Following this morning’s announcement that eight top-flight sides will play twice in Double Gameweek 22, I’m going to note down some initial thoughts on players and chip strategy.
Firstly, the fixtures:
However, before we start, a word of warning. These added fixtures are still at the mercy of FA Cup postponements, with any outstanding ties due to be played in this free midweek instead.
As a result, start planning, but remain flexible and, of course, wait till closer to the deadline before committing to any transfers or chips.
For my own team, here is how I’m currently set up, with only Robert Sanchez (£4.6m), Antonio Rudiger (£6.2m) and Josh King (£5.8m) playing twice:
Despite only owning three ‘doublers’, I actually think my team looks pretty solid, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if any of my West Ham United trio – Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.7m) and Michail Antonio (£7.8m) – plus Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.4m), Diogo Jota (£8.2m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m), outscore many of those who play twice.
I also have the prospect of bringing in Son Heung-min (£10.7m) for Mohamed Salah (£12.8m) using my free transfer, so on first glance, I’m not so sure using the Free Hit chip makes much sense, especially as I used my first one back in Gameweek 19.
For those of you, like me, who are not deploying your Free Hit chip, we also need to consider the ‘bigger picture’. And by that, I mean looking beyond Double Gameweek 22.
For example, bringing in anyone from Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Chelsea and perhaps even Leicester City, probably doesn’t make much sense given the fixtures to follow, which in some cases, involves blanks in Gameweek 24.
That means targeting players from Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Watford, which I’ll touch on briefly below.
With three Premier League wins, one draw and one defeat, it’s been a mixed start for Ralf Rangnick at Man Utd, given that they have been second-best in at least a couple of those ties against Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Newcastle United, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
At the back, defensive issues are still apparent, and with Luke Shaw (£5.0m) suspended for the first match of their double-header, I’m not convinced bringing in the next-best option, Harry Maguire (£5.4m), is worth it, especially for a hit.
Further forward, I see rotation, with Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) suspended for the win over Burnley and only brought on as a substitute against Wolves.
Elsewhere, can we really rely on Mason Greenwood (£7.2m), Jadon Sancho (£8.9m) or Marcus Rashford (£9.4m) to start both games? I’m not so sure.
However, a constant through all the rotation has been Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m), who will understandably be a popular captain pick. I’m just not sure he works for my team, as it’ll mean losing a good forward with a good fixture, for a hit. For that reason, I’m less enthusiastic about bringing him in, at least for now.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane (£12.2m) are the obvious best options here, though I’m wary of doublingup, given that they take on Chelsea, Wolves and Manchester City in three of their four games to follow.
That’s probably enough to put me off defensive investment too, but if I were to go down that route, I’d pick one of Sergio Reguilon (£5.4m) or Emerson Royal (£4.9m).
Lucas Moura (£6.5m) is another intriguing option, but it’s hard to place him ahead of either of the attacking options mentioned above, whilst he may also be prone to a bit of rotation.
Defensively, it’s hard to get too excited about a team that has failed to keep a single clean sheet all season, despite coming close against Spurs last weekend.
In attack, I already own Josh King, and though I could add Emmanuel Dennis (£6.1m) into the mix, for the reasons outlined above relating to Ronaldo, taking one of my current forwards out for a hit seems unwise.
The schedule is also worth considering here, given the tight turnaround between fixtures:
- Sat 15 Jan – Newcastle United (a)
- Tue 18 Jan – Burnley (a)
- Fri 21 Jan – Norwich City (h)
However, an advantage that ‘Free Hitters’ will have, is that they can essentially forget about what’s to follow and build a squad for Double Gameweek 22 alone.
It remains tricky, with good single Gameweek fixtures for the likes of Liverpool, West Ham United and Everton, but if I did pull the trigger, it would probably look something like this:
Before I sign off, in the run-up to Double Gameweek 22 it’s important to remember chip strategies depend on your team and your team alone. For some, playing a Free Hit this week will be the correct call, whilst for others like me it isn’t, and that’s the beauty of the game.
Also, a final word on the Bench Boost chip. In the current climate, it’s risky, and not something I’m particularly keen on myself. As a result, I think it’s best saved till later in the season once Covid outbreaks have hopefully slowed down.
So, enjoy planning everyone – which let’s be honest, is the best part!
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