The Hall of Fame number 15, who has five top 1,000 Fantasy Premier League finishes to his name, addresses some hot topics ahead of Blank Gameweek 33.
After one of the most hectic starts to a week ever in the game, football matches have felt a little irrelevant in the shadow of the European Super League.
However, as I type this, clubs are exiting en masse from the group and it does at least feel like there is hope that the project is now finished.
So, in this, my latest column, I’m going to press ahead and discuss Tottenham Hotspur and a player who I think may benefit from José Mourinho’s exit. I’ll also touch upon my own plans for the Free Hit chip, and then have a look at a couple of alternative captain options for Gameweek 33.
Despite seeing just 10 minutes of action during Spurs’ last four Premier League matches, the player who I think could benefit most from Mourinho’s departure is Gareth Bale (£9.1m) – especially if new interim head coach Ryan Mason goes with an attacking side.
The pair know each other well from the Welshman’s first stint at the club, and the schedule (see below) could allow him to thrive, given the longer rest periods between games.
If he can get enough minutes, I’m convinced Bale can become an option again.
Amongst midfielders, his 0.48 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is second in the Premier League, only behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (£12.5m). His ‘big chances’ per 90 minutes average also ranks fourth. It’s a small sample size (562 minutes) from which to draw conclusions but we have seen what the 31-year-old is capable of between Gameweek 25 and 27, when he bagged 39 FPL points.
The match (and goal) against Southampton was a positive start and the clash with Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final will further allow us to scout the new set-up before they take on Sheffield United in Gameweek 34.
Dele Alli (£7.4m) is worth monitoring, too. Mason played alongside the 25-year-old under Mauricio Pochettino, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if we see him starting games again soon.
WHEN TO USE THE FREE HIT?
The Free Hit chip is probably my favourite of the lot, as it allows us to think outside of the box and target some differentials.
Gameweek 33 presents an opportunity to use it with four teams blanking, but for my own squad, I’m not convinced it’s worth it. For context, here’s how I’m currently set up, with one free transfer and £2.0m in the bank:
If I were to Free Hit, I would bring in a new goalkeeper given the uncertainty surrounding Edouard Mendy (£5.2m). I may also add a Wolverhampton Wanderers defender and possibly Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) or Mason Greenwood (£7.1m) for Jesse Lingard (£6.6m). However, my frontline looks okay, and I think I might gain more by saving it till Gameweek 35.
In this scenario, which has been put together by the awesome @Legomané, we would see eight teams double in 35, with four of those sides then blanking the following week. That would obviously be ideal, but let’s see how things play out once the schedule is confirmed.
GAMEWEEK 33 CAPTAINCY
Salah is probably the best captain option this week but it’s worth noting that Newcastle United are unbeaten in three matches and have lost just one of their last seven. Now up to 15th in the table, they have a nine-point cushion above the bottom three and are clearly benefitting from switching to a 3-5-2 formation back in Gameweek 30 (see below).
Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) has been putting up some good numbers during that time, too, with seven goal attempts and eight chances created in just 116 minutes.
Newcastle’s form probably won’t matter to a player as good as Salah, but what if you don’t own him or fancy looking elsewhere?
An alternative option, and one that I’m quite fond of, is to captain one of Leicester City’s frontmen. The Foxes’ forwards head into Gameweek 33 in wildly contrasting form, with Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.1m) on ten goals in seven games and Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) on just one since the turn of the year. However, Vardy has been unfortunate not to return more, with a -3.13 xG delta during that period, and I wouldn’t hesitate to hand either of them the armband against Crystal Palace.
Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with this Premier League 2021 form table, which focuses solely on results from Gameweek 17 onwards. I found it interesting, so I thought I’d share it here so you can have a look too:
So, thanks for reading all, and best of luck this week.