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Season 2, Episode 47 of the Pitch & Pint Podcast recorded Monday, September 02, Wild on Break
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Hello and welcome to Episode 47 of the Pitch & Pint podcast, my name is Stephen and you can find me @6thGoal on Twitter.
It was an incredible weekend 2 weeks ago when not looking at it from an FPL perspective.
I spent all Saturday with a group of friends I grew up with until we all went our own ways at college, grew up got married, had kids. You know how the story goes.
Outside of our friendship, the one thing that has kept this group together, fantasy football.
Not the FPL game you know and play, but the NFL.
As a 13-year-old I started a league with my friends, in my father’s footsteps.
So, Saturday was our 36th year together and we spent it together at a “small” 1.5 million dollar cabin the hills of Truckee, California.
It was great to share stories and catch up with each other over beer, relax and have some fun drafting.
Now there is a parallel to this story, as the FPL Beer Club has some great guys in it as well
While we haven’t known each other for 36 years, it’s amazing the power people have when they come together.
We share lives and stories, offer support and look to have fun during the season.
The beer sharing, second to none!
Previously, this group collected donations to get Chef some beer and baby gear when his missus was expecting.
Last Friday, I Paul Am was presented with a few gifts of his own as he is preparing to get married in September.
Thankfully it was all caught on video, which made the effort all worth it.
So, it’s not always about winning or losing, xG or xA, or is it time to wild card or keep patient?
It’s about the people and friendships you carve out with those you meet.
Just remember that, as we go forward with FPL this season.
One more piece of business before we get started, there was neither a Pitch & Pint Podcast or an FPL Roundtable last week, as I had some personal issues that took precedence over FPL.
Maybe that accounts for my piss poor score headed into the break, but that’s not the point.
Much like reconnecting with friends, don’t let this game get you wrapped up to the point you forget about others.
That could be a spouse, family or friends. If you’ve got business, take care of it, this silly game isn’t all that important.
Now with business out of the way, let’s get started.
While I had an entire show written and ready to go, this will be a combination of the last 2 weeks in some regard to the fact I activated the wild card ahead of GW3.
While don’t need to relive GW3, I will quickly look back on it as I discuss some of GW4 and thoughts headed into and out of the international break.
I will check in Watford, the positive from the weekend, we took our first point of the season.
The bad news, we are still in 20th place. While not time to panic, we will have see what changes moving forward at Vicarage Road.
Beer, what would the Pitch & Pint Podcast be without beer, today’s it a UK beer review, thanks to @PadFul, when he met up with the FPL Beer Mule last month.
I will talk some wild card, look ahead to to the break and answer some questions from the mailbag.
All that and more today on the Pitch & Pint Podcast.
WATFORD REVIEW (03:32)
Could this season have started any worse for Watford?
As it currently stands, no it couldn’t
Complete opposites between this season, now 0-1-3 compared to 4-0-0 last season.
This time last year, we were top in the league. This year, we are looking at 19 other teams.
Where have the Hornets gone wrong? Maybe the question we need to be asking is, “why?”
Watford picked up their first point of the season, one in which there is a lot of work to be done in order to pick up our first win, second get clear of the relegation zone.
In my opinion, Watford isn’t a realistic relegation candidate.
This is the SAME team from last year that played good team football, posted their best season in the Premier League with 50 points and best finish, in 11th.
Manager Javi Gracia doesn’t feel any more pressure as Watford hit the first break.
Gracia said, “I always feel the same person, I’ve been a professional from a long time ago, when I was 18 years old and I feel pressure every day.”
You have to win, you have to work hard, to improve, it’s my mentality. When you don’t have points, the others look at you with other eyes, but it doesn’t change my style of life, my work.”
Saturday, Watford picked up their first point in a 1-1 draw at Tyneside against Newcastle.
Yet Gracia and Watford are still looking for that first big win in league competition.
We saw changes the last few weeks to the team and formation that give hints of wanting to be more attacking.
While 2 goals on the season is a start, the Golden Boys have been anything but defensively.
This position as addressed during the off season, as Michael Dawson was brought in to help shore up a defense that struggled at the end of the season.
To date, they are the second worst defense with 8 goals conceded.
At St James’ Gracia played 3 center backs, adding Christian Kabasele alongside Cathcart and Dawson, while Femenia started of the right flank and Janmaat on the left.
Against Newcastle, Watford played well to start the game, as Will Hughes got going quickly, scoring after just 2 minutes.
Maybe that made up for that big miss in GW3 against West Ham that could have put the Hornets up, 2-1.
