It’s the week everyone has been debating and planning towards, gameweek 31. For many managers, the debate has been over whether to build a team to field in GW31, or use their precious free hit chip.
While there are plenty of strategies being planned, a popular one is to use the chip this weekend. Personally, we are using our free hit chip in GW32 to take advantage of the double gameweek fixtures. We are able to field 10 players with a -4 point hit this week, however for our team we see bigger potential in GW32. It’s worth remembering that every team is different and managers should do what is best for their teams and their own thoughts.
With that all said, we are creating an imaginary free hit team, as if we were to play it this weekend. Here is a reminder of the GW31 fixtures:
We believe that there are a handful of teams that managers should be targeting to have at least a double up on. These include Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham.
Liverpool have a great fixture against Fulham and it would be crazy to not triple up on their players. Based on current form, it is impossible to ignore Sadio Mane (£9.9m), who has scored 8 goals in his last 8 league matches. We imagine he will be the first name on every free hit side.
The big Liverpool dilemma over recent gameweeks has been the FPL value of a certain Mo Salah. The Egyptian has only scored 1 goal in 7 league games, and has become an expensive problem in many teams. However, for Free Hit managers it could be a bit of a risk to not include Salah in your teams.
Due to the lack of ‘top 6’ teams playing, naturally there are less premium players on offer for GW31. In turn, Salah can become one of the few premium players in the team. Liverpool face a Fulham team who have conceded the most goals in the league, and the second most at home. It seems an unnecessary risk to go without Salah against a defence as poor as Fulham.
It seems that the choice with the Liverpool triple up is whether to opt for a triple attacking strategy, or get one of their defenders. TAA went off over the weekend, with Klopp confirming that he had a slight niggle and being tested for the Champions League match. Although he is great value at £5.3m, unless his fitness becomes clear it would make sense to not take any risks.
The obvious choice is the leading points scoring defender in FPL, Andy Robertson (£6.9m). He has been a regular in the defence alongside Van Dijk, while returning impressive attacking points. If managers have the funds to afford Robertson, then we think he is worth the investment against Fulham.
Moving onto Chelsea and the blank gameweek comes at a tricky time for the London side. They failed to impress against Wolves, and Hazard’s last minute goal saved their blushes. While they have been in indifferent form, they have too many premium players that can’t be ignored.
The obvious choice, and one we predict to be in most teams, is their star man Hazard (£10.9m). 13 goals and 11 assists so far in the league, he has been Chelsea’s main attacking threat and is the best choice from the team.
Chelsea play Everton away, a tough fixture to predict considering the inconsistently of both sides. Everton have conceded 21 goals in their 15 home league matches, however have shown strong defensive displays against Liverpool in particular recently.
Aside from Hazard, we feel the only other viable option is the new frontman Higuaín (£9.6m). He has scored 3 goals in his 6 league matches, while his stats have been decent. He is averaging 4.39 shots per 90 and 1.33 key passes per 90. We don’t think that he is a reliable source of points, especially in this Chelsea side, but certainly should be considered for your free hit teams.
Everton have only failed to score in 3 of their home league matches, notably against top 6 teams Liverpool and Man City. We don’t think that the Chelsea defence is a guaranteed clean sheet against Everton, but there are options.
Emerson (£5.3m) is an interesting player to add to the watch list for managers. The Brazilian started the last match for Chelsea, with Alonso nowhere to be seen, and managed 1 shot and 2 key passes last weekend. His position is not cemented and in turn isn’t an FPL option right now, but certainly one to monitor.
Of the Chelsea defenders, our pick would go to David Luiz (£5.9m). Excluding rest, Luiz has played every minute in the league this season and has been one of Sarri’s trusted men at the back. Luiz has also displayed attacking potential, recording 2 goals and 2 assists so far in the league.
West Ham arguably have the best fixture for GW30, facing Huddersfield who are rock bottom of the league. Managers will no doubt be fearful of the West Ham assets after their shock loss to Cardiff last weekend. However, we think that there is still some FPL value in the players that shouldn’t be ignored with such a great home fixture.
The defence should definitely be an area to target for your teams. Huddersfield have only scored 8 goals in 14 league away matches – the worst in the league. Fabianski (£4.8m) is an affordable goalkeeper that managers could look to fit into the team. He is 6th in the points scoring for goalkeepers and you couldn’t ask for a better opposition to get your 6th clean sheet.
An interesting defensive option is Declan Rice (£4.6m), who has turned into one of their top performers in the midfield. The benefit with Rice is his FPL status of defender while playing midfield throughout this season, scoring 2 goals. Although he is the top end of the pricing, it is a great opportunity to have the attacking potential from a defender in the game.
Playing against the worst defence in the league should be the best team to bank in one those opposing attackers. Unfortunately, the Hammers front line has become a source of trouble for FPL managers. The decline in form of Anderson and the benching of Arnautovic has made their two best options unattractive over the past month. However, we believe that the latter could be a great differential for those who are looking to take some risks this point in the season. Arnautovic (£6.8m) has not started a game since GW24 and his last goal came against Brighton in GW21.
He was an early sub last weekend, replacing Anderson and while he couldn’t rescue the team you would expect him to start against Huddersfield. It is clear that he is West Ham’s best forward, and being owned by only 7% of managers he could be the big scorer of the week if he gets his start.
Of the players and teams not mentioned, we have included players from both Leicester City and Bournemouth. Bournemouth face an in form Newcastle, who pulled off a brilliant comeback against Everton last weekend. Newcastle have the 4th best defensive away record, conceding 18 goals in 14 league matches. Meanwhile, Bournemouth have the 6th best goal scoring home record, bagging 26 goals in 15 matches.
We can see this being an interesting match, and expect Newcastle to make it tough for Bournemouth. Of the two teams, we feel the Cherries would offer the most FPL value in this fixture, and Fraser (£6.2m) is a good option. He ended his 8 game FPL blanks with a goal and assist against Huddersfield in GW30. He has the added bonus of set pieces, and fellow budget midfielder Brooks (£5.1m) is still not fully fit to complete 90 minutes. For these very reasons, Fraser would be our pick of the Cherries midfield.
From Leicester, the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has suddenly made their players attractive FPL options. Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) in particular has been the main beneficial from this, grabbing 3 goals and an assist in the 2 league matches. It has seen his ownership rise to 10% and has become a popular player in many GW31 draft teams.
GW31 Free Hit Team
Here is how our team would roughly look for the GW31:
The structure of the team is a 3-4-3 formation, making the most of the attacking options available. It is important when creating a free hit team to ensure that you do not waste money on the bench. While it can sometimes be a risk considering rotation or possible last minute injury, the free hit is about creating the best 11 possible. For example, in our team we have 4 players that are the cheapest on the game.
We would be content with the starting 11 playing, as an important factor when considering free hit players is their game time risk. Doing this tactic provides more funds to spread across these important players and in turn have a greater chance of higher points (fingers crossed).
Looking at the fixtures and players available for GW31, we think that the best option is a choice between Salah or Mane. Mane has the form that would be hard to ignore, whereas Salah has the haunting threat of scoring a huge points haul. Personally, we would be swayed to captain Mane based upon his current form and underlying stats. He has been the main man for Liverpool lately and against this Fulham defence we can see his goalscoring continuing.
Of course, this is just our own opinion of a free hit team that could return some decent points for managers. Others may have higher team value in certain players that can boost the opportunity to own other players. We hope that this article provides some help towards building your team, good luck!
A reminder of our FPL league:
League Code: 2297733-525881
League Name: Footballadvice.co.uk