FPL: GW1 Starting XI

So the 2019/20 Premier League is steaming towards us with a Friday opener, as newly promoted Norwich City, return to the league to face Champions League winners, Liverpool at Anfield. Thoughts aside, we are now deep into our starting XI and much of the tinkering has subsided. For me, there has been some shifting of players and budget this last weekend, however for the last few weeks I held my Defensively Red, Offensively Blue strategy. As Friday approaches I still plan on six players from Man City and Liverpool in my starting XI, but have moved off a few key players in search of better value.

One key point I highlighted in an earlier Pitch & Pint Podcast was the need to start the season strong, which to me means drafting premium players who could potentially be “season keepers” in my starting XI. Going over my current starting XI, I see just four players with that potential. It had been my intention to get one at each position, but with prices being what they are, I am coming up just a bit short at the forward position, unless I completely overhauled the squad with a single forward leading the attack. Not sure that is the best idea heading into a new season.

PREMIUM PLAYERS

Let’s start with premium players as I build this starting XI ahead of the Friday fixture. Starting in goal, I had initially drafted in Tom Heaton as he moved to Sheffield United, a budget option, but wasn’t impressed with the budget options last year, as Fabianski was the best of the bunch, but still well off the pace of the premiums. On Tuesday I moved Heaton and brought in Ederson, who I moved to last season in the GW3 wild card. He’s worth every bit of the £6.0 he’s priced at and should secure 20-22 (or more?) clean sheets this season, but probably come up short on bonus points and saves.

In order to build a strong team, I had to let the Brazilian keeper fall by the wayside in a late decision to free up budget. Not a move I wanted to make, but it allowed to free up £1.5 when I moved to Nick Pope. I could have gone back to Heaton, but felt I could hold Pope a bit longer and hold out hope that Sean Dyche’s sees that defense return to their form of two years ago.

Defensively, I had been trebled up on Liverpool with Robertson, van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold, but just recently I broke up the “red party” retaining only van Dijk. Maybe a bit of a surprise, but £14.0 for the other two defenders didn’t seem money well spent. However, if either come out firing, it won’t take much to move one of them back into the starting XI. Ask me now, I would rather favor it being Robertson, even though TAA took quite a few corner kicks last season.

Moving into the midfielder, I moved off a Reds defender and into Mo Salah. I had somewhat been dead set against bringing him in. He was frustrating to own last year, but made the incorrect decision moving off last season, when he hit one of his best stretches that included a hat trick. His ownership is going to make it difficult to get a green arrow with, now with a 38.9 TSB%, the best for ANY midfielder.

At one point, Sterling and De Bruyne were going to be mainstays in the midfield based solely on the fact they have been the top scoring team the last two years (95 and 106 goals). I see no reason they won’t match or top that this coming season. KDB could be a “steal” priced at £9.5, cheapest since coming into the league in 2013/14. He still have much to prove, coming off and injury plagued season and just 968 minutes, but looked sharp, especially in the FA Cup Final. That’s a £2.5 savings over Sterling, allowing to upgrade a few other players around him, especially at the forward position.

So the core of my team of my team is Ederson, van Dijk, De Bruyne and Salah, which equates to £34.5. Unlike last season,  I didn’t want to start this year without a premium forward, felt like not owning Kane or Aguero was a mistake, which was later confirmed when Aguero hit for a hat trick in GW2, leaving many hiding behind the sofa. Another reason I sprung the early wild card. This season, I start with Harry Kane (£11.0), knowing full well the “curse” he’s got during August but he’s had the entire summer off and should be ready to go when Spurs host Villa. If Kane get 3000 minutes, he’s got the potential to score 30 goals, reclaim that Golden Boot Award.

BUDGET PLAYERS & BENCH FODDER

Much of my planning fell into a 3-5-2 and over the last few weeks, I had concentrated much of my efforts into make this formation work. However, the problem I was running into was that fifth midfield spot between £5.0-5.5 million, many of the options weren’t the quality I was looked for. In what seems like a popular pick, I brought in Leander Dendoncker at £4.5. There’s been considerable talk he will start for Wolves and see an increase in minutes at a cut rate price.

Up front I thought I was set with Mason Greenwood (£4.5), now that Romelu Lukaku has moved on, OGS might consider giving the youngster some minutes. However his ownership (16.6 TSB%) is a concern, if managers decide to start moving off him, he could see a £0.1 price drop, which is something no manager wants to see early in the season.

Defensively, it’s David Button (BHA) and Ben Johnson (WHU) as my £4.0 options. I don’t expect either to make it into my starting XI. Johnson had quite a few minutes during preseason and was just a different direction with lower ownership then the more common names of Martin Kelly, Diego Rico and Ben Gibson.

THE FPL SHUFFLE

Those players set the stage for the FPL shuffle over the next 38 weeks. Hopefully the premiums remain injury free and they play up to, even exceed their potential on the season. That leaves me with five players to be used when looking to execute transfers on the season.

Partnering with Kane will be last year’s darling I never bought, Raul Jimenez, not the budget forward he was last year, but his preseason and Europa League campaign has started very well. A bit more then his teammate, Diogo Jota, but worth it! Hopefully he is a “set and forget” and posts numbers similar to last season. It’s a big ask, especially with Europe this season, but he was very consistent last season.

The midfield dance is interesting, as I have the option to shift to a 3-5-2 and upgrade either £7.5 midfielders; Ryan Fraser and Anthony Martial to the likes of Richarlison, Glyfi Sigurdsson or Bernado Silva. The last, being a preseason target, but decided to back the City defense instead of the attack, a decision that has me torn, especially if KDB doesn’t hit the ground running. Martial is a punt and will be given the opportunity to be a mainstay, depending on his performance and how OGS could potentially use him. There are a few other £7.5 options to bring in, if Martial stumbles.

Defensively, I moved TAA and Robertson out, a combined £14.0! I’ve selected Joe Gomez, van Dijk’s center back partner knowing I won’t get the assist production of the wing backs, but could be excellent value, as I eye the first 5 weeks of the season, which could result in four clean sheets for Liverpool.

My final two defenders hail from Man City, both £5.5, Oleksandr Zinchenko and John Stones. Both should have early season success in Pep’s starting XI, combined with good fixtures and should return some important points to start the season strong. I’ve got quite a bit of flexibility in the defense as well that would allow me to shift to a 3-man defense and move that budget into the midfield.

EXPECTATIONS

After a last season run that saw me sniffing around 10k, I am excited ahead of the 2019/20 season! It was my most successful FPL season and my in seven years of play that I exceeded 60/PPW, finishing with a 61.3 PPW average. Hopefully I can build on that by a point or two. If my starting XI can remain consistent, the points will take care of the rest. Avoid those low game weeks but conversely be on or above the average of the top 1000 managers, something I started using last season to gauge my success.

As mentioned in the previous section I would like to hold my premium options all season long, feel this will be an excellent foundation to build on and set my team up for success. However, it will be the play of the mid-priced options that will make or break the season, being able to move quickly on cheap player or one coming into form.

CONCLUSION

Looking for another excellent season, regardless of my team’s performance. I’ve joined some great leagues, met a lot of great folks, especially those in the #FPLBeerClub, which is what will keep most of us plugging away this FPL season. I Look forward to bringing content to the community in a clear and simple format through 6thgoal.com and on the Pitch & Pint Podcast. Good luck, may your arrows be green!

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