Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 35: After drab derby, Manchester sides offer potential
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.
With four weeks to play, only two of the fantasy slates remaining are regular, 10 match affairs. Gameweek 35 presents a number of excellent matchups for FPL managers to exploit. Both Manchester City and United will be stacked by a number of fantasy managers despite playing in their derby on Thursday. Squad selection will depend on injury, fatigue and rotation concerns, but their matchups, as you'll see, make it hard to stay away.
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.
David de Gea (vs. Swansea)
Key Stats: De Gea has kept three clean sheets on the spin, while the United defense as a whole is on a four-match run. Included in the last three were splendid efforts over table-topper Chelsea and crosstown rival City. De Gea did not need to record a single save against either Chelsea or Burnley, but he did put in a fine shift including six saves in the Manchester derby. Swansea has scored just four goals in its last six league matches.
Plan B: Jack Butland (d; vs. West Ham); Ben Foster (d; vs. Leicester); Wayne Hennessey (d; vs. Burnley)
Butland returned from injury in the Potters' 2-0 loss against Swansea, recording four saves. He's forced Lee Grant to the bench, which is quite harsh on Grant. Butland is just a year removed from his 102-save, 10-clean-sheet campaign, though, and faces the Hammers, who haven't shown a lethal touch of late with four goals in their last five and coming off a 0-0 draw at home against Everton.
Nicolas Otamendi (at Middlesbrough); Patrick van Aanholt (d; vs. Burnley); Antonio Valencia (vs. Swansea); Craig Dawson (d; vs. Leicester)
Key Stats: The Baggies' defenders have been getting it done on offense. Dawson has three goals and Gareth McAuley leads all defenders with six. Interestingly, Leicester has been victimized by defenders in recent weeks as Phil Jagielka recorded a goal and assist in Gameweek 32, while Nacho Monreal's powerful shot resulted in an own goal and three points for Arsenal. Expect the duo to be involved, particularly from set pieces. Leicester's 6.03 corners conceded per match (199 in 33 games) is the fifth worst in the league.
Plan B: Ryan Bertrand (vs. Hull); Cedric Soares (d; vs. Hull); Daley Blind (d; vs. Swansea); Vincent Kompany (d; at Middlesbrough)
Kompany is fully returned from injury and looks to have regained his starting spot as well. He's played 90 minutes in three of City's last four, recording clean sheets in each of their last two. When fit he has shown signs of the brilliance of his peak. While those days are likely behind him, a match against the EPL's poorest attack is ripe for fantasy success.
Kevin De Bruyne (at Middlesbrough); Wilfred Zaha (vs. Burnley); Nathan Redmond (d; vs. Hull); Matt Phillips (d; vs. Leicester)
Key Stats: In the Manchester Derby, KDB posted a massive 20 fantasy points without recording a goal or an assist. That's his best return for such an outing since posting 19.5 against Chelsea in Gameweek 14. The key to his fantasy success is the number of key passes he makes. Against both Chelsea and United he made five, while his best effort was the seven-key-pass, one-assist effort in the 2-1 win over Arsenal in Gameweek 17. Expect he starts and replicates the six-key-pass, one-assist, 26-point effort he notched Gameweek 11 home vs. Middlesbrough.
Plan B: Eden Hazard (at Everton); Jesse Lingard (d; vs. Swansea); Christian Eriksen (vs. Arsenal); Andros Townsend (d; vs. Burnley)
Just two of Hazard's last 10 league opponents have been able to stymie the explosive midfielder. In the other eight he recorded six goals and three assists as Chelsea keeps the pressure on the chasing pack. Lingard looks like he's second-choice at the moment, but he should get a run out against a Swansea side Jose Mourinho has every expectation of beating.
Raheem Sterling (d; at Middlesbrough); Christian Benteke (vs. Burnley)
Key Stats: If you had to guess the best FPL forward on Man City, you'd likely successfully identify Sergio Aguero. What might surprise you is that Sterling has just 11 fewer fantasy points than Aguero this season. The two have played similar minutes (Sterling 2,301; Aguero 2,141) and have been involved in a similar number of goals (Sterling six goals, 14 assists; Aguero 17 goals, two assists). Unlike Aguero, Sterling doesn't have Gabriel Jesus nipping at his heels and stealing precious minutes in the season's final weeks.
Plan B: Sergio Aguero/Gabriel Jesus (at Middlesbrough); Roberto Firmino (at Watford); Anthony Martial (vs. Swansea); Manolo Gabiaddini (d; vs. Hull); Joshua King (d; at Sunderland)
In the current top 30 forwards by total fantasy points, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sam Vokes and Islam Slimani are expected to miss Gameweek 35. It is rare FPL managers are this spoiled for choices up top and the relative surfeit of quality matchups to fade one of the bigger names and play a differential in the FWD2 slot. In fact, with so many good matchups, reliable forwards like Romelu Lukaku (vs. Chelsea) and Alexis Sanchez (at Tottenham) are being selected in many fewer teams than usual and present a great opportunity.