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Champion’ Free Hit: Strategy and Picks for BGW31

Gameweek 30 has been and gone and boy, did it upset a lot of FPL managers.

Gameweek 30 was the joint LOWEST average scoring week of the season, with the average sitting at a lowly 41 with many big names blanking.

A quick review of Gameweek 30 sheds light on this poor average. To start with Salah and Firmino both blanked, 2 of the highest owned players in themselves. Within an hour of this, Jordan Ayew for Swansea got himself a red card putting him on -2 for the week.

The next bit of bad news was a shocking out of nowhere announcement that the unstoppable Sergio Aguero was out with an injury. Add to that the fact that Harry Kane left the pitch during Tottenham vs Bournemouth after only 30 minutes and that Sane and KDB blanked too, and you are looking at one of the worst scoring weeks of the season for a lot of experienced managers.

I personally did okay in Gameweek 30. A goal and an assist a piece for Mkhitaryan and Mahrez really saved my weekend.

So, now we move onto the dreaded Gameweek 31. Every season we get a Gameweek like this, a horrible weekend where only a small number of teams play, and those teams tend to sit at the lower end of the table.

Gameweek 31 has one easy solution, a get-out-of-jail-free card almost, and that is this season’s new feature, the FREE HIT.

The Free Hit enables you to make unlimited transfers for one Gameweek, before returning you to your old team the following week. The beauty of this is that it enables you to load up on these other cheap, risky and low scoring players without destroying your original team to accommodate them. If you don’t have your second Wildcard and are set to field 2-4 players next week, I recommend the Free Hit. I’m using mine for tactical reasons with a important head to head game approaching (read more over on my Twitter).

Others have planned ahead and this was a potentially clever move (if you chose the right players), but at the same time it stopped these managers jumping on the likes of Mahrez who has back-to-back goals in his last two.

So, who do I recommend for Gameweek 31?

Bournemouth – West Bromwich

Bournemouth face West Brom, the team sat rock bottom of the league who are set for relegation. West Brom have only scored 7 away goals in 15 games this season which is incredibly poor. That’s less than half a goal a game! Bournemouth aren’t renowned for their super defence, but the likes of Daniels and Ake are great options if you’re on your Free Hit. If you’re not using your Free Hit then their attacking options are more appealing.

Junior Stanislas has had 16 goal attempts in the past 4 weeks (7 from inside the box) and faces the poorest team in the league, so we can expect another 4-5 attempts surely? I’d be bringing this guy in even at the cost of a -4 point hit.

Other attacking options for Bournemouth include Wilson and King, however they may suffer rotation and Wilson has fallen behind King in the line for penalty kicks. Beware!

Stoke – Everton

Elsewhere in the fixture list there isn’t a lot to get excited about in regards to clean sheets. Everton have seen some big names return to their defence, but their away record in the premier league is atrocious, so I’m looking to avoid Everton almost completely as they face Stoke away.

Stoke on the other hand have Butland. He’s been in great form (with the odd lousy goal he has conceded) and if there is another clean sheet to be had in Gameweek 31, it’s for Stoke. Bauer and Butland would be my recommended options.

In attack Stoke have Shaqiri. His form is good at the moment and has 3 goals in his past 5 starts and always looks to be a threat. A poor away side like Everton should watch out for this guy who is lethal even at long range. Shaqiri is another player worth -4 in my opinion.

If you wanted attacking assets for Everton then Tosun has scored in his past two games for Everton, and Walcott is an ever present threat.

Liverpool – Watford

Looking over to the only top team playing this weekend, Liverpool are at home to Watford. Last season Liverpool destroyed Watford 6-1 at Anfield, and even beat Watford away from home 5-0 this season. At Salah, Firmino and Mane into the mix and we should be on for another destructive performance by Liverpool. Don’t write Mane off either, he has 14 goal attempts in the past 4 weeks, the same amount as Salah.

Liverpool saw themselves fall from 2nd to 4th in Gameweek 30 and will want to get back in front, so the motivation to go out and perform is there. Salah himself is also the favourite for the golden boot given Harry Kane’s injury.

A Liverpool defensive option is not a bad option. Karius, VVD and Robertson are great options, but with Liverpool’s attacking edge, do you really want to risk dropping any of their front three? VVD would be my first choice with his goal threat from set pieces.

Huddersfield – Crystal Palace

So that leaves one other fixture, Huddersfield at home to Crystal Palace.

Palace are in poor form but the return of Zaha will uplift them once more. Zaha is their best goalscoring option and a great differential. He bagged an assist in Gameweek 30 after coming on as a sub at halftime.

As well as Zaha, Van Aanholt is another one I reckon will slip under the radar for most. Two great differential options here. I don’t really expect VA to keep a clean sheet, but his goal threat makes him a good punt. A goal and a clean sheet could result in one of those lucrative 15 point returns we all know and love from defenders.

For the Home side, a defender is not a bad choice and maybe worth a punt in your Free Hit squad. In attack however, Mounie is a great option. He is on fine form and has been to close to returns in his past weeks, but just hasn’t hit the mark. One to consider.

There you have it, my thoughts and ideas ahead of the horror show that will be Gameweek 31. Follow me on Twitter @FPLchampion for more, and follow DailyStrikers too.

Good luck for Gameweek 31!

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FPL Enthusiast | Finished within the top 2% every season I’ve played, usually within the top 1% | Enjoy studying stats and fixtures

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