It was Fabian Schaar picking up the goal on a headed assist from Issac Hayden.
Unfortunately, Doucure, tracking back was caught ball watching out of position and didn’t stay with Schaar, as Ben Foster dove to his right, getting a hand on the ball, but was unable to keep it out.
At the break, 1-1, but out of the break it was a different game as momentum swung in favor of the Magpies.
Most of the second half chances went to Newcastle, but sub Issac Success sent a ball across the box that Andre Gray fanned on, which was one of the best opportunities of the game for the Hornets.
Gerard Deulofeu was benched as Watford started in a 3-4-2-1, as Femenia and Janmaat played in wing back roles with Gray the lone forward with Pereyra and Hughes in supporting roles.
Two weeks, Watford have lots to work on ahead of a visit from Arsenal, which isn’t going to be easy.
It’s an important point for us because so far in three games we weren’t able to get any points,” said Gracia
“Now we have a break and it’s a good time to work and prepare better for the next game.”
It’s not time to stop believing in what Gracia has achieved since coming to Vicarage Road.
Victories will come, Watford will score at least 40 points this season and remain in the Premier League.
Then again, as a supporter we all want to feel our teams, or those who yoyo between the Championship are good enough to stay Premier.
I feel Watford is a Premier League team, even if they are a mid-table squad.
That’s fine with me, I never expect them to challenge for a championship. Last season’s FA Cup final was amazing!
Watford is a solid team with quality players, but it’s just a been a bit of a downward spiral since GW36 last season.
Wins and points will come.
As of now, there is no reason to consider ANY Watford player for your squad.
League worst when it comes to scoring and conceding, look elsewhere for options.
Now that debacle out of the way, let’ crack a can from the UK craft scene, bang a review and start drinking.
BEER REVIEW – North Brewing – Touch Sensitive (07:44)
No one in the FPL Beer Club thought trading of beer would be as prevalent as it.
While I’ve shipped beer within the US to different members, the beer mule has delivered three times, to the UK, Scotland and Ireland.
Soon a stand in beer mule will make another trip to deliver some West Coast nectar from Russian River Brewing, a helluva long time to get some great NoCal beer into the UK.
Today, it’s a can I received from Paddy Fulton, the inaugural winner of the FPL Beer Club League last season.
He took his girl and sister on a train ride to Edinburgh, Scotland to hook up with the beer mule.
He was kind enough to give the mule beer to bring back stateside.
Today, it’s North Brewing Company out of Leeds, UK, the hot spot for all things craft from what I understand.
North Brewing Co was founded in 2015 by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley, the pioneers behind legendary Leeds beer venue North Bar, which opened in 1997.Known as “the first craft beer bar in Britain”, North Bar influenced a new wave of modern beer bars and breweries across the country, including their own.
In 2015 they turned their 10-year dream of making their own beer into a reality by opening a 15bbl brewery, featuring a 200-person capacity tap room, just half a mile from their original flagship North Bar in Leeds.
The core range and seasonal specials epitomize what they look for in beer: big juicy flavors with tonnes of hops; fun, playful and interesting flavor combinations; classics that demonstrate an uncompromising approach to quality.
Today, it’s Touch Sensitive an 8.5% Imperial IPA brewed with Citra, Cryo Citra and Ekunaot hops.
Let’s pop the top on this 16 oz can.
Touch Sensitive pours a thick and murky straw yellow with a very thin head that dissipates rapidly leaving the some spotty lacing.
The smell…is an array of complex fruity juice, dominated by orange with berry and tropical fruits, including papaya and a mild sweetness from melon or honey.
Let’s see how it goes down…medium body and smooth over the palette with pithy orange, passion fruit, some tropical notes with a hint of floral and an herbal quality.
Overall this is the third beer I’ve had and I am very impressed with what I have tasted.
Along with this North Brew, I’ve tasted Press Drop and Tamborine Mountain, as well as Verdant with Allen and finally Deya in collaboration with Verdant and What’s Done Is Done.
All excellent and looking forward to the other 12-14 I have in the mini-fridge, along with one more shipment on the way from the mule.
So cheers to the UK craft scene, now let’s get into some FPL talk.
PLAYING CATCH UP (10:43)
Without the opportunity last week to provide a podcast, I haven’t been able to justify the “why” behind the activation of my WC ahead of GW3.
Many talking heads in the FPL community will say 2 weeks of game data isn’t enough to base a wild card on.
I’ll respectively disagree, because only one thing matters, “Does it feel right to you?”
If you answer yes, then activate that WC and start planning. I hit the button the Tuesday ahead of GW3 and didn’t give it a second thought.
