Fantasy football tips for gameweek 34

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April 29, 2021
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    Alistair Bruce-Ball

    First of all an apology – the Gabriel Martinelli tip did not pay off in gameweek 33 as the Brazilian was on the bench for Arsenal against Everton and only got 16 minutes of action for one measly point.

    If you did buy him then make sure you have a look at Mikel Arteta's team selection against Villarreal in the Europa League this week before making a call on what to do in gameweek 34. Arsenal are away at Newcastle and if Martinelli hasn't started the game in Spain then he may well get the nod at St James' Park. Or maybe I'm just doubling down on my original mistake!

    This week though I want to look at two strikers who should definitely be in your thoughts – Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.

    Should you own both or who do you choose if it has to be one or the other?

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    I currently have Kane in my squad and I also own Kelechi Iheanacho, who's been outscoring Vardy for Leicester in the past eight gameweeks, but something tells me last season's Golden Boot winner is about to get back in the goals.

    Leicester go to Southampton in gameweek 34 who've only kept one clean sheet in their past 15 Premier League games and Vardy scored a hat-trick there in the Foxes' remarkable 9-0 win last season.

    There's then the possibility of two fixtures for them in gameweek 35, although that is still yet to be confirmed, at home to Newcastle and away at Manchester United. That could be balanced out by a blank gameweek 36 where they don't play but you could easily sell Vardy at that point and switch to someone like Patrick Bamford with Leeds finishing their season with games against Burnley, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion.

    In my case though I would probably have to sell Kane to get Vardy this week unless I ship Bruno Fernandes out of my midfield for a budget option to enable me to afford both strikers. Manchester United may also have a double gameweek 35 which wouldn't make that a sensible option so then it comes down to one or the other.

    I put this to Statman Dave in this week's Fantasy 606 podcast and he says the numbers from the past month point overwhelmingly towards Kane. England's captain has scored four times in three games compared to Vardy's one in four and he's also comfortably ahead on shots and big chances – that gives him an xG (expected goals) of 3.24, the second best in the division, compared to Vardy's 1.32 which ranks 23rd.

    Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring his side's ninth goal against SouthamptonJamie Vardy scored three of Leicester's nine goals against Southampton last season

    Tottenham host Sheffield United in gameweek 34 which makes Kane an obvious candidate for the captaincy and some might even go triple captain if they've got that chip left to play. The only doubts would be Kane's fitness after the injury that threatened his participation in the League Cup final and how we think Tottenham will continue to fare under Ryan Mason.

    In a decision like this it's that classic fantasy football scenario – you'd absolutely kick yourself if you sell Kane and he goes on to score a hat-trick against Sheffield United, but there's also the nagging fear of missing out on Vardy if he gets stuck in against Southampton with a potential double gameweek to follow.

    Of course if you have Son Heung-min and/or Iheanacho in your squad then there's always a backup plan and Statman Dave's message was loud and clear – go with Kane and Iheanacho and that's good enough for me.

    The standout fixture of the weekend is Manchester United against Liverpool at Old Trafford where it may be that we actually cash in with our defenders considering four of the past nine league games between the two have ended goalless, including at Anfield in January.

    Another issue we discussed in the podcast was whether to stick with Diogo Jota who's not produced an attacking return in his past three games and was substituted just 57 minutes into Liverpool's 1-1 draw against Newcastle. Their remaining fixtures sway me towards keeping him although I would also be tempted by a swap for Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is valued at a similar price and is another player likely to have two fixtures in gameweek 35. He also takes free-kicks and penalties and is owned by just 2.4% of managers.

    And it's never too late to have a bit of Chris Wood in your life. His hat-trick against Wolves was just the continuation of some excellent form which has seen him pick up 54 points in his past six gameweeks. Burnley host West Ham in gameweek 34 who've shipped 11 goals in their past five games.

    Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside Statman Dave and Premier League winner Chris Sutton. The latest episode is available on BBC Sounds.

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