In this two-part article, we’ve been running the rule over the Fantasy Premier League assets who stand the best chance of starting twice – or three thrice, in one case – in Double/Triple Gameweek 35.
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool and Southampton will all play two fixtures in the upcoming Gameweek, with Manchester United enjoying three games.
We’ve already covered Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Crystal Palace in the first instalment of this mini-series and we now turn our attention to Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool Manchester United and Southampton in this piece.
Richarlison (£7.8m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.5m) have only been benched once apiece this season, both of which came off the back of injuries.
Lucas Digne (£6.1m) has started every match that he has been available for in 2020/21, meanwhile.
He may not be as notorious in FPL circles as Thomas Tuchel or Pep Guardiola but Ancelotti has proved himself to be just as fond of tinkering during his time on Merseyside.
The veteran Italian is one of the select group of managers who even likes to keep his second-string goalkeeper involved outside of the cup competitions, with Robin Olsen (£4.5m) getting the odd run-out in the Premier League.
Michael Keane (£5.0m), Ben Godfrey (£5.0m) and Mason Holgate (£4.8m) have all had extended runs in the side in 2020/21 but Ancelotti has seldom had all six of his senior defenders fit and available, a situation he now finds himself in as we approach Gameweek 35.
Keane, indeed, was benched at the weekend against Aston Villa and his manager has plenty of previous for rotating his centre-halves since being appointed Everton boss.
As for James Rodriguez (£7.7m), he’s his own rotation risk: the Colombian has had four separate spells out of the Everton side this season through injury, the latest sustained in the warm-up on Saturday and keeping him out of Gameweek 34.
Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s (£6.9m) current unbroken run of five successive starts perhaps bodes well for Gameweek 35 but it is his second-longest streak in the Premier League this season, which underscores how much of a stop-start campaign he has had.
Brendan Rodgers has named the same starting XI in each of the last three matches and is generally one of the easier managers to second-guess.
Indeed, nine members of his squad have started every match that they have been available for from Gameweek 27 onwards:
Above: Leicester City players sorted by most starts from Gameweek 27 onwards
The two spots up for grabs have been at wing-back and in the number 10 position, with injuries affecting Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) and James Maddison’s (£7.3m) availability of late – although the two players are seemingly moving in opposite directions with their fitness, with Maddison starting the last three and Pereira unused.
The risk is less about individuals than circumstances.
The massive fly in the ointment could be Leicester’s FA Cup final appearance, which falls three days after their second Double Gameweek 35 fixture against Manchester United.
A top-four place is not yet assured and that could be the saving grace regarding our well-owned FPL assets from the Foxes, with Brendan Rodgers determined not to experience a repeat of last season’s final-day capitulation and aware that every point could be crucial given the tricky nature of his side’s run-in (they face United, Chelsea and Spurs in their last three).
Unlike many of the teams around them in the Premier League table, Liverpool have neither FA Cup, Europa League or Champions League involvement as a sideshow distraction.
The sole focus is on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League, which would likely reduce the risk of rotation from now until Gameweek 38.
The matches against United, West Brom and Burnley being packed in so tightly together may be a mite concerning for those worried about the fabled ‘red zone’, but Jurgen Klopp’s side will at least have the advantage of having had an unexpected two-week breather by the time they face Southampton this weekend.
Andrew Robertson (£7.1m) has been immune to rotation anyway this season, starting all 33 games.
Alisson (£5.9m) has also started every match that he has been fully fit for, while one of Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s (£7.6m) only two benchings came off the back of an injury.
Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.3m), not a name many FPL managers will be considering, has featured in all 33 league matches, with just three appearances coming as a substitute. The return of key bodies from injury in midfield, and Klopp’s ability to name a 4-2-3-1 with his now-fit front four, does add to the rotation risk, however. Indeed, he was only on the bench when the teamsheets for the postponed United game were released on Sunday.
When fit, Nat Phillips (£4.1m) and Ozan Kabak (£5.0m) have been a fairly settled and improving centre-half partnership from Gameweek 25 onwards. Phillips returned from injury ahead of Sunday’s ill-fated meeting at Old Trafford and would have started alongside Kabak had the game gone ahead.
