The endgame is here and while there has been a lot of focus on Blank Gameweek 29, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the last nine Gameweeks of the season and things to keep in mind for the end of season run-in.
Before we look at the fixtures, I want to talk about a few key factors that Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players should keep in mind while making transfers during the end of the season run-in.
First up, Fantasy managers should pay close attention to team motivation. Teams that are in the relegation battle are playing for their lives and as seen with Fulham and West Brom, it can lead to an upturn in performance. Both these teams offer good value picks at both ends of the pitch. The league is pretty much decided so it is a good idea to look at those teams vying for European places. Teams like Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea, West Ham, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all have something to play for in the final stretch of the season, and it would be worthwhile to target assets from these teams.
Another factor that always influences the end of the season is the Golden Boot race. The famous late blitz from Harry Kane (£11.3m) is fresh in our memory and interviews of the contenders have shown that it is always on their mind. Last season it was Raheem Sterling (£11.3m), Danny Ings (£8.4m) and Kane who made a late blitz to snatch the Golden Boot. Sterling and Ings even took on penalty duties to increase their chances of becoming the top scorer in the league. In the season before that, four out of the top five goalscorers in the league were in the top five goalscorers in the last nine Gameweeks of the 2018/2019 season, scoring at least five goals in the given period. We currently have Kane (who is currently the best big hitter in the game in my opinion), Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.5M) on top of the goalscoring charts and their respective teams also have something to play for in the final stretch of the season.
Another factor worth mentioning this year is the Euros take place after this season ends and a fair amount of players are also playing for their position in the squad. Players on the fringes of their national team squad will be highly motivated to impress their national team coaches.
Now, let us cast an eye over the fixtures in the final stretch of the season.
Liverpool sit on top of the Season Ticker when it comes to the fixtures and that is one of the reasons why Salah is a much more difficult sale than perceived. I think I will want him back in Gameweek 32 for the back-to-back games against Leeds and Newcastle which is why a potential sale needs to be more carefully thought through. This fixture run for Liverpool also makes Diogo Jota (£6.6m) a great differential to own for the final stretch of the season and while most managers are jumping off the Liverpool boat, it might be shrewd to hold on.
I personally rate the players and the manager a lot and I think there is too much quality in that team for this slump to continue. They are still in the top five attacks in the league for shots in the box in the last six matches. Their main problem has been their conversion rate as can be seen in this tweet here:
GW1-18 vs GW19-27
(Avg per game)
Shots Inside the Box : 10.18 – 9.28
Big Chances Total: 3 – 2.09
Shots on Target: 5.76 – 4.27
Goal Conversion Rate: 14.1% – 6.3%(!)
Expected Goals (xG): 1.87 – 1.49
— AK (@AK_FPL1) March 8, 2021
I will touch upon a few other players and teams that I like for the run-in as well. West Ham have the triple threat of form, fixtures and motivation in their favor. They offer numerous options at both ends of the pitch and the likes of Michail Antonio (£6.6m), Jesse Lingard (£6.1m), Aaron Cresswell (£5.8m) and Craig Dawson (£4.5m) should be on everyone’s watch list. If you’re looking to get a West Ham asset right now, he’s probably going to stay in your team until the end of the season. It is worth pointing out that Lingard is ineligible to play in Gameweek 28 against parent club Manchester United.
From Gameweek 30 to Gameweek 34, Chelsea have a great run. Their defensive ability has been widely documented. They have conceded the least number of big chances in the league in the last six matches. The likes of Antonio Rudiger (£4.6m), Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.7m) and Edouard Mendy (£5.1m) are great picks. If I was wildcarding now, I would go with Mendy as my keeper over Emiliano Martinez (£5.4m) keeping in mind the respective form of their teams and the fixtures for Aston Villa in comparison to Chelsea.
When it comes to attack, Mason Mount (£7.0m) looks like a really good differential but the one I’m interested in is Kai Havertz (£8.2m). He looked like a player re-born against Everton in his new false nine role. We spoke about Havertz at length in this week’s episode of The FPL Wire (linked below) and he’s historically a very good finisher. Tuchel’s comments about Havertz are also really encouraging and it’s worth monitoring what happens with Havertz in the future.
“I’m very happy with his performance. There is no doubt about his talent. He needs to adapt to the Premier League. He needs to adapt where we play to win every game. We have the highest standards. This is a normal process. Today he was excellent. He showed up between the lines and used his potential to accelerate. He took responsibility to finish.”
Arsenal also have a really good end to the season but I’m a little worried about the Arteta prioritising the Europa League in an attempt to get a Champions League spot, which might be a task too difficult in the league. This threat of rotation is why I am a little wary of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.4m) as a pick but it is a lot easier to carry Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) in your FPL squad at the price.
Spurs are sitting pretty low in the season ticker but they have a Double Gameweek pending and have good fixtures as well which is why I think their in-form attacking trio are all good picks. They are an in-form team and are among the top five attacks in the league for big chances and total shots in the last four matches. My fellow podcaster BigManBakar has posted some interesting statistics from the last three matches which clearly indicate the current state of the Spurs attack:
Son v Bale v Kane
(in the last 3 matches they have started together)
Mins per chance created: 27 v 42 v 43
Mins per big chance created: 45 v 208 v 130
Mins per shot in the box: 90 v 42 v 37
Mins per big chance: 270 v 69 v 65
Mins per expected involvement: 122 v 90 v 72#FPL
— AbuBakar Siddiq (@BigManBakar) March 8, 2021
The Fulham defence and attack also offer value at both ends of the pitch and they show up at the bottom of the ticker primarily because of their blank in Gameweek 33. They are a very strong team, especially in defence at the moment and are definitely worthy of investment. They are among the top five defences in the league for shots in the box and big chances conceded in the last six matches.
It would be rude not to mention Wolves given their fixtures but I’m not quite as confident about their form and consistency as of yet. Leicester have a good run between Gameweek 31 and 35 but I will wait for their marquee midfielders to return before investing in them.
I hope this article helps you. If you want more information, we discuss Salah, Spurs and a lot of other important things in this week’s episode (one of our better ones) of The FPL Wire which you can see below.
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