Part of that decision was based off previous experience. Last year I activated the WC at the same time, in order to pick up players who were “hot” at the time.
While scores didn’t pan out in the short term, over a 10-week period I felt it was a worthwhile play that helped me achieve nearly a 1 million spot improvement, just outside the top 100k by GW12.
This year I didn’t pack the defensive unit with premium defenders, opting to start with double Liverpool and City.
Instead of Robertson and TAA, it was van Dijk and Gomez.
However, Gomez has started just 1 game in the first four, it was a move that didn’t pay off.
At City I skipped Laporte and started Stones and Zinchenko, with the intent these two teams would dominate and provide the best opportunity for clean sheets.
After 4 weeks, these teams have a combined 2 clean sheets compared to last year, this is a difference of -3 CS for Liverpool, but City is in the same spot as they were last season.
However, with CS by the big teams down this year, I decided to shift budget allocation around to resolve an attacking issue.
The bigger problem with my squad to start the season, no Raheem Sterling. Arguably one of the top midfielders in all England, I opted for more investment in defense to start a 4-4-2 with the option of a 3-5-2 and without sacrificing at another position I couldn’t get him in.
Now ahead of GW3 I am looking at Gomez missing GW2, Stones injured and no Sterling.
Ahead of the season, it was a risky prospect drafting in Wolves players, yet I decided to buy in on Raul Ji-menez, after missing out on him last season. Right? Wrong?
Europa League seems to have taken a lot out of Wolves. While they are playing phenomenal in Europe, undefeated at 6-0 with 19 goals, Wolves are struggling with just 4 goals through 4 games just GD above the relegation zone on 3 points with 3 draws and a loss.
Another player I selected based off a strong previous year, Ryan Fraser, however through 2 games, he had yet to provide or score. Owners had to wait until GW4 for his first assist.
With early season problems identified, as well as rolling a FT, I did have 2 to use to resolve my problems.
However, I am not a manager who likes to give away points, I pride myself of limiting needless hits, especially early in the season, when points are so, so valuable as FPL managers try to keep pace with the top of the OR.
For me, the decision was simple. There was a list of players I was looking at was relatively small and centered around Sterling. Free up enough budget to add the City midfielder, then fill in the blanks.
Based off their poor start in FPL, I dropped both Liverpool players, saving budget and moving to Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Michael Keane.
AWB at the time was owned by 27% across the top 1k and 33.7 by all FPL. I did have to make weight by dropping van Dijk, owned heavily by these groups of managers, but decided I could buy back into Liverpool defense when they started to show a bit more promise defensively.
While many FPL managers were on Lucas Digne, I decided to skip the added luxury of attacking returns and the price at 6.0 and make a straight swap to Keane.
Everton have a good run of fixtures through GW14 but do have City and Spurs as their own top 6 teams they face in that time.
It would be a risky prospect moving off quality defenders but felt there was more potential in attack.
I also brought in John Lundstram from Sheffield United, who would be used in rotation.
The midfield saw three changes, most notably, Sterling coming in while dropping Dendoncker, Fraser and Martial.
Martial was moved, while he did pick up an assist in GW3, it appears I came off him at the right time as he picked up an injury.
While pundits are correct in one aspect, only having 2 weeks of game data to go on is difficult to truly speculate, it came down to FDR for players I would bring in.
The wild card being played for Sterling, he would partner with KDB and Salah.
After 2 goals in 2 games, Mason Mount really caught my attention. I liked his high energy on the pitch, seemed to be involved in Chelsea going forward in attack.
Finally, Todd Cantwell, a 4.5 swap for Dendoncker, who provided 2 assists in GW2 and a goal in GW3. Heavily involved in the Canaries going forward and with Onel Hernandez injury, Cantwell seemed to be a more integral player.
The final piece of the puzzle, moving last year’s hot prospect in Ji-menez for Teemu Pukki, who hit for 4 goals, including a hat trick in GW2. He also went on to add his league leading 5th goal in GW3.
I felt good headed into GW3 with a new squad but did lose both FTs as we looked ahead of the first international break after GW4. The decision was also made to roll the FT, to give me a few options out of the break.
While we can’t judge wild cards on their immediate success, I came out of GW3 with 62 points, 18 more than the weekly average of 44, which pushed me nearly 700k, giving me my first green arrow of the season.
The WC was an improvement of 26 points, over those players I had before I activated. GW3 was a low scoring week (avg 44), but my weekly score would have been just 36. Back to back 30-something scores is nothing an FPL manager want to see.
One thing the wild card did, it boosts my team value, as I currently sit at 101.5!
