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Thursday, January 13, 2011
Working out double gameweeks

Dale Johnson

With so many games postponed throughout December, double gameweeks are going to be crucial in the final months of the season. Players score points for all matches played in a gameweek, and that makes team and captain selection vital. We've just had the first double of the season, with Blackpool and Liverpool having two matches. But anyone who skippered Steven Gerrard expecting a bumper haul from two matches was thwarted by his suspension following the red card picked up against Manchester United at the weekend. Only DJ Campbell offered real double value, scoring in both of Blackpool's fixtures, though he is a player few managers will either own or have chosen to captain. Your captain's total points are doubled, which could leave you in a quandary depending on the fixture list. For instance, you may have Carlos Tevez in your team with Manchester City at home to one of the Premier League's weaker teams. But if one of your other players has two matches in that gameweek then do you go for the player with the easy game, or another player with two chances of picking up points? More on that later. Gameweek 24, starting on January 22, sees three teams in action twice. And with one of those teams being Manchester United there is an opportunity to double up on one of the major fantasy players. The obvious choices for captaincy will be Nemanja Vidic, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov, though Wayne Rooney could still be a risk as he is still to start scoring regularly again and he has been out injured again. But giving the captaincy to a defender, such as Vidic, definitely has its pitfalls. While it may seem straightforward for a team such as Manchester United to keep a clean sheet against a club in the bottom half of the table, just one goal could wipe out any advantage that the captaincy may offer. In this particular gameweek United face two away games, against Tottenham Hotspur and Blackpool, which offers a further reason not to give the armband to a defender. That means Blackpool have two games also, with a home game against Sunderland on the official gameweek weekend. It's too much of a gamble to captain a Blackpool player with so many other worthy candidates around. Even though Liverpool will play two games, and have changed manager to bring in Kenny Dalglish, can you be certain that their troubles are now behind them? The defeat to Blackpool on Wednesday evening would suggest not. First up they go to Wolves in the reverse fixture of that horror defeat over Christmas. But with Gerrard still suspended for the first match of the gameweek surely only Fernando Torres is a serious candidate for the armband. And then they entertain Fulham, a game which is live on ESPN in the UK. The other teams to play two fixtures in gameweek 24 are all in the bottom half of the table. Wigan are away at Arsenal before hosting Aston Villa, while Villa's first match is at home to Manchester City - another ESPN game. As well as travelling to Liverpool, Fulham must also play host to Stoke City. There's nothing there to suggest anything other than giving the fantasy captaincy to a Manchester United player. The next double gameweek is 27, which features a bumper 15 games over the course of 11 days with no matches on the weekend of the 19th due to the FA Cup Fifth Round. It is technically a treble gameweek as Birmingham City will play three times across that period. You can check out the full list of teams with two games on the panel to the right of this page. But Arsenal look prime for captaincy as they have home games against Wolves and Stoke. That said, Arsenal's home form has not been the greatest this season, with defeats already to lesser opposition in West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United. If Birmingham's form improves they have two home games, against Stoke and Newcastle, and they also go to Everton. A team with three matches in one week is exceptional. Birmingham do not score many and there has to be a very good chance they will keep at least one clean sheet - surely a viable alternative to that Arsenal captaincy. Blackpool once again have two games, both at home, as they face Aston Villa and Tottenham. Spurs provide an alternative too, but both of their fixtures are away from White Hart Lane. They go to Sunderland before heading to Blackpool. The perception is that Spurs are a 'home team', but in fact they have scored just three fewer goals on their travels and played a game less. West Brom face six-point double headers. Before Christmas their players were firmly in the fantasy bargain bracket, but a horrific run of form has seen them slide towards the bottom three and turned off fantasy managers. Even though they are at home to West Ham and Wolves it would be a clear gamble to captain a Baggie. The final rearranged game to date comes in gameweek 28 as Chelsea and Manchester United play their postponed fixture. That same week Chelsea are at home to Birmingham while United go to Wigan Athletic. Considering United's excellent record at the DW Stadium it may once again be wise to captain one of their players. But with Manchester City at home to Fulham maybe Carlos Tevez will come under consideration as one of the top-scoring strikers in the game. There will be additional double gameweeks to come as the Carling Cup finalists will not feature in gameweek 28, which could mean Chelsea's match against Birmingham is moved. Arsenal are due to play Spurs in the north London derby that weekend while West Ham should be at home to Liverpool. And with the FA Cup semi-finals, on the weekend of April 16, falling on a Premier League weekend, up to four more games will be moved. The FA Cup final also falls on a Premier League weekend in May this season.

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