With some standout fixtures, those of you who have Free Hit remaining may look to deploy it in GW36+ and my recommendation would be to deploy it here too, as you can optimise your team for some really great fixtures.
The 3 stand out fixtures I’d be looking to target, are:
- MAN CITY vs Bournemouth
- CHELSEA vs Norwich
- Crystal Palace vs MAN UNITED
It is likely most of us own 3 United assets and at least 1/2 of City, if not 3 as well already, but the chance to ensure you get the right assets correct in such high ceiling games has to be taken in my opinion, with Pep announcing he will make 6 changes for this match.
Bournemouth did smash Leicester 4-1 yesterday, but if you watched the match as I did, you will know Bournemouth were extremely fortunate to have won 4-1, as they were gifted all of their goals and they conceded a lot of chances to Leicester in the first half.
Crystal Palace look on the beach and have been very poor in recent matches, conceding the most amount of big chances (16) of any team since the restart. So we can fully expect Man United to continue that trend with them in fantastic form at the moment.
And whilst Chelsea did struggle against Sheffield United, losing 3-0 to a lot of people’s shock, Norwich are just far worse and Chelsea really need the points now that their Champions League spot is very much under threat with United all set to take over them, should they manage to beat Southampton tonight.
A very affordable team that leaves me with £6.5m in the bank, so should be no troubles for anyone making an optimal team this GW on their Free Hit.
Justifications and Analysis
2 attackers and 1 defender from them makes sense here simply because Palace are one of the lowest scoring teams in the Premier League and the ceiling for goals is higher for the City attacking options over United ones, down to the sheer amount City can score.
Wan-Bissaka picks himself as the defensive option with his threat down the right and the fact he is very well liked on the BPS system with 15 bonus points so far this season, and as far as the United attack goes, Bruno Fernandes is a must-own – there’s no need to justify his selection.Embed from Getty Images
The last spot is certainly a spot up for debate with cash not an issue with these selections, but with the personnel available from City and Chelsea, it has to be a forward from United, which only leaves Mason Greenwood or Marcus Rashford and for me, Greenwood is outperforming Rashford currently and is the much bigger goal threat and in my opinion, the much more clinical finisher, so he gets the nod.
I believe 2 attackers and 1 defender makes sense from Chelsea too.
One of Tammy Abraham or Olivier Giroud could do really well in this game but it’s difficult to know which starts. We can assume because Tammy started the last game that it’s Giroud’s turn to start, but it may not be that simple. Frank Lampard could have been building Tammy’s match fitness to get him starting again, as he did much prefer Tammy to Giroud pre-lockdown.Embed from Getty Images
Christian Pulisic and Willian, operating either side of the striker, almost pick themselves. Both have looked very dangerous and returned very well since the restart and with Chelsea now looking like they’ll lose their UCL spot, they cannot afford to slip up against a very poor, already relegated, Norwich side.
It makes sense to me to favour these two over gambling on Giroud starting, and simply have Cesar Azpilicueta, who looks like a nailed-on clean sheet and has a decent attacking threat also, with 2 goals and 6 assists this season.
This one is the difficult one (naturally). I would definitely opt for 3 attackers, as opposed to choosing Ederson, as the ceiling is much higher for these players and Ederson’s is more or less capped at 6.
Pep has stated he will make 6 changes. Given that Phil Foden and David Silva didn’t start the previous game, I think it’s almost (and don’t I say ‘almost’ lightly with it being Pep) certain that these two start this game. So at least one of these is a must in my opinion and I’ve opted for David Silva, though the choice between the two is very much a 50/50.Embed from Getty Images
David will be on all set-pieces, if we’re assuming KDB doesn’t play, he may even get given penalties, with his City career nearing it’s end.
Elsewhere, I think it’ll mainly be the defence and midfield that changes, with most of the back line being changed for Cancelo, Zinchenko, Otamendi and Stones likely to all come in.
Dropping Kevin De Bruyne is never an easy decision but I think it’s likely he is saved for the FA Cup Semi Final. That is the reason he has not been chosen.
With the form Raheem Sterling is in and the fact that he had a rest the previous GW at Newcastle, and only played 58 mins against Southampton in the GW before, he’s had more than enough rest and I think Pep will want to keep that form and rhythm going with him. I wouldn’t want to have a Free Hit and not include him as he can score mammoth hauls, as last GW proved – the ultimate powerhouse differential!
I think it’s likely Gabriel Jesus starts again having come off early and with him now hitting a bit of form, like with Sterling, I think Pep will want to keep the rhythm up with him, but this part of it is all guesswork.
I look at his selection like this; would I rather have Giroud and Foden, or Jesus and Pulisic/Willian? When I look at like that, the latter has a bigger ceiling in my opinion.
Whichever way you slice it, it’s always tough to predict Pep’s teams, but I think with the current info we have (FA Cup coming and Pep stating he’ll make 6 changes), it’s about the best chance we’ll likely ever have of getting it right.
If you want to play it safe, I’d go with Foden and D Silva as they’re certainly the most likely to play, but we also have to balance that with who we think will actually score the most points, and Raheem Sterling is certainly the player that’s the most in-form at City so it’s very difficult to ignore him.
The Final 2 SpotsEmbed from Getty Images
With the maxing out on Chelsea, United and City, it has to be Nick Pope in goal. He and Burnley have been extremely solid defensively since the restart, keeping 3 clean sheets and keeping the scoring at Anfield down to just 1 goal.
Wolves have shown at times that they can struggle to create, so if Burnley are on their game defensively, then it looks a decent chance for a clean sheet.
The last spot goes to a rested Trent Alexander-Arnold. Yes, it is Arsenal he has, but we know what we’re getting with Trent. He is their creator in chief, with an incredible 14 assists from full back.
Not only their main creator, but he has a very potent goal threat too from free kicks, which we saw in expert fashion against Crystal Palace. So there is always the chance of a goal contribution from him if they don’t keep the clean sheet, which is probably likely.
1 additional mention…Embed from Getty Images
If it is you’re uncertain of a Gabriel Jesus start, then Danny Ings is your man.
Home to Brighton, on 19 goals and still with an outside chance at winning what would be an incredible golden boot achievement, he looks to be a brilliant bet.
Only Bruno Fernandes (5), Michail Antonio (6) and Raheem Sterling (6) have scored more goals than Ings since the restart.
Southampton have looked focused and resolute in their return to PL action, and Ings has been finishing his chances extremely well. He looks hungry and continues to start each PL game so choosing him over Jesus is certainly viable in my opinion.