In a week that saw the worst average score this season (32 points), my squad banged on this week recording another green arrow, finishing on 45 points (after the -4 hit). Injuries to Mohammad Salah and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, midweek caused me to reevaluate my starting XI, which resulted in an additional transfer this weekend. It was the second week in a row I had taken a hit, but come out on the positive side of the transfer points.
When the second wild card was activated during Gameweek 23, I did so planning for BGW31, while keeping an eye towards the first double gameweek in 34. The decision to bring Jordan Pickford aboard was to help cover the Man United blank, but also provide an option at the back for when Man United had some tough fixtures, which was the case this week, away to Man City. Dave didn’t save, as United saw themselves in a 2-0 hole early. This was just the second week I had considered Pickford, as his match up in the Merseyside Derby was more favorable than the battle for Manchester. Everton v Liverpool went 0-0 and Pickford was a force, pocketing 10 points, de Gea just 2 points. This was my lone mistake in setting my starting XI.
Defensively, Virgil van Dijk led the way with 6 points on the back of a CS in the derby, away to Everton. There was some question this week as to if he would make the cut and start after European duties in the Champions League. Burnley has put together a 4 game win streak, but not built around their defense, as Matt Lowton and the Clarets gave up one goal. More notably, he was credited with an assist before the goal was nullified due to offside. Unfortunately, he also picked up a yellow card. Newcastle has won three in a row, kept clean sheets in two of them, but came up just short yesterday, conceding an 83′ minute goal to Jamie Vardy.
An underwhelming performance from the midfield four, which was led by Luca Milivojevic, finishing on 10 points. His free kick was outstanding for his 10th of the season, third in the last 3 games. It was quite amazing to see the tweets come across of fantasy managers who dropped when they wild carded ahead of the gameweek. If there is ANY midfielder, who is nailed on for 90 minutes, on set pieces, penalties and a real enabler, it’s Milivojevic. As for the remaining midfielders, there as nothing to speak about. David Silva and Riyad Mahrez, who’d been good the last few weeks did return. City doesn’t have a DGW this week, which could make his expendable.
Finally, Heung-Min Son was the -4 hit to take the reins from Mkhitaryan, however it wasn’t that straight forward on Friday. I had Christen Eriksen in the starting XI, but his price (£9.4) compared to that of Son (£8.4) with just 3 points separating the two midfielders was the deciding factor. In the end, it was the wrong decision, as Eriksen finished on 2 goals.
On Friday I contacted Ben Crellin and paid for his spreadsheet service. He’s been invaluable this season in the weeks leading up the BGWs and DGWs. I felt there was value in his work and made the decision to pay for what he created. To be honest, I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great piece of work and is easier than what I created over the course of the season. While it’s no guarantee it’s going to win the the FPL, the decisions are still mine, but this is a wonderful tool.
Another played I toyed with this weekend was Charlie Austin, but his match up versus Arsenal, ahead of So’ton DGW wasn’t favorable. Instead, I decided to start Cenk Tosun in the Merseyside Derby, as historically there are always goals. That wasn’t the case this week, as the game ended 0-0. Tosun had been hot, but has gone goalless in his last 2 games. Roberto Firmino was dropped in favor of Jamie Vardy. This was a tough decision to make, as his previous inclusion in my squad wasn’t great. It started off well, as Vardy picked up a late game and double next week. Finally was captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who looked excellent early on with a goal in the 28th minute and a few good opportunities, but was subbed off in favor of Alexandre Lacazette in the 71st minute. He finished on 12 points, which is another positive captain output.
This season has shades of last year, as my team selection has turned things around. Last year starting GW27 I recorded 10 out of 12 green arrows to finish the season, including 8 in a row. Starting GW29, I have put together a run of 5 green arrows with an overall increase of 403k in the OR to 153k. Best ranking all season long, in fact best since GW7 last season!
Looking forward, I have tossed my DGW plan out the window and am evaluating my move(s) for the upcoming gameweek. Not sure if I will take a third -4 or even a -8 hit in order to get two DGW players in. Currently I have 6 DGW players to start, but the case for Salah starting, possibly being limited is strong. Great fixture, home to Bournemouth. Got an entire week of anxiety to look forward to.