In a strange turn of events for Fantasy Premier League managers, there are only four fixtures on Saturday that form the complete gameweek 31 schedule.
Some managers will have no-doubt been plotting for weeks ahead of this reduced set of fixtures, while others will be caught on the hop. The ‘free hit chip’ could be considered by managers to change their entire team as part of a once off move and others may even consider trusting a Liverpool player with their ‘triple captain chip’.
Outlined below are my top picks to help you gain some points on your mini-league rivals and jump up the rankings.
Premium: Jack Butland (Stoke) – £5.0m
On present goalkeeping form, Stoke’s Jack Butland is in a league of his own by producing a save every fifteen minutes over his past four fixtures. The Englishman has made 24 saves over this period, conceding only twice.
He has now amassed one hundred and seven saves for the season, just three behind Swansea’s Lukasz Fabianski, despite playing three games less. This weekend’s visitors Everton have been struggling on the road of late, which suggests a sixth clean sheet may be on the agenda.
Mid-Priced: Loris Karius (Liverpool) – £4.8m
Liverpool’s £4.8m priced goalkeeper faces Watford this weekend after starting eight league fixtures in a row for the Merseysiders. He has racked up five clean sheets in eleven starts with ten goals conceded and seventeen saves made.
I expect Liverpool to bounce back from their defeat to Manchester United last weekend with a comfortable home win in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Budget: Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield) – £4.6m
One clean sheet in nine fixtures is hardly an inspiring statistic for Huddersfield’s defence, but last weekend’s shut-out against Swansea suggests an upturn in fortunes is around the corner.
Saturday afternoon’s fixture against Crystal Palace should be a close encounter as both teams feel the pressure to get points on the Premier League table. £4.6m priced Lossl has secured eight clean sheets in thirty starts for Huddersfield this season.
Premium: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – £5.6m
Liverpool’s record January signing has now settled into his new surroundings and a home fixture against Watford looks good for both attacking and defensive returns. Over the last six gameweeks the £5.6m centre back has had nine goal attempts, none of which found the back of the net.
The Dutch defender missed a sitter against Manchester United last weekend and he is yet to score this season.
Mid-Priced: Nathan Aké (Bournemouth) – £5.1m
£5.1m priced Nathan Aké is my Bournemouth defender of choice due to his potential of points at both ends of the pitch. Bournemouth’s defensive underlying statistics are poor and this is further highlighted as they currently have the joint least amount of clean sheets this season with a mere five in thirty attempts.
However, their Dutch centre back has two goals and two assists to his name along with six touches in the opposition’s penalty area in the past six gameweeks, demonstrating his attacking instincts.
Budget: Moritz Bauer (Stoke) – £4.5m
The arrival of Austrian right back Moritz Bauer along with the arrival of new manager Paul Lambert back in mid-January prompted somewhat of an upturn in performances for the Potters.
Stoke welcome Everton this weekend on the back of two clean sheets and only two goals conceded in their last four home fixtures. This suggests a tight game should be on the agenda at the bet365 stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Premium: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – £10.6m
Liverpool’s leading scorer Mohamed Salah will be keen to get back to business as usual in Saturday’s late kick-off after suffering a rare points blank last weekend against Manchester United. At home this season, the Egyptian attacker has fired off a league-high 72 shots, finding the back of the net on thirteen occasions.
Over 60% of FPL managers now own the £10.6m midfielder, which suggests those looking to find a differential captain pick will need to look elsewhere for gameweek 31.
Mid-Priced: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) – £6.3m
Xherdan Shaqiri’s ownership has been growing steadily in recent weeks and now sits at 14% due to the Swiss internationals impressive form. Three goals in three gameweeks against Bournemouth, Brighton and Leicester brought his tally to seven goals and six assists for the season.
This weekend’s opponents Everton have conceded twelve goals in their last four games on the road which bodes well for the £6.3m priced midfielder.
Budget: Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield) – £5.3m
Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy started the season with a bang delivering a goal and assist in his opening two games and returning sixteen FPL points. Since then he has gone on to deliver four goals and three assists in 2,351 minutes of Premier League action.
In gameweek 30 against a stubborn Swansea side, £5.3m priced Mooy looked back to his best firing in one shot on target and creating four goalscoring chances for his teammates. With set-pieces in his locked, a home fixture against Crystal Palace should yield some attacking returns for David Wagner’s side.
Premium: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – £9.4m
Roberto Firmino is far and away the most popular forward transfer in ahead of gameweek 31, with over double the transfers of both Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (both of whom don’t play this gameweek).
The £9.4m priced Brazilian striker has scored four goals and provided three assists over the last eight gameweeks and always looks a threat in Jurgen Klopp’s side. Firmino has thirteen goals and seven assists amassed already this season ahead of Saturday’s home fixture with Watford.
Mid-Priced: Salomón Rondón (West Brom) – £6.0m
This weekend’s opposition Bournemouth have conceded a league-high of 99 shots against over the past six gameweeks. This is an alarming statistic and as Spurs demonstrated last weekend, Bournemouth can concede heavily at home.
Both teams will surely be going all out in this fixture and Alan Pardew will be relying on his £6.0m priced striker Salomón Rondón to provide the firepower. The Venezuelan forward has scored five league goals this season and has three strikes in his last six games in all competitions.
Budget: Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) – £5.9m
Some online forums suggest that Callum Wilson could be in line for a rest as Jermain Defoe and Josh King return to fitness, but after a solid performance against Spurs last weekend I think the English striker should retain his place in the starting eleven.
The £5.9m priced has scored seven goals and two assists in the Premier League this season. Two of his three double-figure FPL hauls have come against Chelsea and Arsenal which suggests strong opposition doesn’t faze his confidence and this weekend’s opposition West Brom should be no different.