I’m coming off 71 points for game week 32, which I’m very happy about. I played my wildcard but I got very lucky that Gudmundsson (£5.1m) was injured, so Ben Chilwell (£4.4m) came off my bench for a massive 11 points. There is a lesson here: always try to have a playing bench because you never know what will happen.
Before I get into it, I need to talk strategy with you. You need to be looking ahead to the double game weeks in 34 and 37 and the blank in 35. If you’re a normal FPL player, you will have held on to your triple captain and bench boost chips, which you should probably play in 34 or 37 unless you have a compelling reason not to. You need to plan at this point in the season, and should probably hold your transfers so you have two frees before going into game week 34 and the doubles.
Chelsea and Spurs look like the best bets for clean sheets this week, against West Ham and Stoke respectively. With Courtois (£5.4m) missing Chelsea’s last game through injury I wouldn’t bring him in. If you already have him, however, he’s worth holding onto, and I would not advise bringing in Caballero (£4.8m). Lloris (£5.4m) is a pretty good hold until the end of the season, as Spurs have a good defence and two double game weeks (though no game in game week 35), but he won’t set the world on fire.
De Gea (£5.9m) doesn’t have much chance of keeping a clean against City, even with Mou’s big bus parked in front of him. He is still the best GK to hold until the end of the season, but I like playing your backup keeper this week.
I particularly like this if your backup keeper is Matt Ryan (£4.6m) or Fabianski (£4.7m). Last week I said I thought Ryan was a bad option until the end of the season. I still do. But, Huddersfield suck, so Brighton can keep a clean. Fabianski is a bit of a no-brainer. He has been keeping cleans, making saves… and the Swans play West Brom this week.
As I said before, Chelsea and Spurs are the best bets for clean sheets.
Looking at Chelsea first, you have a lot of options but for me Alonso (£7.2m) is the stand out option. I’m not a big fan of any of the Chelsea midfield or attackers (in FPL terms), so I think Alonso is the best way into both their defence and their attack. Regardless, they have good fixtures coming up and having a Chelsea defender beyond this game week sounds good to me, despite their form. Azipilicueta (£6.9m) isn’t a bad shout either, but Alonso is a better option because of his goal threat. Christensen (£5.3m) is the cheapest way into the Chelsea defence, but has suffered from inconsistent minutes in the past.
Alderweireld (£5.8m) is back from injury but some sort of contract dispute is stopping him from making a return. Ben Davies (£5.9m) has been their best defensive asset when playing because of his ability to get attacking returns. Rose (£6.4m) is also fit again, so you might see him and Davies rotated in the upcoming double game weeks. Aurier (£5.9m) and Trippier (£5.2m) also seem to be getting rotated. So, the most reliable bet is Jan Vertonghen (£6.0m).
For cheaper clean sheets, look to Brighton and Swansea defenders. As long as they are playing, it almost doesn’t matter who you pick. My favourites are Duffy (£4.6m) and Dunk (£4.5m) at Brighton, and Mawson (£5.1m) and Naughton (£4.6m) at Swansea.
Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool are all next-best bets for a clean sheet, though neither Arsenal or Leicester’s defences are particularly reliable. Liverpool will be playing a derby after their game against Man City in the week, so the worry is that they’ll make mistakes through fatigue.
Kiko Fermenia (£4.3m) was spotted playing in midfield last week. This isn’t so unusual for Watford, who occasionally play players out of position, but as a former Femenia owner I won’t be getting him in anyway. Even when he was in defence Watford couldn’t keep a clean.
I said I would start this section every week with the advice to buy Mo Salah (£10.7m). I stand by this… but maybe don’t get him in this week. He went off with a slight groin injury against Man City in the Champions league – given that Liverpool have a real shot of knocking out City in the second leg next week, it is conceivable that he might play less than 60 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend buying this week.
But don’t sell him! Even if he doesn’t get a full 90, he can still score. For example, he played 66 minutes against Everton earlier in the season and scored a goal for an 11 point haul. On top of that, practically everyone in the game has Salah – his ownership is 62.7% (and there are a tonne of dead teams). So, his points normally mean very little. You won’t overtake people when he does well because he also does well for everyone else.
