Gameweek 35: What can we conclude from the midweek European line-ups?
Studying the midweek European line-ups could help FPL managers predict this weekend’s team selections and decide their transfers.
Two Premier League sides took part in the Champions League quarter-final first legs, with one each in the Europa League and Europa Conference League.
Let’s look at their starting XIs one-by-one.
Man City 4-3 Real Madrid
Tuesday’s all-time classic against Real Madrid was breathtaking. How to follow that up? Well, there’s no space to slip up for Man City, they need to beat Leeds on Saturday evening to keep Liverpool at arm’s length. Joao Cancelo was suspended for the first leg, so he’s almost certain to start at Elland Road.
Jack Grealish and Ilkay Gundogan were unused substitutes, with Raheem Sterling coming on in the 83rd minute. Defensive injuries worsened when the decision to risk John Stones backfired against Real, so Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte should remain the centre-backs.
As Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva weren’t needed against Watford last week, it’d normally be Kevin De Bruyne’s turn to play ‘Pep Roulette’. But he’s Kevin De Bruyne, surely it doesn’t happen here at such a pivotal time.
Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal
There are two main assumptions to make – that Diogo Jota starts the match at Newcastle and Joel Matip continues to get league games whilst Ibrahima Konate claims European ties.
It’s a tough encounter for Liverpool, having to visit a side on four consecutive wins and six-in-a-row at home. Whilst it comes three days before the return leg in Spain, they can’t rest Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andrew Robertson here. By playing first, they can temporarily overtake Man City.
West Ham 1-2 Frankfurt
The Hammers’ quest for fourth place now looks very unlikely and David Moyes showed signs of this with his team selection at Chelsea last week. Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio were all rested, to prioritise the Frankfurt semi-final.
Similar things may happen against Arsenal, although doing so in front of home fans is harder to execute. Lukasz Fabianski should step in for Alphonse Areola, with Vladimir Coufal likely replacing Ben Johnson.
Leicester 1-1 Roma
The headline news from Thursday’s starting XI is the return of Jamie Vardy, following injuries that have kept him off the FPL scene since early December. Easing him back to match fitness adds to the already-difficult dilemma of Patson Daka or Kelechi Iheanacho up front. However, managers using a Free Hit in Gameweek 37 will observe Vardy with interest.
Elsewhere, a season-ending injury to Wilfred Ndidi seems to have secured Youri Tielemans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall as the midfield duo but everything else is up in the air. The only other outfield players to start four of their last five league games are James Maddison and James Justin.
Maddison played all 90 minutes here, whilst Harvey Barnes was only a substitute. Perhaps these roles swap for the match at Spurs, alongside rotation at full-back and centre-back.