It was the week that had managers scribbling away in notebooks, analysing streams of data and planning transfers weeks in advance. While many will have gone into gameweek 34 with what they thought to be a perfect team, ready to face a torrent of double fixtures head on, one word threatened everything. Rotation.
As has been shown week in week out, this season has been full of surprises. Gameweek 34 was no different. From the drama of Leicester’s 2-2 draw against West Ham to Manchester City’s easy 3-0 victory against Chelsea, there were plenty of points to be had this week. Well, that is if you were not pulled in entirely by the allure of a double gameweek and stuck with players from teams like Tottenham for example.
An additional thrill for the double gameweek was the argument of bench boost versus triple captain. While the chips have added an extra complication to this Fantasy Premier League season, it has made this week interesting. Any trip to the FPL hashtag on Twitter prior to the start of gameweek 34 will have been met with a bucket load of managers stressing over what chip to use. Bench boost appeared to have won out, with the fixtures supposedly being more appealing than the latter double gameweek in week 37. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however, as triple captain may have ultimately been the better option for some due to the prominence of rotation.
At the end of a hectic gameweek, here are the top point-scorers:
- Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 26 points– In a double gameweek with fixtures against Chelsea and Newcastle, Aguero was always going to be one of the high performers if he was not subject to rotation. The only surprise would have been the striker’s hat-trick against Chelsea and single goal against Newcastle. While his £13.5 million price tag is hefty, he was certainly worth the money.
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 25 points– Like Aguero, Sanchez’s fixtures were favourable for the gameweek and he again lived up to expectation. Despite scoring one fewer goal than Aguero, the midfielder finished with only one less point- Making them both great triple captain candidates.
- Heurelho Gomes (Watford) 21 points– When imagining the top three point-scorers of this double gameweek, I doubt that goalkeeper Gomes will have entered many shortlists. His heroics in Watford’s game against West Brom, with not one but two penalty saves, earned him 19 points for that game alone. While his captaincy percentages will have been fairly minimal, anyone who included him in their squad was in for a nice surprise.
- Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) 20 points– Playing against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace this gameweek, two Manchester United clean sheets were pretty much guaranteed. The only problem was that in order to get the points you had to pinpoint a defender that, with the guarantee of rotation, would actually feature twice. Step forward Valencia, who up until this gameweek had only played 321 minutes this season. With two clean sheets, an assist and five bonus points to his name, however, he found himself as one of the top players to own this week.
- Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 17 points– Had it not been for the injury to Origi in Liverpool’s game against Everton, Sturridge may not have made it onto this list. As luck would have it, however, the striker was able to score two goals and get an assist in his two games this gameweek. Despite Liverpool’s team being at risk of rotation due to their continued involvement in the Europa League, the injury to Origi makes Sturridge the main man up front for the Reds.
- Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) 17 points– When Darmian missed out on Manchester United’s first fixture against Aston Villa, many will have thought that that was his chance of a meaningful contribution this gameweek down the drain. The Italian stole the show against Crystal Palace, however, as his goal, assist and clean sheet took him to seventeen points in one single fixture. While United had a double gameweek, Darmian demonstrated why sometimes those playing once are of as much value.
With this gameweek’s top point-scorers detailed, here is how my team did. After much last minute deliberation with myself, I chose to stick with triple captaining Sanchez rather than playing my bench boost. Just a heads up, I’m pretty happy that I did.
Joel Robles (Everton) 6 points– Playing against Southampton and Liverpool, and with a strike force seemingly incapable of scoring goals in recent weeks, Robles was always going to be a risk. Ultimately, the Everton keeper earned more points than I was expecting. Despite shipping five goals in two games, the keeper made so many saves against Liverpool to try and keep his side in the game that he finished the week on six points. With Schmeichel being my only other option and ending the week with a single point, I was fairly happy with Robles’ six.
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) 7 points– As detailed earlier, trying to pinpoint a United defender that wouldn’t be rotated was difficult. Other than De Gea and Smalling, all other defenders are a risk (not to mention that Van Gaal has a midfielder playing at centre-back these days). Therefore, despite having a fairly consistent run of appearances in recent times, Rojo only featured in United’s game against Villa. A clean sheet and a bonus point, however, was enough to give him seven points for the week.
Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) 6 points– Like United, Liverpool were always going to rotate their squad. No one quite expected the level of rotation, however, that we witnessed for their game against Bournemouth with many first team defenders being left out the squad entirely. As a result, Moreno featured only in their second game against Everton but earned a clean sheet in the process.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) 8 points– As the only Arsenal representative in the PFA team of the year this year, Bellerin is pretty much nailed into their starting eleven. With Crystal Palace and West Brom to play against this week, both at home, I was optimistic of getting two clean sheets. A goal from Bolasie prevented the double, however, but eight points was still a decent haul from the defender.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) 8 points– Being one of my transfers for the gameweek, I felt that De Bruyne was a must have. Despite playing the full ninety minutes in each fixture, the midfielder was only able to get an assist in the first against Chelsea. Bearing in mind I transferred him in for Willian, however, it was definitely an improvement.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) 6 points– Despite starting the last few games for Arsenal, there was always a doubt that Iwobi would not play in both of their games this gameweek. The youngster did, however, and earned a clean sheet point in both. It was not the goal or assist I was hoping for but it was a welcome contribution nonetheless.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 6 points– One thing for sure is that if Payet is on the pitch, he is capable of scoring against anyone at any time. His free kicks have been admired by all this season and have resulted in over 30% of managers putting him into their team. Against Leicester and Watford this gameweek, however, Payet was only able to get a single assist. Again, while it was less than anticipated, it was better than nothing.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) (TC) 75 points– After playing my triple captain chip and then having vice captained Aguero, there was much riding on Arsenal’s fixture against West Brom on Thursday evening. Thankfully, Sanchez finished the gameweek with three goals, a clean sheet and five bonus points. Safe to say, based on my bench, triple captain was definitely the way to go this week.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 26 points– With the threat of rotation forever looming, there was always a doubt in my mind when it came to Aguero against Newcastle. I did however expect goals from him this gameweek, but never foresaw a hat-trick against Chelsea. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it turns out that there was nothing to worry about. Aguero continues to show how he is one of the best strikers in the world and is a wonderful asset to have in the team at times like this.
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 13 points– Despite many managers choosing to transfer out Kane, as he had only a single fixture this week, I never even considered it. With Spurs taking on Stoke, there was always potential for goals and that turned out to be the case. Kane got on the scoresheet twice and Tottenham won the game 4-0. I expect to see many people rushing to get him back in their team again after that display.
Divock Origi (Liverpool) 6 points– Safe to say, Origi was robbed. The striker was originally rested for the Bournemouth game but was started for the Everton game. After giving Liverpool the lead, Origi was hacked down by Funes Mori and stretchered off. Everton went down to ten men and Liverpool went on to add to their goal tally. Having only just transferred him in, I believed the striker offered great value. Looks like my plans have now, however, changed.
- Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) 1 point
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 3 points
- Seamus Coleman (Everton) 1 point
- Danny Simpson (Leicester) 1 point