Maybe it’s was my failure ahead of the start of the season, in terms of player selection, strategy and formation, looking approximately 8 weeks ahead, but planning for just 4 weeks. Like many other FPL managers, I went through many different drafts, chopping and changing players, shifting budget from defense to attack, settling on a big midfield, while going without a premium forward. Risky? Yes, very much so, but felt there was more value to be had in the middle of the pitch than up top, while interspersing a few premiums in my defense.
Now, with just two weeks of play completed I have activated my first wild card, more out of strategy, than knee jerk. Patience is the theme this year and while many would agree a GW2 wild card isn’t patient, I do feel it was good decision moving forward, as we look four week out.
I floated the idea on Monday in the article, Premier League: GW 3 Transfers. This article explored three different options, from using the 2 FT I had banked since GW, the possibility of taking a -8 point hit to bring in a few other players to provide my more offensive potential in the upcoming gameweek. Finally, activating the wild card. While I don’t consider my move “desperate” it does strengthen my starting XI, providing me the option of running at a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2, as my main formations. Very little thought toward a five man defense.
Activating the wild card, made rolling the GW1 free transfer a moot point, as I had four additional transfers, in order to accomplish the moves necessary to get me the starting XI I desired.
Ahead of GW1, i flip flopped between David De Gea and Ederson, just £0.5 difference between them, I went with United’s, De Gea, based of the Golden Gloves and 18 clear sheets the Red Devils posted last season. Maybe there should I have seen the writing on the wall, if I did I ignored it and felt DDG was a good “set and forget” goalkeeper to start the season. I didn’t want the headache of a rotation, trying to selection the best £4.5 starter on a weekly basis.
Now that we are two weeks into the season De Gea isn’t looking a strong option as there it turmoil at Old Trafford and Jose doesn’t look confident in a team that is under performing on the pitch, not the point of looking defeated. Not sure what it will take to change the mood and boost moral, but I was not going to stick around to find out. Bringing in Ederson was a “no brainer” as Man City have a fucking amazing run over the next five weeks. In the first two games, he’s picked up a clean sheet and assist. totaling 13 points to start the campaign.
While it doesn’t matter much, I swapped back up, £4.0 goalkeepers from Everton’s Maarten Stelekenberg and picked up Huddersfield, Ben Hamer, who was absolutely shell shocked last weekend by City, making nine saves, even though he gave up 6 goals. His time between the sticks is coming and will most likely be replaced by Jonas Lossl. He is trending on FPL Statistics and as a starting backup at that price, it’s hard not include him in my squad.
Based on numbers from the first two games, my defense has outscored (7.71 PPG) all other positions. Initially, I had no intentions of upgrading any defenders, but starting reallocating my budget and it wasn’t long before, dreams of Marcos Alonso was a realistic possibility. In some regard, the David Luiz to Alonzo move was a tick more than a lateral move, based on his perform against Arsenal in GW2. We know he’s an attack minded defender who loves to get forward and put points on the board.
With Alonso slotted into my squad, he rounds out my starting defense along Man City ‘s, Benjamin Mendy and Liverpool’s, Andrew Robertson. A formidable, attack minded defense. Yet, I still believe the clean sheet is the first item I look for when it comes to defenders and feel each represent a good chance to pick up a few in the next few weeks. However, it’s more about who isn’t playing. I wanted to make sure I had five defenders, who all start.
Initially, Jeffrey Schlupp was slotted in for James Tarkowski to save £0.5, in order to provide a better midfield options, if I decided to start a gameweek with a 3-5-2 formation. The decision came down to, which pair of players would score more points. Schlupp and Cairney (or another £5.0 midfielder) or Ryan Bennett (WOL) and James Milner (or another £5.5 midfielder). The £0.5 providing a better defensive option, but with a £4.5 defender or the lure of a £5.5 starting for Liverpool. Looking at the defensive statistics, offensive numbers and xG, xA and XGI, Bennett/Milner proved to be the better option.
The midfield was completely overhauled, which leads me to believe, there wasn’t enough planning involved in the pre-season, if after just two weeks, I want to transfer out Alexis Sanchez, Pascal Groß, Christian Eriksen and Tom Cairney. Aside from Sanchez, there isn’t enough data to reliable make a decision that could potentially have season long implications. That said, with the wild card active, it was time to take advantage of the short term fixtures for the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea.
Richarlison and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, were to be transferred in using two free transfers ahead of GW3. Those transfer put an excess of £3.5 ITB and I started looking how I could improve the final two midfield spots. Aside from no attacking returns through two games, I have no doubts that Eriksen will come good and finish close to 200 points on the season. Cairney, by virtue of his attacking prowess in the Championship League, appeared to be good value. A second looks tells me, Fulham will struggle to score this season, while he might get 3000 minutes, I feel improvements were necessary.
The midfield was built around Mo Salah, with no intentions of moving him this season. While I don’t expect him to score 300 points this season, he’s look in form, returning a goal and two assist in the first two games. More importantly, he’s had some good chances, but unable to convert. This left two final spots that went to Chelsea’s, Pedro, on the back of two goals in two games and more importantly, the fact that Willian has been the outfield player who has been substituted the last two weeks. This could all change when Eden Hazard returns to Chelsea’s starting XI, possibly as early as this week against Newcastle. £6.6 is a tough price point, if Pedro becomes a rotation risk in Sarri’s system.
The final piece of the midfield puzzle was completed by James Milner. Why? First he’s priced at £5.5, on penalties, posted good returns, three of the last four season and Liverpool is a very attacking team this season. I don’t subscribe to some of the options in this price bracket lastly; Ryan Frase, Ruben Neves, Jorginho, Will Hughes or N’Golo Kante.
Through two games played has played 90 and 66 minutes respectively posting a goal, assist and three bonus points. Depending on how I decide to set up, Milner will either represent as a fifth midfielder in a 3-5-2 or be my first bench player.
The final issue that required attention, the lack of a premium forward. In order to start the season big in the midfield, I knew I would be playing mid-priced forwards, especially with Salah, Sanchez and Eriksen in my starting XI. With Wilfried Zaha and Marko Arnautovic being reclassified and priced at £7.0. Both of these players found their way into the forward line to start the season. I still believe both will have the most productive seasons in their career, they have started slow, each with a goal through two games. West Ham has looked terrible on the pitch with all the new talent they have brought it and their fixtures through GW9 are difficult. Crystal Palace has been exciting to watch and Zaha has the tools to improve on a 136 points season last year.
It’s the addition of Sergio Aguero that gives my front line the immediate respect it deserves. We know how dynamic and exciting Kun is to watch on the pitch and seems to have a new found vigor that Pep has favored. Lots of bullshit flowed through the Twitter community last week regarding Aguero and the “will he, won’t he, play” against Huddersfield. We know he hit for the hat trick and has some excellent fixtures over the next 5 weeks, which could see a few multi-goal games come to fruition.
Now that I’ve had a day to digest what I have done, there is a calmness that has come over me. While the team looks a “template” based on TSB%, I do feel I have made positive improvement at each position, putting me in a more advantageous position for the next 6 gameweeks. The plan is to roll the GW3 transfer, to give me 2 FT coming out the first international break, just in case the squad is beset with injury or price rises provide funds ITB to make additional improvements.
Love to hear your thoughts on this early wild card.