim boss, with all bar Babel and Cairney completing 90 minutes in every instance.
Given how well Fulham performed against Liverpool in Gameweek 31, the likes of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (£4.4m) and Floyd Ayite (£4.3m) may have done enough to keep their places ahead of Double Gameweek 32 – Ayite, being a winger and available at a bargain-bin price, would seem especially suited to a second or third substitute role in a Free Hit squad.
The table below shows the appearance details for Cardiff’s squad over the last eight Premier League matches:
Neil Etheridge (£4.7m) is an ever-present between the posts this season (and the best-value FPL player, in terms of points per million spent), while Sol Bamba‘s (£4.6m) season-ending injury means that the defence in front of Etheridge is more settled than the above table suggests.
Neil Warnock even said recently that the “back four takes care of itself”, so we can likely expect Bruno Ecuele Manga (£4.4m), Sean Morrison (£4.7m), Joe Bennett (£4.4m) and budget-friendly right-back Lee Peltier (£3.9m) to reprise their roles (barring injury) in Double Gameweek 32.
Bennett suffered a hamstring problem in Gameweek 30 but “should be fine” according to Warnock.
Further forward, rotation is off-putting.
Oumar Niasse (£5.0m) has at least started every match that he has been eligible for since joining on loan from Everton, while Victor Camarasa (£4.5m) had been a secure starter until his calf injury flared up ahead of Gameweek 24.
Now fit again (at the point of writing), Camarasa has started the last two Premier League matches and will have had three weeks to recover from the cramp that forced him off against West Ham.