How’s your FPL week been? With many pods dropping and more information coming to light, things are starting to drop in place moving forward, as managers keep an eye on BGW31, but don’t want to leave themselves short for game week 30. As mentioned a few times, I strayed from my original strategy, with FOMO on Man City players. Raheem Sterling, one game, one captain. One bust. Jamie Vardy, one shot. One Goal. Not impressed. Now as we are on the even of the game week how does your starting XI look?
This week I’ve listened to my usual podcasts, hosted Episode 28: Twitter Never Lies, on the Pitch & Pint Podcast and conversed with a number of individuals as we all look to finalize our starting XI. Since midweek, I’ve done a turnabout and consider rolling the FT. The main reason for this decision, regardless of what players comes in, there’s a high probability they would not start.
When I implemented my strategy plan in GW26, the idea was to treble up on Newcastle assets for BGW31. Since that time, only Salomon Rondon has been brought in. I missed out on both Chelsea lads I had planned, Eden Hazard and David Luiz, opting for Hazard and Vardy. While that move could still pay off, it does leave me one more player short when the blank game week starts. Planning was solid, implementation was poor.
One more week of fixtures, with teams that play in BGW31 could help to finalize transfers for next week. One move that could potentially benefit this week, moving Neil Etheridge. Now, I know this is a starting XI article, but West Ham’s fixtures, car/HUD look excellent! Those two teams have combined for just 39 goals on the season and over the last 6 weeks have each had just 18 shots on target (avg 3/game). The drawback, I don’t be able to have both Chelsea players in BGW31.
As it stands now, Etheridge will get his final start for my squad, at home against West Ham. Now, the Hammers, much like Leicester City haven’t impressed at either end of the pitch. Sure they held Newcastle scoreless last weekend and found the goal twice. I would like to think the Cardiff goalkeeper plays better at home, but the statistics don’t back that. The team is second in defensive errors and league worst in errors leading to goals. Might get some save points, but confidence isn’t high this weekend.
Defensively, I’ve been rock solid all season long, as my starting defenders (and GKs) have kept 64 clean sheets (2.2 avg/game) on the season. The decision has been made to hold both Andrew Robertson and Virgil van Dijk, as the pair (with TAA) have been virtually unstoppable recently. Trent Alexander-Arnold could be in my plans with a Reds treble at the back when I wild card in DGW32, moving off Mo Salah to build elsewhere. Aaron Wan-Bissaka picks up second consecutive start, as Palace host Brighton. The Seagulls averaging less than a goal a game on the road, as their goal conversion and on target shots are near the bottom of the league. AWB picked up an assists last week, but missed out on bonus points.
Midfield has been a disappointment all season. With or without Salah, Pogba or Sterling. The Egyptian has been the standout, while Pogba was the bandwagon selection when he was in form, but Sterling was the FOMO addition last week, in a move that was not well thought out in advance of the blank. Wish I had held my ground gone with Hazard. That trio will anchor the midfield for this weekend, while Ryan Fraser returns to the starting XI.
In the reverse fixture, at Turf Moor, this was the game that Salah was expected to explode, but finished with a late assist. He hit for the hat trick a week later at Bournemouth. Underlying stats still favor Salah, but he trails Sergio Aguero in many captain polls. Pogba is on his last leg, as his attitude was very poor last week in an underwhelming performance. I had some thought to move him this week for Hazard, but sadly will hold him through DGW32. Sterling, an £11.4 paperweight, who might not even play this weekend. Rumored. One thing I do know, he will NEVER get the armband again this season. Very disappointed to fall victim to this fraud, in the first game I had him this season.
Up front is where the excitement is. While I don’t own Aguero or Gonzalo Higuain and just came off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it’s quite a budget front three. Rondon kicked off my strategy in GW26 and looked good picking up 12 points, but since that time, hasn’t returned. I continue to hold Josh King, bringing him in ahead of GW25, after Callum Wilson was injured. Back to back one point games, King could be in for a big game at Huddersfield, as his strike partner, Wilson had a hat trick in this game last season. Finally, Jame Vardy and a very uninspiring performance last week at Watford. Much like the Sterling transfer I talked myself into this transfer and away from Higuain. Vardy didn’t look good last week and just two penalty touches with one shot on goal, he needs to get more involved. At this point, I don’t see him lasting past the wild card.
Heading into the game week I am 30 points off my 60 PPG average, but expectations are to be right around this mark for GW29. Much of my total will hinge on the success of my captain. The armband is currently with Salah and the vice captain on Vardy. That could change before the first kick off.