Though we’re going into the second set of games in DGW34 (with seemingly many a wasted Bench Boost chip…), another fairly highly anticipated game week is on the horizon in GW35. It’s highly anticipated seeing as it’s another blank game week – only 6 matches are on the cards, with sides like Chelsea, United and Spurs all blanking due to FA Cup commitments. 

Due to this, a lot of people have saved up their Free Hit chip for this gameweek, allowing you to make as many changes as you like without taking any points hits, just for one gameweek. There’ll be a bit more info on that later on.

With this in mind, it’s worth having a look at the 12 sides playing in GW35 and the top prospects for our prospective free hit sides. 

Btw, just skip to the bottom if you want the names of the players that are worth looking at, as well as a few draft teams. Keep reading if you bloody love some #stats.

How Does the Free Hit Chip Work?

The Free Hit chip is a new addition to the game as of the 17/18 season, and essentially gives you a one-week wildcard, allowing you to make as many changes to your team as you’d like – all without taking any points hits. The value of the team you bring in is dictated by the selling value of your current players.

Once the gameweek is over, your team will return to how it was prior to when you activated the free hit chip. All free transfers will be used by this, meaning you can’t save a free transfer, activate the chip, then have 2 FT’s the following gameweek – once the chip has been used, you’re back to a single FT for the following week.

It comes in particularly handy for gameweeks like this, where a number of teams are blanking, meaning that a large selection of top players don’t have a fixture. It can’t really be played to build team value, as you possibly would with a wildcard. It’s essentially a one-week Hail Mary.

The BGW35 Fixtures

Seeing as there are only 12 teams playing in BGW35, it’s worth having a look through them and identifying the key players that should be on the radar this week, as well as any potential issues facing these sides.

West Brom vs Liverpool

The first of three headlining sides in BGW35 is Liverpool. They’ve been flying recently, scoring goals for fun while also working towards rectifying their defensive issues, keeping 5 clean sheets in their last 8 Premier League games, coinciding with Van Dijk’s run in the team since signing in January. 

The choices here, in an ideal world, are fairly straightforward. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, possibly the aforementioned Virgil Van Dijk. That being said, there’s a potential spanner in the works: the Champions League.

Liverpool face Roma in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the first leg taking place just 3 days after the fixture against West Brom in GW35. Due to this, we may see some rotation from Klopp, or at least some limited minutes for their key players.

It’s worth keeping an eye on this. Luckily, one big favourite of the FPL community has been Anfield Express, a Twitter account that provides team news for Liverpool prior to their next match. They’ll actually tweet out the starting XI a day or two prior to the match, which could prove invaluable here. 

In terms of West Brom options, though they may have beaten United at Old Trafford, they should be avoided. Unless, that is, if you fancy going for Jay Rodriguez, who’s got 2 in his past 2 games, and scored twice against Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup. Could lightning strike twice? Stranger things have happened…

Man City vs Swansea

This fixture looked a lot tastier before West Brom decided to win the title for City by beating United this past weekend, as a victory here would have done the job instead.

That being said, Man City may well look to treat this as a bit of a party. The first game at home after being crowned champions, looking to break scoring and points records – they could run riot. Due to the records being chased, as well as the lack of other competitions to contend with, they really should be playing a full-strength team, at least for the most part.

Looking at Pep’s time at Bayern, they won the league with plenty of time to spare in his first season, with him essentially putting on a full-strength side each week thereafter. The following season, he put out a few kids in the last few matches, going on a poor run of results.

Bayern End of Season Results

Credit: Transfermarkt 

The season after, his final one at Bayern, they won the league with only one game remaining – a home game where they put out a full-strength side. There’s a good chance, especially without any other commitments, that it’ll be essentially the first-string lineup from here on.

That means the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are prime options. David Silva is a different case due to him spending time with his family, so he may not play every game. Kevin de Bruyne could also potentially miss the odd game considering how much he’s played this year, as we saw against United.

Here’s an overview of these four since gameweek 29:

Man City Players - FPL Stats

Silva has provided the higher number of returns, though Sterling and Sane’s shots particularly stand out, especially Sterling considering his somewhat limited minutes after missing out on the Chelsea match in GW29. I’m currently opting for Sterling and Sane myself.