That’s 0.4 higher then the FPL average but 0.2 less then where my team value was last season.
BEER NEWS – BEER CLUB KEEPS ON GIVING (16:57)
Let’s move into some beer related news, not official or having anything to do with the industry, but today I am going to prop up the lads in the FPL Beer Club.
It’s not the first time I’ve done this. They know who they are and it’s rather impressive to see just how this group has grown.
When this group formed and moved the chat into a DM on Twitter, we had no expectations on where this group would lead.
It was created for two reasons. First, we liked beer. Second, we played FPL. Do you really need any other reasons?
It’s quite a diverse group, scatter through out the United States from West Coast to East and destinations in between.
Across the Pond, it’s Ireland, Scotland and England, where Leeds a regular destination and craft is something unique, as we rarely see anything from the UK make its way to the states.
That however, is changing. Enter the FPL Beer Mule.
Yes, like hiking the Grand Canyon, we have our own dedicated FPL Beer Mule, who is regularly traveling from the US to the UK and Ireland.
A package sent with the Mule is either dropped in the Royal Post or delivered in person.
I feel a bit guilty, as the Mule met their third FPL Beer Club member in Edinburgh last week.
As for me, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet Richard, RTY9A.
Rest assured that will change in the near future.
While the US has not had any meet ups, the lads do Leeds every year, which sound fucking epic!
Train in. Drink beer. Eat. Drink more beer. Catch a train home and pass out. Great way to pass an entire day.
But there is more heart to this group then just beer.
While I haven’t mentioned this to the guys in the DM, I compare this group to that of my Monday men’s group at church.
While we support each other, learn the scriptures, there is excellent support and prayer to help each man get through whatever they are struggling with.
I’ve only been in that group since May, when I started going to church after 49 years on the Earth.
So there is something to be said about this group of 28 guys who’ve come together with a few commonalities, but the ties run deeper.
It’s become somewhat standard that is a baby is on the way or a member is getting married, it’s cause for celebration and gifts.
Last year, we took up donations for Dale and his missus, as she was pregnant and got Dale some items and beer.
A few weeks back we took up a collection because Paul Aitken, I Paul Am on Twitter was getting married.
Mr WP dropped all us beer club cunts, expect Paul in a DM chat for his wedding.
We ended up collecting a fair amount that got him a card with some cash for beer, as well as some cufflinks for the wedding.
What made this even more special, his daughter recorded the entire event, in which Paul shed a tear and had to cover his face with the card we sent him.
But it’s moments likes these that memories are created on. Here’s a group of relatively unknown individuals, donating their time and money for another. I think that’s just awesome!
Now, back to the beer. I’ve sent beer to some in the US. More importantly I’ve been able to use the FPL Beer Mule effectively and deliver a few packages to England.
While their hauls weren’t as impressive as what the Mule has done recently dropping 12 and 13 can boxes, it’s about sharing great craft beer with those, who would otherwise never have a chance to taste what the US has to offer.
Many wanted TreeHouse Brewing beers. Russian River, is another common request.
In fact, I can’t wait for David Geckle to hit London and deliver Chef his run of Russian River that includes Pliny the Elder, Shadow of a Doubt, Blind Pig and STS!’
Talk about a haul! It doesn’t get much better than that from Northern California!
I’ve got an entire shelf in the mini fridge dedicated to all the UK and Irish craft beers I’ve received. You can watch the box opening video that I posted on Twitter.
It was like Christmas in August with two boxes of beer.
So, I raise my pint glass to the lads of the FPL Beer Club, no finer group I’ve been associated with when it comes to the love of football, supporting our teams and drinking beer, good, bad, craft big, it doesn’t matter.
As I’ve said on previous podcasts, beer brings people together, that’s what it has done with this group.
Now let’s take a look back on GW3 and 4.
GAMEWEEK 3/4 REVIEW (21:10)
Looking to build off a successful wild card, my starting XI was unchanged the last 2 weeks.
GW3 had the better fixtures, then GW4. It was a low scoring game week for MANY mangers across FPL.
Much like GW2, the defense was dismal in GW3, especially since I moved off the double Pool defense, which was only van Dijk, as Gomez didn’t start for the second week in a row.
Overall GW3 saw a final score of 62! That was 18 points over a low weekly average of 44 points, which resulted in my first green arrow of the year.
No surprise to see Sterling, Pukki and Mount have an immediate impact on my squad scoring 35 points combined!
