Football

FANTEAM GAMEWEEK 31 FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE MONSTER

GAMEWEEK 31 EPL MONSTER – €30k PRIZE POOL

It’s gameweek 31, and after a brief hiatus in gameweek 30, the EPL Monster is back with a bang!

This week’s Monster contest features two buy-ins, €2 and €20. The difference in the contests is of course the prize pool at stake. In the low entry, the prize pool sits at €7,000. A massive €30,000 is up for grabs in the high entry, with €3,000 awarded to first place!

THE RULES

If this is your first time playing in an EPL Monster contest, allow me to break down some of the key details you need to know. This week’s contest features 9 fixtures, starting with the 3pm kick offs on Saturday and concluding with Monday night football, as Spurs take on Everton at 8pm.

The rules are simple to follow. You will be required to pick 11 players to fill out your squad whilst staying within a budget of 106.0m. For each team you enter, you must select a captain and a vice captain. Your captain will score 2x points. However, in the event that your captain does not play, your vice captain will then score 2x points.

You can select a maximum of 3 players from the same team. It is worth noting that if you select two or more defensive players from the same team (GK and DEF), and the team keeps a clean sheet, a stacking penalty will apply. For example, if you select Hugo Lloris from Spurs and he keeps a clean sheet, no penalty will apply. However, if you also start Sergio Reguilon, you will be deducted 1 point. If you were to stack Lloris, Reguilon and Doherty, you will be deducted 2 points.

No bench required in this contest. Instead, you have the innovative safety net feature to fall back on! This means if you have a player who does not start, your player will be replaced at the beginning of the match. This is dependent on a player being available from the same team, at the same price or less. The closest price to your player value will be automatically selected. 

This is a great tool to use, as it allows you to start a player with confidence. If your player doesn’t start, his replacement is already determined. Teams that rotate heavily like Manchester City are a prime example of how the safety net feature can benefit you in your selection process.

Standard scoring applies to this contest.

With the rules covered, let’s take a look at this weeks’ fixtures.

THE GAMES

Wolves vs Aston Villa (02/04 – 3pm KO)

One of the toughest games of the week to call. Wolves had a couple of impressive defensive performances, followed by a poor showing against Leeds. Aston Villa had strung together a few good wins and positive goal scoring performances, before losing two on the bounce to West Ham and Arsenal. No shame in that though this season, hey?

The pricing in this one mirrors the difficulty in picking a winner. Players from both sides are priced very similarly throughout all of the positions. Really tough to call. Wolves attacking assets are priced a little too high for me, given their inconsistencies in front of goal. 

I fancy Aston Villa to at the very least find the net, which puts me off Wolves’ defensive assets this week. So with that in mind, Villa’s most potent attacker by far at the moment is Philippe Countinho (9.1m). In the past 5 gameweeks, he has taken 14 shots (6 more than Ings and Watkins) and has made 7 key passes. Key passes don’t always correlate directly to assists, but the fact Coutinho is finding himself in these positions to make plays adds to his appeal. Lucas Digne (6.9m) is one worth closely monitoring. He has had 18 crosses and 4 key passes in the past 5 gameweeks. Matty Cash (7.4m) has out performed Digne in this period points wise, but Digne has the better underlying stats which should lead to chance conversion sooner or later. As this game is a 3pm KO on Saturday, you will know the line ups, so just keep an eye on Digne’s status.

Burnley vs Manchester City (02/04 – 3pm KO)

The highest priced players this week unsurprisingly come from Manchester City. Despite being top of the league, they had a blip last time out, drawing against Crystal Palace in their last game. They’ll be looking to bounce back against Burnley, who are fighting for their place in the Premier League once again. 

Burnley haven’t scored against Manchester City in their last 5 attempts (4 in the league, one in the EFL cup). The aggregate score over that period is 17-0 in favour of City. Rather damning of Burnley’s chances here. I expect the City assets to be highly owned this week, So you are likely only going to fit two in your line up. Given Burnley’s record against them, I’m inclined to start a City defender. Joao Cancelo (12.3m) makes perfect sense. The attacking full back has had more crosses than anyone not named Kevin De Bruyne (14.2m) in the past 5 weeks, and that’s mainly due to De Bruyne’s corner and free kick duties! 

Speaking of which, I think if i were to have any City assets outside of their defense, De Bruyne is the one i would target. Burnley can be a tough team to break down, so that little bit of extra spark De Bruyne can provide may well be the key to unlocking Burnley’s often stout defense. With this one being another early kick off, It’s great that we won’t be stung by some classic Pep Guardiola rotation.

Chelsea vs Brentford (02/04 – 3pm KO)

If Manchester City assets are a little too pricey for you and out of range, a small drop in price will lead you to Chelsea. They’re a team in great form at the moment, winning their last 5 whilst only conceding one goal during that stretch. Brentford had a couple of wins before falling to Leicester last time out. Their wins did come against Burnley and Norwich, so approach Brentford with caution.

