Premier League: GW29 Starting XI

Probably at a disadvantage, as the Premier League could leave it until late deciding if some games will be played Saturday due to the “Beast from the East.” Having seen some images on Twitter and followed a few of the reports, there are a few games that could be canceled and pushed to another gameweek. Living in the United States, I usually have my team finalized by the time I go to sleep. It could be 8PM tonight that know what will happen on Saturday.

Going into this gameweek I am feeling very discouraged as I have seen 5 red arrows in the last 6 weeks, coming so close to green arrows, with 3 weeks actually being over the average, but not recording a climb in the overall ranking. While I am sure many say this, I know I am better than my current overall ranking, 608k, as it’s been a slow, downward, death spiral since Gameweek 16. I saw a similar event occur last season, one from which I could not recover.

While I have been planning for a number of weeks, looking at BGW31, I have spent much of this week formulating a strategy to navigate DGW34 and DGW37. While there are still outstanding games, I have been consulting Ben Crellin’s spreadsheets, as a guide. In an attempt to maximize players and minimize hits, I put together a few plans that could potentially play out. The most recent would allow me 15 DGW starters in DGW34 and 11 DGW starters in DGW37, contingent on what happens in the FA Cup games.

This week I am on the fence over the transfer of Xerhidan Shaqiri to my starting XI. IF he joins my midfield, Marc Albrighton will make way, which he would have done in GW30. This will also cost me an addition -4 points in the future, as I add an extra move to my strategy. Shaqiri is away to So’ton this week and will feature in BGW31, home to Everton. He will most likely be a late decision if I decide to add him for GW29.

For now my squad lines up in a 4-4-2, which has provided the highest weekly average (63.0 points) over the course of the season. I got one thing going for thankfully. In a questionable call, I move the captain’s armband from a consistent, Mohammad Salah, home to Newcastle to a not to consistent, Harry Kane, home to Huddersfield. Both players have excellent fixtures and based on the voting at Fantasy Football Scout, Salah (42%) leads Kane (36%) when it comes to the captaincy.

Up front with Kane this week, Roberto Firmino will make another start, looking to improve on his 13 goals he’s recorded so far during league play. While Oumar Niasse has been the popular pick by Sam Allardyce, he was removed at 57 minutes last week and visiting Turf Moor, I don’t have much confidence in Everton returning a goal.

The midfield has been dreadful recently, with Salah being the only player returning points. Marc Albrighton lucked into 5 points last week, but was benched as I brought in Riyad Mahrez in a last gasp effort to better my starting XI. It didn’t pay off, as Mahrez looked excellent, but failed to return points. As for Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, I would probably be higher on him had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit from the spot as the Armenian was fouled inside the box.

As mentioned the only question to answer in the midfield is to follow the sheeple and give Salah the armband. He’s now the most captained players this season, featured 8 times wearing the armband this season and 5 straight posting 96 points, an average of 24 PPW! He’s only failed to return twice while wearing the armband, GW17 and GW24. Sadly, I have earned only one green arrow in 8 weeks with Salah captained.

Defensively all fantasy managers can hope for is a better showing from defenders this weekend. Fixtures look promising, but that seems to be something I mention every week. This week I lead with Virgil van Dijk, who’s being called into question, as Andre Robertson has looked better, returning attacking points in 3 of the last 4 weeks. Alfie Mawson and Swansea City host a struggling West Ham team in the other other defensive home fixture. On the road this week, Bournemouth and Nathan Ake travel to Leicester City, while Ahmed Hegazi and the Baggies visit Vicarage Road. Not sure I have much faith in my road defenders this week, however Ake did record a late assist in GW28.

In goal I have debated running out Jordan Pickford, as I drafted him in during GW23 when I activated my Wild Card. Up to this point, I have yet to feature him in my starting XI, so it appears his days could be numbered as we heard toward DGW34, where there are better options to bring in as a starter.

Can’t even speculate on how my squad will fair this week. I would like to think I can turn things around as the business end of the FPL season approaches. As mentioned, I hit a stretch like this last season, earning just 5 green arrows in 20 gameweeks.

A view of my overall ranking from the 2017-18 FPL season, Gameweeks 7-26.

This season it appears I am playing out a similar situation, as I have recorded just 4 green arrows in the last 13 gameweeks.

A view of my overall ranking from the 2018-19 FPL season, Gameweeks 16-28.

On the season I have scored 1535 points, which is 608k in the overall ranking and a team value of £103.3, of which £3.3 ITB. With 10 weeks remaining in the FPL season, I need to average 63.5/PPW to break my best score of 2170 point in the 2015-2016 FPL season.

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