Premier League: GW14 Starting XI

I’m exhausted. It seems to have been that sort of week, maybe work actually has to be factored into the equation, but with Premier League action starting Friday, as Cardiff host Wolves, it’s always challenging on a short week. Lots of discussion this week across the board when it comes to those highly touted Man City midfielder. As of now, I am not buying into ANY of them. I feel Sterling is a knee jerk reaction for Hazard failing last week. This ahead of a choice Fulham fixture.

As I’ve written previously, this year has been different than the previous five season, as I have taking a boring approach to the season. Not sure that really accounts for how I started, as the team on paper appeared to be solid, but injuries and ineffectiveness, combined with a pricey punt saw me looking at game week 3 from behind an 8-ball. With the ship righted after wild carding, the team has been performed as expected, never on the high end of a game week or performing well below the weekly average.

Not sure I’ve seen any week more pertinent heading forward. This week starts the hectic festive period with games coming rapid fire, unlike the on-target shots from Watford. Sorry, this isn’t Hornets talk. As I wrote yesterday with all the movement in the direction or Sterling, I decided I am rolling my FT and sending out a 5-3-2 formation this week. Looking at the fixtures, it could be a very big week. City scares me, but owning Aguero gives me a confidence boost. So the lack of Sane or Sterling won’t cut too deep if they hit, due to their overall ownership being 0.7 and 15.1% in the top 1000 managers.

As for this week I venture back to the 5-man defensive set, just the second time all season I’ve put forth a strong back line, the last. Last week started as a 4-3-3, but finished as a 5-2-3, as Lucas Moura didn’t feature off the bench, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka came off from the seconds position to fill in that fifth defensive spot. This week is a plan to start five defenders, as any potential move I would have made ahead of this week would not have started.

Ederson continues to play well, leading the league with 68 points, top GK ahead of Alisson (63) and Jordan Pickford (61) with just three save points on the season. It’s the “year of the clean sheet” for my defensive unit as they have scored 35 on the season for 210 points, which equates to 26.4% of my total score (795)! No plans on moving the stalwart to a budget option, when he and City COULD be on 10 cleans, if it weren’t for two poor decisions. The City juggernaut continues to roll defensively! Like Godzilla moving through Tokyo!

Defensively, it’s been excellent on the season, since I moved to the template of Ben Mendy, Andrew Robertson and Marcos Alonso.  Both Mendy injuries saw me remain doubled up, with Kyle Walker the first time around, but buying in Aymeric Laporte this time as he was £0.5 cheaper at the time of purchase. He’s now the fourth highest scoring defender on the season.

At Liverpool, I introduce Virgil van Dijk in game week 12, as the Reds defense is just as stout as City and could benefit the high likelihood of a clean sheet. Still trying to find all the excitement over Robertson’s attacking stats, returning just three assists on the season. Next to van Dijk I do feel he is the most nailed on starter in the back line. As for van Dijk, he hasn’t scored in league play but has been dominating in Champions League and country duties. Rest assured he will come through with a few headed goals before the season is over. It’s another good week to see Liverpool posting a clean sheet, as they have dominated the Merseyside Derby in recent history. This after the teams played out a 0-0 draw, last April.

Many managers continue to talk shit about Marcos Alonso. To be honest, if I didn’t own him now, I would have a very difficult time getting him into my starting XI, if my attention was focused on building a midfield. Still that’s no excuse to look past the second highest scoring player in FPL (8 points behind Sterling). Rest assured that “new manager bounce” falls flat this week at Stamford Bridge as Fulham come to town. The leagues worst defense (33 goals) on the season. This is a game that Chelsea wins big and keeps it clean.

With all the talk about midfielders, I am running out the Egyptian pharaoh, Mo Salah, as Johan Berg Gudmundsson gets his first start since joining my team ahead of game week 12. Will Hughes appears to have the nod over Ryan Fraser based solely on match up. The thinking is City shuts down any Bournemouth attack, while Leicester City will struggle with no James Maddison in the middle or Harry Maguire on defense. Could be a favorable start for Hughes.

Now, if I were to swap players, I would seriously consider Callum Wilson or Marko Arnautovic. Wilson and the Cherries are in a tough run of fixtures through the festive period, but feel I need to give him Huddersfield in two weeks time. As for Arnie, he continues to piss me off. His lack of hustle or making an effort on the pitch is frustrating to see. If the knee is hurting, then rest but an lackluster performance on the pitch isn’t helping the team. He’s got this week to post attacking returns or will be transferred out. One return in possible seven games isn’t good business. Hammers have great fixtures, but this squad continues to under perform at both ends of the pitch, I don’t see any good value at this time.

My one time man crush gets the start again! Kun Aguero is still the best forward in the Premier League. Not so fond of the silver hair, but I can see past that, as he remains a dynamic and exciting option up top for City. Sure he didn’t join in the “reindeer games games” last week in the 4-0 win over West Ham, but we know what he can do. He is still the highest owned player in the top 1000, at over 90%! He will also be my captain selection this week over Salah.

It’s been a great run to get inside the top 100k (OR: 92k), now it gets tougher to stay there, more importantly improve on the position. My strategy of following the top 1000 managers has helped me achieve the success I’ve had on the season, averaging 61.15/PPW, bettering my goal by just over a point a week. This week is no different, as I look to hit 60-65 points. More importantly, the captain choice. Last week would have cost me a green arrow had I not moved off Aguero back to Salah. This week the Cherries aren’t good defensive and have posted some good scores against them in the past. City at home with 14 goals over their last three home games.

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