With the campaign’s finish line now in sight, teams are catching up on games in hand. This week it’s Newcastle and Brighton: both clubs play twice in Round 36.
Last week showed us that it is going to be increasingly difficult to rely on form when predicting match results, as desperate teams at the bottom of the table suddenly burst into life to save themselves from relegation. Similarly, those at the top who have been doing well week-in week-out suddenly falter. I’m not saying we can expect Everton to score five again, even if they are at home (it would certainly be a minor miracle if they did, since they are playing Manchester City), but I’m sure there will be at least one surprise among the week’s fixtures. Predicting where it will come is the difficult bit.
In Fantrax, it usually pays to lean into teams that play twice, since you get two bites of the cherry. But you need to go with players who are expected to play all or most of both fixtures. So the bulk of my picks will come from Brighton and Newcastle, despite both teams coming off defeats. Brighton’s 1-5 reversal at home to previously goal-shy Everton, only a week or so after they defeated Wolves 6-0 does make me a bit nervous, but even in defeat there were some decent scorers among their players.
Both of the double-game teams still have something to play for. Newcastle has Champions’ League aspirations, and Brighton is aiming for European qualification. Sadly for both, their opponents this week will be highly-motivated too. Leeds will be desperate to avoid relegation and Arsenal is still chasing the title. Newcastle definitely have the more attractive fixtures on paper, even though Leeds is a cornered animal right now and Brighton’s attack can be quite dangerous.
It’s often the case that teams in the middle of the table switch off at this time of year, so there might be value in picking the opponents of Brentford, Fulham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Wolves, all of whom have little except pride to play for. The hope is that they will play a more open game and concede a few - although the danger is that they will relax and score several themselves -- Fulham’s 5-3 win over Leicester demonstrates this perfectly.
But for me double games trump everything and so I am focusing mainly on those two teams, and I don’t recommend sitting on discounts any longer, however deep (other than probably Haaland if you still have him at $7, because he has a double next week).
We’ll get confirmed lineups for Leeds vs Newcastle before the Fantrax deadline (12:15 GMT on May 13th), so our Pre-Deadline Chat will be worth looking at since you can ensure that your Newcastle assets get at least one start.
For those four managers left in the NMA-11 Cup, this is the semifinals week, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments -- you are masters of the game and we’d love to hear from you!
Jason Steele ($3.27, Arsenal vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Brighton)
He scored 41.5 points in the double in gameweek 34, so looked nailed-on for the rest of the season - then followed it with minus 18 points last week in the supposedly easier game against Everton. I haven’t heard any sounds that his place is under threat, but keep an ear to the ground, since Robert Sanchez is waiting in the wings. His price is still very low and he should have plenty to do in these two fixtures.
Nick Pope ($14.02, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Pope is the third-highest points-scorer among keepers and he has two games. But his price is high, and Newcastle seem to have lost its knack for clean sheets — you have to go back to April 2nd since they did that.
Single-game option: Neto ($9.85, Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth) - I back him to bounce back from a negative performance last time out.
Kieran Trippier ($20.47, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
The top defender and fourth-best player in the game - and super-expensive to match. You probably have him way cheaper than his retail price, but even if you don’t he could be worth it for the double.
Sven Botman ($12.72, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Thanks to having a settled back four, Newcastle’s defenders are all expensive, but Botman has the best recent form and comes a little cheaper than his higher-scoring teammate Fabian Schar, so I’m going for Botman this week.
Lewis Dunk ($11.11, Arsenal vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Brighton)
I prefer a central defender for Brighton’s two difficult fixtures, so it’s Dunk over Estupinan for me - although the latter could be a good shout and will save you a dollar. Injuries make the rest of the Brighton defense harder to predict, but Levi Colwill is an option, albeit one that is not in point-scoring form.
He may have only one game, but Soyuncu is in excellent points-scoring form and should get plenty more chances to rack them up against Liverpool, even though his team looks in real trouble now.
Alexis Mac Allister ($12.17, Arsenal vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Hot off two 20+ points performances plus the fact that he’s on penalties makes him the most desirable Brighton midfielder this week, in games where it’s hard to see the Seagulls scoring many.
Kaoru Mitoma ($9.75, Arsenal vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Solly March is a doubt through injury so it is likely that Mitoma will get plenty of game time over the double. He’s managed 26.5 points over the past two games without a goal or assist.
Allan Saint-Maximin ($4.50, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
He’s only had 11 minutes playing time since returning from injury, but if he starts the first game, or gets talked up in the press conferences, he could be more than worth it at his bargain price.
Bruno Guimarães ($8.22, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Tends to be a moderate points scorer with occasional bumper hauls, and if Newcastle are to do well in these games he may be needed for a flash of Brazilian flair. Other budget-priced options in the Newcastle midfield include Jacob Murphy and Anthony Gordon, so if they start the first game they are worth considering.
Single-game option: Morgan Gibbs-White ($11.98, Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest) - Don’t bank on another 26.5 points, but he’s in great form and Forest would still like a point or two more to be completely safe, and who knows whether Chelsea will turn up to play.
Callum Wilson ($10.09, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
Last week was a disappointment, but he’s been in great form and should get some opportunities in both games.
Alexander Isak ($7.54, Leeds vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Brighton)
It could be worth doubling up on the Newcastle attack for the double - that’s four chances at a big haul. Isak hasn’t scored for the past three games, but was in good scoring form before that.
Julio Enciso ($3.29, Arsenal vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Brighton)
He was rested for the first half against Everton, but that game didn’t go so well, so he’s likely to be back from the start this week. His low price makes him a great enabler for the rest of the team.
Single-game option: Marcus Rashford ($14.76, Manchester United vs Wolves) - United have two straight defeats, but surely they can’t slip up a third time against Wolves, who have little to play for now and whose last away game ended in 6-0 defeat. Rashford generally looks the likeliest scorer for United and could come away with plenty of points from this one.
How many double-gamers are you going for? Which single game options look worth the cash? Is Haaland in your side whatever happens - are you even considering him at or near retail price? Please log in and let us know in the comments.