FPL Season 2020-21: Gameweek 36 preview

“Manchester City can officially become Premier League champions at St. James’ Park if they beat Newcastle on Friday” (CC by 2.0). Image by Yellow Book ltd.

We now have just three gameweeks to go until the end of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign and after the double gameweek 35, we now have to deal with a blank gameweek. Even though just four teams are blanking this FPL round, those four teams do contain more than a few popular fantasy assets:

Manchester United

This means that highly-owned players such as Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw and Kelechi Iheanacho will all be missing out. Gameweek 36 is nonetheless offering a fixture set full of potential for FPL managers. In terms of favourable fixtures, Everton’s home game against Sheffield United, Liverpool’s visit to the Hawthornes, and Southampton hosting Leeds look enticing. If you’re willing to deal with extreme rotation risk, even Man City’s away game at Newcastle, their potential championship-winning game, could be interesting as well.

In any case, don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 36 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, May 14th.

Also do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per May 12th, 2021)

GKMartinez (AST), Schmeichel (LEI), Mendy (CHE)Meslier (LEE), Mendy (CHE), Ederson (CIT)BGW36, Leeds fixtures
DEFDunk (BRI), Castagne (LEI), Shaw (UTD)Dallas (LEE), Coufal (WHU), Alexander-Arnold (LIV)BGW36, Dunk red card
MIDBruno (UTD), Mount (CHE), Rashford (UTD)Son (TOT), Salah (LIV), Raphinha (LEE)BGW36, Leeds and Liverpool fixtures
FORIheanacho (LEI), Vardy (LEI), Watkins (AST)Bamford (LEE), Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Antonio (WHU)BGW36, Leeds and West Ham fixtures

Premium pick

Our premium fantasy pick for gameweek 36 is largely focused on fixture, though Mo Salah (£12.7m) is considered as one of those elite players who can deliver big regardless of the opposition. This coming Sunday the Reds are visiting West Brom for what’s one of the weekend’s juiciest fixtures. Whilst the Baggies have just been relegated, Liverpool are still battling for a Champions League spot and Mo Salah is just one goal behind Harry Kane in the domestic Golden Boot race. In other words, a clash of interests and one that could lead to a big haul for Salah. With 20 goals and 5 assists so far, the Egyptian star man reached the 200-point mark in FPL for the fourth consecutive season after his assist against Southampton in GW35 and he is now facing the league’s worst defence. We’re expecting an all-out attack Liverpool with Mo at the centre of it for this one.

Non-premium picks

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) finds himself in a similar boat as Salah, in the sense that, like the Liverpool star, the Everton striker still has plenty to play for in these final games of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign. As a team, the Toffees are just two points off the top six with three games to go. As an individual player, DCL has had a brilliant season so far, and he will want to use the last few games of the season to work on his current tallies (16 goals, 6 assists)) and definitely confirm his spot in England’s squad for the upcoming European Championship. He still has one game of his double gameweek 35 to go (Villa away on Thursday evening) and after that, he will be facing relegated Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Blades have conceded 62 goals in 35 league games this season, including two at home against Palace last weekend, and DCL could add to those sub-par numbers this weekend.

Selecting Danny Ings (£8.4m) as our second non-premium fantasy pick might feel a bit like we’re chasing the points after his brace against Crystal Palace this week, but we prefer to see it more as jumping on a proven goalscorer who returned from injury in style and who has a couple of interesting games coming up next. In gameweek 35, the Southampton forward netted twice for a total of 13 FPL points and stayed on the pitch for 75 minutes. Up next are Fulham on Saturday followed by a game against Leeds, both at Saint Mary’s. It’s true that Southampton have not much left to play for this season and Ings does pose a constant injury threat to any managerial plans, but the 28-year old could very well be bringing in more FPL points over the coming days.

The budget enabler

Most FPL managers are well aware of the fact that Fantasy Premier League management comes with an additional risk to be taken into account when selecting squads towards the end of the season. As the final game nears, more and more teams will be “on the beach”, as they say, meaning that those teams no longer have anything to play for in the league (other than some EPL finishing places cash) and whose results are therefore now even less predictable than usual. One of the teams to which this theory could be applied is Leeds, who are currently in tenth place, seven points off the top six with three games to go. Still, the Whites did not show any signs of slowing down against Spurs in GW35 and they have one of the most favourable fixture calendars until the end of the season with Southampton away and West Brom at home following this weekend’s game at Turf Moor. That’s why we have gone with Raphinha (£5.4m) as our budget enabler of the week. The Brazilian winger missed a few weeks due to injury, but returned with an assist and 4 FPL points against Spurs last Saturday. That brought his totals for the seasons to 6 goals and 8 assists from 24 starts in the league. In our opinion, considering all of the above, Raphinha is criminally under-owned at the moment.

A differential pick or two

After 5 goals and 1 assist in his last three league outings, and 8 goals and 3 assists in his last eight outings, Chris Wood (£6.4m) has made a very deserved return to our weekly gameweek preview, in the differential category this time. The Burnley forward is still owned by just 3.5% of FPL managers at the time of writing, while only Kelechi Iheanacho has managed to record a higher FPL points average than Wood over the past 30 days (8.25 points). To make matters even more interesting, Wood also has decent upcoming fixtures from a fantasy-forward-with-penalty-duties’ point of view: Leeds at home, Liverpool at home, Sheffield United away. Thanks to their important 0-2 victory over Fulham, which officially confirmed the Cottagers’ relegation, Burnley are now assured of at least one other season of Premier League action. Hopefully it will lead to a bit more freedom and a bit less pressure on the pitch for the final games, with a few more Wood goals as a result.

As our second differential fantasy pick for BGW36, we have gone with a defender who has made an excellent impression in his first year in the Premier League. Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) has so far been part of 8 clean sheets for West Ham this season, while also providing no less than 8 assists. Only his team mate Aaron Cresswell and Everton defender Lucas Digne created more goals than the West Ham right-back amongst defender in the official fantasy game. With West Brom away and Southampton at home after this weekend’s encounter Brighton at the AmEx, there could be points at both ends of the pitch for Coufal. His ownership currently sits at 7.0%, which makes him an interesting and very much affordable differential option for the season’s final stages.

The captaincy

Naturally, the absence of Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester and Man United in this blank gameweek somewhat limits the options for the captain’s armband, but our choice would have been Mo Salah in any case. The Egyptian forward is supposed to start every single game until the end in order to help Liverpool to a Champions League spot and himself to the Golden Boot, plus he is on penalties as well, and it’s West Brom at the Hawthornes this weekend for the Reds. We’re hoping for a bigtime Salah haul.

The fact that options are limited by the blanking teams does not mean that there are no other decent alternatives for the captaincy, though. Everton hosting Sheffield United brings Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison into the picture, for example. With Leeds visiting Burnley on Saturday, you could also opt for Bamford, while Southampton’s home encounter with relegated Fulham could be a favourable one for Danny Ings or even James Ward-Prowse.

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