A comment on Pukki, I really didn’t want to pick him up on the WC but felt after missing the bandwagon last year on Ji-menez, I wanted to get in early on Pukki. I feel Ashley Barnes would have been a stronger pick but didn’t like the Wolves or Liverpool fixtures.
When looking at Norwich, their fixtures are good, the biggest concern was home to City out of the international break in GW5.
Across the board, when looking at goal threat, Burnley and Norwich were close. What swayed me in the decision to grab Pukki, his hat trick performance and the fact he was potentially going to double rise.
I am not one to chase price rises early in the season, but the players I brought in all rose in price, thus pushing me to where I sit now at 101.5.
Out of the break, I am seriously considering pulling the hokey cokey on Barnes, as Burnley visit Brighton. Pukki, I think has a tough call as Man City visits.
Through 4 game weeks City have conceded just 24 total shots on target and just 18 inside the box, where Pukki likes to operate.
City have conceded 7 big chances (BC) that’s still 4th best in the league.
By comparison…well there really isn’t much comparison when looking at Brighton’s defense against, what appears to be a strong Burnley attack.
Barnes, in form, as is Pukki, one week without a goal doesn’t make him bench fodder or potential trade bait.
I saw that and here I am considering the hokey cokey.
Comparing Pukki and Barnes is a much tighter. Penalty touches favor Pukki, 20 to 17, as do goals, 5-4.
Both forwards have scored 2 big chances, as Barnes has one more big chance, 4 to 3 over Pukki.
Pukki also has 11 shots on target, compared to 8 for Barnes.
The way both forwards are playing, if you are on the wild card, then introduce both to your starting XI.
I am getting a bit sidetracked, but I went Pukki.
Now there has been lots to talk about with regards to premium forwards.
Last season I was bite in the ass because I did not own a premium forward to start the season and it got me in GW2 with Aguero hitting for a hit track.
Now if I wasn’t stupid, I would have NEVER added Alexis Sanchez to my starting XI for GW1, which means Kun would have been my forward.
This year, I wanted Kane and started the season with him, potentially being a season keeper.
In GW3, they combined for 13 points, but it was all Pukki with a goal and assist picking up 2 bonus points.
Off the back of a great GW3, expectations were high for GW4, expecting 75-88 points.
In a game week that averaged 57, I saw just 48 points as a final score and a GW rank of near 5 million!
On the season I have 232 points, headed into the break, a weekly average of just 58 points, nearly 3 points off my goal.
This time last year I was at 235 points, so I am still on course for a good season.
These next few weeks will be crucial, as they were last year since my first wild card was already activated.
As for a dismal week of 48 points, it’s two unacceptable scores in 4 weeks.
Again, it was a defensive failure, outside of Many City keeping a CS as Zinchenko picked up 6 points.
I am still high on Everton but won’t ignore the possibility of moving Michael Keane.
The Toffees still have some good fixtures, outside of the GW7 arrival of Man City.
If any move during the wild card was knee jerk, it was AWB, now with Luke Shaw out with injury United’s fixtures, honestly, aren’t great.
LEI/whu/ARS/new/LIV before things hit a better streatch in GW10.
His ownership is still high, 33.7% across FPL and 27% in the top 1k. He might still be a keeper.
BY way of comparison, Zinchenko is only owned by 21.2% in the top 1k ans 12.7% across FPL.
Although, realistically he’s a place holder in City’s starting XI until Ben Mendy returns.
KDB has been one of the best buys to start the season at 9.5, now up to 9.8
He’s posted 6 attacking returns and has hit double digits twice already.
Bonus points in 3 out of 4 weeks and looks to be in excellent form of the 2017/18 campaign.
He’s part of my City attack that now has Sterling in it. While I did captain the City midfielder, it was Aguero’s day for goals, as Sterling did not post any attacking returns.
That’s two weeks with captain failures, at no point did I consider Salah.
The Egyptian picked up an assist, which gives him 5 returns in 4 games with 3 goals and 2 assists.
I honestly though Norwich would have a better game then they did at West Ham.
The Hammers were rather poor defensive, but limited Norwich to just 8 goal attempts, 3 on target.
I didn’t watch the game, so I don’t know how the Canaries looked going forward.
In the first 2 games they posted 12 shots, but against Chelsea, that number was reduced to just 6 shots, yet 5 of those shots were on target, as they capitalized on their chances.
The first 2 weeks, it was 5 and 4 shots on target, where again, they posted just 3 against a West Ham defense that up until GW4 had conceded 53 total shots, second worst in the league and 16 shots on target, third worst.
After 4 game weeks I sit at 935k on 232 overall points and rollercoaster ride that has gone red, green, red.
