*queue Nat King Cole* “Unforgettable, that’s what you are…” That was the result at the conclusion of GW4, a second unforgettable game week and we are just four weeks into the FPL season. It’s not a personnel problem, as I activated my first wild card ahead of GW3 and have a strong starting XI. It was just one of those down weeks…again! It’s now two red arrows in the opening four weeks as the Premier League heads into the first international break. I do take comfort in knowing, I have two free transfers to use when play resumes.
Ahead of the game week, I did carry some high expectations coming off a strong GW3, post wild card, that saw an overall score of 62 points. As written, I figured a score of 75-88 points for GW4 would be where my team would finish. As luck would have it, I was well off that pace, finishing with just 48 points on the game week. It was also the second captain failure to start the season. It was a combination of factors that led to a score below the weekly average of 57 points and saw a 500k red arrow dropping me to 935k OR.
Unlike the start to last season, defenses have struggled through four games week. At this point last seen, defenses had combined for 20 clean sheets, compared to just 14 we’ve seen this season. The big mover, Liverpool with three fewer CS this season, compared to last. All that budget managers pushed to the back line potentially being redistributed, as downgrading premiums has started, in order to improve the attack. That’s my line of thinking, even though I did not set a starting XI with a full set of premium defenders.
This week’s demise started at the back line, again. In GW2 and GW3 my defense scored a combined 11 points, but GW4 saw that number improve thanks in part to Zinchenko’s clean sheet. The defensive unit score 11 points, but that’s not half of what a full spread of CS would have provided and not nearly enough to build a successful week on. Questions are being asked about the viability of United and Everton at the back, both who showed promise in the first few weeks, but haven’t been good recently. At some point, FPL managers need to make a decision about their back line and stick with it, hoping for the best.
The midfield is where I’ve scored most of my points, as I have run out a 3-5-2, two of the last three weeks. The fifth midfielder, Todd Cantwell is a rotational player used in conjunction with John Lundstram, depending on FDR. Much like rotating goalkeepers, this is just another decision that needs to be made weekly. With CS down to start the season, Cantwell might be that budget fifth midfielder who will continue to get starts over the defender.
I captained Raheem Sterling for the second consecutive week and he failed to return any attacking points in a 4-0 City victory over Brighton. Goals and points going to KDB and Sergio Aguero. At no point did I consider KDB an option, while consistent he doesn’t have that explosiveness of a Sterling, Aguero, Salah or Mane. But maybe big captain hauls aren’t necessary? This fantasy game is about consistency. If KDB can tick along, averaging 7/PPG I would that an excellent fantasy season. Currently, he’s averaging 9/PPG! So does he now make himself viable? If a manager had captained KDB from GW1, he would have returns of 14, 22, 10 and 26. All successful captain returns!
KDB finished with a goal and assist and two bonus points for 13 points, while Salah picked up an assist and clean sheet for 6 points. The Sterling failure combined with Mason Mount not providing and Cantwell posting his second scoreless game saw my starting XI struggle. All was not lost, as I did have Harry Kane playing Sunday in the North London derby.
Up top, I honestly thought Norwich City would have a better showing at West the London Stadium against West Ham. The Hammers hadn’t been the strongest team defensive, but they were able to slow down a Canaries attack that had been good until this game week. Pukki posted a no return, but is still on a 5 goals for the season. As for Kane, it was nearly a brace, as he hit from the spot for his only goal, but had an excellent, tight angle blast careen off the post, back into play. So close, yet so far away.
A week off from action is very welcomed. It’s interesting to draw some parallels between this season and last. I’ve now activated the wild card, the same time this year as last. I am just 3 points (232 vs 235) off the pace of where I was last year, headed into the international break. I’ve got 2 FTs to potentially use when play resumes. One big difference, last year it was defense providing returns, this year with a decrease in clean sheets, the midfield has really played that important role.