Crystal Palace have been a quandary for FPL users all season. A superb start saw them occupy 7th in the Premier League in September, then they did what Alan Pardew teams generally do: collapse worryingly. Pardew was sacked two days before Christmas, and though it’s taken a while for his successor, Sam Allardyce, to instil the “Big Sam effect” at Selhurst Park, the game week 30 victory over Chelsea affirmed resoundingly that it’s back in force.
Prior to Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat at Southampton, Palace had won four straight Premier League games, and while their double game week (DGW) in game week 34 is, on paper, tricky at best – Liverpool (A) and Tottenham (H) – we’re here to show you where the value lies for your FPL side.
Crystal Palace scouting
Palace are in good form, but FPL users have been scorned all too often by the London club this season. Christian Benteke (£7.1m) and Wilfried Zaha (£5.7m), Palace’s chief architects, were superb against Chelsea, scoring 10 and 11 points, respectively. But Benteke’s goal was just his second since game week 15, although he did add to that total at St Mary’s, while Zaha, who was in devastating form prior to his African Cup of Nations call-up, has been intermittent since, scoring three and assisting one for Palace since that game week 15 victory against Hull City.
This is why the next two game weeks will be important. Before their DGW, Palace face Arsenal (H) and Leicester (H), both represent challenging fixtures. While Zaha (120) and Benteke (102) are Palace’s leading FPL point scorers this season, and represent decent price value, we’re going to need to see more from the duo during Palace’s upcoming games to justify their selection for the DGW.
Instead, we’re looking at Palace’s defensive options. Yes, they’ve only kept five clean sheets all season, but three of those were in Palace’s last five. Mamadou Sakho (£4.8m) made his Palace debut at the beginning of this run, and his immediate ingratiation has been the catalyst for Palace’s resurgence. There’s a curveball, though. The terms of Sakho’s loan agreement from Liverpool will likely result in him being unavailable at Anfield. Therefore, our attention turns to Wayne Hennessey (£4.3m).
Hennessey is not only a low-cost differential owned by just 2.6% of FPL sides, but the Welshman has picked up Bonus Points in two of his last five games. Moreover, against Chelsea he made a staggering 10 saves. The DGW fixtures with Liverpool and Tottenham, who are chasing for the top four and Premier League title, respectively, could have Hennessey equally as busy. Should Palace’s defensive nous resume in the next few weeks, we’re confident Hennessey provides a valuable option for game week 34.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace (23 April)
So with Hennessey our top Palace pick for the DGW, how will be the points be won?
A clean shot is possible, particularly if Big Sam’s side recreate their Stamford Bridge rearguard heroics. This is why Sakho’s likely ineligibility is unfortunate as he too would have been a DGW contender.
— Liverpool Central (@LFCCentraI) April 3, 2017
Plus with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (£9.6m) possibly ruled out for the rest of the season, Palace’s plan A of trying to shut the Reds out becomes all the more achievable. Of course, Philippe Coutinho’s (£8.4m) 20-point haul in the last two game weeks makes him a significant threat, and this why we’re keen to side with Hennessey. He could be a very busy man at Anfield, and we like the potential for Bonus Points from saves.
Then there’s the aforementioned Benteke. In his three seasons with Aston Villa Benteke scored five times against Liverpool, but backing him to score in this game because of that stat seems misguided. Benteke will find it hard against the improved pairing of Dejan Lovren (£4.8m) and Joel Matip (£5.3m), but his presence at set pieces could yield rewards, particularly as 43% (6 of 14) of Liverpool’s goals conceded at Anfield this season prior to the game week 31 draw with Bournemouth had been from set plays, the joint-worst record in the Premier League.
For the reason, we’re looking at Palace’s set piece taker – Yohan Cabaye (£5.6m). While Cabaye isn’t the player of a few seasons ago, his improvement under Allardyce has seen him collect three assists in five games (however, his calf injury collected at Southampton will need monitoring).
As Palace’s regular set piece taker, Cabaye is a differential worth considering. His deliveries won’t always fall to Benteke, but given Liverpool’s frailties, the Frenchman’s cut-price value offers a real opportunity. Moreover, he’s only owned by 1.1% of FPL users. We’re confident that if Palace’s resurgence continues, Cabaye could return big points at Anfield.
Crystal Palace v Tottenham (26 April)
Finding value in this fixture is trickier. Spurs are chasing for the title and their spectacular 3-1 comeback at Swansea in game week 31 was indicative of a team full of belief and resolve. They’ve even won all three leagues games since top scorer Harry Kane (£11.2m) injured his ankle in the FA Cup against Millwall.
Similarly to the Liverpool game, Palace could keep a clean sheet, but that’s not the call here. Dele Alli (£9.0m) and Christian Eriksen (£8.8m) are both in imperious form – Alli, in particular, has four goals and three assists in five games. Our man Hennessey will again be worked hard, though, which still could reap gains.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 31, 2017
Instead, we’re relying on Spurs’ defence receiving a torrid time from two men in particular: Zaha and Andros Townsend (£5.8m), both of whom will have points to prove. Townsend is ex-Spurs, while Zaha has been linked with a summer switch to White Hart Lane.
Townsend will, on the whole, want to forget his first season at Selhurst Park, but with a goal and an assist in his last four, his improved threat and inevitable desire to avenge his Spurs exit make him a potential assist. He’s only owned by 1.9% of FPL users.
Keep close watch of Zaha and Townsend against Arsenal and Leicester, of which both are home games, as their creative intentions could offer low-cost DGW options.
Hennessey is our top Palace DGW choice. Zaha and Benteke could be worthwhile opportunities should their improved form continue, while Cabaye and Townsend are other differentials worth considering.