Updated: May 20
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Community Special: Gameweek 33
Yes, yes, we know: we are too good to you people here at The Draft Society! Not only do we give you the wise words of the Key Pass Collective, the astute analysis of Ryan’s Ghost Point Hunters, the informed insights of the Chaps Sleepers XI and the must-read musings of Totti’s Weekly Rankings, but NOW we are providing you a preview of your very own personal league. Okay, enough of the alliteration.
Hopefully you know the score: on Monday we gave you the opportunity to win a written preview of your league's matchups, and you got back to us admirably (by the way, a big thank you for this – we love reading all the retweets!). This time we picked Az as our Community Special winner (I mean, the retweet was a Dr Evil gif…what more could we want??), so here is that preview...
Note: this article was written on Wednesday and therefore is based on information available up until that point. For players who are classified as ‘doubtful’, I tend to go by the status report at premierinjuries.com, with anyone less than ‘75%’ generally not considered for the starting 11 (unless their inclusion is required in order to field a full 11).
Aaron Watercresswell vs Nicolas Pepeya
We’re kicking things off with bottom of the table Watercresswell taking on title challenging Pepeya, and unfortunately, there ain’t no surprises coming in this one. Watercresswell will continue their expert impersonation of Sheffield United, putting up just the 65 points to be the low scorers of the weekend. This roster is basically Sadio Mane and others. Actually, that’s a tad harsh on the midfield – Pascal Gross, Youri Tielemans, and Dwight McNeil are all serviceable, but they are your round 4-5’s – there’s nothing here in the round 2-3 area. I’ve got Rodrigo starting in the above, but premierinjuries.com give him just a 25% chance, so to field a full 11 the manager will need to let go of Kyle Walker or Ola Aina. A Villa clean sheet against West Brom could push Watercreswell to a respectable score, which might make things interesting…
Yep, that’s because Pepeya aren’t exactly going to set the world alight in Gameweek 33. All that matters is the W, and that will be bagged, but only just. It comes to something when your best matchups are for Kasper Schmeichel and Wesley Fofana. Two clean sheets against Crystal Palace are incoming, though even if they don’t, it will probably be down to Andros Townsend and/or Wilfried Zaha, so it’s win-win (or rather, it can’t be lose-lose). Patrick Bamford and Mason Mount have Manchester United and West Ham on their schedules…I’m not seeing big games from either, but I do think they’ll do enough to get this one across the line for Pepeya.
Aaron Watercresswell 65-78 Nicolas Pepeya
Hector Watermellerin vs Alexandre Lacourgette
Phenomenal team naming from these two here. Quite possibly the best in what is a superb effort from all managers in this league. Would love to know the origins of this one. Does the theme change every year? Anyway, back to the action on the pitch. The League Cup final is hurting a lot of teams, but Watermellerin maybe most. Thinking that at least two out of Hugo Lloris, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Thiago Silva, Dele Alli, or Anthony Martial need to go just to field a full 11. Hell, I would get rid of them all – none are likely to be missed too much. Tough to know what to make of the three Chelsea assets here. They take on West Ham, which – I can’t believe I’m about to say this – is a bad matchup, and given Tuchel’s love of rotation and the Champions League semi-final just three days later, who knows the line-up that’s going to be put out. If these guys disappear, then a hell of a lot falls on Mason Greenwood and Edison Cavani. Leeds give up the most points in the league to forwards but they’ve improved in this department of late and I think Bielsa’s men do a similar job on United as they did to Liverpool on Monday.
You know those matchups when you wish you could bank a few points and save them for a rainy day? That’s this weekend for Lacourgette. They will get by with ease here – in fact, I’m backing them to top score. There’s the worry that Ben Chilwell won’t start, but Michael Keane can come in if need be, and there's also the slight concern over Lingard, but I think only a broken leg would stop Moyes from picking the star man in this huge matchup for the Hammers. This starting 11 has points running through, and if one or two go big (Trossard and McGinn are my picks to hit 15+) then Lacourgette will cruise past the century mark and to an easy win.
Hector Watermellerin 69-110 Alexandre Lacourgette
Harry Kale vs Leighton Beans
Another with lots of absentees is Harry Kale – so many that they’ll probably need to drop Harrison Reed to bring in a starting forward. With faint hopes of a title challenge it’s a bad time for Kale to be without so many key players (Joao Cancelo, Danny Ings, and the injured Jack Grealish). There are some nice pieces left though – Soucek and Harrison in particular, though both have unenviable matchups this weekend. If Leicester don’t keep a clean sheet then there’s no chance for Kale, but 20+ from the two fullbacks can put this matchup in the balance. Daniel Podence doing something for the first time since 2020 will also help matters.
Leighton Beans will continue their pursuit of the ‘best of the rest’ title by sneaking a victory in Gameweek 33. Much of that will be down to the work of James Maddison, Bukayo Saka, and Ollie Watkins. The English trio will combine for at least 40 points between them, which is useful because I’m not sure how much the defence will help. With Fulham’s Alphonse Areola out, the roster needs a goalkeeper, and there are two equally good – but in contrasting ways – options in my opinion. Brighton’s Robert Sanchez away at Sheffield United puts all the eggs in the clean sheet basket, whilst Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka away at Liverpool is high-risk, high-reward, depending on what Liverpool turns up to play.