I really like the Chelsea defense here. Reece James (12.2m) is still fairly fresh off his injury lay off, but we know what he’s capable of when he starts. Surprisingly, Antonio Rüdiger (11.0m) has had more shots in the last 5 weeks than the likes of Pulisic, ziyech and Werner. This goes to show his threat on set pieces. I love the pricing here and wouldn’t be against a double up if you can manage it.

Kai Havertz (13.5m) has turned his fortunes around in recent weeks, with 4 goals and an assist in his last 5 matches. It took some time for Havertz to find his feet at Chelsea and in the Premier League, but he’s now showing the attacking instinct that made him such a popular player in the Bundesliga. I think Havertz is my banker play of the week. Play him, and maybe even pop the captain armband on him!

Leeds vs Southampton (02/04 – 3pm KO)

This is another game that feels in the balance, much like the Wolves and Villa match. Southampton are a team out of form, losing their last 3 league games. Leeds have won their last two, and are starting to show signs of life in their bid to escape the relegation battle.

I think there’ll be goals in this one, so the defenses do not appeal at all. From an attacking perspective, Raphinha (10.1m) is the obvious pick of the bunch here. He missed the Wolves match due to a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, so that’s something to monitor. Following the illness, it’s possible he doesn’t start or may not get the full 90 minutes you may expect. I would love Joe Gelhardt (8.5m) to get the start, as he’s a much cheaper way into Leeds attack. However, if that isn’t the case, I also like the pivot to Rodrigo (8.9m). He has found the back of the net 3 times since gameweek 26 and his team high 11 shots during that time are eye catching indeed.

On the opposite side, I find myself once again gravitating towards James Ward-Prowse (9.7m). He has been in this column several times for me in recent times. I can’t ignore the fact he’s created 5 big chances in the past 5 games. He has 50 total crosses during that time, of which 17 have been accurate crosses. The chance creation is clearly there for the talismanic midfielder. Southampton’s dip in form hasn’t helped him, but he has still managed to be creative in his own right. Stuart Armstrong (8.0m) has also been rather attacking of late. He’s registered 14 shots in the past 5 gameweeks. Though, only two of these were on target, one of which he scored. The chances nevertheless, are there for him.

Brighton vs Norwich (02/04 – 3pm KO)

I think if any of the games in this slate fail to whet the appetite, it’s this one! It’s likely to be the game with the lowest ownership, as I don’t think anyone will want to own any of the Norwich players. They look as good as relegated at this stage, currently 8 points adrift of safety.

You would think that with this being the case, Brighton assets would be appealing. Then you see the pricing, and I’m fairly certain it will put you off! Brighton have actually lost their last 6 games, and only managed 1 goal in that stretch. Their goal drought is severe enough to put anyone off of the likes of Leandro Trossard (11.6m) and Neal Maupay (12.0m). Especially at the price. You can pay almost the same to own a Chelsea player, which I’d much rather do if I’m honest. 

If I was to own anyone in this match, I’d target the Brighton defenders. Specifically Lewis Dunk (9.6m), who is always a threat from set pieces and recently found himself on the scoresheet against Newcastle. Concerningly for Brighton, he’s had only 2 less shots than Trossard and Maupay since gameweek 26. That tells you all you need to know about the state of the Brighton attack at the moment. Hard pass for me i think, this game.

Manchester United vs Leicester (02/04 – 5.30pm KO)

This one promises goals, surely. Neither of these two teams have been particularly good defensively this season, and both are capable of scoring goals on any given Saturday as it were.

Leicester are probably the strangest team in the league this season, week to week. However, given they’re up against an inconsistent Manchester United this week, I’m happy to take a look at some of their attacking potential. Jamie Vardy looks set to miss out with injury, paving the way for one of Patson Daka (7.0m) or Kelechi Iheanacho (6.9m) to start up top. Given this is a 5.30pm KO, the safe money is to go with Daka, and if he doesn’t play, safety net will bring in Iheanacho. There’s also some fair pricing in Leicester’s midfield. James Maddison (7.6m) is well worth a punt at the price. I do like the pivot to Harvey Barnes (7.3m), with Youri Tielemens (6.8m) as his safety net. Nobody in Leicester colours has taken more shots since gameweek 26, and he’s always looking to shoot first, pass second.

Manchester United’s pricing really puts me off. Leicester is not a “gimme”, and for the same price, I have much more faith in Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs and even Arsenal this week. If I were to go there, though, I really like the price of Jadon Sancho (11.9m). Since gameweek 26, he’s joint with Paul Pogba (11.4m) in terms of big chances created (3) and also has 3 assists to his name in that time. Though not as prominent in terms of goals when compared with Ronaldo (12.9m) and Fernandes (13.1m), he has also scored during that period. The popular ownership is likely to be with Ronaldo and/or Fernandes, so if you want to be a bit different, Sancho is a good pivot. 

West Ham vs Everton (03/04 – 2pm KO)

Everton really needs to put some points on the board, and fast. They’re now only 3 points clear of the relegation zone, and they have some vitaly important games coming up. This Sunday, they continue their survival fight against West Ham. Unfortunately for the blues, I don’t think this is where the points will start to flow.

