Back-to-back regular gameweeks, it’s been a while, right? Well, enjoy it while you can, because after gameweek 31, it’s back to the fixture madness for FPL managers with a considerable blank gameweek 32 followed by a major double in gameweek 34 and another couple of doubles a bit later on. For now, we’re focusing on gameweek 31 though, and it has all the makings of a spectacle. That’s mainly due to the fact that many FPL managers are now in the middle of executing their chip strategy, which results in interesting situations between different templates. A good example this week will be the Arsenal midfielders, who are playing a favourable fixture away at West Ham. Managers on a Free Hit in GW32 will likely not have a lot of Gunner mids, while those managers trying to navigate the current period without a Free Hit in GW32 likely own two or more of the main points scorers.
What makes gameweek 31 extra interesting is the fact that it boasts more than a few favourable matchups on paper. As a matter of fact, we are starting to suspect that this gameweek could very well end up being on par with big doubles and blanks as far as variance between picks and managers will go. Besides leaders Arsenal rocking up to the London Stadium on Sunday, Spurs are hosting Bournemouth, Man City are welcoming Leicester, Man United are going to the Forest Ground and Liverpool are visiting Leeds. On top of that, games like Villa versus Newcastle and Chelsea versus Brighton could quite easily be high-scoring affairs as well.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 31 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, April 15th, 2023.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per April 13th, 2023)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Ward (LEI), Kepa (CHE), Raya (BRE)||Pope (NEW), Martinez (AST), De Gea (MUN)|
|DEF||Shaw (MUN), Saliba (ARS), Chilwell (CHE)||Mings (AST), White (ARS), Martinez (MUN)||BGW32, DGW34, Shaw and Saliba injuries (Martinez now injured!)|
|MID||Rashford (MUN), Maddison (LEI), Almiron (NEW)||Grealish (MCI), Martinelli (ARS), Olise (CRY)||Grealish and Martinelli form, BGW32, Olise GW30 haul, Rashford injury|
|FOR||Toney (BRE), Watkins (AST), Havertz (CHE)||Haaland (MCI), Jesus (ARS), Isak (NEW)||BGW32, Haaland form and latest haul|
Even in a week in which Harry Kane is playing at home to Bournemouth and Mo Salah is preparing for a visit to leaky Leeds, our stand-out premium fantasy pick is Erling Haaland (£12.2m). The Norwegian returned from a short injury spell in style last weekend, scoring twice in 68 minutes of action at Saint Mary’s. His 12 FPL points meant his ninth double-digit haul of the season and with Leicester at home up next, we feel his tenth is on the way. He has now scored 30 goals in the league and 45 overall this season, making him the highest-scoring player from a Premier League club in a single season in history. And he’s still got about 15 games to go this campaign, counting European duties as well… Upcoming opponents Leicester, on the other hand, are going through a nightmare of a season and we’re not sure the appointment of Dean Smith as new manager is on time to avert the worst for the Foxes. They shipped five goals at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, a team that had scored 24 goals in 29 league games up until that point, so we can understand if the Foxes fans are more than a bit worried about gameweek 31. As far as FPL goes, you don’t want to bet against Haaland this weekend if he isn’t a victim of Pep roulette.
League leaders Arsenal have a tough run of fixtures coming up on the medium term, but in the short term, Gunners assets could deliver big. That’s why our non-premium fantasy pick for gameweek 31 is Gabriel Martinelli (£6.7m), the forward on fire at Arsenal at the moment. The Brazilian winger, who is listed as a midfielder in the official game, currently sits on 14 goals and 7 assists from 29 league starts, and his expected goal involvement since the restart in gameweek 17 is more than decent at 0.61. As a matter of fact, Martinelli is the highest-scoring player in FPL since gameweek 24, scoring 7 goals and providing 2 assists for a total of 67 FPL points over that run. The Gunners are travelling to face a struggling West Ham side on Sunday and what makes a pick like Martinelli extra appealing is their fixture in blank gameweek 32. In a week in which Brighton, Liverpool and the two Manchester teams blank, Arsenal are actually hosting bottom-of-the-table Southampton for what could easily end up being a free-scoring afternoon for them. Despite the narrative surrounding playing minutes, Martinelli has failed to start just once this Premier League campaign and we’re sure he will be on the pitch from the get-go in gameweeks 31 and 32 as well, hopefully with a few attacking returns to boot.
The budget enabler
For some time now, it has felt like the entire FPL universe will be activating their Free Hit in blank gameweek 32. In reality, we feel it’s more likely going to be about half of the active and engaged fantasy managers, and while it can be a perfectly good strategy, it’s also heavily team dependent. That’s why we are dedicating the budget enabler category for GW31 to those managers who have decided not to use their Free Hit next week. Therefore, allow us to talk about Jordan Henderson (£5.3m) for a moment. Liverpool are unreliable and with just 2 assists so far, Hendo doesn’t exactly qualify as an explosive pick, we are well aware. At the same time though, Liverpool are still posting some of the best attacking underlying stats in the league and they’ve got two peaches of games coming up with a visit to Elland Road this weekend followed by a home game versus Nottingham Forest. Perfect for a punt, but the returns to fitness of the likes of Luis Diaz and Thiago Alcantara have considerably increased the likelihood of rotation between Liverpool’s midfield assets in the official game. That is, for all of them bar Mo Salah, who is not exactly in budget enabler territory, and Henderson, who captains the Reds and seems to have his starting spot nailed down. On top of that, both of his assists this season came in the last five games, which is not exactly a pattern but somewhat increases his appeal as an outfield punt. Our main reason for highlighting Hendo here though, is that in blank gameweek 32 managers will be scrambling to get to three Liverpool assets and while the captain is far from the most appealing pick, he will be a sure starter in two games that could easily see Liverpool score 5+ goals. Would another contribution by Henderson (owned by 0.5% of managers) be so strange on the short-term?
To be honest, our differential fantasy pick for gameweek 31 has been on our watchlist for a couple of weeks now, but he never quite made the cut. Until now that is, now that he’s freshly coming off preparing 3 goals at the King Power. Michael Olise (£5.4m) shone on Saturday with 3 assists in just about a quarter of an hour, rewarding the 0.7% of managers who owned him with 14 FPL points. After a rough run of fixtures that cost Patrick Vieira his job, new manager Roy Hodgson has taken six points from his first two games in charge of Crystal Palace and the Eagles have an interesting set of fixtures coming up. This weekend it’s bottom-place Southampton away followed by a home game against Everton in blank gameweek 32 and then a visit to Molineux. This might just be the run that sees Palace secure their Premier League status and while picking Olise feels a bit like chasing points, he might just be the one to lead them there, at a very affordable £5.4m to top it off.
More GW31 transfer tips are on this FISO forum topic.
As you probably guessed from our earlier premium fantasy pick section for gameweek 31, Erling Haaland gets our captaincy armband once again this weekend. A home game against a leaky Leicester defence just feels too good to pass up, even now that the Foxes have appointed Dean Smith as Brendan Rodgers’ successor.
Excellent alternatives to Haaland are Harry Kane at home to Bournemouth and Mo Salah away at Leeds United. More affordable candidates for the armband include Ivan Toney away at Wolves, Jack Grealish at home to Leicester and Gabriel Martinelli for Arsenal’s visit to West Ham.