Premier League: GW15 Retrospect

This week signaled the start of the hectic, holiday period as we  saw Gameweeks 13-15 inside the last seven days. On the back of 5 green arrows I went into Gameweek 15 with high expectations, after bringing in Eden Hazard for the midweek fixture, only to see him benched, wearing the captain’s armband. Sticking to my conviction, I kept the armband on Hazard, who ended up leading my starting XI in another great gameweek.
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Premier League: GW12 Retrospect – Part 1

Where do I begin on what has transpired this Saturday to kick off the majority of activity for Gameweek 12. Anticipation was running high, but that’s commonplace for every week of the EPL. On the back of two green arrows I was looking to make it a third, out of the international break. It took until Friday but decided to roll my FT over to Gameweek 13.
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Premier League: GW11 Retrospect

From a fantasy manager’s  viewpoint, Saturday wasn’t supposed to generate many points. The top EPL teams were poised to play Sunday with Spurs hosting Palace, while Arsenal visited City and Jose returned to The Bridge to face Chelsea. However, Saturday did set the tone for the weekend and points were tough to come by. Much like GW10, I made the decision to take another -4 point hit, as I am in the process of moving to a 5-man midfield with premiums Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Mohammad Salad. Risking the potential of a big return, I did not captain Harry Kane, which turned out to be a good move. I finished the game week with a green arrow on 57 points and moved up 188k to 766k in the overall rankings.
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Premier League: GW9 Retrospect

Preach patience. Don’t knee jerk. Save your chips. None of this sage advice was followed hours before the Friday kickoff of West Ham hosting Brighton. All the Man City talk, the return of Morata and big attacking returns had me seeing points pouring in Gameweek 9. Unfortunately, Pep struck, defenders didn’t deliver and not surprisingly, Harry Kane delivered a season high at home. It all equated to my worst point total of the season and knocked me 600k down the overall rankings.

On the back of two successive green arrows, I should have used my own advice and practiced patience. In fact hours before Friday’s fixture I was inclined to roll the transfer and double dip ahead of GW10. Twitter and pundits I follow got the better of me and in a moment of madness I activated the Free Hit Chip.

All the talk leading up the the gameweek had centered on the play of Man City, the attack (without Aguero) had been lethal. The play of Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Otamendi and to a lesser extent, Walker had been posting great points in the past 6 weeks. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting Pep’s penchant for rotation, because it hit big for Gameweek 9 as Jesus and Sterling were both left out of the starting XI.

Put bluntly, the Free Hit Chip failed. UP front, I went with the popular Twitter selections of Jesus, Lukaku and Morata, all who had good match ups. As mentioned, Jesus failed to see the pitch, Morata was pulled in favor of Batshuayi after 60 minutes and Lukaku blanked for his second game in a row. I will be thankful he picked up an assist, coupled with the armband he scored 10 points. Well off the pace of Kane’s 16 points.

With Sterling not starting or featuring, Tom Carroll was substituted and he was no better than my other two starters, Zaha and Eriksen who netted 5 points. Both players were coming off spectacular games the previous weeks, but failed to produce this gameweek.

Defensively, my week was foreshadowed by Joe Hart failing to keep his previous 4-week form, conceding 3 goals to Brighton. Doubling up on Jones, who exited after 22 minutes and Smalling, didn’t help as Man United failed to keep a CS, only the second time in the last 7 games. One bright spot was Maya Yoshida with a CS and 2 bonus points, he continues to post solid numbers for the So’ton defense. Kyle Walker kept it clean as well for another 6 points.

At weekend’s end, it was just 36 points, on a week that averaged 50 points. I lose nearly 600k spots, falling to 1.1m on 476 overall points. Thankfully my team has reverted back to  my GW8 lineup and while I continue to have some problems with my squad I will be looking to make some changes. If I would have heeded my own advice, I would have scored 58 points, on the back of Kane and his 16 point performance (most likely captained).

One thing is for certain, Harry Kane will be locked every weekend and captained from this gameweek out. His performance against Liverpool should have been expected based on previous performances at Wembley, the fact his underlying numbers have been very strong, but no returns to Burnley, Swansea and Bournemouth had me questioning the star forward. Those thoughts are now erased and he’s now a template starter for me.

While I didn’t use my GW9 advice, I am not going to make any rage transfers before Friday. Ben Davies is my biggest concern at the moment, for the second week in a row, he missed out on a fixture. Other concerns with my 5-man defense, the lack of output from 7.0M, Marcos Alonso. No returns since Chelsea’s last CS in GW5 and no goals or attacking returns since GW2, currently being outplayed by “Dave.” Kolansinac is another big wingback I was banking on for offensive returns, but the fact Alexis Sanchez plays on the left has Sead limited in his advances forward. At just 2 assists on the season, his 6.0m price tag is becoming unsustainable.

The midfield will be dependent on what I do with my 3-forward set. Vardy hasn’t been the answer, no returns in the last 4 games. Firmino had fallen out of favor for Liverpool with no returns in 6 weeks I can’t see him in my starting XI. Alvaro Morata was on my shortlist, for this week, but introduced him a week sooner. The result didn’t work out in my favor, but he’s still near the top of my list as Chelsea has great fixtures through GW21. Then there is Jesus. Jesus, what do I do with Jesus? We know Jesus and Aguero will have games in which they don’t play or feature off the bench. Are there enough points to shell out 10.5m or 11.6m for players who may not feature every game for 90 minutes? Looking like Silva and KDB are the only reliable attacking players.

