Time to Free Hit in Gameweek 33?

The Premier League yesterday announced the scheduling of the next batch of fixtures for April and, in doing so, confirmed two more Double Gameweeks. In case you missed it, a summary is here.

Confirmed so far are the following:

  • Gameweek 31: Confirmed doubles for Burnley (MCI/EVE) and Everton (whu/bur)
  • Gameweek 33: Confirmed doubles for Brighton and Hove Albion (tot/mci), Burnley (whu/SOU), Leicester City (new/eve), Manchester United (NOR/liv), Newcastle United (LEI/CPL)

Now, here is where it gets a bit more convoluted.

Gameweek 33 is also the weekend of the FA Cup semi-finals, so the teams that progress in the quarter-finals of that competition are likely to have a blank on that weekend but will still have a ‘single Gameweek’ with a fixture thrown in midweek, as per yesterday’s announcements.

So for the basis of this article, I am going to assume that Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Crystal Palace (all the books’ favorites) will progress.

Based on this assumption, a double for Arsenal (sou/che) and Southampton (ARS/bur) also looks likely, as Man City are strong favorites to overcome the Saints in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The above scenario would also lead to blanks in Gameweek 33 for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds United and Aston Villawhich is tricky given that many of us are loaded up on these teams by virtue of the fact that they play in Gameweek 30.

Initial thoughts

Lukaku injury latest as Rodgers addresses Leicester's poor form 2

My first reaction was that Leicester have to be the team to target with your free transfer(s) in Gameweek 30 as they have a good home fixture against Brentford and are still likely to get two more doubles added in later, depending on how their European campaign goes. However, with the Foxes safe in the league and pretty much out of contention for a European qualifying position, there is a very real danger of them prioritising the UEFA Europa Conference League and resting their star players in the league matches. The fixture congestion is likely to be massive for Brendan Rodgers’ troops after the international break, if they continue in Europe.

Arsenal also appeal with a double against Spurs, which is yet to be scheduled, but this is of course based on the assumption that City overcame Southampton in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Should I Free Hit in Gameweek 33?

Like many of you, I still have my second Free Hit chip left to play. I also have my Wildcard and Bench Boost and will likely not use a chip in Gameweek 30. From what we know so far, Gameweeks 36 and 37 are likely to have doubles thrown in as well – so there is more to be gained from saving the Free Hit for then? Let’s have a closer look.

The above image shows the Fantasy Football Scout Season Ticker ranked by fixture difficulty from Gameweeks 31-33. I used this because if I’m not going to Free Hit, I’m going to be using transfers to bring in players for Double Gameweek 33 and it’s important that they have good entry points. It’s no use if, say, a team with two fixtures in Gameweek 33 faces Liverpool and Man City immediately beforehand.

Keeping in mind the assumptions we mentioned earlier, the teams with the most enticing doubles in Gameweek 33 are Burnley (whu/SOU), Leicester (new/eve) and Newcastle (LEI/CRY). Man Utd’s double isn’t the greatest but the Norwich fixture alone is possibly enough to justify the entry. They also have good fixtures in Gameweeks 31 and 32. Arsenal also have one match away to Chelsea but the Gunners are arguably in better form than the Blues at the minute.

Burnley have an excellent entry point in Double Gameweek 31, despite one fixture being against Man City. The Norwich match in Gameweek 32 is huge for the Clarets. Leicester assets you could bring in for Gameweek 30 and they’re playable in Gameweeks 31 and 32, as well, with Old Trafford hardly a fortress nowdays. The same goes for Arsenal. Newcastle are a bit more dodgy and you really wouldn’t want to bring anyone in until Gameweek 33.

In my opinion, the Free Hit is as much about the players you don’t want as much as the players you do. So it is important to see what fixtures the mainstays in our squad have that week, the likes of Harry Kane (£12.4m), Mohamed Salah (£13.3m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m) etc.

In Gameweek 33, Spurs play Brighton at home, which is a great fixture. Liverpool would travel to Villa, which is alright. Chelsea would face Arsenal at home, which isn’t great, but not many of us are loaded up on Chelsea anyway. I still wouldn’t mind playing Rece James (£6.2m) there, though.

Another exercise I like to do is make a Free Hit team for Gameweek 33 and see how far off it I would be by just using transfers.

GAMEWEEK 33 FREE HIT DRAFT

The above team triples up on Man Utd and Burnley with double-ups on Leicester and Newcastle. Che Adams (£7.0m) would be the only striker I’d want from Saints, given Armando Broja‘s (£5.5m) rotation risk.

The first thing I ask myself: sure, United have a banker in Norwich City, but is someone like Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) necessarily going to outscore Salah, who is away at Villa? Probably – but not definitely.

I won’t go through it position by position but what stands out to me is that I’m basic banking on teams that are not very good. The upside is there but would it surprise me to see Burnley and Newcastle concede in both their games? Nope, it would not, and I would rather play Alexander-Arnold or Joao Cancelo (£6.9m) over any of the three I have selected in defence, even with a single Gameweek fixture.

I think the main targets from this team can be got with free transfers. Harvey Barnes (£6.5m) might come in for Gameweek 30, while Raul Jimenez (£7.6m) could be moved to Wout Weghorst (£6.5m) in Gameweek 31. Then there is the sideways Kane to Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.2m) move in Gameweek 32 and the switch from Rafinha (£6.5m) to Ryan Fraser (£5.3m) in Gameweek 33. Most of us are already stacked on Arsenal anyway so while they might not be the ideal doublers, they’re still doublers. Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1m) can easily outscore David de Gea (£5.2m) or Nick Pope (£5.4m), for instance.

The fixtures are not great in Gameweek 34 for many of the doublers, however, and if you don’t have a Wildcard in hand, it can get a little tricky. It’s not all bad, though: in Gameweeek 34, Newcastle have Norwich, Burnley face Wolves. Leicester meet Villa, and Arsenal host United.

So the obvious question is – when else could I Free Hit?

OTHER GAMEWEEKS TO FREE HIT

Points shared at Selhurst Park as Cancelo receives maximum FPL bonus 5

I think it is worth saving the Free Hit for one of the Double Gameweeks in 36/37, depending on how they pan out.

This, of course, is entirely contingent on the favorites progressing in the FA Cup. If, say, Man City do go out of the competition this weekend, then the picture changes completely with a City triple-up for their Double Gameweek 33 becoming a no-brainer.

Based on the current information, I think it is worth planning to tackle Gameweek 33 without a Free Hit. If the situation changes, however, we can adapt to it and switch strategy.

We will be discussing this in detail on tomorrow’s FPL Wire episode, so join us here.



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