It’s usually a crap shoot headed into GW1, with weeks of planning, lineup tinkering and shouts of, “I had him in a previous lineup.” None of it means shit when the whistle blows. This week was a real odd one to start the. As I identified last season, there is an increasing trend in clean sheets, which saw an increase in the number of them over the last 2 years. This weekend did not fail those who stood by their defensive players, as a total of 8 clean sheets were award. SHOULD have been nine, but that 90’+2 Jamie Vardy goal cost Manchester United the clean sheets points.
Across the board I was pleased with my GW1 squad. Finishing on 67 points (avg. 53) currently sitting at 834k, left me a bit empty, seeing fantasy managers on Twitter posting bigger scores. However, as I reflect now, any score over 60 points is quality. I saw that because if you average that over the season, your team will be very competitive. This is before you take into account, chips and captain points. This “60” is the magical number.
Now, I went into with David De Gea because we know United’s penchant for clean sheets. Why else would we spend £6.0 on a keeper? Friday was a case of bad luck, late as United lost the clean sheet on a freak goal in the 90’+2. De Gea appeared to have good positioning on the player, but after a shot careened off the post, it just happened to bounce in the path of Vardy’s head. On a positive note, DDG did record a save point, finishing on just 3 points.
Every preseason I talk about a 5-defender back line to start the season, last year it served me well . Yet looking back on the five man defenses I was exploring, it would not have worked to my advantage, as I didn’t have any of the big scoring defenders in for GW1. The choice for the gameweek, four defenders in a 4-4-2 or go with a 3-5-2. Thursday, I made my final change and decided to include the extra midfielder.
The starting defense in front of De Gea; Benjamin Mendy, Andrew Robertson and David Luiz. The bench saw Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James Tarkowski as one, two on the bench. Mendy was an offensive beast (15 points) against Arsenal, recording two assists and grabbing all three bonus points. He played a very advanced role down the left flank, appearing more as a winger than defender. That did change a bit when Leroy Sane entered the game, late. Robertson started excellent as well, providing an assist on Liverpool’s first goal by Mo Salah. Double dipping on Liverpool and being rewarded felt great! The left back finished the day on 11 points. Comparing heat maps between Mendy and Roberton, they were similar in nature, playing a very advanced, attack roll for their clubs. Both players worth their premium price tag!
David Luiz (5 points) and Chelsea played well enough secure a clean sheet, but the Brazilian was dinged for a yellow card. Great production from my starting three, but the bench, like many defenders played very well this weeked. Aaron Wan-Bissaka turned MANY heads with his 12 points and James Tarkowski scored 7 points. That’s four bonus points from these two defenders. Very pleased with how my defense is looking after the first week.
No surprise to see Mo Salah lead all scorers on my squad, as he got the captain’s armband for GW1. It appeared he started, where he left off last season, scoring an early goal for Liverpool, but that would be all be would get, ending the day of 16 points. Still, ANYTIME you captain returns double digits, it’s considered a success. With many mid-priced midfielders going off on GW1, I failed to have any of them in my starting XI. Alexis Sanchez was my next highest scorer with just 5 points, off one assist. Some controversy surrounding the penalty kick, as Paul Pogba ended up taking it. I should be disappointed with Sanchez, but will give him another week to show what he’s got. He is my currently my placeholder in the midfield.
Christian Eriksen and Pascal Groß weren’t good in GW1, with Groß coming off in the 59th minute for a one point performance. Eriksen had better numbers than Groß but the end product was similar. No attacking returns. Don’t want to give up on either after just a week, but Brighton has a tough call in GW2 against Manchester United. Eriksen, I am willing to have a bit more patience with, as Spurs host Fulham.
Tom Cairney at Fulham was another under-performing midfielder at £5.0, however this can be a difficult price point to predict. Ruben Neves, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were the only midfilders to post attacking returns in that price bracket. While I am hesitant to pick up a defense midfielder, Kante’s heat map was in a quite advanced position on the pitch, thanks in part to Jorginho defensive position. Kante also is a perennial 100-point scorer at that budget price point. So it could be a quick hook for Cairney, as I don’t expect much in GW2 away to Spurs, followed by Burnley visiting Craven Cottage.
All the talk during the preseason of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Sergio Aguero to start up front and I decide to avoid both players. While that worked out for me in GW1, not sure that will be the norm for either of these players. Aguero had the better stats in the opening fixture with 7 penalty touches and 3 shots compared to just 1 shot for Aubameyang and no penalty touches.
In the place, I went with a budget front line or Marco Arnautovic and Wilfried Zaha. The reclassified Palace forward outplayed the Austrian in ever aspect on the pitch. West Ham did have a tough opening fixture against Liverpool, but willing to give him another few weeks as West Ham play BOU/ars/WOL/eve. Zaha picked up a goal and yellow card on the weekend for 5 points. Looking ahead, I like the run of fixures Palace have, but its more about who I don’t have.
It was quite worrisome headed into the City game knowing I had no attacking assets from them. It puts much more reliance on the midfielder five to come up with attacking returns. The key, as I mentioned is Sanchez. If he goes, there will be a good chance I look at a premium forward. But now, after just one week, it’s not time to panic.
While we await price increases, I am planning on rolling my FT. My score was good, not outstanding like many I compared my squad to on Twitter, but I will take 67 points a week, all season long! If there is a very compelling reason to make a move, I will but too much planning went into GW1 to be making a knee jerk transfer for a Jose Holebas, Roberto Pererya or Richarlison. Patience is what I preached and it’s how I approach GW2.
Catch Pitch & Pint Episode 4, GW1 Surprises, recorded on Sunday evening, looking back at GW1 and forward to GW2.