GW5 is a crucial week to get my starting XI back on track and climbing the OR.
OUT OF THE BREAK (27:31)
What options do FPL managers consider out of the break?
I rolled my transfer for GW4 in order to give me 2 FTs out of the first international break.
Felt it would be to my advantage, based on previous experience of players possibly picking up a knock during international duty.
Activating the wild card, the week before, I didn’t have any immediate changes to address.
Just 6% of managers used their wild card ahead of GW4. I expect that number to double when GW5 rolls around.
There is no “ideal” time to use a wild card.
If you feel your team needs some tweaking, then hit it and start preparing.
FPL managers have 2 weeks to scour 4 weeks of game data to find those players who come out of the break on fire.
Will Pukki find his scoring touch against City? Will Haller make you holler?
Is the clean sheet no longer worth playing for? What do we do with our defensive assets?
Lots of unanswered questions we need to address, as we pay attention to those Premier League players on international duty.
Rolling in to the break, there isn’t many reasons to look toward GW5 quite yet.
I do have some thoughts on the direction I want to take, as I am holding 2 FT, but it will take a price rise of a few to make it happen.
Just a few quick thoughts on the next 4 weeks out of the international break.
First teams I am looking at for attacking options included Burnley, Spurs and Man City.
I also like West Ham and some Arsenal options.
Barnes could continue in blistering form with Brighton, Norwich and Villa.
Defensively, it might be time also be time to jump into a Burnley defender, with lower ranked teams upcoming; bha/NOR/avl.
Can’t afford Tarkowski or Mee at 5.0, there’s Pieters at 4.6 and Lowton at 4.5.
Lanzini and Haller both have been playing well, but could Yarmalenko be back in our thoughts?
West Ham go to avl/MUN/bou/CRY
Arsenal seems to be looking better each week, the more Nicholas Pepe plays, he only brings an added dimension to an attacking team that already features Aubameyang and Lacazette.
Not sure I would touch the midfield but do know many FPL managers are high on Dani Ceballos at 5.7.
Mkhitaryan moved at the transfer deadline to Roma, so that could make the midfield picture a bit clearer at the Emirates.
Spurs have a nice run, but honestly, didn’t look good defensively on Sunday against Arsenal.
Kane got lucky with his goal coming from the spot, but the addition of Eriksen in the starting XI, on Sunday helped the offense going forward.
The continued ownership of Kane was contingent on Erisken moving, now with the window closed he will remain at Spurs.
Maybe we do take the North London derby into consideration and the fact Lloris played a great game.
If you aren’t in on Man City defense, then Stones could be a steal at 5.4 or Zinchenko at 5.5.
But I am pushing all that budget forward to attackers from City.
Currently I am on KDB and Sterling but looking at adding a bit more punch from City and it could come in the form of Aguero.
That’s just a few thoughts as we look at the first week of FPL with no Premier League games.
It’s time to dig into the Pitch & Pint Mailbag.
As I started earlier in the pod, lots of questions rolling into and out of the first international break.
Today we start with a question from Emma FPL who asks,
“Template teams are so stifling of creativity & fun.
What are the alternative players you may consider if you want to break free of the template.
In particular, interested in cheap defenders and interesting mids around 5-6m.”
Love the pod. Thanks”
Thanks for the question Emma.
Template is one of those nasty words in FPL we don’t like to toss around, like “essential.”
What players are essential? Who is “in” the template?
Make some generalizations, cheap forwards are in, premium options through the middle and moderately priced defenders are coming on strong.
Let’s look at the defenders first. Ahead of the season MANY were high on premium defenders; Robertson, TAA, van Dijk, Laporte, Digne, just to name drop a few.
Now with clean sheets being difficult to come by, we are seeing a shift in defense, as FPL managers are wanting those 7 million defenders, but willing to give the likes of some 5.5 defenders a chance.
The current popular options on defender include van Dijk, Wan-Bissaka, Digne, Zinchenko or Walker and Lundstram.
Out of the break, as I mentioned I am looking at Burnley defense.
Nick Pope is owned by 25.1% of the top 1k managers, but just under 11% across FPL. At 4.5, he’s an excellent option.
Matt Lowton is the only other 4.5 option from Burnley, I might stretch to Erik Pieters at 4.6 if I had that 0.1, but don’t expect many more attacking returns from him, as he only averages about 2.1 attacking return in the past 7 seasons.
Looking towards north London, Arsenal looks exciting.
Out of the break they are away to Watford, home to Villa, away to United and home to Bouremouth.
Watford, Villa and Bournemouth have combined for just 11 goals.
All the Arsenal defenders are differentials.
