Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 32: Chelsea's stars poised to shine
The following Fantasy Premier League advice is tailored toward players of Togga's Perfect XI. It's a weekly game in which every Premier League player is eligible to be selected into a 4-4-2 formation. There is no salary cap, no squad restrictions and you pick a fresh XI every week.
Eden Hazard scored two goals in Chelsea's pulsing victory over Manchester City on Wednesday, and in so doing, the Blues talisman recorded the highest fantasy score for the midweek matches. His appearance in the Perfect XI capped a three-match streak for Chelsea in which five players, including three defenders, earned at least one appearance in the team of the week. Facing Bournemouth in Gameweek 32, a number of Antonio Conte's players headline a collection of talent in fine form and facing opposition they can exploit for fantasy gains.
Selecting the Perfect XI each week isn't an easy task and even the best-laid plans can use a Plan B, so we've provided alternatives for each position. Those designated (d) are differentials–players we expect will be owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers this week. Togga has added "Own %" to its app so differentials are based on players' ownership percentage at the time of writing. You can check for updates when you set your squad.
Jordan Pickford (vs. Manchester United)
Key Stats: Since his return from injury, Pickford has reestablished himself as a top-tier fantasy goalkeeper. In five matches he has just one clean sheet but has scored 7.25 points or better in each on the strength of his shot-stopping–29 saves, including a nine-save outing against Watford Gameweek 30, tell the tale. Expect plenty of action in goal against United and plenty of fantasy points as a result.
Plan B: Ben Foster (vs. Southampton); Hugo Lloris (d; vs. Watford); Tom Heaton (at Middlesbrough)
Here we find a number of familiar names, each with an enticing matchup that looked better before the midweek results. Southampton (three goals) and Watford (two goals) took their chances well in Gameweek 31. Heaton's stock may dip a bit because he is on the road, but he remains one of the most selected at this position. Do not get trapped into believing Lee Grant (d; vs. Liverpool) is a good play. The Potters' keeper had posted clean sheets in three of five, allowing just five total goals in that span, before the Reds hit four past him at Anfield in Gameweek 18.
Nicolas Otamendi (vs. Hull); Kyle Walker (vs. Watford); Leighton Baines (d; vs. Leicester); Hector Bellerin (d; at Crystal Palace)
Key Stats: Bellerin, has been maddening for FPL managers. Full of potential, the Arsenal right back has unfortunately posted negative points in seven outings–six of those since Gameweek 16. However, he did score 15 against Palace in Gameweek 19. He has also made at least one key pass and one successful clearance in three straight while averaging two successful dribbles per match in that span. This is his last chance to redeem a poor away campaign, at least as far as this column is concerned.
Plan B: Antonio Valencia (at Sunderland); Marcos Alonso (at Bournemouth); Shkrodan Mustafi (d; at Crystal Palace); Stephen Ward (d; at Middlesbrough)
Ward is unheralded even by the standards of Burnley's defense. With Ben Mee and Michael Keane drawing the plaudits, Ward has been a consistent performer with a handful of massive fantasy outings. Though he primarily scores points for defensive stats (14 clearances against Swansea a high point) he has created eight chances over the past nine weeks without sacrificing any defensive value.
Eden Hazard (at Bournemouth); Christian Eriksen (vs. Watford); Paul Pogba (at Sunderland); Philippe Coutinho (at Stoke)
Key Stats: Four goals with three assists: That is Paul Pogba's entire "offensive" return. This hasn't stopped the United midfielder from being one of the very best fantasy players in FPL draft leagues, though. He tops many statistical categories at this position having won 78 aerial duels (first in the league) and completed 68 take-ons (fourth). Pogba also creates many more chances than his teammates finish–his 55 chances created have resulted in just three assists. Only Nathan Redmond (51 chances created, one assist) has benefited from fewer goals from 50+ attempts.
Plan B: Mark Albrighton (d; at Everton); Cesc Fabregas (d; at Bournemouth); Adama Traore (d; vs. Burnley); Leroy Sane (d; vs. Hull)
Midfield is particularly strong this week with Dele Alli, Mesut Ozil, Riyad Mahrez and Manuel Lanzini all easily swapped in for any of the other names on the list. Most notable is that many strong fantasy midfielders are differential options as of writing, meaning a manager who is willing to fade the elite options could field a near-galacticos-level midfield comprised of largely unowned players in Gameweek 32.
Sergio Aguero (vs. Hull); Andy Carroll (d; vs. Swansea)
Key Stats: Height isn't typically the key stat, but for West Ham's Andy Carroll, his two inch advantage over the Swans defense (Alfie Mawson, Mike van der Hoon and Federico Fernandez all measure 6' 2" while Kyle Naughton is only 5' 11") looms large. Carroll has won 49 aerial duels in the last five matches, and also made seven clearances, providing a solid return even in matches where he fails to score or assist a goal. Keep an eye on his lingering groin injury, but Slaven Bilic said Thursday he was expecting to have him available this weekend.
Plan B: Roberto Firmino (at Stoke); Jamie Vardy (at Everton); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (at Sunderland); Alexis Sanchez (at Crystal Palace)
Zlatan may be a lion among men, but the giant Swede needed a late, late penalty to score against Everton midweek. Of course, none of these forwards is a bad option, with each capable of providing a goal or an assist. Alexis's 18 goals, 11 assists lead the Premier League for combined goals and assists, but Ibrahimovic (16 goals, seven assists), Firmino (nine goals, 10 assists) and Vardy (10 goals–five of which have come in Leicester's last five matches–and five assists) are solid contributors who don't rely exclusively on goals to drive their fantasy value.