Coming off my most successful game week this season, I look to keep the ball rolling, going in search of that elusive green arrow, preparing for the last blank game week of the season. Based on BGW31 results, this week’s average score should come in over the season low, 26 points we saw two weeks ago. Unlike that game week, I will field a full starting XI, as I’ve just transferred in the final piece of my squad.
At the conclusion of DGW32, those FPL managers who’d activated their Free Hit Chip reverted back to their BGW31 teams. For me, this was how I planning my strategy to navigate the doubles and blanks. This go around, we have more teams playing in BGW33, which SHOULD equate to more points. Looking back on BGW31, Salomon Rondon,Josh King and Mo Salah were my only returns of the week.
Expectations are higher this week, as there are some good match ups for my players but questions to be answered. Does Salah finally have a break out game? Can Rondon get it done against the Palace defense? Is the Bournemouth attack back? Will Chelsea make it two clean sheets in a row? These are a handful of questions we have no answers to, only speculation.
Coming off the Free Hit, I had ten starting players, headed into the blank game in need of a goalkeeper, as Neil Etheridge and Cardiff don’t feature because of FA Cup (Brighton). The list of replacements was short and featured just two names; Kasper Schmeichel and Kepa Arrizabalaga. Both Leicester City and Chelsea are coming off clean sheets, the Foxes travel to The John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield, already relegated at the conclusion of the season. Chelsea are home to a poorly performing West Ham that have scored just 14 goals away from home this season. That stats bodes very well for Chelsea. Last September, at London Stadium, these clubs drew, 0-0. Don’t see that happening this weekend.
BGW31 STARTING XI
Here’s how I will line up for BGW31, as I start with new boy, Kepa in goal facing an anemic West Ham attack, at the Bridge. Without any other Chelsea defenders, I look for Kepa to keep it clean this week. His tenure in my squad will be short-lived, as he won’t make the cut when the wild card is activated ahead of DGW34.
Defensively, I am back on my double Liverpool defense featuring Andrew Robertson and Virgil van Dijk. This duo has been magnificent, anchoring my defensive unit. I continue to eye a third defensive asset from the Reds and I’ll have eight days to consider that ahead of the next deadline. Last week it was Patrick van Aanholt getting the business down, but the Palace defender reverts back to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Palace travel to St. James’ this week. Since the start of the year, they’ve won four games away from Selhurst Park, but recorded just a single clean sheet. I still favor AWB to play well with the potential to secure a clean sheet.
Currently Sead Kolasinac is my fourth defender, in a 4-3-3 formation. There is some trepidation of starting him, as Arsenal host Napoli in Europa League action midweek. He’s played 90 minutes in the last two games, posting 10 points, but was rested for their away game at Spurs in GW29, ahead of the replay with Rennes five days later. I will most likely start him but have Bournemouth’s, David Brooks as my first bench player.
With Brooks slotted to start on the bench, his teammate Ryan Fraser will feature, home to Burnley in my three man midfield. The Clarets on the road have the fourth worst (31) goals conceded, which should bode well for the Cherries, as they’ve scored 28 goals at the Vitality Stadium this season. The Cherries are coming off an ugly loss at the KP Stadium last week and will be looking to get their shooting boots on. Their attack starts with Fraser.
Eden Hazard was brought into my starting XI in BGW31, but failed to return. His form has been questionable much of the season, as his returns have been spotty, but has posted nine double digit returns! He’s coming off a 15-point performance in DGW32 and FPL managers are hopefully that Olivier Giroud starts, as Hazard seems to get his “mojo” back when he does. He’s currently got the armband, as he’s owned by 81.9% of the top 1000 managers. If he hits as a captain, his missed points could hurt.
Finally…Mo Salah. This is potentially the last week the Egyptian will feature in my squad. It would stand to reason the weeks I moved off him (GW15-22), he hit for big points. One of the reasons I brought him back. That and FOMO, which is something I’ve not been cured from this season, as it relates to Salah. The Reds travel to St. Mary’s and a So’ton team that hasn’t been good at home this season; 22 goals conceded, just three clean sheets. Attacking returns haven’t come from Salah, when compared to this teammate, Sadio Mane, but taking a hit to make a lateral isn’t in the cards for me. This is Salah’s swan song, do me proud!
Ahead of BGW31, I was concerned with the return of Callum Wilson, coming off an 11-point performance, after returning from injury. Yet, it was Josh King who hit for the brace and reaffirmed himself as the penalty kick taker. King (and Wilson) partner great with Fraser in the midfield, but it seemed Brooks was the catalyst that made that offense tick. Salmon Rondon has scored 37 points since picking him up ahead of GW26, an average of 5.28 PPG. This week Newcastle host Palace and something will have to give. Do we want the Rondon return of the AWB clean sheet? It’s three returns in three for the Venezuelan.
Finally, Jamie Vardy back in the picture and in form since Brendan Rodgers took over as manager. It’s been seven attacking returns (6 goals, 1 assist) in the last seven games. He’s made good on five out of six big chances taken, but his penalty touches (26) and total attempts (16) aren’t overly impressive. Yet the end product has many looking at going to a “Vardy Party” this weekend.
Not sure this is the week to take a punt if you are in need of players to round your starting team. Many teams reverted back to the BGW31 teams, which are anchored by treble Liverpool. That said, here are four players who could be worth a punt in BGW33.
Vincente Guaita (£4.2/TSB 1.8%)
This shout depends on if you think Palace will play well on the road against an in form Salomon Rondon. Palace let Spurs come at them and played well for a half. Newcastle doesn’t have the firepower of Spurs, which could make the Palace goalkeeper a great differential this weekend.
Ben Chilwell (£5.1/TSB 3.5%)
Just can’t trust myself to look in the direction of Ricardo Pereira, so I will take his counterpart. Based on the numbers from FFS, Pereira has the overall stats in his favor, but Chilwell hold six key stats. Toss up on defense? They are playing Huddersfield, who’s attack is quite poor, so it could be a good day for the entire defense. Expected assists, shots on target and involvement all favor Chilwell in the last six weeks.
Youri Tielemans (£6.1/TSB 2.2%)
Priced between Harvey Barnes and James Maddison, Tielemans has been the most consistent of the Leicester City midfielders over the last six games, posting five attacking returns. That form alone tells me, I should have him in my starting XI. However, with no second FT, I am running without the Foxes midfielder. His stats aren’t better then Maddison’s but the final product is points on the board.
Olivier Giroud (£7.7/TSB 2.0%)
He’s been the forgotten forward at Chelsea, as he’s watched Alvaro Morata fail, shipping off to Spain, only to see Gonzalo Higuain come in and fall short of big expectations from Sarri. Giroud, with the start against Brighton and he picks up his second goal on the season. He looked and played the part that Higuain didn’t. Good chance he gets another start as West Ham come to town.