With Nacho Monreal moving to Real Sociadad, that opens the left back spot, which could mean Sead Kolasinac will get regular starts. At 5.4, he’s not the cheapest starting option, owned by 0.8% across FPL.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, if you have the budget to splash would be another one, I would look at. 16 points on the season with an assist and CS.
Finally, Tyrone Mings, at 4.5 he’s been the best defender for Villa through 4 games.
Owned by 8.6% in the top 1k and only 4.4% across all FPL, he’s picked up an assist in GW1 and Villa has kept 1 CS as well.
Fixtures are promising, outside a GW6 trip to the Emirates and Arsenal. Around that game is home to West Ham and Burnley and away to Norwich.
The midfield is a minefield now headed into the break, those budget or nicely priced options that played a few good weeks have tailed off recently.
The popular selections are Mason Mount at 6.3 and Todd Cantwell at 4.8.
Cantwell has a big uptick in ownership, now just over 1 million, while Mount after two good weeks has slowed down, his ownership is over 1.1 million, nearly 20& ownership.
If you own Pukki, I can’t see doubling up with Cantwell, if you start comparing stats of the 4.5 or 4.7 midfielder, his stack up fairly well against that of Dendoncker, Hayden or Douglas Luiz.
Dani Ceballos, at 5.7 is owned by 9.5% in the top 1k and 13.1% across FPL.
We know Emery loves to rotate his midfielders, but with Mkhitaryan moving to AS Roma, that might open up Ceballos to a starting spot.
If he can nail that spot down, he could be the best option all season long at that price point, which started at 5.5.
I think we need to take a second look at Leicester, they started the season slow with just 1 goal in their first two, as many FPL owners had high expectations.
In the last 2 games they have scored 2 and 3 goals, which could bring their midfielder back into contention for a starting spot.
I still continue to back Youri Tielemans at 6.4 He’s 0.1 more then teammate, Ayoze Perez, but feel he brings more to the table then Perez when it comes to assists and bonus points.
His ownership is just 3.9% across FPL making him an excellent differential, especially if the Foxes find their scoring boots.
Tielemans scored 12 in GW on a goal, assist and 2 bonus points.
Their fixtures are tough, away to United, home to Spurs and away to Liverpool in GW8, but lots of green through GW17!
Another midfielder, Manuel Lanzini, 6.5 and 3.1%, a bit pricy, given some of the other options at that price point, but he’s got some good attacking options around him in Haller, Yarmalenko and Felipe Anderson.
Quietly, Daniel James, 6.1 with a 4.7% ownership across FPL has scored 3 goals in 4 games but not many are talking about him.
Finally, Richarlison. Here’s someone I have been against since his move to Everton, but he likes to score early in the season and got on the card with 2 goals in GW4.
At 7.9, he too isn’t cheap and in a tough price bracket, but Everton have some good games, outside of GW7 trip to Man City.
Hopefully that helps Emma, good luck out of the break.
Next, we have Marco, from The Art of the Dive, “What is your threshold for the use of the WC?”
Since I burned my WC ahead of GW3, maybe my threshold isn’t that high.
Going off just 2 game weeks, it can be difficult to size up the team and see where my needs were.
I identified 7 players that would need to move, mainly to accommodate Sterling into a team that already had Salah, KDB and Kane.
6 of those 6 players were starters, makes me wonder why I didn’t start with a stronger XI from GW1?
I didn’t and I wanted Sterling going forward.
However, I don’t want to put a threshold on the wild card, use it when it makes sense for your squad.
I didn’t want to burn points early in the season, especially starting off where I did.
I activated my wild card the same time last season and had a great run that helped key a climb to 11k before shit hit the fan.
So no numbers, wild card when you feel it’s right or when you had too much beer to drink.
Thanks Marco. Let’s dive!
Next from Wilson, “A rival in my mini-league doesn’t have any players over 9.5 and has a OR of 200k.
Lucky fluke to her season, or do we really need high priced premiums?”
9.5 for me starts looking premium to me but this year I think there have been some excellent options in the mid to budget range that have started the season very well.
4 of the top 5 forwards are priced from 6.7 to 8.9, only Aguero is pulling his weight, leading all forwards as 12.1 million with 40 points on the back of his hat trick.
Still if you had Pukki/Barnes or Barnes/Haller or even Vardy, you would be doing fine.
The midfield, not so much even though there is excellent value, 3 of the top 4 are all premiums; Sterling, Salah and Mane, all 11.5 and above.
KDB as I said at 9.5 pushing that premium envelope, but also playing the best.