West Ham’s form has been a bit patchy of late, but not enough to put me off them this week. Michail Antonio (11.3m) is an obvious inclusion. Though the goals have dried up of late for the big Jamaican, he hasn’t been shy in front of goal, taking 12 shots in his last 5 games. The big chances just aren’t falling for him currently, but Everton do present a much easier defensive test for him than he has faced in recent weeks (spurs, Villa, Liverpool to name a few). 

Sadly for West Ham, the talismanic Jarrod Bowen looks set to miss out again with injury as this game comes a little too soon for him. The rest of the West Ham midfield is a bit of a crowded pool, with starts and scoring returns hard to predict. My instinct is telling me to avoid that area of their team entirely and switch to their defense. Aaron Cresswell (8.1m) is priced very nicely in my opinion, significantly less than the West Ham midfielders which adds to the appeal. He once again provides assist and clean sheet potential, especially given Everton’s form in front of goal. As mentioned in previous weeks, he tends to take a share of the corners, and is normally on the free kick duties. Ben Johnson’s (7.7m) chance creation stats are also quite pleasing, but be mindful that Vladimir Coufal (7.9m) could be returning any day now.

Spurs vs Newcastle (03/04 – 4.30pm KO)

Two teams showing signs of a resurgence in the second half of the season. Especially Spurs, who have won 4 of their last 5 games, scoring 16 goals in that time span. Newcastle had found some form, but two consecutive losses at the hands of Chelsea and Everton has likely dented the confidence and pride of the Magpies a little.

Spurs players are my favourite this week, I think. Harry Kane (12.9m) has 6 goals in his last 5 appearances, and looks like vintage Kane again after a fairly slow start to his campaign. He’s more than just a goal scorer, though. He’s also had 3 assists in his last 5 games and is second only to Dejan Kulusevski (11.7m) for big chances created. He’s another player I have my eye on this week. Kulusevski has been in fine form of late, too. Two goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games show how involved he’s getting in Spurs’ attacks. Of course, Heung-Min Son (12.7m) is also very appealing, with very similar returns I might add. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of the Spurs attackers i feel in this one.

If you fancy Spurs to concede, and budget is an issue for you, Ryan Fraser (6.7m) was instrumental in Newcastle’s recent good run of results. You get volume with Fraser, he creates chances due to his high volume of crosses and the style of football Newcastle play. He has had 2 assists in his last 4 appearances. He’s probably the only Newcastle player i’d look to own this week, but he does create a good game stack if you’re throwing in a couple of the Spurs assets.

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (04/04 – 8pm KO)

Arsenal didn’t look anything like a top 4 team earlier in the season. But since the new year, they’ve only lost twice in the Premier League. That was against Liverpool and Manchester City, no shame there certainly. Even in those losses, Arsenal showed how far they have come under Mikel Arteta. Crystal Palace are having a, well, a Crystal Palace kind of season I suppose you could say! They’ve only lost 3 times in 2022, their losses coming against some of the best teams the League has to offer. So on paper, this is a tough one to call.

With Palace being a little bit thin on the ground due to some of their mounting injuries, Arsenal would be my preference. Bukayo Saka (10.7m) feels like he could be the bargain of the week at this price. I mentioned several weeks ago that he takes more shots than anyone for Arsenal, and news flash, nothing has changed. He’s converting though, that’s the key. 3 goals in his last 5 appearances, with an assist to boot. 

I also really like Martin Odegaard (10.0m) who has had 14 key passes in the last 5 games, but no big chances created. That likely won’t continue, some of the key passes will soon begin to convert into big chances and likely, assists. I think because of the pricing, you can comfortably afford 2 of the Arsenal attackers this week and still put together a very balanced line up. Don’t ignore their defense at the price either.

TEAM REVEAL

With this being a multi entry contest, this is just an example of one of the number of line ups I will enter.

I’ll probably enter this line up twice, and flip the captaincy around between Harry Kane and Kai Havertz.

I have opted to go with a Chelsea and Spurs stack as my team’s spine. They’re priced slightly less than Manchester City players, so they allow me to fit the remaining targets into my line up. I’m not wholly convinced by the Coutinho pick, as I do think that game could go either way. But giving him the benefit of the doubt based on his underlying stats. 

Lucas Digne, Ryan Fraser and Harvey Barnes are all cheap necessities to make the line up possible, but all have the potential to contribute. Kasper Schmeichel is a bit of a throw away pick, as he could concede a few if Manchester United come out firing. He’ll likely face a lot of shots, so the save points could rack up. He’s super cheap, and it’s a position I’d rather not dedicate much budget toward.

Best of luck for the Gameweek 31 EPL Monster contest, I hope to see you on that leaderboard!

Nick Owen

Twitter (@nickofwigan)

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

If you’re new to FanTeam then you’ll need to create a new account here – alternatively, head on over to fanteam.com and click the green ‘Register’ button in the top right corner.

Existing users can click the graphic below for direct access to the weekly monster or head on over to the GW31 lobby.

Best of luck for the Gameweek 31 EPL Monster contest!

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