We’re quite nearly to the end of the season, with less than two weeks to go before the final whistle is blown on May 15th. FPL managers have only a Double Gameweek 37 and Gameweek 38 to propel themselves as high as possible in the rankings, so they should use any remaining chips they might have down the stretch here.. preferably in Gameweek 37 where they have the highest probability of returns.
We are also going to take a different approach to our Matchup Analysis this week… there are several Premier League teams that at this stage are both safe from relegation and do not have a chance at placing high enough for European qualification, so we expect their lineups to reflect that. Players with small injuries may be rested, highly-used and tired players may be given a break, youth players may be given a shot – all great things for clubs looking ahead to the offseason, but not so much for FPL managers looking to gain some ground on the competition. Therefore, we’ve listed the teams that will likely see their strongest lineups from now until the end of the season below:
The below teams are currently sitting in the relegation danger zone, and are fighting for their lives. Newcastle sit in 17th place with 33 points, with Sunderland (18th, 32pts) and Norwich (19th, 31pts) right on their heels.
• Newcastle: Newcastle currently sit one point above the relegation zone, and have earned gone unbeaten in their last 4 matches, picking up 8 points during that span. They only have two matches left to play, but both of their opponents' (@avl, TOT) fates have been sealed and arguably have nothing left to play for.
• Sunderland: This is familiar territory for the Black Cats, who have narrowly escaped relegation each of the last two seasons. They have earned 4 draws and 1 win over their last 6 matches, and have the benefit of a game in hand over Newcastle as they have two matches to play in Gameweek 37. All three of their opponents are firmly entrenched in the midtable and could put out some weaker lineups.
• Norwich: Norwich are currently in the worst form of these three clubs, having lost three straight League matches. Nevertheless, they also have two matches coming up in Gameweek 37, and have two opponents potentially having their minds 'on the beaches', as it were.
_The below teams are teams with 'something left to play for' - they are currently in contention for European play, and do not have any outside tournaments remaining on the schedule that could impact their lineup decisions (aside from Man United with the FA Cup Final on May 21st, after the EPL season is over).
• Arsenal: The Gunners need only two points from their final two matches to ensure placement in the Champions League next season, as they have a massive Goal Difference lead (13) over Manchester United, who could threaten if they win each of their final 3 matches.
• Manchester City: City lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals today, which means that they can now focus completely on a Top 4 finish to ensure another UCL berth next season. There is still work to be done, however, as their 4-point lead over United is by no means insurmountable. Winning their final two matches ensures that United cannot overtake them for the 4th spot.
• Manchester United: United currently sit 4 points behind City for the 4th place spot, but have a game in hand ahead of them. Needless to say, they will be playing right up until the final week of the season to overtake them, as they will need every point they can get.
• West Ham: The Hammers are currently 1 point behind United for 5th place, whom they would need to jump ahead of in order to gain entrance to the Europa League next season... unless United wins the FA Cup, which means that they would qualify for Europa with a 6th place finish. They also have a long shot at making the Champions League if A) they win out, B) City loses it's final 2 matches, and C) United earn 4 points or less in their remaining 3 matches.
• Southampton: The Saints have an outside shot at making the Europa league, but would have to leapfrog both United and West Ham in order to do so. A tall, but not impossible, task.
One note we'd like to make: there are several Premier League players who have important roles to play for their respective national teams, so be sure to keep an eye on them - there is a higher chance they'll play for their club teams than those players who do not have international duties, as they will look to remain in match form coming into an summer that will feature several major tournaments around the world.
Additionally, it's worth noting that the top goalscorers this season in the Premier League are Harry Kane (25), Sergio Aguero (23), and Jamie Vardy (22), and all have a shot at the Golden Boot this season. Therefore, even though Vardy and Kane's clubs don't necessarily have anything left to play for, the fact that they still have a chance to become the top goalscorer this season should factor in to managers' decision-making this season.
Lastly, here is how we are ranking the remaining matchups for every team this season. You'll notice that they align with our above comments, as teams with something left to play for have a much larger influence on matchup difficulty than those who do not.