MyFPL is a series where I will go through my thought process before every FPL Gameweek in the 2017/2018 season.
Current Overall Points: 1,763
Current Overall Ranking: 29,397?
Last Gameweek Points: 41
At last Gameweek 31 is here, meaning we can finally get this piece of blank over with. My team has taken a tumble lately, mostly because I have been preparing for the final sprint from now until the end of the season. As a result, I’m not worried about blanks, but if you are, let me worry about blank.
If you followed my advice (and many others), you have planned on saving your “Free Hit” for Gameweek 35, so you can take better advantage of your “Wildcard”, “Triple Captain” and “Bench Boost”. This means you should have prepared a viable team for GW31, by getting players who play this week.
To be honest, you haven’t really missed out on much if you disregarded this and have played like usual. Maybe you picked up guys like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, David Silva and Heung-Min Son. While they don’t play this Gameweek, they have more then made up for it already.
Still, keep your “Free Hit” for now. If you use it in Gameweek 35, you’ll get a similar number of extra players for that Gameweek, plus you get a lot more players with a double Gameweek in both GW34 or GW37.
If you still want to use “Free Hit”, either because you have used your other chips or because you are too impatient to wait for the correct use of it, we got you covered as well:
Who Should You Pick If You Use “Free Hit”?
If you do decide to go through with using “Free Hit”, you need to maximize your chances for points. With the lack of star players available, you’ll be able to not just field a strong XI, but a full 15 man squad. It should be noted however, that you unfortunately can’t use your “Bench Boost” and “Free Hit” in the same Gameweek.
Still, you can stock up on all the best players available and considering that this is FPL advice, I’m gonna add your 2nd best options as well. Starting with the goalkeepers:
When looking at the team with the best chance of getting a clean sheet, I think the answer is Bournemouth. They are facing a hapless and soon to be relegated West Bromwich Albion team, which has struggled to score all year long. In away matches, WBA have only score 7 goals in 15 matches. That is 8 clean sheets out of 15 for the home teams. Asmir Begovic therefore sails up as the best option.
You might be thinking that Liverpool at home to Watford is a better opportunity, but you’ll want to keep your 3 Liverpool spots for more offensive minded players.
If you don’t trust Bournemouth’s defence however, you might want to give Jonas Lössl a chance. There is even a case to be made for Crystal Palace as the team least likely to score, given that they have failed to do that in 8 out 15 matches as well. However, looking behind the numbers, you’ll see that all 8 of those were in their first 8 away games. That’s right, Palace needed 9 away games to score their first goal away from home.
Ever since they got that first away goal however, they have scored in 7 straight away matches. This means I favour Begovic, but Lössl is a decent shout as well.
Once again, the lack of Liverpool defenders is to maximize your offensive potential with them. Virgil van Dijk is someone you need to consider however, but I think you already know which 3 Liverpool players I opt for.
Instead of Liverpool, I’ve looked a stones throw away to Everton, who not only have a decent clean sheet potential against Stoke, but also have offensive threats among their defenders. Former FPL favorites Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are finally fully fit again at the same time. This works out perfectly for anyone who uses their “Free Hit” this week, as both should be included in your squad.
You might as well go for broke with the “Free Hit”. Sure, you could cover your bases by having defenders from 5-7 different teams, but you won’t gain an advantage on other FPL managers doing that.
I’d still go with a 3 man backline, once again opting for offensive firepower with my 3rd option, Patrick van Aanholt. He has scored in the last 2 Gameweeks, against Man Utd and Chelsea no less. PvA is a known goals+assist option for FPL fans, so even if Palace concede, you might get some extra points.
The premise of having more than one defensive player from the same team, extends to my 2nd options as well. If you believe your best chance of getting a clean sheet is Bournemouth, add Nathan Aké with GK Begovic. If you think Huddersfield have a better shot at not conceding, choose Lössl in goal and Florent Hadergjonaj in defence.
Hadergjonaj had the rare 3 bonus last week, despite getting a yellow and not scoring or assisting. He has the most crosses out of all defenders the last 7 Gameweeks. If Huddersfield get a clean sheet, he likely gets bonus points, so if you have more faith in their clean sheet potential than me, then go for him.
Finally some Liverpool players.
Mohamed Salah should be your captain this week. Even if you don’t have that many players and you’re not using “Free Hit”, Salah as captain will help you keep up with the rest.
If you do want to punt on a captain however, you might be best served going for Sadio Mané. Not as many people will even have him in their team, so at least he is a differential. Beware though, he has eclipsed 10 points only twice this season. In comparison, Salah has managed that feat 13(!) times.
Theo Walcott has been confirmed to be fully fit for the match against Stoke, and should still be your most reliable foray into Everton’s attack. There is a case to be made for Cenk Tosun, but I think there are better striking options than there are midfield options. Walcott got ever so close to scoring once again last weekend, but it was ruled an own goal. He is so close to a goal and he might get a brace this gameweek.
Junior Stanislas is also fully fit, which is rare for him these days. Whenever he does play however, he usually contributes. I don’t trust any of Bournemouth’s strikers, but Stanislas, who is also on set-pieces, I like. He has a combined 5 assists+goals the last 7 Gameweeks, averaging a goal or assist every 95th minute. I like those odds.
Finally, Xherdan Shaqiri is an X-factor and if Everton do concede their usual 1 goal, it might just be Shaqiri who is behind it. He scored in 3 consecutive Gameweeks, but has failed to produce in the last 2 matches. That is more down to Stoke not scoring a single goal, as Shaqiri has still been in fine form.
Roberto Firmino is a no-brainer, almost as important as Salah. You already know this by now though, so I don’t have to sell you on getting him.
For the other two strikers though, you have some options. I already mentioned Cenk Tosun, if you prefer him over Walcott. Josh King might be your best bet for a Bournemouth forward. He gets inconsistent playing time and facing a late fitness test, he is a worry this gameweek also. In the equivalent blank gameweek last season, he bagged a hat-trick, even though that has no bearings on his performance this time.
Steve Mounié is the 2nd best option after Firmino for me. He’s the most likely Huddersfield player to score and got 2 goals last time he faced Crystal Palace. He has scored in bursts this season and the young striker has looked lethal when his teammates provide the chances.
With my final pick, I’m gonna go with Mounié’s opposing striker. Christian Benteke isn’t exactly quite as lethal as Mounié, but he has been in decent form as of late. 6 of his 7 assists have come in the last 9 Gameweeks and he has added 2 goals to that tally in the same timeframe. He began the season horribly, without any offensive contributions in his first 10 starts. You could go for a Wilfried Zaha+Cenk Tosun combo over my Walcott+Benteke combination, but that is entirely your discretion.
Full Free Hit Team
As you can see, I have most of my would-be “Free Hit” team already. I only had to do 1 point hit to get 11 potentially starting (Joe Gomez…) players. Even if you are not so lucky, refrain from using “Free Hit anyway. It’s gonna be more needed in GW35 to help you in the double Gameweeks 34 and 37.