I rotate the team a lot.– Pep Guardiola
One of several pearls of wisdom from yesterday’s press conferences.
And there were some crackers. David Moyes shed light on the complexities of managing at the top level with this insightful comment:
Uh, I reminded the defenders, and I reminded everybody after, we’ve got to try and find a way [of] not conceding any goals, that would be – that’s a big factor.– David Moyes
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me David, I hope the rest of you are all taking notes? Good. Jose, would you like to add something?
I think we were not sharp.– Jose Mourinho
Zero shots on target against the side who have conceded the most goals since the restart. Lack of sharpness? Probably a fair assessment…
I’ll spare you any more statements of the bleeding obvious.
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Gameweek 35+. The deadlines continue to come thick and fast – don’t miss today’s at 11:30 BST.
To help with those all important captaincy and transfer decisions, our own David Munday and Neale Rigg have been doing their best to decipher the coded messages from managers whilst simultaneously picking out the important stats from recent matches.
Plenty of questions to answer this week: What to do with Salah, will he be rested? Time to sell Jiménez? Should we be doubling up on Chelsea players? Should I get Vardy for Bournemouth? Is it time to make Bruno Fernandes our perma-captain?
Salah or Mané?
Pro Pundit Zophar got discussion about the golden-boot-chasing Egyptian underway in a hot topic this week. Salah put in a much improved performance against Brighton with a whopping eight shots in the box, four of which were considered to be a big chance.
His quality is not in doubt, the bigger concern is that Jurgen Klopp may choose to rest him – both Firmino and Mané have been omitted from the starting XI over the last two fixtures. This ‘drip-feed’ of rotation was discussed on the Scoutcast between Joe, Andy, and LateRiser.
Neale has excluded the joint-leading FPL points scorer from his predicted line-up.
Perhaps the safer option is to choose Mané given that he played just half an hour against Brighton. Zophar also observed that Salah occupies defenders therefore making more space for the Senegalese to score.
Choosing which premium midfielder to buy is at the heart of LateRiser’s thinking on high impact moves – targeting the captaincy and chasing big hauls. The problem he notes is:
In the midfield, we don’t have an easy sell. A lot of midfielders are performing.– LateRiser
Vardy v Bournemouth
So with our congested midfield slots, it’s perhaps understandable that our attention has turned to Jamie Vardy up front.
David observed in his Captain Sensible article:
Vardy’s glut of goals in the first half of the campaign was underpinned by topping the charts for shots in the box, big chances and shots on target almost continuously from September to December….The fact that the efforts on goal are back with such regularity is ominous indeed.– David Munday
And our Pro Pundit Tom Freeman picked out his strike partner Kelechi Iheanacho as his top differential:
A tactical adjustment by Brendan Rodgers in recent matches has seen Leicester City improve, with the change of approach getting the best out of Nigerian forward Kelechi Iheanacho. Set up in a fluid 3-4-1-2 system, the 23-year-old has now scored two goals in his last three appearances.– Tom Freeman
The question LateRiser is asking himself is – are the Cherries really the whipping boys they’ve been made out to be? Given their need to win matches to stay in the division, he pointed out:
Every game is a cup final for Bournemouth.– LateRiser
Perhaps we should look to target Crystal Palace without the injured Gary Cahill, or Burnley without Ben Mee.
On the topic of Burnley, TheFantasyFreÆK wrote:
Another clean sheet this week despite conceding three big chances to West Ham sums up their fortunes of late. Burnley are ranked second worst for xGC post restart yet have kept three clean sheets and conceded just six goals compared to an xGC of nearly nine over this period. Burnley and Nick Pope continue to defy all logic.– TheFantasyFreÆK
Back to those Liverpool premium midfielders.
However, there is one more forward making a strong case for inclusion in our squads.
The Saints frontman recorded a remarkable 18 penalty box touches against Everton, three more than anyone else in Gameweek 34+, and has scored four goals since the restart. A match against Manchester United is putting off many from getting him now, but managers are eyeing up a Gameweek 36+ transfer, when the fixtures improve.
And there are several candidates for the chopping block.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has blanked for five games straight, while Raul Jimenez has failed to impress:
Even as he was nodding his 15th league goal of the season past Aaron Ramsdale (£4.5m) in the Gameweek 31+ win over Bournemouth, the Mexican was in the middle of a laboured performance which yielded just one effort on goal.– David Munday
The Wolves’ striker has blanked in all three matches since.
Although one forward you might want to consider keeping is Marcus Rashford. Recently the 22-year-old has been overshadowed by his considerably cheaper teammate Mason Greenwood, but he nonetheless tops Joe’s Goals Imminent Table – suggesting returns are on the way:
Willian and Christian (Pulisic) have been excellent for us. I am really pleased with what they have done. I knew the talent that Christian has. It’s a physical lead and he has come in and been great for us. The quality for us and the end product is great.– Frank Lampard
It’s now three goals and three assists for Pulisic, and four goals and two assists for Willian in the post-lockdown period.
A Gameweek 36+ encounter with Norwich City is particularly appealing for Fantasy managers.
What struck LateRiser, watching the Crystal Palace match in midweek, was that Pulisic always puts himself in great positions to score – something that isn’t necessarily evident from the stats.
One manager who is paying close attention to the favourable fixtures in Gameweek 36+ is Pro Pundit Az. The Brighton-fan is looking to play his Free Hit chip in this round of matches.
Az also talked up Michail Antonio in his immediate transfer plans as he targets teams taking on the Canaries. Playing out-of-position as a centre forward, the FPL midfielder has managed an impressive 14 shots in the box over the last four matches.
Manchester Red or Blue?
Averaging 11.2 points across the five matches since the Premier League restarted, there’s good reason for making Bruno Fernandes our perma-captain.
Against Aston Villa the Portuguese delivered a third straight double-digit haul.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also being wonderfully consistent – he’s named an unchanged side for four successive matches. Well, we all know the Norwegians love – and are very good at – Fantasy football. Thank you Ole!
If only the same could be said for his Manchester counterpart. In addition to his enlightening comment that he will rotate, Pep added:
The players who play more regularly are in better condition. Before we have these two games [v Arsenal and Real Madrid] it’s important to keep our momentum and our rhythm and the way we play. I hope no-one gets injured but you cannot control it.– Pep Guardiola
Raheem Sterling is this week’s City player who is predicted to start. The England winger was benched against Newcastle United and should feature from the off against the Seagulls.
Three double-figure hauls since Gameweek 30+ sees him included in the Scout Picks.
It’s worth noting that opponents Brighton only gave up five big chances across their last four outings, much better than Southampton, Bournemouth and Burnley. Whether that makes any difference when it comes to facing the City juggernaut is open for debate.
Get Ready for Another Deadline on Tuesday
And if you are struggling to make your mind up it’s always useful to check the latest moves made by The Great And The Good – will Ville Ronka captain Salah again?
Finally, whatever happens in Gameweek 35+, you won’t have long to dwell for long with the deadline for Gameweek 36+ arriving on Tuesday at 5pm BST.
Good luck all!