Premier League: GW12 Starting XI

It’s been a long week, longer than most and maybe in my mind I am already on an international break, so to speak. Ahead of the game week, I averaging 61.09/PPW through 11 weeks with an OR of 169k. Rolling my transfer last week, gives me 2 FT with £2.7 ITB. To say I have options is an understatement, as I wrote in Premier League: GW12 Transfers. It’s a good place to be, especially with pressers questioning the fitness of James Maddison and Richarlison. Let’s not forget all those FPL managers who are STILL carrying Alexsandr Mitrovic.
Sometimes, more isn’t better and that is the case as I contemplate transfer(s) for this week, looking at a longer term strategy. I thought I had it all worked out on Tuesday. While I wanted to roll out of the international break with 2 FT, I felt moving James Milner and Ryan Bennett for Johan Berg Gudmundsson and Virgil van Dijk would fulfill short term fixture run with a longer term viability. Both Liverpool and Burnley have some good runs through game week 16.

Doubt crept into my strategy talking to Casey (@FPL_Tornado) who took more risk, dropping Lucas Moura and James Milner for Sadio Mane and a £4.5, fifth midfielder. His logical was sound and thought I was actually favoring his idea. Now, sitting here on Friday I am not so sure any longer. I haven’t been much for taking risk to this point in the season, opting to roll transfers and give players an opportunity for a return, based on FDR, more than form. Outside of Theo Walcott and Lucas Moura, it’s been a goof strategy.

As for this week’s starting XI. It’s been a long and drawn out process. While I am thankful for those in the Twitter FPL community for voicing their input, as well as Casey providing a more attacking viewpoint, my decision has been made. First, the rational. Mane has four double digit returns, but has been very inconsistent. Some will argue, he’s “essential” in the midfield, scoring 65 points on the season at £9.8, just two points less than Salah at £13.0.

While there’s a potential for a big reward with Mane, I think it comes with a big risk, especially over this favorable run for Liverpool. When looking at my sqaud and strategy longer term, I feel there is better value with more consistent returns adding van Dijk to my defense, which gives me double Liverpool moving forward. It also bolsters my midfield, as Gudmundsson has played a bigger role for Burnley in their attack than Milner has for the Reds. He just hasn’t had the opportunities for PKs as I anticipated earlier in the season.

Many managers will look at Burnley in a negative light due to their recent form. I’ll admit their defense has been terrible with just 5 goals over the last five games, including Chelsea and Man City. He’s been involved in attacking returns in three of the last five games and outside of Liverpool in gameweek 15, the Clarets have a nice short term run; lei/NEW/cry/LIV/BHA.

Call it right or wrong, this was my original plan, which I am going to stick by, continuing to “play boring.” With Gudmundsson and van Dijk now in my lineup, the decision becomes WHO to start? Based solely on match ups, Gudmundsson’s transfer in this week is wasted, as he won’t play away to Leicester, as I opt for a 4-3-3 and double up with van Dijk on defense as the Reds playing lowly Fulham.

The biggest surprise this week is that I continue to back Moura at Spurs, coming off a return last week does give me hope he has one more left in him away at Selhurst Park this weekend. Fraser and Bournemouth play away to a very poor Newcastle squad. Seeing how Watford ran cycles around them in the attacking end last week, I expect no less than three goals from the Cherries this week.

Rounding out my defense, as has been the case for many week, Marcus Alonso, Ben Mendy and Andrew Robertson start, as I continue to pile more money into the defense, providing what I feel are the best, most consistent returns. A future move also includes the possibility of Matt Doherty coming in for Bennett and transitioning to a 5-man defense. Nothing more than talk at this point.

Up front, I continue to roll the dice with Callum Wilson, who should return this week against the Magpies. Sergio Aguero’s ownership (51.7%) is what has me continue to back him as my premium forward. I don’t that number dropping anytime soon, in fact it’s gone up 0.4% this week! Marko Arnautovic looked very dangerous last week and their fixtures are amazing. Looking for big things from the Austrian at just 21.2% owned.

The best part of my squad, the bench strength. Many will see this as wasted budget and they could be right. It does allow me possibilities as FPL managers looked forward at the conclusion of game week 12. We get two weeks to figure out how we want to move forward. The only drawback this break, I won’t have two transfers, but at this point in time, I feel confident with my starting XI.

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