Patience. I’ve practiced this trait over 14 game weeks and it’s put me in a strong position (97k) in the overall rank heading in to the festive period. This is the best ranking I have seen in 5 years of FPL, this early in the season. Decisions have been logical and thought out, not chasing points or price rises. Fixtures have been weighed against form each week and up to this week, no hits had been taken. That changed.
It was bound to happen at some point in the season. Looking over my squad during the recording of Episode 21 of the Academica Vertex, I was having a go with my squad, transferring players with the £1.2 ITB. Garf (@FPL_Shark) was talking about taking a -8 or -12 because of the problems in his squad and the fact he was sitting at 600k. “What do I have to lose,” was his response. Now maybe if all goes well, I commend Garf on renegade style, as he looks to improve over this festive period. As we continued to discuss players and strategy, I couldn’t stand it any more. Like Squints going to kiss Wendy Peffercorn in the Sandlot, I did something unheard of this week.
In an attempt to make my squad stronger, I took my first hits of the season, of -8 points to bring in Harry Kane, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Leroy Sane. Boom! Like the shot heard around the world, this is how to define, “patience.” Unfortunately, I had no real plan moving forward. On paper I had a few individuals tagged to move, such as Johan Berg Gudmundsson and Callum Wilson, to free up some working capital to reinvest, attempting to strengthen my midfield. Maybe the Pascal Groß last week wasn’t the best idea, but based on fixtures and his role in the Brighton squad, it made sense.
With Sergio Aguero flagged, following a comment from Pep about possible rest, I couldn’t see running with him through the festive period. It felt as if the risk was becoming more. Mo Salah had been the most consistent performer on my squad and my one midfielder scoring for me. At £13.0, it didn’t allow me much leeway when it came to transfers, especially owning Aguero (£11.4). The final and most frustrating player, Marko Arnautovic. Even with an excellent run of fixtures, he had returned once in the last six games, but a single assist in game week 14 wasn’t enough to save his job.
With money freed up, it was time to go shopping. First up on the list, Kane and Aubameyang. We discussed this on Academica Vertex last week, “do we look to Spurs and Arsenal going forward?” Instead of running with how got me to where I currently am, the decision was made to roll into Kane and Aubameyang. These moves strengthen my forward line, but where did it leave me in the midfield?
I had avoided City midfielders up to this point, opting to go with Aguero up front as my only attacking player. Right? Wrong? It’s only been until recently that Raheem Sterling has surpassed Aguero in total points, at a comparable price point. With two defensive assets in my starting XI, two attackers is not possible and I don’t want to deal with that headache. While I had been pleased with Salah’s returns, Liverpool seems to play well enough to win, but not put teams away, like we are seeing with City. Klopp is more then happy to take a 1-0 win, as Pep will destroy all teams, 4, 5, 6-0.
With £9.3 ITB after moving players, the short term choice came down to very few options. Moving Aguero out, meant I still wanted to own a City asset. With Ben Mendy out, Sane seemed the right direction to do, however I don’t see it as a long term move. Other players I am considering in the coming weeks, Felipe Anderson (£7.1) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4) when fixtures shift. While I don’t think it’s improved my midfielder, this -8 point hit has improved my forward, getting two quality players for Salah.
Now, I can’t help but say these decisions feelknee jerk and don’t follow that “pathway to patience” I had been following to start the season. Looking over the starting XI, I do feel the team is improved. That’s not saying I wasn’t unhappy with Salah, but I feel more confident with these two forwards who carry a bigger ceiling right now. Recently, Sane has been outplaying Salah, so on paper it looks to be a good move.
Asmir Begovic (£4.5/TSB% 4.1)
Never been sold on the Cherries defense, but it seemed Begovic was an upgrade when he signed. This week, home to Huddersfield provide Bournemouth a great opportunity to post their fifth clean sheet on the season. The Terriers have struggled for goals, just two over their last six games.
Fabian Balbuena (£4.4/TSB % 1.1)
I am still not sold on the Hammers defensive assets, but they did pick up their second CS away to Newcastle last week and feel they have a good chance at adding to their total, as Cardiff visit the London Stadium. Balbuena has but a single goal on the season, but has looked good attacking the goals, as well as on set pieces/dead balls.
Pascal Groß (£6.7/TSB % 1.6)
Brighton are in the middle of a three game run of green fixtures. He’s just returned since his early season injury, starting the last two games. He’s the cog that makes Brighton go, especially at the attacking end of the pitch. This week, the Seagulls host Crystal Palace, which means Murray will be the point of the attack and improve the potential of an attacking return for Groß.
FORWARD (£6.3/TSB % 2.5)
It’s going to be hard to look past Josh King, after missing three games, he returned his fifth goal in game week 13 and will get Huddersfield at home. King is a great differential, as over 27% of FPL managers own Wilson. Last we saw, King is on penalty duties and £0.5 cheaper then his teammate, Callum WIlson.