A quick recap: after a great start, the Last Stand went into a three-month tailspin, dropping from the top of the League of Gentlemen to struggling to keep hold of sixth spot. In the meantime, Flash, Dinga and a remarkable comeback from Jeeves seem to have left the title fight a three-way dance, although Who Horner isn’t far behind. The Last Stand need to overcome a 72-point deficit to win the League of Gentlemen, and there’s only seven weeks to do it. It seems an impossible task, but in the business end of the season, it only takes one or two great gameweeks to turn it all around.
Gameweek 32 offers that potential. The first double gameweek of the season, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur among the ten teams that play twice. These are the weeks that reward the forward-thinkers who have avoided eating their chips. With gameweeks 34 and 35 also being double gameweeks, the most popular strategy appears to be Free Hit this week, Wild Card gameweek 34, Bench Boost gameweek 35, with a Triple Captain free to use in one of the other weeks. As someone who has used both my Free Hit and my Wild Card, this strategy is unavailable to the Last Stand, but that gives us a rare opportunity.
You see, FPL legend Sergio Aguero has two fixtures this week, and they are against Fulham and Cardiff. Quite frankly, I think anyone not using Triple Captain on Sergio Aguero has succumbed to some thought of over-thinking FPL madness.
However, there are arguments for each chip, so let’s evaluate them all.
As of 23/3/19, the most popular choice, with 103,947 managers opting to deploy this chip. As mentioned, with Aguero facing Fulham and Cardiff, after a two-week rest due to no international football, it’s not hard to see why. Aguero hit hat-tricks in consecutive gameweeks not so long ago, for a return of 34 points. If he repeated that against two of the worst teams the Premier League has ever seen, the Triple Captain chip would see a return of 102 points for a single player. However, Aguero only picked up two assists against Fulham and a goal against Cardiff earlier in the season, and only played 53 and 60 minutes respectively. His 13-point haul from the corresponding fixtures would still result in 39 points for the triple-captainers, something not to be sniffed at.
Other popular options are Raheem Sterling, fresh off his first international hat-trick and against the same opponents as Aguero, and Harry Kane, who has five goals and two assists in eight games against Liverpool, and who seems destined to score the first goal in Spurs’ new stadium against Crystal Palace later in the week. But, for me, this week reverts to the old FPL truism: Always Captain Aguero.
Free Hit and Wild Card
The smartest strategy was probably building a team for gameweeks 31 and 33, using Free Hit this week, then Wild Card in gameweek 34 before Bench-Boosting in gameweek 35, but the range of teams playing twice means that there is great value in either a Wild Card or a Free Hit. With 117,435 managers opting for one of these chips, there will be variety in the teams chosen by FPL managers. The most popular player is Paul Pogba, with 42.9% of managers going for the Manchester United midfielder ahead of games against Watford and Wolves. However, with only 8 points in his last four gameweeks, this could be a wasted selection, especially with Lukaku and Rashford carrying knocks.
In total, there are 16 players with over 20% ownership. By position, they are: Allison (24.1%), Ederson (21.6%), Robertson (37.4%), Van Dijk (30.7%), Alonso (26.7%), Wan-Bissaka (26.3%), Doherty (23.5%), Alexander-Arnold (20.5%), Pogba (42.9%), Salah (40.4%), Mane (31.1%), Hazard (29.4%), Fraser (22.3%), Aguero (39.8%), Jimenez (33.1%) and Rashford (28.5%). If you are Free Hitting, or even Wild Carding, it may be worth looking at some of the lesser-owned players to give you that edge, people like Sterling (17.3%), Laporte (8.3%) or David Silva (4.7%) who play Fulham and Cardiff, Rudiger (3.6%), Pedro (4.5%) or Higuain (4.1%), who play Cardiff and Brighton, or even players from smaller teams, such as Murray (Southampton and out-of-form Chelsea, 2.3%), Deeney (4.7%) or Deulofeu (5.3%), who play Manchester United and Fulham, or Batshuayi (Huddersfield and Spurs, 1.7%).
Whoever you decide to bring in, these two chips are a great advantage in double gameweeks, enabling managers to select a 15-man squad of players likely to have two matches. Yet, veterans know it rarely works out that way in practice, and quite often single-gameweek players outperform those on a double. The FPL gods laugh at those who think they have planned perfectly.
If you aren’t playing your bench boost on a double gameweek, you are exposing your FPL inexperience. This card should only ever be used on a double gameweek, and 49,218 managers have decided that this is the double gameweek to use it on. If you are going for this chip, my advice is to ensure you have as many players playing twice as possible. If you are ever going to take hits, a double gameweek is the time to do it – especially given the fixtures in gameweek 32, which seem far kinder than those in gameweek 35. Losing four points on a transfer where a player plays an extra game, so (in theory) has a baseline two-point advantage over someone playing just once, minimises the hit risk while offering tantalising rewards. Is it worth keeping a Liverpool player when they play Spurs, when Manchester City play Fulham and Cardiff? Will Salah or Mane be within 4 points of Sterling, when Sterling could start two points ahead? Or is it better to keep the Liverpool lads, knowing they play next week when Manchester City don’t? These are the questions you can only answer for yourself.
No Chip Used
Deary me. Use this week as experience and be more prudent next year.
Whatever chip option you go for, I hope it works out for you. International breaks are a true FPL Nightmare, but a double-gameweek afterwards is something to look forward to. These are the weeks when seasons are turned on their head and championships are won and lost. Given the way this year has gone, I fully expect all the players not selected for the Last Stand to have their best week of the season, while my lads are rotated, miss penalties and get red cards. But maybe, just maybe, the League of Gentlemen will be all shook up.
I just hope making transfers prior to the international break doesn’t come back to haunt me.