Defensively, until I see the premiums providing more clean sheets I think we pile our budget into the attacking options.
I dumped my Liverpool defenders and will most likely be moving Zinchenko to fund a move to Aguero, which means a 4.5 cheapie in a 3-5-2 formation.
All that said, over a 38-week season, there are reasons premium players are priced what they are.
They deliver. It rarely fails, so if you buy in on a premium, I say stick with them.
From FPL Stein, “What are my FPL Twitter bugbears and Sterling or Aguero?”
Thanks Stein let’s start with the player question first.
I say own both.
Not cheap mind you, not the conventional way to go, as Aguero is owned by 21.1% across FPL, while Sterling is 47.6%.
Ownership will sell you Sterling, but the excitement of Aguero never seems to go away, year after year.
Rest assured City will lead the league in goal, Aguero will bag 20, again and Sterling should hit similar targets we saw last year.
However, if you can own just one, now then I back Sterling, his ownership numbers are too strong to ignore and my reason I activated my wild card.
As for annoyance on Twitter, I think it’s like any social media outlet, you got to separate the good from the bullshit.
There is A LOT of bullshit on Twitter, much of which I ignore.
In fact sometimes I feel it’s information overload and FPL managers can get sucked into that herd mentality and end up making a decision that isn’t a good one.
Twitter is really the only source of FPL information I use. I rarely read articles, even though I write many of them for 90MAAT, Planet FPL and my 6th Goal website.
Thanks Stein, good luck in GW5.
FPL Beer Club member, Mr WP asks, “One player from each position for a wildcard team? Also any low owned players that have decent runs? Would you rather have one city D or 2 city mids?”
Thanks Si, let’s look at the City question, I would much rather have 2 City mids but currently own that third player, who is Zinchenko, but he’s short lived for my starting XI.
KDB seems a no-brainer right now, 6 returns in 4 game weeks and looking like he did a few years ago.
Also kindly priced at 9.6 when compared to teammates, Salah and Mane.
Low owned players I touched on in Emma’s question.
Daniel James of United, Richarlison at Everton, if you can look past their City fixture, Haller at West Ham and possibly even Pepe or Ceballos at Arsenal.
All low ownership numbers with some good games in the next 4 to 7 weeks.
Finally, one player from each position on a WC;
Price bring no option I go with Nick Pope in goal, van Dijk as my defender, KDB in the midfield and Pukki up top.
All those players are highly owned in the top 1k, Pukki second highest at 91.1% owned next to Sterling at 94.7% but would favor KDB for more consistent returns over the season.
Cheers, Mr. WP!
From Kenny McDowell, “How should you weigh the risk of transfers in before any price increase vs the risk of injury over the IB, it’s hard to be patient.”
Right now, depending on where your team value is and the needs of your team, I would take into consideration those players you are considering, see if they are on international duty.
If they are, then hold until after the games have concluded, no reason to pop an early transfer only to find out your midfielder you just brought in stretched a hammy.
If they are not on international duty, you might move early, in order to catch a price rise that could potentially give you that 0.1 or 0.2 we always need.
Patience is hard, but weigh the options and needs of your team. Good luck.
Our final question from the mail bag from KTK, “I have a front line of Kane, Rashford & Wood – stick with them or time to move on?”
Tough question, lots of budget tied up top with Kane and Rashford.
With Eriksen not moving in the transfer window, I see no reason Poch will leave him out of the starting XI, which should only help feed balls to Kane in the coming weeks.
Spurs have a nice 5-game run CRY/lei/SOU/bha/WAT. Could mean some good returns for Kane and company.
Rashford on 21 points but no returns in the last 2 games. A mixed set of games, I might tend to look for another in form forward to fill his role and save some budget to use elsewhere.
We all thought Wood would be the man to start the season, but it Barnes off to a great start for Burnley.
The Clarets have a great run in the next 5 games, it feels lateral, but but Wood hasn’t returned in 4 games.
Some good options available at 8.5 and less if you decided to ship Rashford. Haller, Abraham, Pukki or Barnes, could even look at Callum Wilson, 4 returns in 4 games and all those moves save you money.
<queue Spanish Flea>
That’s it for Episode 47, thanks for listening.
It’s some well deserved time off and away from the fantasy world and back to reality.
For me, I’ve got a 15-mile backpacking trip through Yosemite Park next weekend, a trip I am looking very forward to.
Got things to sort out around the house as well, spend some time with my wife and son and just relax with no Premier League action this week.
So take some time off, relax and reset.
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Thanks for listening to The Pitch & Pint Podcast, FPL from inside the six.