Gabriel Jesus is the standout pick, though, especially considering that Aguero has just undergone surgery and will be out for a month, leaving Jesus as the only natural option up front. He doesn’t really return in hauls, but the boy is consistent. He he starts up front, there’s a good chance that he’ll score. Aguero’s injury also makes him a prime option for DGW37.

With Swansea… I wouldn’t really bother here, either. Maybe Fabianksi if you’d absolutely love some save points.

Arsenal vs West Ham 

The final of the three main headliners is Arsenal. They’re a tricky one, considering how much they’ve prioritised the Europa League recently, seeing them trot out some very weakened lineups in the league, with the likes of Willock, Holding, Nketiah and Maitland-Niles getting minutes recently.

Arsenal XI vs Newcastle 2018

Arsenal’s lineup vs Newcastle. Credit: WhoScored

When it comes to Arsenal’s fixtures, this game takes place 4 days prior to their Europa League semi-final against tournament favourites Atletico Madrid. With this in mind, it’s likely that we’ll see key players rested again, though there’s one exception: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

As we know, he’s cup-tied in Europe and is ineligible for their Europa League games, meaning that he’ll continue to start in the league, even with a lesser supporting cast. He’s returned in 6 of the 8 matches he’s played in the league since joining, scoring 6 and assisting 2. He’s bordering on must-own if you’re breaking out the free hit chip this week.

In terms of other Arsenal attacking options, it’s difficult to predict who will play considering their Europa League commitments. With their defensive rotation, weakened midfield and the general concept of Skhodran Mustafi, banking on a clean sheet may be difficult in this one.

They’ve kept 2 clean sheets in their last 10 games, with both coming at home against weaker sides, though West Ham have got a bit more quality than the Watford and Stoke sides that struggled previously. If you do fancy an Arsenal defender, the aforementioned Mustafi would have to be the one, considering him being more nailed on due to Koscielny’s Europa League rotation.

In terms of West Ham options, a standout would be Marko Arnautovic. He’s done well this season for West Ham, scoring 9 and assisting 5 more, often playing OOP (out of position) as a striker, though listed as a 7m midfielder in FPL. Playing up front, he’s scored 7 and assisted 3 in 11 games in all competitions.

There’s also one absolute wildcard shout. Not the chip, the Charlie Kelly-style wildcard: Andy Carroll. He’s just come back from injury, and scored in the 90th minute to equalise against Stoke. If you fancy a third striker on the cheap and want an absolute punt, you could do worse. You could do better, but you could also do worse.

Everton vs Newcastle

Everton host the 2nd-most in-form team over the past 5 gameweeks in the form of Newcastle, who have won their last 4 games in a row, conceding just twice during that time.

It’s really worth bearing this in mind, seeing as on paper, seeing NEW (H) under a player’s name in your team looks damn good. That’s probably not the case right now.

In terms of Newcastle options, a few of their players have really picked up in form – the pick of the bunch being Ayoze Perez. He’s never been much of a goalscorer, only breaking 10 league goals once in his career so far, with that being in the Spanish second division. He’s managed to score in the past 3 games for Newcastle, notching 2 assists as well as 7 bonus points. He also represents a solid, cheap punt in the third striker slot, priced at just 5.3m.

DeAndre Yedlin is also an option in what is likely to be a low scoring game – a 4.4m defender who has 2 clean sheets and an assist to his name in the past 4 games.

For Everton, the primary option here would probably be England’s likely #1 for the World Cup, Jordan Pickford. Everton sit in 7th in the home form table, with them generally doing well against similar/lesser teams at home. Pickford has done well in terms of FPL this season, sitting 5th in overall points, 3rd for bonus points, and 2nd for overall BPS.

Though Newcastle have been solid, an attacking option for Everton could be Yannick Bolasie. His returns have been minimal since returning to the side from a very lengthy injury, but his stats in the last 5 games have been rather decent, with 14 shots during that time – 7 coming in the box.

