FPL Family’s Sam talks us through her initial thoughts for a Free Hit team in Gameweek 38+.
Gameweek 38+ can make or break a Fantasy Premier League season, might be the difference between winning and losing a mini-league and is when the all-important overall ranks are finally decided.
Normally for me, I try and roll a transfer into Gameweek 38 to enable me to have a couple of moves for the final day.
However, this season is different as my Free Hit chip sits still unused going into the last weekend of 2019/20.
This is uncharted territory for me, as I have never held a chip so long. In many ways, it’s a really exciting way to end the season, but equally, there is an added pressure of making the wrong decisions at such a pivotal point of the campaign.
However, the decisions are the same regardless of whether you have a Free Hit or are just using normal free transfers.
Which teams have the fixtures? Which sides have the form? Who has both? And then, once the teams are narrowed down, which players within those clubs offer the best chance of FPL returns? Then we also have to consider who has something left to play for, be it European football, a relegation battle, the Golden Glove, the Golden Boot, a pre-retirement send-off or the final game for their club.
The Season Ticker makes picking out the teams easy – especially without having to think about the long-term consequences of the transfer, as it’s a one-week roll of the dice.
Best fixtures for defenders
Arsenal, Burnley, Manchester City, Spurs, West Ham
Best fixtures for attackers
Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs, West Ham
Clubs fighting relegation
Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham
Clubs hunting European football
Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, Manchester United, Spurs, Sheffield United, Wolves
Players fighting for the Golden Boot
Vardy (23), Ings (21), Aubameyang (20), Salah (19)
Players fighting for the Golden Glove
Pope (15), Ederson (14), Henderson, Alisson, Schmeichel (13)
Something special to play for
David Silva (last league game for Man City), Willian (last potential league appearance for Chelsea)
The amount of teams with a reason to play and put out full-strength sides on the final day of the campaign actually makes transfers and Free Hit planning a challenge, as there are a number of really good options in each of the different positions.
Currently, Nick Pope (£5.1m) leads Ederson (£6.0m) by one clean sheet in the race for the Golden Glove, although the Brazilian does have a fixture against Watford in hand as he hasn’t played yet in Gameweek 37+.
These two goalkeepers both look like excellent picks for the final Gameweek of the season with both having favourable fixtures: Pope at home to Brighton and Ederson at home to Norwich.
However, Pope is a full £0.9m cheaper than Ederson and therefore offers better value for money. It was also clear at the end of the last Burnley game that his teammates are fully invested in ensuring that he wins this season’s Golden Glove and this, alongside the excellent defensive run since the restart, make him a better option in my view.
However, budget limitations across the rest of the pitch may result in a need for a cheaper option between the sticks.
If ‘budget-friendly’ is a key driver this week, then Arsenal’s Emiliano Martinez (£4.4m) looks like a good option as, on paper, he has a nice fixture against Watford.
In reality, the Hornets may need something from the game to maintain their Premier League status, which might mean that the clean sheet isn’t as secure as it could be with Pope or Ederson. He will, at least, rack up the save points and he offers a really nice budget option.
Again, Burnley defenders look like great options, either alongside Pope or instead of him.
Erik Pieters (£4.3m), James Tarkowski (£5.4m), Phil Bardsley (£4.4m) and Kevin Long (£4.3m) are all candidates for the final Gameweek of the season and it no longer seems to be a question of ‘should I own a Burnley defender’, but more ‘how many’.
Alongside Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur have been defensively very solid since the restart. With three clean sheets in their last five matches, there is scope for picking a Spurs defender.
Serge Aurier (£5.1m) is the obvious choice with his forward runs and crosses into the box, so there is always the possibility of an assist.
However, Toby Alderweireld (£5.3m) shouldn’t be overlooked, nor should Aurier’s teammate on the opposite flank, Ben Davies (£5.3m)
Liverpool should never be ignored in terms of the defence, especially as they are so highly owned. Newcastle away will be a tricky fixture on the final day, especially as the Reds have made silly mistakes in their recent matches, but a Free Hit team without a Liverpool defender could be costly if they do manage a clean sheet.
