Don’t say I didn’t warn you. For the better part of two weeks, I’ve cautioned you, dear reader, that something wicked was approaching and would unleash its fury come Gameweek 31. Because we humans are highly susceptible to procrastination, I’m sure that less than 5% of us have unshakable confidence heading into Saturday, while 95% of us are in a state of utter panic.
In this very special Togga Player Picks article, my objective is to move you from the panic camp to the side of those with unshakable confidence.
Step One: Who’s Playing Whom?
This Gameweek is disrupted by FA Cup ties. As a result, only eight teams will play this Saturday, meaning that we have a very limited player pool to round out our Perfect XI lineups and especially our head-to-head draft league XIs.
Here is the full list of games to choose from:
- Bournemouth v West Brom
- Huddersfield v Crystal Palace
- Stoke v Everton
- Liverpool v Watford (Late game)
That is it, my friends.
Step Two: What to do in your Togga draft league?
If you are fortunate, you have enough players from the select few teams listed above that you can field a minimum of 7-8 players. Given that your opposition is highly unlikely to be able to field anywhere close to a full XI, fielding a lineup with 7-8 players should earn you the win in this Gameweek’s head-to-head.
Most competitive teams, however, are not likely to have too many players from these teams except maybe Liverpool and the odd Everton or Bournemouth player. In order to get to 7-8 players, decisions will need to be made, and players from better teams (that aren’t featuring in GW 31) will have to be cut.
In managing my own team, I picked an “essential XI” I want to protect for the rest of the season, and then I cut my entire bench to pick up free agents from teams featuring in GW 31. More specifically, I bid farewell to Olivier Giroud, Cesc Fabregas, Victor Moses and James Ward-Prowse. In exchange, I added free agents Yannick Bolasie, Alex Pritchard, Matt Phillips and Lewis Cook. Most of these players should be available in most Togga draft leagues except very deep 12-team leagues.
Our dear NMA colleague Chris Manfredi, who is also in the Togga league where I participate, has employed a similar strategy, jettisoning the likes of Alvaro Morata to pick up free agents such as Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Chris Brunt and Salomon Rondon.
In case you are wondering, my plan is to roll out a 9-player lineup, one that most likely looks like this:
- G: Jordan Pickford — my season-long goalie
- D: Virgil van Dijk — rostered all season long
- D: Craig Dawson — picked up in trade 5 weeks ago
- M: Junior Stanislas — free agent about a month ago;
- M: Alex Pritchard — added three weeks ago;
- M: Matt Phillips — added a week ago
- M: Lewis Cook — added this week
- F: Troy Deeney — added a month or so ago
- F: Yannick Bolasie — Deputizing for Gylfi Sigurdsson
Do I love this team? Nope, but it is an honest team and it is a good team given what’s available in free agency. This strategy also allows me to keep all of my preferred XI going into the final weeks of the season.
My advice? Look at your bench and look at who’s available in free agency. Decide if you want to take a punt on the GW or if you want to go for the win. My preference is to ALWAYS go for the win!
Step Three: Togga Perfect XI Player Picks
I’m no genius, but methinks Liverpool players will be very popular this week. There could be many, many, many Perfect XI teams that could be a ‘Pool-full stacks. I never like full-stacks, and this GW is no different. I like a challenge, and I’ve spent the entire week thinking about what unheralded players will get the call for my Perfect XI 4-4-2 lineup this Saturday.
Here’s where my thinking stands currently:
G: Jack Butland
Toss up with Pickford, but Butland is at home, and he has put up big numbers in Togga even when he concedes a goal or three. It’s a showdown to determine who will wear England’s No1 shirt at the World Cup, and I expect both keepers to have inspired performances. You won’t go wrong with either one!
D: Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson; Christopher Schindler; Craig Dawson; Seamus Coleman; Adam Smith or Nathan Ake
I’m pretty sure I will roll with VvD and Robertson. I also like Craig Dawson and Coleman. A Huddersfield full back is not a bad decision, and managers are unlikely to regret selecting a Bournemouth defender.
M: Sadio Mane; Junior Stanislas; Xherdan Shaqiri; Wilfried Zaha and/or Andros Townsend
Mane, Zaha (if he starts) and Stanislas (he’s been on fire the past few weeks!) are guaranteed picks. The final decision comes between Shaqiri and Townsend. Most likely I’ll go with Shaqiri if Zaha starts.
F: Mo Salah and/or Roberto Firmino; Salomon Rondon; Steve Mounie; Troy Deeney; Cenk Tosun
Most PXI teams will select Salah and Firmino. If you are choosing only one, Firmino has been a little more consistent than Salah lately, with huge recency bias given Salah’s disappearing act in GW 30 (one point?!?). I still trust Salah a shade more than Firmino, so I will select the Egyptian if he starts. For my other forward spot, I’d like to pick a differential. Rondon has been far better in Togga scoring than in real life, so he seems a good choice. Huddersfield’s aerial duels point-magnet Mounie is a close second. It will come down to the wire for this Fwd-2 pick!
Given my indecision, let me take a quick poll to see what my strategy should be at the Forward position!
What is the best strategy for the two forward spots in GW 31 Togga Perfect XI?
This poll is closed
The Liverpool Stack (Salah and Firmino)
Salah and a differential
Firmino and a differential
No Liverpool forwards!
And there you have it: an easy three-step guide to win this crazy Gameweek! Onward and upward my friends! Let us know how your own GW-31 preparations are coming along. And be sure to stay tuned to NMA all of this week as we will provide wide-ranging coverage ahead of GW 31 for most of the fantasy EPL platforms!