2019/20 Premier League: GW3 Transfers

Let’s put GW3 into perspective, by looking back to the 2018/19 Premier League. After two game weeks last season, I scored 67 and 66 points with an overall rank of 970k. The main concern, the OR combined with the fact I started the season without a premium forward and watched Sergio Aguero sink a hat trick against Huddersfield Town. Without much thought or hesitation, I activated my wild card, using a very small data set of two weeks, while looking forward to what the fixtures held. Immediate satisfaction wasn’t to be, as it resulted in my worst score of the season, but over a 10-week period, the early wild card was successful.

TWATS ON TWITTER

Twitter has been a flurry of activity this week with so many “experts” telling FPL managers when and how to play their wild card. Some will say it was poor planning ahead of the season, others will claim to be chasing prices rises and yet others feel they need to buy into the “herd mentality” to be accepted. Not sure I fall under any of those broad categories, as I rarely read articles linked on Twitter, while listening to podcasts for the entertainment value. That does not make me the “special one” when it comes to managing my FPL team.

Along with MANY other podcasts, one word that was stressed ahead of GW1, “patience” and how to practice it over a 38-week schedule. For some, like myself  that means limiting hits and giving away unnecessary points. That is more frustrating then punching your ticket for an early wild card. I took pride last season knowing I had taken just two hits through 34 weeks, when my season officially ended the following week, with a -16 point hit.

Looking back on the season, allowed me to formulate some thoughts, in an attempt to better plan ahead of this season. It won’t be seen until later this year how successful it’s been, but through two weeks I am off to a worse start when compared to last year. That doesn’t mean I drafted in the wrong players or ran out an improper formation. Fantasy sports, all fantasy sports have a huge luck component, don’t care how successful you are as a manager. Sometimes those questionable decisions net your points, other times, leave you scratching your head wonder what the fuck just happened.

JUSTIFIED

What’s my point? Not sure I have one, but the bottom line of all this wild card banter, as an FPL manager, each of us are responsible for our own actions and make our own decisions for our own FPL team. At no time will I tell any other manager how to manage their team, even during podcasts, it’s nothing more then a recommendation of what I would do, if I were in your position. One thing I will tell you now, don’t add any Watford players!

I’ve looked over my squad since the end of the Monday night game and have a myriad of thoughts dancing around. Some players haven’t performed, as a few teams are struggling, a fact we didn’t want to consider while building our squad. Liverpool is one of those teams. The ownership of their defenders and midfielders last season were amazing! This year, Pool now with two wins on on the year, the have yet to keep a clean sheet and many managers are concerned. Looking at the Reds defense, what other teams would you move to, in order to strengthen your chance at a defensive return?

Starting XI for GW2, just a 38 point game week.

Many will point to City, but the league’s most attacking team, the last two years, do you really want to double up defensively on them? As of GW2, 15% of the top 1000 managers who both KDB and Sterling, that figure plummets to just 3.3% across FPL. The numbers also show that 97.8% of the top 1000 manager own at least one of those City players, compared to 52.2% across the entire game.

The joy of the game is in the attack, as I said ahead of the season, I was buying in the Sky Blues attack and my “son’s team” was set up with Sterling, KDB and Bernado. While it’s hasn’t fired on all cylinders, it’s been successful to a point. Right now, I am without Sterling in my starting XI, as he continues to be a player I am chasing because of his top 1k ownership (97.6%). If there has ever been a must have, I think the ownership number is very scary to run without. As I mentioned a moment ago, it’s your team, make your own decisions.

Defensively, yes I am concerned a defense that’s all red, not because I have no faith in Robertson, van Dijk or Alexander-Arnold, but because of Adrian in go. He’s no Alisson, if he was, he would have been starting for a top side in England. Sorry West Ham, you aren’t that good either when he was your starter.  Liverpool have conceded 26 shots on the season, 17 inside the box resulting in 8 shots on target. Their defense has also given up the most corners (20), in just two weeks.

Over the next four weeks, Liverpool plays; ARS/bur/NEW/che. Clean sheet probability? One. Maybe two. I see the Gunners and Blues posting attacking returns with a question mark by Burnley. Many FPL managers continue to hold Liverpool defensive assets. I won’t fault them, as some will continue to look for their attacking returns to supplement their clean sheet potential. That’s fair, but I still see any attacking return as a bonus when I selecting starting defenders. Right now, I don’t see many clean sheets in the next block of games I am planning for. That could change, but right there are other options.

WONDER TWIN POWERS – ACTIVATED!

So where is all this leading? History repeating itself for a second season in a row. I decided to active my wild card on Tuesday afternoon, before I recorded Episode 46 of The Pitch & Pint Podcast, but didn’t want to change the show. The reason was simple. Man City have a great run of fixtures and I was without Sterling. Again, the ownership numbers, for me were just too scary to ignore. Selecting him required further changes to free up enough budget to fund the move.

Was my team broken before considering the wild card? No, it wasn’t. To be perfectly honest, I could run GW3 using one or both free transfers this week, to set myself up with 2FT headed into the international break. As I started to move players and budget, it started to look as if half of my starting XI would require change, which was something I could justify, even after just two weeks. I dropped Sterling in Fraser and starting working backwards to make squad work.

Current 15-man squad using the wild card, still subject to change.

I’ve not got four premiums (if you include KDB) with Kane, Sterling and Salah in my starting XI, but don’t feel as if I have sacrificed. Yes, it’s true I moved out van Dijk and Gomez, as well as Stone but retained the services of Zinchenko for a few weeks longer. Wan-Bissaka was on a short list be be transferred in this week, as Gomez had become a liability, missing GW2. Based on fixtures, I’ve decided to, God forgive me for saying it, trust in Marco Silva and the Everton defense. See, I am no longer calling Richarlison a cunt, so I feel like I am growing to see Everton as viable. Budget options Kelly and Lundstram will never see the pitch.

Along with the premiums in the midfield, I’ve decided to buy in on Mason Mount, as the kid has looked sharp in both games, more importantly, Frank Lampard likes him. Playing for him at Derby County last season, Mount seems to have really taken  to Chelsea, is excitable with good skills and a great burst of speed but more important, he’s playing to a great style of football. Cantwell may or may not make the final cut, as I could easily go back to Dendoncker, as Wolves have a better FDR then Norwich, a newly promoted team I just can’t trust after two games.

Up front, it hurt to lose the Mexican, Raul Jimenez, even though he had not posted any attacking returns but is ALWAYS dangerous. I could still drop in Jota as his replacement, which would give me £0.2 ITB. For now, I still the FPL darling that is Teemu Pukki. Much like Cantwell, I just can’t trust him to perform, as he’s done in his first two games. There is bigger concern I miss out, like I did last season with Jimenez, never buying in on the Mexican thinking, “he can’t keep this up.” He did and in some respect I feel I failed to pick up the best player, even as his price increased (£5.5 to £6.9). Wickham rounds out the the forward line, another £4.5 that will never start for me.

CONCLUSION

While the team still felt very solid, I do have a new found confidence with the addition of Sterling into my starting XI, another player I failed to add last season. Early wild card? Maybe, but it’s how I decided to play it this season, much like last. Indications are the team is strong and should score more points then the previous team. Much like last season, I lost both FTs, but should need a transfer next week, which means I will depart the break with 2 FTs in the back, should injury occur. Call it justify. Call it knee jerk. I call it a successful wild card, but only time will tell.

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