Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers brace themselves for the penultimate ‘double’ of the season with Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion playing twice in Double Gameweek 36.
With assets from the high-flying Magpies and Seagulls vying for favouritism, we consider whether a duo of single Gameweek heavyweights, led by Erling Haaland (£12.4m), can challenge the two-fixture status quo.
As usual, the Captain Sensible article is here to highlight which assets have the best chance of hauling.
First, we will assess the fallout of the captain poll, before then analysing the best options, Rate My Team (RMT) and the Premier Fantasy Tools ratings ahead of Saturday’s 11:00 BST deadline.
THE CAPTAIN POLL
Swedish sensation Alexander Isak (£7.0m) tops the charts of a competitive captain poll ahead of Double Gameweek 36, backed by a mite under four-tenths of the total votes cast by users at the time of writing.
The main rivalry comes from Isak’s striker-partner Callum Wilson (£7.1m), Newcastle’s top Fantasy performer of late, with the Englishman sitting in second place, backed by just under one in five of our users.
Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) occupies third place with 12.84% of the vote, followed by Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) – with approximately 16% of managers tempted to swerve a Double Gameweek armband candidate.
ALEXANDER ISAK/CALLUM WILSON/KIERAN TRIPPIER
Under the astute management of Eddie Howe, Newcastle United edge ever closer to UEFA Champions League qualification promising an immediate return on investment for the Saudi ownership since their 2021 takeover.
With the Magpies’ penetrative in attack, teak-tough in defence, and with winning mentality, their cut-price assets have proven to be shrewd buys in Fantasy.
None more so than Alexander Isak, who has dazzled in his debut Premier League season since swapping San Sebastian for Tyneside.
The Swede’s 11 attacking returns this season – scoring ten times and supplying a single assist – is a testament to how well Isak has adapted, with strong recent underlying numbers to rival his strike partner.
Isak’s shot volumes are identical to Wilson’s over the last six, with the Swede’s 12 goal attempts and 10 shots in the box equal to Newcastle’s ‘number 9’ – but unbeaten by any other Newcastle asset over the period.
The former Real Sociedad frontman certainly has the game-time edge despite three early withdrawals over the last half-dozen games, with his average minutes per appearance trouncing Wilson’s (72.8 to 52.2).
With expected minutes projections becoming a real edge in the Fantasy arena, it’s notable that Isak can play two positions in Eddie Howe’s frontline.
|Alexander Isak||Callum Wilson|
|Expected goals (xG)||0.2||0.6|
|Expected goal involvement (xGI)||0.4||0.6|
|Shots in the box||1.7||1.7|
|Penalty box touches||4.5||4.0|
Above: A comparison between Isak and Wilson with averages per appearance over their last half-dozen matches
Meanwhile, Callum Wilson has once again proven himself as Newcastle United’s leading attacking asset, with 20 attacking returns in a typically injury-hit season no mean feat.
He has certainly stepped up his production in recent weeks and despite parity in the shot volume stakes, Wilson dominates the high-quality chances over the last six.
Wilson betters Isak for big chances (5 to 3), expected goals (xG, 3.47 to 1.49), and expected goal involvement (xGI, 3.74 to 2.20) – all team-leading totals for the former Bournemouth man.
Just two starts – and as many withdrawals – and four substitute appearances over that period highlights the high-risk roulette of gambling on Wilson’s expected minutes.
However, the space between fixtures is potentially beneficial to Wilson’s game-time prospects, with Newcastle United playing Saturday–Thursday–Monday, and two home games saving on travel.
And while it’s not very often that Sean Longstaff (£4.3m) impacts our Fantasy plans, the combative midfielder’s absence through injury against Arsenal on Sunday opened the door for Eddie Howe to field Isak and Wilson together in attack.
Eddie Howe stated “I just felt it was the right time with how both players have performed. Sean Longstaff’s injury creates a gap for us. I believe the system can work.”
The question remains whether Howe will persist with an ultra-attacking system against De Zerbi’s Brighton after Arteta bloodied his nose – and with the Champions League hanging in the balance.
Long-term planners would have earmarked Kieran Trippier as strong armband material but a torrid seven-game run without a Premier League clean sheet has dented confidence in the Magpies’ defence.
Notably, the recent defensive underlying numbers for Howe’s rear-guard have slipped, ranking ninth for expected goals conceded (xGC, 8.50) over the last six matches.
Examining season-long numbers, the former ‘Atleti’ man ranks second-best for expected assists (xA, 10.84) – with only midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m) faring better (xA, 13.94).
A cursory glance over the recent data shows no dip in output for Trippier, with the full-back placing in the top two for successful crosses (20) and key passes (21) over the last six.
He also represents the highest set-piece threat in the division over that same period, placing in the top two for successful corners (14) and accurate free-kicks (four).
Above: Kieran Trippier places in the top two for successful crosses (20) and key passes (21) over the last six
Eddie Howe’s charges visit Leeds United on Saturday with the Elland Road outfit struggling for Premier League survival.
Leeds are without a clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League matches, and no side has conceded more goals (15) in the last six home matches.
Over the sample, Leeds shipped the second-most shots in the box (62) and placed bottom for chances conceded from their right flank (28) – a statistic that boosts Isak’s stock.
Meanwhile, Brighton have registered just two clean sheets in away matches this season, despite ranking fourth-best for expected goals conceded (xGC, 8.29) over their last half dozen road trips.
Over that sample, De Zerbi’s side conceded the fewest big chances (six) and placed in the top three for shots in the box against (43) and shots on target conceded (18).
For those tempted by Trippier’s clean sheet prospects, Leeds have failed to blank in their last ten Premier League matches, despite generating just eight big chances in their last six at home.
But Brighton ranks second-best for expected goals (xG, 13.78) over their last six away matches, placing in the top two over that period for shots on target (37) and big chances (22).