Cheap Midfielder FPL Stats

Shots over the last 4 gameweeks. Credit: Fantasy Football Fix

Watford vs Crystal Palace

Not the most glamorous fixture here, but we see Watford hosting Crystal Palace in a match where options are rather slim.

Palace are the form side here, winning 2 and drawing 1 of their last 4. Watford, on the other hand, have been awful recently, as they’re without a win in their last 5 games, losing 4 of them.

There’s one absolute standout option in this match: Wilfried Zaha. Palace’s talisman has hit the ground running after missing a few games through injury, with 3 goals and 2 assists in the 5 games he’s played since returning, including a 14-point haul in GW34, outscoring most DGW midfielders. As you can see from the Shots/Shots From Open Play graphs above, he’s been very active in front of goal recently as well, with him playing up front alongside Andros Townsend. He’s priced at 6.9m and owned by 5.4% of players – if you’re looking for a 4th mid, or even a 5th mid in a huge 3-5-2 side, he’s absolutely worth a shout.

Another option from Palace’s side would be Luka Milivojevic. His stats aren’t outstanding, but he’s been unbelievable in terms of FPL returns recently, with 3 goals and 2 assists in his past 4 games – all from defensive midfield! He’s on set pieces and, most importantly, penalties. Palace have won the most penalties in the league this season, and this lad keeps tucking them away.

Defensively, James Tompkins is a solid shout at just 4.3m, with him being a good goalscoring threat at set pieces.

On the other side, Watford don’t really offer too many options. I think this recent /r/fantasypl Reddit post says it all:

FantasyPL Watford Players GW35

One possible choice would be Kiko Femenia, a 4.3m defender in FPL that’s been playing on the right wing for Watford recently. He’ll likely make my side, though maybe as just bench fodder.

Stoke vs Burnley

Finally, we’ve got Stoke vs Burnley. The hosts have been poor recently, but Burnley have been superb – they’re the most in-form team in the Premier League having won their past 5 games!

In terms of options from Burnley, it’s always their defence that springs to mind. That being said, while their defence has been strong in terms of the volume of goals they’ve conceded, they’ve not really been keeping clean sheets, with just TWO clean sheets in their last 15 games.

Of their 5 consecutive wins, they’ve won 4 of them by a scoreline of 2-1. It’s probably still worth having a Burnley defensive option in there somewhere, considering how awful Stoke are in terms of scoring goals – they’ve managed just 18 goals in 17 home games this season. Kevin Long is the standout here, deputising for Ben Mee who’s ruled out by injury. He’s priced at 4.0m and has been the king of the bench fodder this season, though he’s managed a goal and an assist in his past 2 games since coming back into the side.

Going forward, Chris Wood is the one to go for. He fits Burnley like a glove, and has managed 9 league goals while missing a good portion of the season through injury. He’s also managed 5 goals in his last 5 games, claiming max bonus points on 3 separate occasions.

Looking at Stoke, they’ve lost 4 of their past 5 games, scoring 3 goals and conceding 10, though they’ve had a rough run of fixtures.

Shaqiri is the standout choice going forward, with 2 assists in the past 2 games. There’s not much quality elsewhere in the side, with Shaqiri also taking set pieces, and possibly penalties. He also loves a banger from long range – something which Burnley welcome as they tend to invite sides to take these lower percentage chances.

Bauer is also a potential option, with him being similar to Kiko Femenia – a cheap defender that’s playing on the right wing.

BGW35 Options: TL;DR 

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Wayne Hennessey, Nick Pope

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Shkodran Mustafi, Matt Lowton, Aymeric Laporte, James Tompkins, Kevin Long, Kiko Femenia, DeAndre Yedlin, Phil Jagielka, James Tompkins

Midfielders: Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Wilfried Zaha, Marko Arnautovic, Luka Milivojevic, Xherdan Shaqiri

Forwards: Gabriel Jesus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Roberto Firmino, Chris Wood, Ayoze Perez

Here are a few recent drafts, team news from Anfield Express pending:

FPL GW35 Free Hit Team

FPL GW35 Free Hit Team #2

Credit: Fantasy Football Fix 

Who have you got your eye on for BGW35?