We’re at the home stretch now and there are just two weeks to go of what feels like the longest Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season in memory. I was questioning my will to play this game when we were in December/January and fixtures were getting postponed left, right and centre but like you, I have persisted and now with the finish line in sight, I find myself limping rather than sprinting.
It’s been difficult to make up ground in the last few weeks. Chelsea have fallen off a cliff, affected by off-field issues. The Double Gameweeks which promised so much have been impacted on by the deep runs of teams in Europe (Leicester City and Liverpool) and the scheduling of the FA Cup during the season hasn’t helped matters, either.
Double Gameweek 37 looks like the last opportunity to make those surges up the mini-leagues and in this piece, I will be looking at the picks I am considering for my own Free Hit side.
Jordan Pickford (£4.8m)
Everton have shipped just one goal in their last four home matches and are ranked top for fewest big chances conceded (two) over that data sample. They are ranked 13th for shots on target conceded (18) which indicates that while Pickford is facing a lot of efforts, these are not high-quality chances – which bodes well for his save potential.
This is probably one of the easiest picks of the week.
Lucas Digne (£5.0m) vs Matty Cash (£5.3m)
A Villa defender is a must-have on a Free Hit and a case can be made for both the full-backs, given how much license Steven Gerrard gives them to get forward.
A look at the ‘expected’ data for the Villans’ last three matches indicates the differing roles that the full-backs play: Digne is very much the creator while Cash is the one making the runs into the box to score. To put it crudely, Digne is the Villa version of Reece James (£6.4m) and Cash is the Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) figure.
Above: Expected figures over the last three Villa matches, with Lucas Digne on the left and Matty Cash on the right
Digne has created eight chances since his return to the side while Cash has managed only three. The latter has managed two shots in the box and as many efforts on target while the Frenchman has had just one effort in the opposition area, which landed off target. The high rate of chance creation also means that Digne is favoured for bonus points.
There are very few Fantasy managers, myself included, who haven’t been burned by Digne in the past, either at Everton or at Villa. So there is a natural aversion towards the Frenchman but I think he is the better option over Cash.
Vitalii Mykolenko (£4.9m)
The Ukrainian full-back registered his first goal for Everton against Leicester with a well-taken attempt from outside the box. It was his only shot on target over the last six matches but as the below table from the Premium Members Area shows, he is top for chances created (five) amongst Everton defenders over the same period:
Granted, the average of less than one a game is not something to be enthused about but only Richarlison (six), Alex Iwobi (eight) and Anthony Gordon (10) have created more chances amongst Everton players over the aforementioned period. He also ranks sixth amongst their players for expected goal involvement (xGI, 0.84).
Andrew Robertson (£7.3m)
The Scotland international was rested completely against Villa in Gameweek 36 and there should be no doubts about his game-time for the remainder of the season. That’s not a feeling I share about Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.4m): with Liverpool playing in the FA Cup final on Saturday and then at Southampton on Tuesday, I fear he could be the one to get his breather next.
It’s been a pleasure writing for you this season, I hope you have enjoyed reading these pieces and I am looking forward to the next campaign already.
See you then.
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