Finally, my 2-man midfield, which I was high on 2 weeks ago and actually Pascal Groß is still in favor with another 6 point return in GW9. I don’t plan on moving Eriksen either, calling him “fixture proof,” this coming off a blank against Liverpool in which he featured in a deeper roll with Alli and Son playing the advanced positions. I don’t believe this will be the norm for Spurs and their attack.

As for the #5mandefence, my 5-2-3 formation might be coming to an end. As we have seen leading up to this week, the wing backs just aren’t producing, which has me looking at retaining a 5-man defense, but moving a forward to the midfield and running with a 5-3-2 with the introduction of Richarlison. Don’t want to jump the gun too early, so I will see how this week plays out before making necessary changes.

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

Now 8 weeks into the FPL season and it continues to be unpredictable. From Man City scoring 29 goals through 8 weeks, including 19 goals in the last 4 games to Harry Kane’s feast or famine approach as his struggles continue at Wembley. Nothing has come easy this season for fantasy managers. However at the conclusion of yesterday’s match I will consider myself fortunate that I finished the week on 50 overall points, which was 9 points more than the weekly average. On the season, I am now at 634k, my highest overall rank to date, riding back to back green arrows.

Much like Harry Kane, I am feast or famine when it comes to defense, setup in a 5-2-3 formation. If my defense doesn’t provide clean sheet points I am going to struggle. Gameweek 8 was one of those week, save Fabianski shutting out Huddersfield 2-0 to record 6 points. Before kickoff I was already sporting zero from Ben Davies, who missed out due to illness. My remaining 4 defenders; Alonso, Cresswell, Kolasinac and Walker totaled 6 points. Was riding high on Walker, transferring him in for GW8 as he provided an assist, which was quickly nullified due to an own goal and City giving up 2 goals.

Davies is now a concern with Danny Rose coming back into fitness, the ECL match could be the final straw for him, as he has performed very well from the start of the season. The concerns don’t end there, as Kolasinac was unimpressive against Watford in their 2-1 loss, while Marcos Alonso, who’s still getting forward and shots on goals has just 1 clean sheets since GW3. Change is on the way defensively, something I didn’t want to do, but Davies is now short listed, pending the Spurs ECL match midweek.

The midfield duo of Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen both returned in GW8. Groß picked up an assist in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Everton. Their fixtures look good through GW12. At this point I am still considering keeping him, but their lack of offensive returns is a bit concerning. Eriksen, not the top midfielder continues to provide at a consistent rate. Finishing the gameweek on 11 points on the back of a goal, now 3 on the season and a CS, he secured 3 bonus points. However, the lack of returns from Kane, home at Wembley is a big concern, as is the Spurs upcoming fixtures; LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. While Palace is highly tempting based on their poor start to the season, I don’t see many goals in the other 3 fixtures. There is some thought to ship the Dane for greener… make that sky bluer patches with a Man City midfielder.

Up front it’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde with Harry Kane, performing like a Ballon d’ Or footballer one week, followed by a League 2, has been the next. Owning him has been nothing short of frustrating. As I described in the beginning, it’s feast or famine and captaining him on a famine week has left many fantasy managers starving for points.

Jesus was the star of the show for the week, hitting for a brace and securing 3 bonus points, he finished on 13 points. I never considered him to don the captain’s armband, but with how easily City is scoring, he might be a candidate if Kane is playing home, at Wembley. The situation with Jesus is muddled further by the impending return of Aguero to the starting XI. Depending on home/away fixture, I would be willing to partner Jesus with Aguero. We have seen Jesus play the full 90 minutes just once. We will wait and see what the ECL match brings today for City.

My third forward, Jaime Vardy failed on Monday, to the point that Craig Shakespeare was fired. Just what that means for Leicester City is yet to be seen. The Foxes responded positively last season when he took the helm replacing Claudio Ranieri. I am considering holding Vardy with swa/EVE/sto to come. At 8.5m, Firmino is the only option I would consider, but have already walked that road earlier in the season and not sure I want to return to it until Sadio Mane is back in the starting XI for Liverpool.

The other option, which might be consider a stronger move would be the watch the fitness of Alvaro Morata and insert him into the squad. It will take a bit more of a shoehorn to fit him in, which would require dropping the consistent, Eriksen for the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Richarlison, both of whom were on my short list. Can’t forget Philippe Coutinho, who’s returned 28 points in the last 4 games since his return.

The other option to consider, move from a 5-2-3 formation to a 5-3-2, which is what I had planned to start the season with until a late change saw to go with 3 big forwards instead of two. While not a supporter of Tammy Abraham, as Swansea has a difficult time scoring, his price of 5.7m is hard to ignore and as a third off the bench could be worth it.

With a shortened week and ECL games midweek, it will be interesting to see the rotation of players from teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Man City. Having already missed the price rise this week, I am inclined to hold out until Thursday before making any changes, but I might end up with a -4 or -8 point hit, IF it can be justified. I do believe any Man City players will cover that hit, while providing a return.