West Ham Fantasy Football Challenge: Gameweek 34

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Every week this season, two West Ham fans will compete at Fantasy Football to win money for their chosen charities

Will’s Team

GK: Raya

DEF: Van Dijk, Saliba, Mitchell

MID: Diaz, Palmer, Salah (c), Saka, Kudus.

FW: Watkins, Solanke

OK, three defeats in a row to James now. By a small nine point margin for the second week running (spooky). 

But I still refuse to panic. Despite his hat-trick of wins, I still lead Jimmy by 18 points as my 1,870 trumps his 1,852.

As I predicted, it all came down to James’ captain Haaland vs my skipper Salah last week. And against all the odds, Salah returned four measly points as Liverpool all-but surrendered the title with a shock 1-0 home defeat to Palace while City tightened their grasp on a fourth title in a row thanks to Haaland’s 20-point haul in a 5-1 home thrashing of Luton helped by the Norwegian’s goal and assist.

I didn’t have time to play my wildcard last week in order to line myself up for a bench boost this week with seven teams having double gameweeks. That was foolish. 

But rather than try and force it, I have decided to just chill and save both my chips – wildcard and bench boost. The pressure is on James to chase me down after all.

Having planned ahead prior to last week, I already had eight players from teams who are doubling up this week and have added another in Luis Diaz by swapping him in for matchless Son Heung-min while Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher is replaced by Martin Dubravka – a move I was forced to make as I had too many Liverpool players once I added Diaz.

That’s cost me four points which isn’t ideal with the gap fairly small between James and I but given that he only had six players from this week’s doubling up teams in his team last week, I reckon he’ll splurge some points on transfers as well. 

Basically, there’s five gameweeks left, we both have two chips left and am 18 points ahead, so let’s see what he is made of. I know who I’d rather be.

Salah keeps the armband this week with trips to Fulham and Everton who the Egyptian has scored 11 goals in 17 games against in his career. I like those odds. 

The sensible money is on me to bring this home. If Betway were running a book on it, I’d surely be odds on. 

James’ Team

GK: Raya

DEF: Senesi, Van Dijk, Gabriel

MID: Palmer, Jota (v) , Saka (c), Garnacho

FW: Haaland, Darwin, Solanke

Is Will bottling it? GW33 saw me gain even more ground on him, beating him by eight points and reducing the gap to just 18. 

This is the week he’ll undoubtedly play his wildcard, though, so I’m reluctant to get too confident, especially as I won’t have a full-team of double gameweek-ers this week.

But if I can come out on top again this week, I’ll begin to feel relatively confident that I’ve got him on the ropes. 

So, with two transfers this week, the plan is to just top up the number of players who are playing twice. Therefore, Mohammed Kudus and Pervis Estupinan leave my team and are replaced by Diogo Jota and and Marcos Senesi. 

Jota has returned from injury and has made cameo appearances in Liverpool’s last two outings. Given the Reds’ recent run of disappointing results and their desperation to win the title, I get the feeling Jota will be heavily involved as they face Fulham and Everton. They need fire power, so Jota’s return to fitness might be the timely boost they needed. 

Senesi may appear to be a strange choice but there is method to my madness. The centre-back is Bournemouth’s highest scoring defender this season. He has three goals, four assists and 10 bonus points, averaging over 3 FPL points per game 

The Cherries face Villa and Wolves in GW34, which aren’t exactly attractive fixtures, but Senesi is £4.4m and a differential pick which, if it pays off, could be the difference between me catching Will or just falling short. And anyway, he’ll likely pick up more points in GW34 than Estupinan, who faces Man City. 

My captain pick is a difficult one this week. There isn’t a single option staring back at me as a no-brainer. Despite only having one fixture this week, Erling Haaland is tempting but he picked up a knock earlier this week and is yellow flagged. 

Saka is the next best option, as Arsenal face Wolves and Chelsea, but his form has been inconsistent of late, which worries me a bit. And then I could go full-on mad man and captain Jota. But no, that’s one gamble too far for me. 

I’ve opted for Saka purely because I know he’ll play. The rest of my team is self-explanatory, with Son dropping to the bench as Tottenham don’t have a fixture this week, with Dan Burn and Alfie Doughty joining him. Garnacho gets a rare start. That gives me eight starters with a double gameweek. I’m happy with that.

We’re into the final stretch and all the planning I’ve done in the last few weeks has paid off so far – will it end in victory for me and my chosen charity? 

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