Picture that GIF of a confused John Travolta standing in a room.
Where did all the fixtures go?
Then imagine Joe popping his head round the door and exclaiming, “We’re all going to captain Harry Kane, bye!” before exiting swiftly, getting on his chopper and riding off into the sunset.
That’s Blank Gameweek 29 in a surreal nutshell.
Just four fixtures, eight teams to choose from and one player to captain.
You have until the 18:30 GMT deadline on Friday to make sure the armband is on Harry Kane (£11.5m), decide on any potential transfers and perhaps the odd ‘minus two’ hit.
However, a few managers will be playing their Free Hit this Gameweek, and if you are one of them, you’re in luck – because there has been an array of ‘perfect Free Hit squad’ articles on the site this week.
But, as Seb pointed out, those articles can be a benefit to all of us:
Even if you have resolved to save the Free Hit, however, being aware of the players that those using the chip this week may pick in their ‘ideal team’ can be useful information in guiding your own selection decisions.
When discussing chip strategy, David revealed that under a quarter of managers will be deploying their one-week Wildcard. So the majority will want to take into account the fixtures beyond this weekend.
Thankfully, Neale prepared a piece on just that topic.
Frisking the fixtures for the teams playing in Blank Gameweek 29 highlights Arsenal’s appealing schedule, particularly from Gameweek 31.
Among that group of eight, the Gunners lead the way for expected goals over the last six matches.
Jamie noted their steady improvement this season when breaking down the best midfielders and forwards to buy for Gameweek 29. Arsenal’s recent upturn included victory in last weekend’s north London derby.
In midfield, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m) would be the first name on Lateriser’s teamsheet for his mock Free Hit draft. The three-time top 200 manager cited his 11 shots in the box and four big chances over the last six matches as evidence for his inclusion, with penalty duties adding another string to his bow.
At the back, Kieran Tierney (£5.2m) has impressed the upside-chasing maverick:
I like Tierney as a pick because he has a chance for returns at both ends of the pitch. Arsenal have a fairly resolute defence and Tierney is very well known for his attacking ability. In the last six matches, only Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold have created more chances than Tierney among defenders and he showcased a very good understanding with Emile Smith Rowe on Arsenal’s left side in the north London derby. It is worth noting that in the same period, he has amassed eight shots as well.
Martin Ødegaard’s (£6.0m) recent displays have caught the eye of Tom Freeman, who made the Norwegian his headline differential pick. Tom highlighted his ability to find space on the edge of the box and a share of corner-taking duties among the reasons for his selection.
And Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) was talked up by Gianni and Andy on their stream last night. Despite limping off with hamstring tightness at the weekend, Mikel Arteta was positive about his chances of recovering, as Neale reported in yesterday’s team news update.
Meanwhile, it’s been a torrid week for their local rivals. Tottenham Hotspur are now out of the Europa League so rescheduling their game against Southampton becomes a tad easier for the Premier League.
As Andy and Gianni mentioned yesterday evening, Kane played 120 minutes in Croatia while Gareth Bale (£9.6m) came on for what was supposed to be the last half-hour but ended up being 60 minutes after the tie went into extra-time.
Enough to make them change their mind on captaincy or transfers? Probably not.
Gianni is planning to bring in Bale for the next two matches before switching to Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) in Gameweek 31, when Liverpool enjoy their own nice run of games. In fact, the soon-to-be-dethroned champions are top of the Season Ticker for that final sequence.
That upcoming run has persuaded Andy to keep faith with the Egyptian for now.
In fact, the high-flying Pro Pundit is contemplating adding Diogo Jota (£6.6m) alongside him.
But Spurs assets could be kept beyond the next two matches, despite their Gameweek 33 blank because of reaching the League Cup final. Neale explained:
Spurs assets are a god-send for those using their Free Hit chip in Gameweek 33 but even for the rest of us, fixtures against less-than-watertight defences in Newcastle, Sheffield United, Leeds United and potentially Saints stand out between now and Gameweek 35 and are worth navigating around that blank.
And while Brighton featured in the ‘Bad’ section for upcoming fixtures, they nonetheless offer some appealing budget options – especially for those who have already used, or won’t be playing, their Free Hit in Gameweek 33:
The likes of Joel Veltman and Robert Sanchez are at least benchable at their prices, and can be wheeled out for, at the very least, the Gameweek 33 clash with Championship-bound Sheffield United.
Veltman has been lauded across the board ahead of the reduced-fixture Gameweek, his cheap price and attacking threat making him something of a no-brainer. But Seb cautioned that he could be handed more defensive responsibilities, with a half-time reshuffle against Southampton last time out seeing Veltman shifted into a back three:
Veltman may be moved to centre-back, in which case I will settle for a clean sheet, but if he retains the right-back/wing-back role his total of six shots in the box in the last four, of which two were big chances, looks appealing.
I’m gonna start with Jesse Lingard because he has, just out of nowhere, become the kind of guy that is troubling enough of the stats tables … he was my favorite alternative captain when we did the Captaincy Video earlier on today.
I’ve always been a big fan of players who can get lots of shots on target – and that’s something that he’s clearly very good at because in the last four matches no Premier League player has even the same number of shots on target as Jesse Lingard … and the chances that he’s getting are are decent, too.
So if you sort all players in the Premier League by those who are actually playing this week, Jesse Lingard is joint second for big chances over the last four with a total of three; he’s had nine shots in the box, which is again joint best of all players who are playing in Gameweek 29. So the form that he’s carrying into this fixture is very strong.
Lingard was David’s second pick behind Harry Kane in Captain Sensible, with a perceived weakness on Arsenal’s right flank bolstering his armband credentials.
The Manchester United loanee takes his place in the Scout Picks, which is really just the best Free Hit team every Gameweek, alongside Bale, Aubameyang and Raphinha (£5.6m) in midfield.
Leeds fan Seb reasoned that the Brazilian is due an attacking return:
Leeds’ attacking threat has deteriorated recently and whilst Raphinha has not escaped from this, he is still the main threat for United, perhaps becoming an even greater focus of the team’s ball progression and chance creation in this slight downturn. The Brazilian has an xGI of 2.01 over the last four, which he has underperformed by 1.01.
Not only was Harry Kane no. 1 in Captain Sensible but he was the unanimous choice for armband among the four Scout Squad pundits of David, Neale, Tom and Andy.
Will we all be dancing like John Travolta come Sunday night?
Community Competitions and Head-to-Head Fixtures
RedLightning has rounded up the Community mini-leagues and competitions.
And Neale published the latest cup results yesterday: 128 managers remain in the two tournaments, with the finals set to take place in Gameweek 35.
There’s a true ‘David and Goliath’ clash in round four as the lowest-ranked manager in the FFS Open Cup takes on the highest-ranked.
At 3,125,510th overall, Jonathan Ojao will have his work cut out when he faces 254th-placed The Fighting Cock for a spot in round five.
The Head-to-Head fixtures for Gameweek 29 can be found below.
The scores and tables are now updating 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!
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