Gameweek 35 of the 2020/21 season will be etched in our memories forevermore – the Fantasy Gods have thrust a mythical Triple Gameweek upon us.
The Premier League’s most successful side, Manchester United, will be playing three times. But the burning question is, with the Red Devils cramming their three fixtures into five days:
Do you let this Treble – which probably will be a Double for most of the players – completely destroy your plans and blinker you to the potential of the Double Gameweek players?– Mark, FPL BlackBox
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool and Southampton all play twice.
We have a Friday deadline of 18:30 BST to finalise our teams.
The Fixture Ticker
Here’s how the schedule currently looks
Notice that four teams blank in Gameweek 36, including Man United, while five teams play twice in this round of fixtures and also have a match next Gameweek: Liverpool, Southampton, Everton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa – could these be the sides to target for those without a Free Hit chip or Wildcard?
Recovery times between matches is likely to have a big say in team selection, and arguably performance too. In the past, Pro Pundit Zophar has noted the impact on injuries:
Recent research has shown that muscle injury risk increases by almost 20% when recovery time is reduced from six to three days. It concluded that fixture congestion and insufficient recovery time between matches are two of the major risk factors associated with injuries and suggested that players should have at least 96 hours between matches in order to recover fully. Beyond the 96-hour period, there were no significant gains observed.– Zophar
With a day’s rest between each of their three fixtures, caution is advised with Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s troops.
Although, as Neale observed, is the silver-lining of playing three matches in a week that there’s a greater chance of two or more starts for most of United’s key players, even allowing for a benching along the way?
Andy certainly thinks so:
It’s unlikely any of them play three times, the only thing I would say is you kind of guarantee two games for most of the main players whereas … Jota for example or or even Mané potentially – and I know not everyone’s really got him in their team right now but some people might be thinking about it – I don’t think anyone will guarantee two games for them whereas Bruno, Luke Shaw they’ll definitely play twice.
The other question to consider is how good are the fixtures for the 13-time Premier League champions?
And given their current position in the table, when they arguably only need three more points to secure Champions League football, how can we expect them to approach their fixture triplet?
They have, on the whole, been cautious when facing the ‘big six’ teams and Leicester City. Since the 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford to Tottenham Hotspur in early October, they’ve failed to score in six of their nine matches against this elite opposition (Man United’s score first):
- 0-0 Gameweek 6 v Chelsea (H)
- 0-1 Gameweek 7 v Arsenal (H)
- 0-0 Gameweek 12 v Man City (H)
- 2-2 Gameweek 15 v Leicester (A)
- 0-0 Gameweek 19 v Liverpool (A)
- 0-0 Gameweek 21 v Arsenal (A)
- 0-0 Gameweek 26 v Chelsea (A)
- 2-0 Gameweek 27 v Man City (A)
- 3-1 Gameweek 31 v Spurs (A)
Fantasy Football Scout founder Mark declared yesterday on FPL BlackBox:
I’m quite happy having no Bruno.– Mark, FPL BlackBox
He outlined his reasons across a couple of videos:
Do you United need to risk it? They don’t need to beat Leicester and Liverpool do they? And they probably think they can get something out of Villa with a weakened team … Both Leicester and Liverpool need to get results, so they’re going to be tough games, I think … Even if physically some of the [Man United] players won’t have played three games in five days mentally, as a team, they’ve got to prepare for three games in five days. That’s going to take its toll.
But his underlying stats have improved, as Jan highlighted in his Captain Sensible article:
The Portuguese international has dominated underlying statistics among midfielders in recent weeks. No midfielder has registered a higher figure for expected Goal Involvement (xGI) over the last six matches.
Tom Freeman picked up on the stat, explaining that his expected goal involvement (xGI) delta stands at -1.73 over the last six Gameweeks – no midfielder has underachieved more in front of goal during that time.
For Jan, there’s only one captain option:
Even in the scenario where Fernandes only starts in two of those three games, he is comfortably the most likely player from Manchester United to provide big returns in Triple Gameweek 34 according to his underlying statistics.– Jan
In five years’ time, I don’t want to be saying that I had only two players when Manchester United had a Triple Gameweek, irrespective of the outcome.– Zophar
Harry Maguire (£5.5m) is widely considered to be the most-nailed of all United players, having failed to miss a single minute of Premier League football since moving to United at the start of 2019/20.
However, that run is likely to come to an end:
But there have been encouraging quotes from Bruno Fernandes, even if he’s unlikely to play all three, his words give hope to his backers:
Advantage Liverpool and Leicester
Given the rotation we expect for Man United, could the real winners be Liverpool and Leicester?
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.– Neale
The risk with Liverpool’s attacking quartet is that, following a very open game against Newcastle, Klopp may be unwilling to start all four again. So we could see Diogo Jota (£7.0m), Mohamed Salah (£12.7m), Roberto Firmimo (£9.0m) and Sadio Mané (£11.7m) eat into each other’s game-time during the run-in.
Perhaps Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) could be a safer option, David even mooted him as an option for the armband on the Captaincy Video:
The assist potential of Alexander-Arnold was very high, so in the last six matches he’s created 16 chances … but also the quality of it as well, so he’s created four big chances.
Finally, Everton were tipped by Lateriser in his latest column piece:
I looked into the numbers and 46% of the big chances that they have created this season have fallen to him. Despite their perceived lack of form, only five teams have created more big chances than Everton in the last six matches (2.33 per game). It is also worth noting that Everton’s next four opponents conceded 2.45 big chances per game on average in their last six matches, which bodes well for Calvert-Lewin. He could have easily had a brace against Aston Villa in Gameweek 34, as well.
Community Competitions and Head-to-Head Fixtures
The Head-to-Head fixtures for Gameweek 35 can be found below.
The scores and tables update every night on the Head-to-Head Leagues main page so you can keep track of the action as the Gameweek unfolds.
May your arrows be green!