The first big Blank Gameweek of the season is upon us with just five fixtures this weekend which has managers panicking about not having XI players while those who have prepared for Gameweek 31 with their transfers in recent weeks are feeling confident about achieving a healthy green arrow.
‘Do I take hits to field XI players?’ is a commonly asked question at this time of year. Calculated hits are fine if you believe the player you are bringing in will deliver in the upcoming Gameweeks.
The way the Blanks are falling this season (in 31 and 33) makes it easier to take a -4 to get a player who plays in both Gameweeks, especially for those who plan to use the Free Hit chip in Double Gameweek 32 and the second Wildcard in Gameweek 34.
For example, a -4 to replace Diogo Jota (£6.1m) with Ryan Fraser (£6.2m) this week makes sense as Jota won’t play in 31 or 33 whereas Fraser will make those four points back by just playing 60+ minutes against Newcastle and Burnley if he avoids a booking. Anything from Fraser over the two games and you’re up on the deal.
There seems to be a template Gameweek 31 team forming this week made up of triple Liverpool, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£10.9m) and Gonzalo Higuaín (£9.6m), Fraser and Callum Wilson (£6.4m) from Bournemouth, double/triple West Ham defence and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£9.0m).
There are plenty of differentials to consider too though for those who want to take on the template. The Leicester midfield trio of James Maddison (£6.7m), Harvey Barnes (£5.5m) and Youri Tielemans (£6.0m) all offer points potential away to Burnley.
Ashley Barnes (£5.7m) is owned by just 3.6% of managers despite scoring six goals in his last ten appearances. There is a strong case to be made for opting for Barnes over Higuain on current form.
Marko Arnautovic (£6.8m) has the ability and the fixture (home to Huddersfield) to be the top-scoring forward for the Gameweek if he is handed a start by Manuel Pellegrini. With a 2pm deadline on Saturday, we may get some early team news. It might be worth holding off on transfers until as late as possible this week.
Miguel Almirón (£6.0m) and Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) are two more midfielders to consider particularly for those on Free Hit this week. Almirón registered his first assist of the season in the win over Everton. McNeil is the ideal first sub for those on Free Hit.
In defence, will we see Charlie Daniels roll back the years and deliver a big haul? He’s a budget-friendly pick at just £4.1m.
Wilson will be coming into my side this week so apologies in advance to anyone who owns him. He was in my squad for three Gameweeks this season (5, 6 and 7) when he scored zero goals. Once transferred-out, he scored 35 points over the next four games and started to do a salute celebration every time he scored just to rub salt in the wound. Watch him blank now for the rest of the season. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Captaincy is tough this week if you own both Sadio Mané (£9.9m) and Mohamed Salah (£13.4m). Salah is currently leading the captaincy poll but Mane further strengthened his case for the armband with a brace against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
Mané is in the form of his life, he’s surely got to get the nod over Salah now? It’s been highlighted this week that he’s only scored three of his sixteen league goals away from home this season but then he goes and gets a brace in Bavaria to kill off that reasoning.
Whatever happens in the Fulham v Liverpool fixture, there will be carnage if one of Mane/Salah heavily outscores the other.
Good luck for the Gameweek and enjoy your weekend folks.