The double gameweeks make a return in time for Gameweek 34. Crystal Palace, Everton, Manchester City, and Sunderland will each play twice by the time the fantasy week is complete. In addition, Manchester United and Hull City will be taking a break.
Used properly, the double gameweek can build points for your fantasy team in a hurry. Just be careful not to rely too heavily on teams playing twice, especially if their matchups are not favorable. Such is the case for Sunderland this week. The Black Cats will play host to Everton on the weekend before traveling to Manchester City for a midweek tie to round out the fantasy week. Neither match provides much opportunity for Sunderland players to score and both matches will certainly see the Black Cats allow some goals. This combination does not make for much fantasy output and most of the players will certainly just see points from playing time.
Crystal Palace will provide a slightly better opportunity to produce some fantasy value. They too face Everton, which looks at this point like a poor matchup for the Eagles. However, before they travel to Everton they play host to a struggling Aston Villa side. The Crystal Palace defense has played very well at home and will be facing a Villa squad that is without Christian Benteke. However, be very careful not to get trapped here, as Aston Villa may have some secret weapons that lay ready to take advantage of an increase in playing time (Hint: Continue reading). While the defense gets a slight uptick based upon the matchup, it is a player like Jason Puncheon that could see the most benefit. Crystal Palace have provided sporadic offense this season, but it has been Puncheon of late that has stepped to the front of the Eagles attack. Even in a double gameweek, he’s still not a top-two bargain option (which is why he’s listed in the open rather than later in the article) but he’s still worth an honorable mention. The offense from Crystal Palace is just too unreliable and it becomes difficult to predict where it will come from each match.
Manchester City play at Liverpool before hosting Sunderland to round out the gameweek. The only bargain options Manchester City provide come from defenders, which make them a difficult play. It is tough to predict who Manuel Pellegrini will start in his back line each match, making it difficult to put much reliance on starting a bargain defender; not to mention they will really only be valuable in one of the two matches this week (I’ll let you guess which one that may be). You can certainly expect a lot from the star attacking and midfield players, however.
Everton are the squad to look to for bonus production during the double gameweek. Matches against Sunderland and Crystal Palace provide intriguing matchups on both the offensive and defensive end of the pitch. After blanking Arsenal last weekend, winning out will put the Toffees into next season’s Champions League. This will certainly have Everton playing at their highest level in their remaining matches. It is because of this that Everton will see more players included in this week’s Bargain Bin.
Tim Howard is coming off what is arguably the biggest performance of his Everton career. The clean sheet against Arsenal has put the club in a great position to capture a Champions League spot for next season. With all this on the line, they will certainly be sure not to allow any soft goals this gameweek. Sunderland and Crystal Palace will really have to earn their goals this week; the squads rank 17th and 20th, respectively, this season in goals scored per match, so they aren’t likely to pressure the goal much. Howard is looking at potentially two clean sheets in a key week for both his team, as well as your fantasy squad.
John Stones has been included in Everton’s starting XI in each of the past six matches because of an injury to Luke Shaw and the Southampton defense were without starting goalkeeper, Artur Boruc against Manchester City last weekend. While they proved no match defensively for the fire power the Citizens possess, Boruc is expected back for this weekend’s match against Cardiff City. The Bluebirds rank 18th this season in away goals scored per match and will be facing a top-five defense looking to rebound from a horrendous performance. In fact, Southampton have allowed three or more goals seven times this season. Four of the matches following the porous outings have produced clean sheets. Cardiff City are a likely squad to enhance the defensive statistics of the Saints.
Lewis Holtby has been the ignition Fulham were looking for in their fight to avoid relegation. His 38 combined shot attempts and assisted shot attempts since taking the field for Fulham rank 14th among Premier League players. That ranks ahead of players like Emmanuel Adebayor and Romelu Lukaku. Certainly he would hope for more than just one goal and three assists, but he has produced against the teams that you would expect him to. Saturday against Norwich City will provide him another opportunity to generate fantasy value with his high output. The Canaries have allowed the most away goals per match this season and are on a downward spiral that includes playing for a new manager this weekend. Holtby should be a good bet to add to his offensive production this weekend.
Andre Schurrle is likely to be the biggest benefactor from the Eden Hazard injury. He came on when Hazard was forced off during Tuesday's Champions League match and promptly scored a goal. Schurrle has also been in Chelsea’s starting XI in five of their last six Premier League matches. He’s a good bet to be in the starting XI on Saturday against Swansea City. In his time on the pitch this season, Schurrle has attempted a shot every 24 minutes. His high amount of pressure should bode well against a Swansea squad that has the lowest save percentage of any team this season.
Ross Barkley has been a pleasant surprise for Everton, and his fantasy owners this season, scoring five goals in limited action. With Everton fighting for a Champions League spot and Barkley appearing to be near full fitness, expect to see him get plenty of playing time during Everton’s double gameweek.
Grant Holt received just his second start as a member of Aston Villa last weekend. If you follow my twitter account (@EPL_MOstradamus) you’ll remember reading that he scored 23 goals in his two seasons with Norwich City and could be an interesting play. He responded by scoring a goal, and he is expected to be in the Villa starting XI once again this weekend. He is a proven goal-scorer and is on a team that desperately needs one right now. Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace is not the best for an opposing striker, but Aston Villa will be searching for offense on the road as they continue to slide down the Premier League table without their number one attacker.