As for a cheap enabler, West Ham could be the go-to side for Gameweek 38+. Issa Diop (£4.3m) and Aaron Cresswell (£4.5m) both offer excellent value for money in a West Ham team that have found some form and are looking to consolidate their Premier League status for next season.
This final Gameweek throws up some excellent fixtures for attacking players.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Son Heung-min (£9.7m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m), Bruno Fernandes (£9.1m), Raheem Sterling (£11.9m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), David Silva (£7.4m), Michail Antonio (£7.1m), Anthony Martial (£8.5m), Lucas Moura (£7.0m), Sadio Mane (£12.2m) and so many more could all provide good returns this weekend and therefore choosing five from them is really difficult.
For me, Salah is the stand-out pick, with the Egypt international still in the hunt for the Golden Boot.
One of the things that we as FPL managers love about Salah is his selfishness. Sharing the Golden Boot last season will not have pleased the Egyptian and I’m sure a large part of him would love to have that accolade all to himself.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see him only a couple of goals behind Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) going into Gameweek 38+, with Salah playing Newcastle and an out-of-form Leicester facing a Champions League nailbiter against Manchester United.
Salah will undoubtedly stay in my squad for the final Gameweek, while Antonio’s rise to form has come at the perfect moment for a Free Hit team – or indeed for any FPL transfer. At a time when I am trying to construct a side that includes Salah, De Bruyne and at least two premium forwards, Antonio is a perfect pick as there is no compromise on form or fixture.
David Silva is the romantic pick for Gameweek 38+. He has been unbelievable for Manchester City for so many years now that his final Premier League game for the club will surely bring FPL rewards. Indeed, his last two starts for the club have seen hauls of 17 and 13 points.
In his final Premier League match, versus a relegated, out-of-form, injury-hit and suspension-ravaged Norwich team, I can only see Silva going out on a high and his teammates looking for him at every opportunity.
It may be the romantic pick of the midfielders but Silva was the first player that I brought in when drafting my Free Hit team and his is one of the only names that has remained constant in every single draft.
For most of this season, we have talked about the lack of value among premium forwards.
Injuries to Harry Kane (£10.9m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.7m) haven’t helped, of course, but their cheaper alternatives – the likes of Raul Jimenez (£8.1m), Marcus Rashford (£8.9m), Mason Greenwood (£4.8m) and Danny Ings (£7.6m) – have all been so good that it wasn’t necessary to spend the additional money.
However, in this final Gameweek, the situation is slightly different.
Kane and Aubameyang are obvious picks up top this week and both have the form and the fixtures to suggest that there could be big returns.
Aubameyang has the additional drive of rhythm and form going into the FA Cup final, whereas Kane and Spurs have remarkably positioned themselves within touching distance of European football next season.
And then there is Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m). Whilst Pep Guardiola toyed with us FPL managers when Aguero was first injured in terms of Jesus’ minutes, we have consistently seen him start and play for at least 60 minutes. In the last three matches, he has returned eight, 14 and eight FPL points.
There are, of course, other cheaper forward options this week, with Chris Wood (£6.2m), Greenwood and Eddie Nketiah (£4.3m) all looking like lovely third stiker options.
However, we shouldn’t overlook Ings who, although has a difficult fixture against a defensively solid Sheffield United in Gameweek 38+, has scored six goals since the restart. He is not only in great form but also sits just two goals behind Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot, something that will definitely motivate him heading into the final game of the season.
Free Hit in Gameweek 38+ has provided a wealth of good options for us FPL managers and currently, my team looks like this:
There will undoubtedly be many tweaks and changes as the rest of Gameweek 37+ plays out and as I ponder on how to make my team differential enough for a final climb up the overall ranks without missing out on key ‘template’ assets.
Moura, Martinez, Nketiah and Alexander-Arnold could easily become Son, Pope, Greenwood and van Dijk, to name but a few of the changes that may still happen.
Sam Bonfield is a member of our Pro Pundits initiative, a team of Fantasy managers here to bring you regular advice and updates on their teams. Sam has served up two top 30k finishes in the last two seasons and is currently inside the top 5k in the world.
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