Part of the trick to navigating double gameweek (DGW) season for Fantasy Premier League managers is fielding as many DGW players as possible while still having 11 players in the blank weeks that generate DGWs.
For example, if the Capital One Cup final were to be between Liverpool and Manchester City there would be four teams without a Premier League fixture in Gameweek 27 – Liverpool, Manchester City, and their respective opponents Everton and Newcastle United. If those games are rearranged to create a DGW in Gameweek 25 (one of four possible weeks), managers with more than six DGW players (or seven if one is a goalkeeper) will be unable to remove enough blanking players in time with free transfers to field 11 players two gameweeks later unless a points hit is taken or a wildcard is used.
Gameweek 24 is a pivotal time for squad management and not a gameweek for FPL managers to be burning their free transfer(s) early. Before the Gameweek 24 Premier League matches, we will discover who has made it through to the Capital One Cup final and which teams will be in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Not only could the players involved in those games be injured, but the ties could affect the shape of the upcoming fixture schedule.
I looked at the potential impact of the Capital One Cup final in terms of DGWs and fixture blanks in Double Gameweek planning: Part one earlier this month. Now I’ve updated my fixture chart to include the potential impact of the FA Cup on Gameweek 30.
The chart shows the Capital One Cup semi-finals and potential final match ups (purple), potential blank Premier League gameweeks for teams (dark grey), potential DGW options for the teams that could be in the Capital One Cup final (yellow), the only guaranteed Gameweek 30 fixture so far (green) and four Gameweek 30 Premier League fixtures (light grey) where the team in the larger tile is waiting to discover if the team beneath them in the smaller tile progresses in the FA Cup.
What is instantly noticeable from the chart is the potential for the Gameweek 30 fixture list to be decimated if the Premier League sides win their fourth and fifth round FA Cup matches. Only two teams are currently guaranteed to play Premier League matches in Gameweek 30 – Leicester City and Newcastle. Meanwhile, Sunderland, Swansea City, Norwich City and Southampton are out of the FA Cup, but would only have Premier League games if Everton, Bournemouth, Manchester City and Stoke City depart the cup in the fourth or fifth rounds.
Six Premier League teams play each other in the fourth round of the FA Cup, but none of those matches guarantees a Premier League match in Gameweek 30. For example, if Aston Villa beat Manchester City in the FA Cup, the Citizens would have a game against Norwich in the league. However, if Villa lose, Tottenham Hotspur would also have to be knocked out before the quarter finals for the scheduled Gameweek 30 Premier League tie to go ahead.
One outcome that does appear settled is that any match displaced by the Capital One Cup final won’t be rearranged for the FA Cup quarter final weekend (Gameweek 30). Everton’s scheduled Premier League Gameweek 30 fixture with Sunderland would go ahead if the Toffees go out of the FA Cup before the quarter finals as the Black Cats are already out of the FA Cup. If Manchester City and Stoke City go out of the cup in the fourth or fifth round, they are also scheduled to meet opponents in the Premier League who are already out of the FA Cup. Liverpool, if they are knocked out of the FA Cup before the quarter finals, could have Gameweek 30 free for a rearranged Gameweek 27 match if Chelsea reach the quarter finals, but that won’t work because Everton, the Reds’ opponents in a rearranged match, would not be available as they will have either a cup or league game that week.
As many as 11 Premier League teams could go through to the FA Cup fifth round and, depending on the draw, up to eight could make it to the FA Cup quarter finals. If that were to happen, it could put a big dent in the number of Premier League fixtures played in Gameweek 30. So FPL managers need to be alert to having enough available players for the potential blanks as well as the DGWs. An all-Merseyside Capital One Cup final could generate a DGW for Liverpool and Everton, but could also see players from both teams potentially unavailable in Gameweeks 27 and 30.
If this is confusing, it illustrates exactly why now is the time to hold off making transfers and wait for a somewhat clearer picture to emerge after the cup ties are played.