FPL Season 2020-21: Gameweek 31 preview

You thought the FPL was going to calm down a bit now that the main part of double gameweek season has come to an end, didn’t you? Well, think again, because with five teams still active in the continental competitions, things will only continue to heat up over the coming weeks. This Guardiola quote:

Next game, we are going to play fresh legs. And against Leeds, more than ever, fresh legs.” – Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola on his starting line-up against Leicester in GW30 after the game and before the Champions League game against Dortmund last Tuesday.

only serves as a heads up in that sense. A majority of the popular fantasy picks from Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are likely to carry an elevated rotation risk. Add to that the upcoming League Cup final (Man City v Spurs on Sun 25th April) and further FA Cup knockout stages, and you’ll understand why we strongly recommend to keep a close eye on starting lineups and team developments over the coming months for these teams. Another place to keep an eye on is Whichbookie.com for its reviews of the newest and the best bookmaker betting websites.

Including gameweek 31 we are now eight rounds away from the end of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, though Man City might decide the title race early. The Cityzens need 10 more points from their remaining seven games to win the league for the fifth time in their history and the fifth time since the 2011-12 season. That means that we have really come to the business end of the season now. As far as the FPL goes, a surge in chip and wildcard activity is expected in the build-up to GW31 as managers try to play the calendar fixture swings and make a final push for eternal FPL glory.

In any case, don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 31 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, April 9th.

Also do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per April 7th, 2021)

GKMartinez (AST), McCarthy (SOU), Pope (BUR)Forster (SOU), Mendy (CHE), Leno (ARS) 
DEFDallas (LEE), Cancelo (CIT), Stones (CIT)Alexander-Arnold (LIV), Dias (CIT), Phillips (LIV)City rotation, Leeds fixtures
MIDBale (TOT), Gündogan (CIT), Raphinha (LEE)Jota (LIV), Lingard (WHU), Salah (LIV)Jota and Lingard in form, Liverpool fixtures, City rotation
FORBamford (LEE), Antonio (WHU), Watkins (AST)Iheanacho (LEI), Kane (TOT), Lacazette (ARS)Leeds, West Ham and Villa fixtures, Iheanacho and Kane form

Premium pick

Manchester City are hosting leaky Leeds United this weekend, so naturally, different City fantasy assets come to mind when it comes to picking a premium option for our recommendations this week. It could end up in a goal bonanza after all, but the problem is the rotation risk. Pep has already announced severe rotation measures and we decided we’re simply not risking it this time. Instead, we have gone with Mo Salah (£12.4m) who seems to be on the way back to a bit of goal-scoring form. He scored for the first time since gameweek 24 last week against Arsenal and he was also the one to score against Real Madrid in the mid-week Champions League game. With Fabinho back in the middle and Jota providing some much needed fresh blood in attack, the Reds are starting to look a bit more like their last year selves at last albeit still inconsistent. Up next are Aston Villa at Anfield. Not an easy fixture by any stretch, but a good opportunity for Liverpool and Salah to show that they are still alive and kicking.

Non-premium picks

Our first non-premium fantasy pick for gameweek 31 looks a bit like we’re chasing the points, but with this weekend offering plenty of hard-to-predict fixtures, it could be just the right time to bring in Danny Ings (£8.4m). The Southampton striker returned to fitness and the starting lineup against Burnley last weekend, and immediately showed what he is capable of by delivering a goal and an assist for a total of 11 FPL points. Those returns have brought his tallies for the season to 9 goals and 4 assists. It’s true that the Saints are not in very good form at the moment and the upcoming away game against West Brom could be a tricky one, especially with the Baggies coming off a more than impressive 2-5 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but Ingsy has shown in the past that he can always score. We hope that this will be the case against the league’s leakiest defence coming Monday.

Our first non-premium suggestion for the upcoming round of FPL is also a striker. With a current tenth place, Arsenal are performing way below their potential this season and this reality has had its effect on the value and popularity of their fantasy assets as well. Forward Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m) is Gunner with most goals to his name at the moment (13) and we feel that he could add to that tally on Sunday, when they visit Bramall Lane. The Frenchman could not make the difference in GW30 against Liverpool, but he did score 2 goals and gave 1 assist in the two games prior to last weekend. Only West Brom have let in more goals than Sheffield United so far and the Blades seem resigned to relegation at the end of the season. Lacazette will be eyeing to pile on to that misery, though you should pay attention to Arsenal’s mid-week Europa League match against Slavia Prague for information regarding starting spots, fitness and possible injuries.

The budget enabler

Arsenal’s favourable match-up has even led us to double up on their fantasy assets this weekend. At a price of just £5.2m, Bukayo Saka is still very much under-priced, though it has been a while since he last delivered an attacking return in the Premier League. That was an assist back in gameweek 24, his fourth of the season on top of 5 scored goals. Apart from the must-win encounter with Sheffield United this Sunday, the Gunners’ calendar looks good on the medium term as well, with Fulham, Everton, West Brom (all home) and Newcastle (away) following the Sheffield United game. Like many other interesting players, Saka has become a bit more vulnerable to rotation over the past months, but he should still be getting plenty of Premier League minutes, which with his price tag makes him an appealing budget-enabling option for your midfield.

A differential pick or two

Our first differential fantasy pick for gameweek 31 is heavily influenced by the fixture schedule, as Wolves are playing Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton (all at home) and West Brom after this weekend’s away game against Fulham. As a result of this favourable run, we figured a Wolves defender could be a wise investment, despite Nuno Espirito Santo’s men not being as solid in the back as usual this season. We ended up with Conor Coady (£4.8m) as he looks to be both the surest and the least expensive route into the Wolves defence and Willy Boly has now been ruled out due to illness for the next week. The England international has been part of 8 clean sheets so far this season and he has also scored once, against City at the Etihad back in gameweek 26. The fact that there is no European football or another cup tournament to take into account here is an added plus when bringing in the 5.4%-owned Coady for your team.

Despite scoring 7 goals, providing 5 assists, collecting a very decent total of 128 FPL points so far and sporting a bargain price tag, James Ward-Prowse (£5.9m) is still just eligible for our differential pick category with an ownership of 9.8%. We discussed the potential merits of bringing Ings in this week and many of the arguments made for him go in favour of JWP as well. The Saints are out of form themselves, but facing West Brom at the Hawthornes, which changes things a bit. The Baggies are unlikely to thump two bigger opponents in a row and we think that there could be goals in this one, most of them for Southampton. That would be good news for Ward-Prowse and the FPL managers who own him by then, as he is Southampton’s main set-piece specialist.

The captaincy

As with our premium fantasy pick recommendation for this weekend, we also adjusted our preferences a bit in terms of the captaincy choice due to the increased and increasing rotation uncertainty when it comes to Man City assets. As a result, we have give the GW31 captain’s armband to Mo Salah this week, who seems to have found his scoring boots once again. A goal against Arsenal in gameweek 30 and a goal against Real Madrid on Tuesday sounds promising for the upcoming home game against Aston Villa.

If you’re not going near Liverpool yet, which is understandable as well, then you can still opt for a City man. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gündogan could all haul big at home against Leeds. The main question is who will be playing and who won’t on Saturday. Maybe it’s Aguero time? Besides that, you could take a punt on Lacazette versus Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, or Danny Ings or James Ward-Prowse versus West Bromwich Albion.

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