This time last week I was in a quandary, looking forward long term, while contemplating the short term. In the end, decision made, I brought in Will Hughes, away to Newcastle. It wasn’t Watford’s finest hour and Hughes blanked, but still carries some excellent attacking stats as he faces So’ton this weekend at St. Marys’. There is a lot on my plate this week, as I roll into midweek with 2 FT, much like last week. I have the opportunity to take a calculated risk and go offensive or play it safe, boring for more consistent, long terms results.
Hughes was the first if a series of moves to set me up for the long term. While I don’t anticipate having him through the end of the 2018, he freed up a bit of budget, as I stare at £2.7 ITB. It’s a big number and it took some restraint last weekend not to go for a short term fix, especially looking forward over a longer period of time. With Hughes in mind, I also considered Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4), but his limited minutes was a bit concerning. After the Newcastle game, Deulofeu had four goal attempts, all inside the box and missed two big chances, BUT the opportunities were there for the Spaniard. While I still feel the Hughes move was the “right” decision, it allows me options moving forward.
Much like the previous international breaks, I have carried a free transfer in, to allow me flexibility on the backside, just in case of injury. Thankfully, my players have come through fairly well and I have not burned a transfer due to a flagged player. Of all the fixtures this week, many fantasy managers are looking at Liverpool destroying Fulham at Anfield. While I currently sit with Andrew Robertson, Mohamed Salah and James Milner, I am looking to bolster my Reds presence.
Last week Milner hit for 10 points on the back of his second goal of the season. It was a welcome return, after #AlwaysCaptainSalah failed to returned. Pool also conceded, which meant Robertson failed too. However, I was in very good company as Salah and Robertson are both highly owned. Milner was to be the make weight for a new Liverpool asset. For the last week I had been looking at Virgil van Dijk to strengthen an already strong defense, running out Marcos Alonso, Ben Mendy and Robertson, with Aaron Wan-Bisskaka and Ryan Bennett, the budget options on the bench.
In a Twitter DM this week with Casey (FPL_Tornado), we shared thoughts on my squad and potential moves ahead of game week 12. He commented, “I just think you have your money spread a little too evenly. Either you’re benching a 6.5 plus forward, 6.0 plus midfielder, or a premium defender every week.” This after GW13 when I put the final piece into place. His idea of “downgrading the midfield slot instead of Gudmundsson and upgrading a mid to a premium slot will help you out. You’ll still have a great first bench slot in Hughes. And a great second bench slot in a wolves defender.”
Bench strength is important, especially as we roll into late November and the start of the hectic holiday run. Rotation becomes commonplace and you don’t want to miss out on potential points if you bench players are budget non-starters. There was an angle I was working that would place a mid-priced player on the bench every week, with the potential to return good points, either defensively or offensively.
As I have played FPL this season, I have taken a very conservative approach, the term boring could easily apply to some of the non-transfers I have made and let the law of fantasy football averages play out. While it has worked to some degree, there have been some decisions that moves that were held too long; Theo Walcott for example.
Looking at this week’s transfers from a numbers perspective, I currently own 10 players who are the most owned players in the top 1000 managers (based of Fantasy Football Fix). That numbers drops to seven over all the FPL. If I were to look at the £2.7 ITB and the most owned, Richarlison would seem to be the “no-brainer” selection. Unfortunately, bias gets in the way and I can’t see bringing the Brazilian in ahead of visit to Stamford Bridge. If that fixture were favorable, I would have a very difficult time to purchase him a second time after failing due to red earlier in the season.
Much of the talk this week has surrounded Liverpool’s run of fixtures through game week 19, a run in which the only top team they face is a visit from Man United. This week the Reds play the worst team in the Premier League, Fulham. To NOT be tripled up would be criminal, but there is a hesitation, as Liverpool played like shit in a 2-0 loss to Red Star Belgrade, a game they should have won.
The question at hand, what does Klopp do? Regardless of the starting XI, Liverpool should win this game without any problem. Do Salah and Mane both start and get 90 minutes? Maybe it ends up being Xheridan Shaqiri, Adam Lallana and Naby Keita. This fixture screams Salah captain, but an unscheduled rest of either player or both could really cause a disruption in the FPL world.
At this point in the week, I am leaning the risky move of adding Mane, for the short term, before moving him on and bringing in van Dijk, IF my overall points increase and I see myself climb high in the overall rank. Mane in means, Moura, on the back of a goal last week departs, and I end up adding a irrelevant £4.5 midfielder to the mix. Victor Camarasa of Cardiff would be a number three substitute with little chance of playing, but has posted 867 minutes this season with a goal and assist, 30 points. That would leave me £1.1 ITB moving into the international break.
Looking back on game week 11, it was a week of differential transfer that completely missed the target. No returns between Ben Foster, Fabian Balbuena, Marc Albrighton and Laurent Depoitre. Hopefully I can do better this weekend. As for game week 12, if you are looking for transfer options, here are a few differentials you might consider.
Neil Etheridge (£4.5/6.1%): Etheridge has been hit and miss all season, but playing GK for Cardiff hasn’t been an easy task. While teams should be stronger at home, Cardiff has surrendered a league high 37 shots on target and 13 goals at home. That known, Brighton hasn’t been very effective away from home, just 4 goals scored, as Glenn Murray isn’t nearly as effective. Could be a tight match, seeing just a goal, but like Etheridgde’s chances.
Steve Cook (£4.6/8.8%): Typically, when we speak of Bournemouth, we don’t think of them as a defensive juggernaut, but with three clean sheets in the last four fixtures, the Cherries defense has taken some important points. They travel to Tyneside to face Newcastle, who didn’t look good last week against Watford. Any sort of finishing from the Cherries and this is a guaranteed six points for the defensive unit. If you don’t have the £4.6, then Adam Smith at £4.5 or Simon Francis at £4.4.
Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4/0.8%): Deulofeu has looked good since regaining fitness, starting the last three games, but having his minutes managered. At Newcastle, he looked the best he has in those three games, but just couldn’t find the finishing touch on two big chances. Playing OOP as a forward, he’s been very dynamic. So’ton have conceded seven goal at home and were torn apart with an active, ball control offense last week. Think Deulofeu is rewarded this week.
Raul Jimenez (£5.7/8.1%): While not low owned, I still am not sold on the defense that the Gunners have shown. Bernd Leno is an upgrade, but have kept just three clean sheets on the season. On the break, I like the ball movement of Wolves getting up the pitch, which makes “Jimmy Nez” a great option this week. I do think Wolves will keep the score close.