It’s with mixed emotions we come out of the second international break, but 2018 World Cup will be without European powerhouse, Italy. They were defeated on aggregate 1-0 by Sweden. Dark days for the Azzurri who miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, a former shadow of a team who won the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The image of Gigi Buffon as the curtain comes down on a stellar career for Juventus and the Italian National Team. Guess I won’t worry too much about watching Russia 2018 next year.
I have been somewhat detached the last few days, taking a quick weekend trip to San Francisco with the missus to celebrate 13 years of marriage. Football was the last thing on my mind, but time away from the fantasy game has proved worthwhile. Now, back in the saddle we pay attention to the upcoming weekend fixtures. While there still a full slate of games to come today, I feel confident my 15-man squad will come through unscathed to participate in Gameweek 12.
On the back of 57 points going into the break, I have 4 green arrows from the last 5 gameweeks, now up to 766k. The last 2 weeks have brought change to my sqaud, as I move away from the 5-2-3 formation, which proved to be worthwhile, but with more midfielders now on the radar, returning points with good run of fixtures forthcoming, it’s time to remain flexible and change strategy.
After taking back to back -4 point hits, I look to make three moves over the next 3 weeks in order to put personnel in place to take me through the busy holiday period. The addition of Stephen Ward, Richarlison, Mohammad Salah and Tammy Abraham were just the start, as I look to move away from the a defense bolstered by attacking defenders in favor of 6 attackers in a 4-3-3 formation.
In order to make room and come in under budget, Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Cresswell (combined £11.0) will be dropped in favor of more budget minded defenders. Before his calf injury on international duty, intentions to bring Phil Jones back into my starting XI. However those plans have been shelved with the news of Eden Hazard (£10.6) picking up a knock while playing for Belgium. Hazard was on my radar in order to build around three premium midfielders, but late last week I made the decision to forego the midfielder, opting for Chelsea’s forward, Alvaro Morata.
In reality, I believe it made for a stronger attack, relying on two forwards rather than the dynamic, but inconsistent, Harry Kane in a 5-4-1 formation. Morata won’t feature until GW14, which kicks off a sea of green for Chelsea. Transfers for the next few weeks are contingent on the strength of fixtures for Kolasinac (TOT/bur) and Cresswell (wat/LEI). Cresswell has the better fixtures, but can we rely on Kolasinac to provide attacking returns?
Both defenders will eventually make way by GW13 in favor of Charlie Daniels and Shane Duffy. They are players who can feature in the starting XI together or provide a rotation option through Gameweek 16 depending on strength of schedule. Daniels and Duffy cost £9.3, which saves me £1.7 (with £0.3 ITB) to bring in Morata for GW14.
There is a contingency plan in place should Romelu Lukaku return to form over the next 5 game weeks. The decision was made not to feature him or any United player, even though they with NEW/BHA/wat in the next 3, followed by ars/MCI. GW17 has United sailing a sea of green through GW24, which will also allow Lukaku time to find his shooting boots again.
In order to introduce the talent and goals of Lukaku, I would be required to give up on Marcos Alonso, transfer out Tammy Abraham and Christian Eriksen, leaving just Harry Kane as my lone Spurs asset. Risky? No more so than not owning Lukaku for the upcoming 3 games. Lukaku would join Kane and Morata up front, while Phil Jones would come back to my starting XI. At current prices, this would leave me £5.6 for a fifth midfielder.
Options at this price are plentiful; Abdoulaye Doucouré, Stephen Davis, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Surman, Robby Brady and Anthony Knockaert. However, I would look toward Man City and Fernandinho (£5.2). He’s amassed 959 minutes, 2 goals, 3 assists and 3 bonus points on the season, missing out on just 31 minutes over 11 gameweeks. Of all the City players, he’s third in minutes played behind Nicolás Otamendi (970) and David Silva (962). While not the popular choice with a TSB% of 6.7, compared to that of Doucouré (17.6%), Matic (14.3%) or Kanté (12.0%), Fernandinho has scored 47 points on the season.