Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 27: injury news, transfer tips and captain advice ahead of Man City vs Man Utd

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Our high-flying manager offers up his tips ahead of Gameweek 27 in the FPL.

Welcome to our regular Fantasy Premier League advice column – and this week, our very own high-flying fantasy coach, currently ranked around 1,500 in the world, is not only going to tell you all you need to know about Gameweek 27 but will also take you through some important forward planning now that we know which teams won’t be playing in GW29.

Before we hand you over, a reminder that it’s another late deadline this weekend, and you’ll only need to make all of your moves by 13:30 GMT on Saturday 2 March, ahead of the three o’clock kick-offs. No early game to worry about this time around. Now, over to Matthew…

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How to plan for the big blank

The way we need to fix our FPL teams up this week depends much less on what’s going on in GW27 and far more on how we work our way through GW29, which takes place in mid-March ahead of the international break. Let me explain…

GW29 is the weekend in which the FA Cup quarter-finals take place, and that means that just eight teams will be in action, with the remaining fixtures pushed down the line to form big double gameweeks, most probably in both GW34 and 37. As a result, we have two primary choices – either we make transfers which give us 11 players who will be in action in GW29, or we carry on as normal and use our free hit chip.

The latter path is easier, of course, but means we won’t be able to use that chip to maximise a double gameweek down the line. If you do go with a free hit, which is my plan, then you will want to use your second wildcard ahead of GW34, with the bench boost to follow on one of the doubles in order to get as many points as possible.

But in an ideal world, you’ll want to build a team which can get at least 10 players fit and ready to go in GW29. That isn’t easy, however – so where are we getting those players from?

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The eight teams in action are Aston Villa, Brentford, Burnley, Fulham, Luton Town, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. As you can see, there aren’t many teams with high-value assets playing that week, and some of them have some tough fixtures coming up before then – especially Brentford and Forest.

So what does an ideal team for GW29 look like? Well, we’d start with triple Villa and Spurs. They’re comfortably the two best teams involved and aside from playing each other in GW28, they have tolerable fixture difficulty. Ollie Watkins is a must, as is Son Heung-Min and perhaps James Maddison or Richarlison. These will also be two teams from which we draw defenders, which is not ideal when they play each other.

That’s one of the reasons I’m not that excited about the idea of holding onto the free hit – the maximum return from a team which carries through to GW29 without using a chip is stymied by the fixture list. Villa and Spurs midfielders and forwards simply can’t return at the same time as their defenders in GW28.

Other assets worth looking at are Taiwo Awoniyi and Anthony Elanga from forest, Alphonse Areola and Jarrod Bowen from West Ham (probably with either Vladimír Coufal or Mohammed Kudus) and Alfie Doughty and Carlton Morris from Luton Town, who also have a tempting double gameweek in GW28 – although it’s worth noting that both games they play are away from home, so if you’re planning to free hit for GW29 then I don’t advocate targeting Luton too hard. Their players have relatively limited expectations of big returns, although their best assets certainly have their moments, rather like the team itself.

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What does the best possible team for GW29 look like, barring injuries? Probably something along these lines: Areola; Doughty, Porro, Moreno; Son, Richarlison, McGinn, Bowen, Kudus; Watkins, Morris. A team like that leaves only one defender from Villa and Spurs for GW28, which helps to avoid the worst of that clash, and there is plenty of points potential in there. On the bench, we’d just have the best players who aren’t involved – Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah and so on, to maximise our points before and after.

The question is – can you get to that team, or something close to it, without taking too many hits on transfers by GW29? If the answer is yes, then you have a plan. If it’s no, then my advice is to ignore GW29 and simply free hit and save yourself the contortions required.

For those of you who are free hitting, I’ve got some (hopefully helpful) advice on key players’ fitness and captaincy credentials below, but the best teams to target for your transfers in the short term are Bournemouth (who have a great double in GW28) and Arsenal (who have fine fixtures apart from a visit to the Etihad in GW30). If you’re unsure of who to sign, look at players from those teams first.

Injuries and captain picks

Of course, if you’re targeting Bournemouth assets, that usually means Dominic Solanke. The bad news is that he’s having a possible knee injury assessed ahead of this weekend, and may not be available. If you want to sign him – and you should, because he’s a must-have if he’s fit for the next fortnight – then wait until Andoni Iraola’s press conference for an update.

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Liverpool players are also a bit of a problem right now, because virtually all of them are injured. Salah, Andrew Robertson and Darwin Núñez are all doubts but may well play (again, wait for the pressers before moving), while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota are out until after the international break at least. With injury issues and a game against Manchester City on the near horizon, I’m less keen on Liverpool players than I usually would be at this point. If you have Kevin de Bruyne and were debating shifting to Salah, I’d hold fire, at least until you’re sure Salah is playing.

When we do get the green light on Salah, however, his price is likely to rise sharply and quickly, so if you’re planning to bring him back in and Jürgen Klopp gives him a clear green light for Saturday’s game against Forest, it may be necessary to bite the bullet for purely financial reasons.

Other injury issues concern Wolverhampton Wanderers, whose midfielders have pretty high stock right now – sadly, Hwang Hee-Chan is very unlikely to feature this weekend, although he should be back soon. Matheus Cunha remains out. If you went for Hwang over Pedro Neto last week, as many did, then I can only offer my condolences. Elsewhere, Kaoru Mitoma is out, probably for the season. Time to move on, I’m afraid. Rasmus Højlund won’t be back for a week or two, either.

As for your captain chip this weekend, much depends on how you rate Haaland given his patchy recent form – five goals one minute, none the next. He’s up against Manchester United, who haven’t got the best recent record at the back, but Ollie Watkins (Luton away) and Bukayo Saka (Sheffield United away) may be safer bets. I can’t come up with a good argument for anybody else.

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3 Added Minutes FC

Finally, a quick update on my example team. I’ve had plenty of bad luck with injuries of late and my rank – which has been in the Top 1,000 for most of the season – tanked down to 5,000 and change. But a nice 80-point haul last week (thanks Jarrod) has pushed me back up to 1,598, so hopefully I can back into the top 1k very soon.

Fantasy Premier League

I’ve got a pretty acceptable team for this coming week already with Cole Palmer coming off the bench for Harry Maguire, but I also need to use a free transfer to avoid wasting it. Martin Dúravka, Ezri Konsa and the crocked Matheus Cunha are my other bench riders, so the plan is to move Cunha to Solanke if he’s fit, although heaven knows who I’d bench out of my attacking options if I did.

If Solanke is out or a doubt once the press conferences are done, then I’ll likely shore my defence up with an extra Arsenal defender. As you can see, I’d need seven transfers to get to 11 players in GW29, so the free hit is more or less locked in given that I would have a maximum of four free moves between now and then.

That’s all for this week – best of luck to all of you, and may all the dodgy assets you sign ahead of GW29 miraculously work out for the best.

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