Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 30: captains, bench boost and wildcard planning before Man City v Arsenal

Our high-flying manager dishes out his planning tips ahead of FPL Gameweek 30.
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It’s once again time for our high-flying fantasy manager, who’s currently nestled in the Top 4,000 globally, to dish out his advice ahead of Gameweek 30 in the Fantasy Premier League.

He’ll be dishing out all his latest hints and offering some tips on wildcard and free hit strategy for the rest of the FPL season in just a moment, but before we hand over to him we’ll offer up a quick warning that this week’s deadline is 11:00 GMT on Saturday 30 March. Make sure you’ve made all of your decisions by then! Anyway, without further ado, over to Matt…

Mapping out the end of your season

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This week’s column is going to be slightly different – instead of talking over the best players you can buy and sell for the following week and looking ahead over the short term, I’m going to discuss how to plan for the last nine gameweeks of the season. We’re only a few weeks away from some key doubles, and that means players who still have their wildcards and free hits have some thinking to do.

It’s been confirmed already that Arsenal, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United will have a double in GW34, while Tottenham Hotspur will have a blank. That makes it an obvious week to target with your chips – but there’s more.

Although not confirmed, it is overwhelmingly likely that six teams will have a double in GW37, the penultimate week of the season. Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United and Newcastle United are all set to play twice. Furthermore, Chelsea and Spurs have one more game to fit in somewhere – that will most likely be either GW35 or 36 but could possibly even be pushed to 37 to make two very rare and rather tempting triple gameweeks.

So how do we plan to use our chips to maximise our points for those weeks? Well, to start with, I’d strongly recommend using your bench boost on one of the doubles after you’ve used a wildcard if you still have it. That, for me, is GW37 because there are simply more high-scoring players involved – and for anyone with a wildcard, that probably means using it after GW34.

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It’s effectively impossible to transfer enough players between 34 and 37 to hit all the doubles in both. So the ideal strategy is to max out for GW34 between now and then – or use a free hit on 34 if you still have it – then wildcard afterwards into a team packed with Chelsea and Spurs players which can run with 15 assets who double up come 37, at which point you drop your bench boost.

If you have a wildcard but not a free hit, target GW34 with your transfer now and wildcard afterwards. If you have a free hit but not a wildcard, then it will come down to your team – it’s probably easier to make your transfers with GW37 and mind and use the free hit on GW34, but if you have triple Arsenal and Liverpool already, then it might be the other way around.

For my money though, GW37 has the much higher ceiling in terms of points teams can realistically expect to score, so that should be the one you focus your chips on. I’d even go as far as to say that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have 11 doubles on GW34 – after all, who’s going to score more points? A Crystal Palace player on a double against West Ham and Newcastle, or Erling Haaland against Brighton?

In my opinion, the perfect GW34 team has triple Arsenal and Liverpool, alongside Dominic Solanke and at least a couple of Wolves players like Pedro Neto and Hwang Hee-Chan. After that, I’d just as happily have Haaland and Phil Foden, say, than an Everton or Sheffield United player, even with two games to play. If you have the players and chips to max out on both weeks, brilliant. If not, focus on GW37 and don’t panic if you can’t go crazy on GW34.

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It's also worth looking at when to make moves towards, say, Arsenal and Liverpool assets which you don’t yet have. For instance, Arsenal players should probably come in next week, after they play City but before they face Luton Town. Liverpool players can come in straight away (and don’t sleep on Mohamed Salah, as his price is liable to rise quickly as we approach GW34), while it’s perfectly reasonable to hold on to Spurs players until after they’ve played Nottingham Forest in GW32. Wolves players, like Arsenal, should probably start trickling in next week.

We’ll take a closer look at the ideal GW37 team nearer to the time, of course, but for now I’d say most teams can afford to roll a transfer this week if they only have access to one, but if you have two available and need to make one switch, Liverpool players make the most sense, especially Salah. If you’re targeting transfers for 37 instead of 34, Spurs players should be your priority despite their dismal showing against Fulham last weekend – and if you don’t have Cole Palmer yet, get him in before his price rises once more.

Just don’t make a move without mapping everything out for the final weeks of the season. This is a crucial period and getting your plans nailed down could easily be the difference between winning that work league or crashing and burning. And in my case, making the Top 1,000, which is something of a personal crusade at this point having spent a good portion of the season there already.

Knocks, crocks and captain picks

Just to make this week a bit trickier, there are a lot of players who could be out injured. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhães are all doubts for the massive match at the Etihad, although we suspect they’ll all play at least some part against Manchester City. John Stones, Kyle Walker and Kevin de Bruyne are all plausible doubts for the home side in that game.

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Elsewhere there are plenty of popular players who might miss out – Andrew Robertson is a doubt, Harry Maguire is odds against to play a full 90 minutes, Malo Gusto has a knock as does Mohammed Kudus, Darwin Núñez isn’t one hundred percent… basically, this is a week where it will pay to pay close attention to the pre-match press conferences. That list of potential absentees is very far from exhaustive.

For your captain this week, I can’t look beyond Salah. Brighton’s defence is deeply leaky these days and Liverpool have been in fine goalscoring fettle. If you can’t get him in this week, then Ollie Watkins is probably the next best choice. With a tough game on Sunday and some iffy recent form, this is a rare week when I can’t really recommend Haaland as your choice.

3 Added Minutes FC

Finally, a quick and – from my perspective – frustrating look in at our example team, which had a disastrous free hit in the blank gameweeks, an experience shared by many thousands of players in a very weird and unpredictable few days of football.

I somehow contrived to trade a key chip in for 16 whole points, which has seen me drop down to 3,901 overall. Still a great spot to be at all told, but it’s always annoying when well-laid plans fail to come to fruition. Anyway, rather than dwell on that, here’s a look at my pick team screen for next week so I can talk you through my plans for the coming weeks:

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As you can see, I currently have five players who double on GW34, and I’ll have five free transfers between now and then. The plan, then, is to bring in one more Arsenal player, two more from Liverpool and probably two from Wolves over the coming weeks, starting next week – that way I’ll have 10 players on a double and I can hang on to Haaland to make a very strong-looking team for 34, before using my wildcard directly afterwards.

Hopefully that all made a lot of sense – best of luck, and may all of your careful planning work out better than mine did last week…