Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 31: wildcards, injuries and transfer tips as Man City face Aston Villa

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Our high-flying manager offers his advice, captain picks and transfer ideas ahead of Gameweek 31 in the FPL.

Welcome back to our regular Fantasy Premier League hints and transfer tips column. We’ll soon be handing you over to our Top 3,000 FPL coach so that he can offer up all of his advice ahead of Gameweek 31, but first – we need to sound the Surprise Midweek Gameweek Klaxon.

We know a lot of people miss unexpected midweek gameweeks from time to time, so please be aware that there is a full slate of games going on from Tuesday to Thursday and the deadline is 18:00 BST, ahead of five Premier League matches. Please don’t forget. Anyway, without further ado, over to Matthew…

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Transfer tips as Liverpool, Arsenal & Man City eye easy runs

So I know a lot of people who stumble across this column will want to get some hints on how to use their remaining free hits and wildcards – and you’ll be glad to know I covered that last week, so I’ll try not to go over too much old ground here.

What I will do is basically split my transfer advice into two sections – tips for people who are planning to use a chip on the double gameweek in GW34, and tips for those who aren’t and need to get as many players in for that week as possible. Last week’s advice column will help you to decide which camp you’re in, hopefully.

For those who are using a chip (likely a free hit) for GW34, your job is probably to focus on getting good players in for the doubles after that, and that means Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur players first and foremost as they have two doubles coming up.

And this is a good time to bring players from both sides into the fold. Spurs play West Ham away and Nottingham Forest at home before their fixture difficulty ramps up considerably, so this is as good a time as any to bring Son Heung-Min into your team, while Chelsea face Manchester United, Sheffield United and Everton over the next three weeks. If you somehow still don’t have Cole Palmer, correct that mistake sooner rather than later.

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Manchester City players are the other priority – they will almost certainly double up in GW37 and while their upcoming game against Aston Villa at the Etihad isn’t easy by any means, they have a lot of very straightforward-looking fixtures after that. Moving to triple City should be a no-brainer if you’re free-hitting in 34.

In theory, Newcastle United players should be on the shopping list too, but beyond Alexander Isak I must admit to a degree of uncertainty over who will actually get points for them. Their form is so up and down and the team so bedevilled by injuries that it’s hard to get a clear read on them. I’m in no rush to pick up Manchester United or Brighton players despite their doubles down the road – do that later.

So I’d say Son, Palmer, Manchester City’s best players and Isak are the priority signings. Any you don’t have should be in your team as quickly as possible. For players who aren’t using a chip to get through GW34, however, the priorities are very different.

The most important thing for those players is getting up to triple Arsenal and Liverpool by the time 34 rolls around. Both have juicy fixtures this week – at home to Luton Town and Sheffield United respectively – but I’d edge towards Liverpool players given the choice. Mohamed Salah is an urgent priority at this point as his price will be rising (and indeed that process has already started). Beyond that, injuries make things a little awkward, but if ever there was a time to gamble on the perennially frustrating Darwin Núñez, it’s now.

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That’s doubly true with a chance that Ollie Watkins is injured and out after he came off at half-time over the weekend with a possible hamstring issue – and in any case, Villa have some very hard games coming up. This is probably the moment to finally part ways with one of the best FPL assets of the season.

As for Arsenal players, Bukayo Saka and at least one of William Saliba or Gabriel is probably a requisite, but you can take your pick otherwise – Ben White, Martin Ødegaard and Kai Havertz are all great shouts depending on whether you need defenders or midfielders more.

The other teams doubling up in 34 are less interesting right now, either because of fixture difficulty or injuries – Wolves’ best players, for instance, are mostly crocked, so they’re the last players you should be looking at. Move on Arsenal and Liverpool now and worry about the rest later.

Injury alarms and captaincy calls

There were quite a few players who went down this weekend, so this is definitely a week to keep an extra close eye on press conferences and media reports. As well as Watkins, who is the most significant possible absentee, Malo Gusto, Nathan Aké, Alphonse Areola, Alfie Doughty, Miguel Almirón and Jamal Lascelles all picked up knocks or worse, with Lascelles out for the season.

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Saka also came off with “fatigue” as Mikel Arteta put it, so he might not play a full 90 minutes against Luton, but we’d expect him to play at least some part. Anthony Gordon, meanwhile, is suspended for one game. That’s a lot of knocks to work around, so pay close attention.

As for the captaincy, I’m once again strongly recommending Salah. I don’t blame anyone for going with Saka or Erling Haaland, but between fitness and form concerns, Salah is the clear winner. For players who aren’t buying into GW34 and don’t have or want Salah, it’s probably a toss-up between Isak, Haaland and Palmer.

3 Added Minutes FC

Lastly for today’s column, let’s have a quick check-in on my example team, which picked up a very respectable 68 points to get a green arrow up into the Top 3,000. One step closer to my goal of getting back into the Top 1,000 for the end of the season…

Fantasy Premier League

As I’m planning to wildcard after GW34 and my free hit is already gone, I’ll be moving towards Arsenal and Liverpool players as per my own advice. That almost certainly means the end of Watkins, and I think I’m prepared to roll the dice on Darwin – not something I normally want to do, but probably right under these circumstances.

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Elsewhere, I’ll likely move for a defender, with Ezri Konsa likely to make way given Villa’s fixtures. I’ve got the cash for either White or Saliba, so I’ll most likely go for one of those two. That’s all for this week – best of luck and may you all avoid the next round of crippling injuries. And not forget to sort your teams out before Tuesday evening.

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