Premier League: GW31 Starting XI

Thursday is here and my transfers are already confirmed. This is why a fantasy manager must remain flexible to change. Ahead of BGW31, I had only intended to use one of the two FTs to bring in a defender ahead of the gameweek. However, last weekend’s injury to Harry Kane, now down £0.1 overnight had me rethinking how to play out this blank gameweek.

The fixture list isn’t impressive, outside of Liverpool with 5 teams near the bottom of the Premier League table. Overall points and rank will hinge on the success Liverpool have, as they host Watford on Saturday. Flashback to the first gameweek of the season, Watford took an early 2-1 lead but two second half goals ahead of a extra time goal from Miguel Britos. The game ended 3-3. Could that happen this weekend at Anfield? Possibly, but based on how the Hornets have been playing, they haven’t been overly convincing in their last 4 games, scoring just 2 goals. Both late, both by Troy Deeney.

Still a majority of fantasy managers will still start a combination of three Liverpool players. Mohammad Salah has had the longest tenure on my squad, as Virgil van Dijk was brought in on a wild card in GW23 and Robert Firmino in GW28. My feeling is the bulk of my points should come from this trio.

My thinking ahead of BGW31 initially was not to add any other players for the gameweek. That has since changed as I was going to be potentially be losing a FT if I didn’t use one in BGW31. The injury to Kane allowed ship him in order to take a punt on another attacking players. With my original plan for DGW34 in a shamble, I’ve used both FTs ahead of BGW31, giving me 10 players for the week.

Ahead of the gameweek, I still back defenders, as I start in a 4-3-3 formation, which will be one light in the midfield, effectively being a 4-2-3. I did not touch any of my premium midfielders, but moved Kane out and brought in Cenk Tosun on the back of two goals in the last two games. I don’t feel Stoke City has much to play for and haven’t looked great defensive.

That said, Everton has looked terrible away from Goodison Park, but I feel they are the second best team this gameweek, more so than my beloved Hornets. The return to fitness of Yannick Bolasie should help the attack, as Gylfi Sigurdsson has been ruled out. Defensively the addition of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines should bring a new found confidence to Jordan Pickford, as I feel Everton had a great opportunity to post a clean sheet.

The second FT was used on Huddersfield defender, Florent Hadergjonaj. The popular selection seemed to Mathias Jorgensen (Zanka) or Christopher Schindler, but in my research it was Hadergjonaj who appeared to have the best combined offensive and defensive statistics when measured against the other Terriers.

These two players come into a squad that has posted back to back green arrows, with 72 points last week that saw me jump to 330k in the overall ranking, nearly 300K improvement since GW28! Expectation this week is for a low scoring week. Three of the teams, West Brom, Stoke City and Crystal Palace start the week in the relegation zone, while Huddersfield (15th) are just 4 points from the drop. Thus, my take is defense could reign supreme this week, as these bottom dwellers aren’t overly impressive offensively. They have combined for just 8 goals over the last 4 game weeks. Add in Watford, that’s just 10 goals for half of the teams featuring this weekend.

The conclusion of BGW31 will be closely monitor as fantasy managers await the FA Cup the following weekend. It will be these results that will help shape planning and strategy ahead of DGW34 and 37. Follow Ben Crellin on Twitter for the most up to date speculation and information relating to the DGWs. We can’t forget about the BGW35 as well. Good luck!

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