Harry Kale 85-90 Leighton Beans
Pip Guavaola vs Willy Cabbagero
The Roberto FIrmino-Diogo Jota handcuff has actually become a stack the last two gameweeks, with Klopp opting for both whilst resting Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Unfortunately for Guavaola, Firms remains as useful as a league administrator for the European Super League (that’s right, I made it over halfway before having a pop at that abomination!). I don’t see both starting up top against Newcastle, though it’s conceivable that Jota stays in the side, but in a deeper role, and both should get a decent return against what is still a woeful Newcastle side – despite their recent “form”. Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski, and Bernd Leno worry me though, and unless Jota does go nuts against the Toon army, I can’t see a special performance that will put Guavaola into real contention in this one.
Another in need of reinforcements thanks to the League Cup is the brilliantly named Willy Cabbagero, and I would be dropping Ederson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from the roster altogether in order to make this happen. With a number of injuries to contend with as well, the team is down to the bare bones – but those bones do have some nice matchups this weekend. Matthew Cash* and Bertrand Traore take on West Brom, whilst the man co-habiting with Jesse Lingard in his purple patch - Kelechi Iheanacho - faces Crystal Palace. In fact, with Nelson Semedo up against Burnley and Joel Veltman against Sheffield United, Cabbagero could make it a clean sweep of clean sheets. It should be enough for what would be just the 12th win of the season for last season's league champion.
Pip Guavaola 84-97 Willy Cabbagero
*Note: since this article was written, Matthew Cash has been suspended for gameweek 33. An Ahmed El Mohamady pickup is needed, but these scores might be even closer than they already are.
Pomegranate Xhaka vs Onion Fighalo
Pomegranate Xhaka, another contender for team name of the season, are right in the middle of the title fight. Every game is huge, but with their ‘points for’ being lower than their rivals, it really is must win against Onion Fighalo this weekend. Whether Pomegranate strategically put together a roster of stacks from Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City, I don’t know, but this blank gameweek for the latter is certainly going to make things tough for them. Nevertheless, I can see TAA and Robertson having a field day reminiscent of their 2019-20 days against Newcastle – anything less than 30 points between them would be a disappointment. Salah, too, should hit 20. I’m backing them to squeeze out a win in this tight matchup, but they need to drop Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho, otherwise Willian is having to start, and nobody wants that.
Onion Fighalo – last season’s playoff winners – won’t be repeating that feat, sitting as they do in 9th spot, but they’ll want to finish strongly and will certainly have a chance in this one. Anwar El Ghazi – or El Messi as he’s known in various corners of the TDS universe – looks to be unfavoured at the moment, but I think Dean Smith could bring him back in this weekend, and a matchup against rivals West Brom (well, we say rivals, but as a Villa fan I can tell you that most of us don’t mind our boing boing neighbours) is ideal for the winger. A fit James Rodriguez is always dangerous, regardless of opposition, and there’s points to be had throughout the whole of this starting 11. A Christian Pulisic start is crucial, and if Fighalo can hit on a free agent pickup in attack, then they could steal this one. They will put up a good score, but I don’t think it will be enough – which judging by their points for/against will be the story of their season.
Pomegranate Xhaka 107-102 Onion Fighalo
Jesse Lingourd vs Peary Henry
Like Match of the Day and Vanessa Williams, I’ve saved the best ‘til last. This one between Lingourd and Henry is going to be a corker and it’s between two title rivals to boot. Will Bruno Fernandes put a stop to his poor form that’s seen him have just two goal involvements in his last seven matches? To be honest, it doesn’t matter, the cheat code still bags points for fun, and Leeds will be no exception. Jamie Vardy’s seven games without a goal will also come to an end this weekend, whilst Joao Moutinho and Romain Saiss will put in a tidy shift for Lingourd. There are, however, some tough matchups for the likes of Luke Shaw (vs Leeds), Vladimir Coufal (vs Chelsea), and Callum Wilson (vs Liverpool). Those three combining for less than 15 is going to make the difference in this one.
Huuggggggggeeee win for Peary. Even without Raphinha (though there’s a chance he starts), I think they’re going to edge it. That front three is tidy and I’m backing Adama Traore to continue his good (Fantrax) form that has seen him score the 7th most points in the league since February 1st. The midfield, too, has some very nice pieces – though all three have tough matchups. Getting rid of Pablo Mari, Eric Dier, or Ashley Barnes might be wise in order to strengthen this area. The win, though, is going to come from a more unlikely place: Rayan Ait-Nouri. The left back has hit 14.25 in back-to-back 1-0 wins for Wolves, and this weekend's game against Burnley has got the same scoreline written all over it. Except this time, it’ll be Ait-Nouri with an assist too. 20+ pointer from the young Frenchman, and a big, big win for Peary.
Jesse Lingourd 101-102 Peary Henry
So there you have it, ameweek 33 is in the books, at least for Az and his league. If you want your league previewed next time, remember to follow The Draft Society on Twitter and look out for the competition calls.
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