Premier League: Holiday Planning

As fantasy managers have heard, “make sure you have 15 players headed into the holiday period.” Currently, I can sit back with satisfaction, knowing I have 15 starters as I make my way to Friday and the start of Gameweek 13. We must now look beyond the current gameweek and start setting ourselves up for success to get through this hectic holiday period.

The past few weeks have been a constant struggle with strategy, sans formation. While I promoted a 5-2-3 formation to start the season, being flexible remained the key in order to be successful. I was not about to fit a square peg in a round hole, so why retain a 5-2-3 when midfielders are on a rise?

Starting Gameweek 10 I took back to back -4 point hits in order to shift my focus to an offensive minded attack, from a more conservative approach to begin the season. With players such as Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard returning to play, as well as Sadio Mané stepping back into the limelight, Philippe Coutinho and Paul Pogba back on the pitch, things look bright in the middle of the pitch! Fantasy managers have a plethora of midfielders to mix and match, this before I even mention Man City midfielders, 5 of which are in top 7 when it comes to total score (midfielder).

Up front, we have seen parity with just 10 points separating Alvaro Morata (72) from Gabriel Jesus (62) with Romelu Lukaku (70), Sergio Agüero (67) and Harry Kane (66) in between. It’s no surpise Lukaku (48.1%) and Kane (37.1%) are the heaviest owned forwards in the game, but recently their returns have be reconsidering. At £11.5 and £12.8 respectively, with inconsistent returns over the last 5 gameweeks, budget could be better spent in the midfield. Running without Lukaku and Kane wouldn’t come without risk. Just look at the Gameweeks 36-38, when Kane hit for 8 goals and an assist to win the Golden Boot last season. Lukaku went for 9 goals over a 5 game span (GW24-29). Both players have it in them, but haven’t proven to be worth the investment.

Last week much of my “longer” term strategy and planning centered around moving defenders around, based on fixtures to get through the holiday period. With Marcos Alonso, Kyle Walker and Sead Kolasinac all returning points, I am reconsidering their value to my squad before making any further cuts defensively. At this point, if anyone goes it will be Kolasinac, as I will need to save £1.5 in order to make necessary moves in the midfield. Alonso was shortlisted to be moved, at £6.9, he had not played up to his price with just 2 goals before returning 14 points in Gameweek 12, he may have been thrown a life line, as Chelsea come into a great run of fixtures.

Rolling over my Gameweek 12 FT was one of the best decisions I made this season, allowing patience to pay off, which rewarded me a season high 84 points. I knee jerked that FT away as quickly as I rolled it, swooping in to pick up hat trick hero, Callum Wilson with Bournemouth looking at 4 favorable fixtures; swa/BUR/SOU/cry. After Tammy Abraham went down in GW12, I would have been looking for a replacement, but knee jerking a player in before the conclusion of a gameweek is something I really try to avoid.

Questions continue to surround Spurs, do you stick or move with Kane? What about Christian Eriksen? Between these two players, they have record a combined 10 points in the last 3 fixtures; mnu/CRY/ars. In fact Eriksen hasn’t returned attacking points in the last 4 weeks. Kane continues to be pushed at the top of many captain polls, even though he hasn’t lived up his price or potential through 11 gameweeks. For me, one or both of these players need to be replaced.

Heading towards a home fixture against a manager-less West Brom, I am more inclined to stick with Kane and move Eriksen. Kane, by virtue of WBA’s 4-0 loss, home to Chelsea could mean Kane re-establishes himself atop the forward leaderboard. Yet fantasy managers have been counting on that happening the last 3 weeks and longer. My thinking out of the break with Eriksen, coming off a hat trick for Denmark, was he had found his form and would continue his scoring ways in the NLD. Arsenal, however had other plans in the 2-0 shut out.  Eriksen left with yet another no return.

In order to build a premium midfield, players need to be sacrificed. Eriksen is planned to be transferred this week in favor Pogba, a savings of £1.5. Pogba looks indispensable last week as United rolled 4-0, much like they did early in the season before Pogba went down. At £8.0, he is under priced for what he brings to the midfield, as well as enables Lukaku.

Vardy, based on the away fixture to West Ham will be giving one more chance, but since introducing him for GW6 there, has been but two “Vardy Parties.” At £8.5, it’s a sticky price point, with Roberto Firmino being a direct replacement, but he’s return just once during the same time frame. Both he and Kane are scheduled to be transferred for Alvaro Morata and Oumar Niasse (2 game suspension pending). Adding these two forwards leaves me a massive £7.4 ITB as I turn my attention towards building a premium midfield.

With Salah and Pogba already in place, the obvious move is to turn Tom Carroll into Eden Hazard. This move gives me three Chelsea assets and over the next 15 gameweeks and could post excellent returns during that period, it also leaves me £1.7 ITB. If I want to jump back in bed with “Pep and the Man City Blues,” Kolasinac and Aaron Cresswell need to give way to budget defenders (Femenia & Mee), leaving Pascal Groß, a man with a midfield in my starting XI and £3.2 ITB.

Recent price fluctuations haven’t upset the strategy when I first envisioned this, but I do expect to see rises (and unfortunately drops) over the next few weeks. Thankfully my initial plan is still intact and Leroy Sané being bought as my fourth premium midfielder would be the final piece of my 5-man midfield.

There is still debate about the necessity of Harry Kane up front. I don’t plan on going big up front, running Morata out as the only premium forward, leading the charge, any sort of injury and I would be forced to make a transfer with Wilson and Niasse rounding out my front line. Risky? Yes, but Kane still hasn’t proven he is worth the £12.8 price, based on his poor scoring record this year (4 out of 8 games).

Just a few days until we lock our squads, so I will continue monitor the situation and make a decision before the Friday deadline. Love to hear your thoughts.

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