Simon Says: Key players for blank gameweek 31, where to go now in defence and time to ditch Chelsea assets?

In this weeks series, I will look at the key players to target for the upcoming blank gameweek, where we go now in terms of our defence and whether it’s time to say goodbye to Chelsea assets? 

First of all, let me extend my thanks to all of the people who responded to my tweet asking for your questions, unfortunately, I will only be picking 2/3 from the bunch each week, unless I feel the article needs a bit more substance.

So, this week’s winners are:

  1. Fantasy Football Pundits
  2. FPL Luck
  3. Andy Martin

Key targets for blank gameweek 31

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Certainly something most of us will be considering at this point and wisely so, despite us not actually knowing exactly all the teams that will blank.

I think the main targets have to be those Liverpool players, who have decent fixtures (Man Utd in GW30 aside) up to the blank gameweek and a nice home fixture against Watford in the blank gameweek itself.

Mohamed Salah goes without saying, if anyone still doesn’t have him, speak to a psychiatrist… or just bring him in and I think Firmino compliments him nicely.

I would look at their defence too and would look at van Dijk, who carries with him a considerable goal threat.

I brought in Gomez myself, who can be dropped on the odd occasion, but based on his minutes this year, it is the odd occasion and generally speaking Klopp prefers him in the right back spot.

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Beyond that, Theo Walcott has to be a big consideration given the fixtures and despite how poor Everton are doing defensively, they’ve not been bad going forward and Walcott is getting chances and had a fantastic opportunity against Arsenal which would have made it 3 goals and 1 assist in his first 3 games.

I also think Pickford is worthy of consideration despite Everton being poor at the back. We have to remember who their manager is in Big Sam and if anyone can get them organised again, it’s him and ahead of a good set of fixtures leading up to the blank gameweek, I simply can’t see them not keeping some clean sheets, especially after their mauling against Arsenal – Big Sam will be throwing the ‘Defending for Dummies’ book at them.

Last but not least, is big Shaq or Shaqiri. He’s the main man from Stoke and by far their most influential player. If Stoke are scoring goals, it’s likely this man will be involved in one way or another.

Defence: Where do we go now? 

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Something likely sparked from last week, where Man United (typically) were the only team to keep a clean sheet.

Chelsea’s form is a worry and as FPL Luck states, City have some tough fixtures coming, Arsenal play Spurs and then City in the next two, United’s fixtures are indifferent and with United, Chelsea, City, Arsenal and Spurs all very likely to blank in GW31, it is becoming a challenge to find those defenders.

I wouldn’t be worrying about the United defence, if you have DDG or Jones, you simply hold those players as they can keep a clean sheet in any game.

But certainly those City defenders, I might be tempted to move them on, even Otamendi, as the fixtures are tough and they’re still involved in every competition, so rotation all over the pitch is likely.

So, for replacements, it really depends on how you’re planning to play BGW31.

For me, I have structured a plan using my WC last week that puts me in a position where I have 9 BGW players at GW30 and that I believed would optimise the 5 gameweeks leading up to the BGW from last week and that would be with Mawson and Jones sitting on the bench.

I think Mawson is a really good choice if you can afford to park him for the BGW, as he has great fixtures and a very good goal threat from set-plays.

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If you’re only looking at defenders that are going to play the BGW, then I would suggest looking at either Coleman or van Dijk. 

With 90 minutes under his belt against Leicester and then a rest against Arsenal, Coleman could be set to fully re-join the Everton starting 11 and he will help at both ends of the pitch and we know what this lad can do when he’s fully fit and firing.

As I stated before, van Dijk has that goal threat and has good fixtures going into the the BGW and in the BGW itself, so he’s a good option.

Time to say goodbye to Chelsea assets? 

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It really is worrying times for Chelsea at the moment.

Since the turn of the year, Chelsea have only managed 2 wins in 10 games, including a 3-0 thrashing by Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge followed by a 4-1 humbling by Watford on Monday.

With the goals that are flying in at the moment, holding expensive players like Azpilicueta and Courtois, who are owned by 22.2% and 11.7% respectively, are luxuries that I just don’t think we can afford to have.

With just 1 assist in his last 14 games, Azpilicueta, at a price of £7.0 is simply far too expensive to justify owning with very limited goal threat and with Courtois, he’s only really worth having if you’re 100% confident in Chelsea’s ability to keep a lot of clean sheets, as he doesn’t offer anything else, and right now, I’m not convinced that they’ll keep many clean sheets in the foreseeable future.

Eden Hazard is an incredibly frustrating asset in general, but if you’re someone that can handle that aspect of him, then I would probably keep hold of him, as he’s in decent form, is their penalty-taker, is still lowly owned and is undoubtedly a brilliant player that can score against anyone on his day.

I’m not someone who can handle an asset at his price blowing hot and cold, so I’m avoiding him, but that’s just my personal preference.

Coming onto the main player people are bothered about, and that’s Marcos Alonso.

As I said on Who Got The Assist’s podcast last night, Alonso is the perfect fantasy asset in Chelsea’s system when they’re keeping clean sheets, as he’s virtually a left winger for them who takes brilliantly accurate free kicks and gets into the box when they attack on so many occasions and has been nailed on for so long.

But if you take one or more of those conditions out, he’s suddenly not the perfect fantasy asset anymore.

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Chelsea’s next 6 PL fixtures

For example, if Chelsea don’t keep those regular clean sheets then you’re getting an attacking return from him once roughly every 4 gameweeks – is that a good enough ratio at his price? Bare in mind, that a lot of us hooked out Lingard after no return in 4 gameweeks and he’s £1.2m cheaper.

Left wing back Emerson Palmieri is an issue too, as there’s always going to be that nagging doubt that he could come in at any given moment to replace him and give Alonso a breather – we didn’t have that before.

There’s doubts about Chelsea’s ability to keep it tight at the back following them conceding a combined 7 goals to Watford and Bournemouth in their last 2 games and with the fixtures after WBA being tough, it’s hard to see them keeping many in that period.

That’s entirely too much doubt for someone as expensive as Alonso in my opinion.

I would certainly hold him for WBA, but beyond that, I can certainly see a case for getting rid of him.

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