There is only one full gameweek of the season left now but there is still lots to play for, both on the pitch and when it comes to Fantasy Premier League.
Manchester City may have already clinched the title, but two of the three relegation places are yet to be decided and the race for Champions League qualification is still ongoing (though Manchester United could secure the final spot when they play Chelsea on Thursday in the final match of Gameweek 37).
So, let’s have a look at what has happened in Double Gameweek 37 so far, and what those events mean for the final day of the campaign this Sunday.
City still a problem for FPL managers
Manchester City rotated heavily against Chelsea on Sunday after Arsenal’s loss to Nottingham Forest the previous evening confirmed Pep Guardiola’s team as champions for a third season running.
And while it is impossible to know for sure, it looks as if Guardiola will field a stronger side against Brighton & Hove Albion in the second game of their double on Wednesday.
This means that the likes of forward Erling Haaland (£12.4million), goalkeeper Ederson (£5.4million), defender Ruben Dias (£6million) and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2million) — all on the bench for the Chelsea match — should start away to Roberto De Zerbi’s side.
The Gameweek 38 fixtures are four days after the Brighton fixture, so I believe City will also field a strong team at Brentford on the final day of the top-flight season. As I highlighted in my article last week, I expect Guardiola to use Sunday as a practice game for the FA Cup final against Manchester United the following Saturday.
If I am correct, Haaland will start in Gameweek 38 but may have his minutes managed. It must be noted, however, that there is a chance that backup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega (£3.7million) plays rather than Ederson.
If Ortega is to be selected for the FA Cup final (and he has started all City’s domestic cup ties so far this season), then it makes sense for him to play against Brentford to ensure he is as up-to-speed as possible six days later at Wembley. Therefore, if you own Ederson, make sure you have a playing second ’keeper for Gameweek 38.
Regardless of which personnel Guardiola opts for against Brentford, there are likely to be a lot of early substitutions to rest legs, with a Champions League final also to come on June 10.
This means that captaining someone other than Haaland is justifiable. This is good news for FPL managers who are looking to make up ground in their mini-leagues.
Arsenal options could be key
With nothing to play for now except pride as they can only finish second, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta may also make a few changes for the visit of mid-table Wolverhampton Wanderers in Gameweek 38. I do, however, expect the majority of the first team to play.
Midfielders Martin Odegaard (£6.8million) and Bukayo Saka (£8.0million) and forward Gabriel Jesus (£8.1million) should all be in the line-up for what is a favourable fixture.
Ownership of that trio has decreased over recent weeks due to Arsenal’s lack of double gameweeks, which means all of them could be big differentials on the final day of the season. Any one of the three is a great shout for your captaincy, too.
Relegation battle will play a part
Leicester City must win at home against West Ham United on Sunday to have any chance of staying in the Premier League.
Their midfielder James Maddison (£7.8million) is as good a punt as any for the final day, having scored 10 goals and provided nine assists in the league this season. Despite coming on as a substitute against Newcastle United on Monday night, he should start against David Moyes’ team — who have nothing to play for and might be resting players before their Europa Conference League final on June 7 — with Leicester needing to go on the attack.
Another key factor for FPL managers is that Maddison takes their set pieces.
Leeds United also need to win to have any chance of avoiding the drop as they entertain a Tottenham Hotspur side still fighting for European qualification.
Rodrigo (£6.3million), who is classed as a midfielder in FPL, scored the opener in the loss to West Ham on Sunday and has two goals and an assist in his last three games. He is comfortably Leeds’ top scorer in the league this season with 13 goals, while Spurs has been very poor defensively, conceding 62 goals (only five Premier League teams have let in more this season).
Forward Patrick Bamford (£7.1million), looks set to miss Sunday’s match after coming off with a hamstring injury against West Ham. This means Rodrigo is likely to play as the No 9, increasing his expected minutes. He will also be Leeds’ first-choice penalty taker for the match.
The Eagles are soaring
Crystal Palace drew 2-2 with Fulham at the weekend in another impressive display under Roy Hodgson. Midfielder Eberechi Eze (£5.6million) has scored twice and provided an assist over the last two games, and the 24-year-old (top image) has 10 goals and five assists this season overall.
Palace play Nottingham Forest at home in Gameweek 38 in what is an appealing fixture for them.
Forest, who are now safe from relegation and so have little to play for on Sunday, have conceded 67 goals in the league, fourth-most in the division. Given Palace have scored eight in their last four games, this could be a profitable fixture for Hodgson’s midfielders and forwards.
Rotation headaches continue
A lot of FPL managers’ squads heavily feature players from Newcastle, Manchester United and Brighton. Given Newcastle have now secured a top-four finish and Manchester United only need a draw at home to Chelsea tomorrow to do the same, we may see rotation when it comes to their respective starting line-ups on Sunday.
The same is also possible with Brighton. They have secured European football for the first time in their history for next season, and are almost guaranteed to be playing in the Europa League.
A case can definitely be made for selling Newcastle players (they have Chelsea away in Gameweek 38). Selling Brighton assets could also be justified, as they have a tough game away at Aston Villa, with Unai Emery’s in-form side battling Spurs for a place in next season’s Europa Conference League.
As long as the players you are transferring in have better fixtures than the ones you are taking out, it is a worthwhile move.
On the other hand, Erik ten Hag’s United have a favourable home game against Fulham. For this reason, I would stick with their assets, even if they have already secured a Champions League place.
This is also because, like his neighbour Guardiola, I can see Ten Hag using this final league game of the season as a warm-up for next Saturday’s FA Cup final against treble-chasing City. He will likely name a strong starting line-up against Fulham, with early substitutions taking precedence over key players being benched.
Press conferences can reveal all
All the matches in Gameweek 38 kick off at 4.30pm UK time on Sunday. So this is another week when it is crucial to wait until after all the managers’ press conferences before making transfers.
There will undoubtedly be rotation by some clubs and, as we have seen in previous years, young players may play their part on what is the final day of the season for most of the 20 sides.
Therefore, picking up any information from the pre-match media sessions could make all the difference.
(Top photo: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
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