If you don’t have Salah and have some money in the bank, you might consider Eden Hazard (£10.6m), who has West Ham, Southampton and Burnley coming up. I really don’t like Hazard because I find his returns too inconsistent, but he might be a good differential pick for a few weeks. With Salah doubtful I actually think Sadio Mane (£9.5m) is more nailed-on, because the Pool need that attacking pace. I wouldn’t bring him in, but I wouldn’t sell him out of concern of rotation.
Spurs have good opposition in Stoke this week, so any of Eriksen (£9.4m), Son (£8.3m) and Alli (£8.9m) are good picks. I think Alli is the worst of them though. As we saw last season, he is most useful in FPL when Kane is injured. He has scored three goals and got an assist in the last two games, as Kane has only played 49 out of 180 minutes. With Kane likely starting this week or next, I would pick Son or Eriksen – whichever you can afford. We also know they have two double game weeks and one blank coming up.
All Man City mids are worth holding onto this game week. I know they play Mou’s bus but they can normally break down any side (ignore that performance against Liverpool in the week). They’re playing at home, and can seal the title this week. I wouldn’t look to buy until game week 35 because they play Spurs after United – that’s two of the best defences in the league back-to-back – but they’re still a good hold.
Other notable mentions include Mahrez (£8.9m), who could have a game but plays against an underrated Newcastle defence. Mkhitaryan (£7.8m) only got 14 minutes against Stoke last week, but I’ll hold him another week because he’s pretty cheap for what he is. Arnautovic (£6.9m) is only second to Salah for shots and goals in the midfield since game week 15, though I’d be looking to get rid by game week 36 at the latest, as the following fixtures aren’t good. Zaha (£6.8m) is a good choice against Bournemouth and so is Milivojevic (£5.0m), who somehow keeps getting penalties. Palace have good fixtures until the end of the season. Finally for the mids, Pascal Gross (£6.0m) plays against the middling Huddersfield defence.
Kane (£12.7m) is back. It’s causing me a headache. Not because I think he is playing very well, but because he has two doubles coming. Over the past few years he would be the first name on the team sheet and probably your captain. His price tag is making me wonder whether I can live without him in the long run, because I’m likely to captain Salah unless Kane has a double game week. Regardless, I’m not advising buying Kane this week because I’m not confident he will get a full 90 against Stoke. If he’s only on the verge of fitness, then there’s no need for Poch to play him for the whole game against a shocking Stoke side.
Aubameyang (£10.8m) just rose in price, so obviously I’m not alone in thinking he is the best forward for game week 33. Auba is on form and ineligible for the Europa League games, so there is low rotation risk. Lukaku (£11.6m) is the other big forward but he plays Man City this week. We know Mourinho loves to play boring defensive football, so will Kaku be a good option? Pep said he will rotate against Man United, so Kaku could be a fine choice, but I think Auba is better.
Vardy (£8.9m) against Newcastle is my selection for the second most expensive striker slot. Newcastle aren’t great and, although they did put in a good performance last week, I think Leicester should have enough to defeat them. I’m still not expecting a big return, however, because his number of shots is quite low. More importantly, Leicester have a nice double in game week 34. Firmino (£9.7m) is the second choice. Liverpool play Everton which is obviously a big game, and we should expect Liverpool to want to put in a big performance.
In the cheap forward slot I would go for Wood (£6.3m) or Barnes (£5.4). Burnley seem to have figured out how to score and Barnes, in particular, is on great form. Murray (£6.0m) at Brighton is also a good shout despite that missed penalty last week.
Before the Man City game Salah was my captain. Now it goes to Auba, with Salah as Vice. Other good options are Eriksen and Son (and maybe Alli if Kane isn’t playing).
We’re going for a 3-4-3 this week.
I’m leaving Salah in here because picking a best XI without him isn’t much use to anyone reading this.
Van Dijk, Vertonghen, Alonso (Duffy, Naughton)
Mkhitaryan, Son, Salah, Zaha (Gross)
Aubameyang, Vardy, Barnes