On the subject of that cancelled match, Diogo Jota (£7.0m) would only have been among the substitutes had the game gone ahead.
He, Mohamed Salah (£12.7m), Roberto Firmino (£9.0m) and Sadio Mane (£11.7m) had all been used in a front four against Newcastle United in Gameweek 33.
With games against Southampton, West Brom, Burnley and Palace to come, they could well line up in tandem in a 4-2-3-1 once again.
But the openness of that match against a limited Newcastle side may have convinced Klopp to revert to his 4-3-3 going forward. It’s not the first time this has happened, with Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.4m) hauled off at half-time in 2018 after a similar tactical experiment.
So Jota, Salah, Firmimo and Mane may eat into each other’s game-time in the run-in, as has been the case since the former Wolves man returned from injury. All four players have had at least one benching in the league or in Europe since the March international break.
Salah has generally been the most averse to rotation of late, however, having started 17 consecutive competitive matches before his benching against Leeds in Gameweek 32.
Owners of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City assets have had their late-season plans derailed by rotation around European cup ties but that generally hasn’t been the case for those with Manchester United players in their squads – yet.
The Red Devils’ UEFA Europa League campaign recommenced in mid-February, just after Gameweek 24.
Above: Manchester United players sorted by most starts from Gameweek 24 onwards
Six United players are ever-present starters from Gameweek 24 onwards, with Victor Lindelof (£4.8m) only benched the once.
Harry Maguire (£5.5m) is the most-nailed of all, having failed to miss a single minute of Premier League football since moving to United at the start of 2019/20.
Both full-backs, Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) and an injury-carrying Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) have all remained in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line-up over the period specified, although there have been very occasional benchings in periods of fixture congestion earlier in the season: Fernandes and Rashford in Gameweek 11, for example, and Shaw in Gameweek 20.
With three games in five days and little left to play for domestically, there will surely be some tactical minute-management to come in Gameweek 35.
Solskjaer may at least be able to spare some of his key players in this Thursday’s semi-final tie against Roma, with his side four goals to the good from the first leg.
Not that Fernandes thinks he needs a rest, of course.
Dean Henderson (£5.2m) has become the first-choice goalkeeper in the Premier League over the last seven matches but Solskjaer may want to keep cup custodian David de Gea (£5.3m) match-sharp for the inevitable Europa League final appearance with a run-out or two in the final four Gameweeks.
Edinson Cavani (£7.9m), Paul Pogba (£7.6m) and the in-form Mason Greenwood (£7.1m) traditionally carry more of a rotation risk than Rashford and Fernandes, meanwhile: all three have been benched at least once since even the March international break, with Pogba’s now-frequent run-outs on the left flank, rather than in the double-pivot, adding to the competition in the attacking positions.
One name has become synonymous with ‘nailed starter’ status on the south coast: James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m).
The set-piece specialist hasn’t missed a single minute of Premier League football since the end of the 2018/19 season and is as secure as any Double Gameweek 35 asset for those Fantasy managers looking for players who are likely to start twice.
Jan Bednarek (£4.7m) is another ever-present starter this season and looks good for a brace of run-outs, although long-time centre-half partner Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) will be suspended for the first leg of Saints’ double-header.
Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m) is currently injured but both full-backs have started every match that they have been available for this season, with the exception of a one-off breather for a newly fit-again Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.7m) in Gameweek 27.
We’ve not for some time had the luxury of knowing for certain who will line up between the posts for Southampton but Ralph Hasenhuttl has helpfully come up with the goods ahead of Friday’s deadline, saying at the weekend that Fraser Forster (£4.0m) will start both Double Gameweeek 35 fixtures:
I want to give both ‘keepers a chance to play. Each ‘keeper will get two games so Fraser Forster will play the next two games because I want to give him a chance to play.
Rotation risk abounds further forward, although an injury to Danny Ings (£8.4m) can surely only help Che Adams (£5.8m).
Indeed, Hasenhuttl heavily tinkered with his attacking players in Double Gameweeks 25 and 27.
Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m) perhaps stands the best chance of back-to-back appearances from kick-off, with 27 starts and only two benchings across the whole of 2020/21.
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