I’ve got to admit, I am beginning to favor these international breaks as a time to step away from the FPL game and responsibilities I’ve taken on writing for 90MAAT and Planet FPL, as well as the articles I post on this site and the weekly podcast, Pitch & Pint Podcast. It allows me that time to relax and reset, while not worrying about transfers, captains and strategies. Now, as we turn an eye toward the weekend, it’s time to get back into the FPL grind as GW9 is coming quickly and as I mentioned in Episode 52: Fixing the Break, could be an “SDM” or season defining moment.
As I mentioned in my GW8 retrospect and on the podcast, I should happy, finishing on a green arrow, the first in three weeks. The weekly average was just 36 points, so I took pleasure in the 43 points I scored even if it was my second lowest score this season. As I’ve said a few times this season, hopefully this the green arrow that turns red arrows to green and I start to see more successful results.
Out of the break I’ve fondling two free transfers ahead of the weekend with some big decisions to make. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been heading my transfer out list for a few weeks now. I just haven’t been impressed with City’s “lack at the back,” which could be justified with injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, but it’s the return of Ben Mendy that is more concerning. I was also planning on shutting down the “Pukki Party” with no returns in three weeks, the Finn has looked a shade of his scoring self, as his underlying numbers are still very good. While on international duty, Pukki scored twice. Does this success change our opinion on the Norwich forward?
Players under consideration for a few weeks are based on the upcoming 4-game block, as we will hit a third international break after GW12. Another consideration, even though we are still in October, the upcoming winter fixture pileup in December. I’ve started to put some weight in that portion of the season, where to make up ground and possibly avoid rotation woes. It might be asking a bit much this soon, but burning an early wild card could always come back to bite me in the ass.
Dropping Zinchenko will free up budget, as I look to bolster the forward line. While the Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have both missed minutes in the early part of the season, I am not too concerned about their playing time or ability to post attacking returns. The same can be said for Mo Salah, unless he picks up a long term injury, I have no plans to move him this season. Mason Mount was picked up on the wild card and with Chelsea’s good run through mid-January there are no intentions of moving off him.
Defensively, I’ve been looking at West Ham, Wolves, Chelsea and Brighton. These four teams all offer budget options that have started the season very well. I bought in on Leicester City last week with Caglar Soyuncu and no intentions of adding, what I feel, is an overpriced, Ricardo Pereira. The short list of defenders include, Aaron Cresswell (£5.0), Ryan Fredericks (£4.5), Issa Diop (£4.5), Matt Doherty (£6.0), Wily Boly (£5.0), Fikayo Tomori (£4.7) and Lewis Dunk (£4.6).
Here’s what the FDR looks like for the teams, based on defense. Tomori could be a prime consideration, as Chelsea have a great run into January, but they haven’t been tight on defense, conceding 14 goals, the 4th worst in the Premier League. West Ham are tied with three clean sheets, top of the league with seven other clubs. Injuries, I feel have played had a negative impact on teams, Liverpool and City haven’t been impressive to date. Wolves are interesting, as they have put together back to back wins, they first two on the season, but are still involved in midweek Europa League games. They’ve looked good against Watford and City recently, so it begs the question, are they hitting their Premier League stride out of the break?
Maybe Arsenal should be given consideration, but aside from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, I just can’t take their defenders and midfielders as viable options. There has been some discussion on Hector Bellerin, when fit, as well as Kieran Tierney, the Scot is set to make his league debut this weekend against Sheffield United. At £5.4 and unproven, I think it’s a gamble. Calum Chambers (£4.4) could be a viable option, but it depends on how Unai Emery is going to set up his starting XI, if Bellerin returns to the pitch.
At this point in time, I can’t take Bournemouth or Everton defense as good buys. Everton has been in a tailspin recently, as Marco Silva could be on the hot seat and headed out, if their poor results continue. Someone please tell me the last time the Cherries had a good defense? I can’t remember one, so Diego Rico (£4.1) will never be an option for me.
The defensive option could be contingent on what I decide to do with Teemu Pukki. Ahead of the break and his third blank I was ready to use my second transfer to bring in a new forward. With just £0.1 ITB, all the premium options were off the board but there were a few min-priced forwards to consider including Callum Wilson (£7.9) and Raul Jimenez (£7.1). I started the year with the Mexican, but after just two weeks decided to move on Pukki during the wild card. While the move did pay off, could it be time to give Jimenez a second thought? Against City he picked up two assists to go with two goals. Mexico coach Gerardo Martino decided to leave Jimenez out of the international fixtures, in order to recover. Wolves have the third best FDR for attack over the upcoming four game stretch.
Wilson has been one of the most consistent forward this season, posting eight attacking returns in his first eight games, but blanked away to Arsenal in a 1-0 loss. He’s been one of the top targets for FPL managers moving off Pukki, now down 381k managers. Wilson has picked up nearly 15% of new owners over the break, which could see him pick up another £0.1, returning him to his starting price of £8.0. If I wait until tomorrow, I could price myself out of Wilson by £0.1 as the Cherries face three of the worst defenses in the league in the upcoming four games; Norwich City, Watford and Newcastle. To put one final spin on Wilson, he’s strike partner, while not happy, Josh King is just £6.3 with 10 fewer points than Wilson’s 48 points. At last check, he was still on penalty duties.
Here is how it breaks down based on the forwards under consideration:
- Callum Wilson / £4.5 defender (Fredericks, Diop)
- Raul Jimenez / £5.3 defender (Cresswell, Fredericks, Diop, Boly, Tomori, Dunk)
- Teemu Pukki / £5.5 defender (Cresswell, Fredericks, Diop, Boly, Tomori, Dunk)
While defense hasn’t been impressive this season, let’s put one more factor into play. Goals scored, looking at the worst scoring teams we see Watford (4), Newcastle (5), Everton (6) and Sheffield United (7) and three tied with 8 goals (SOU, BHA, CRY). Based on goals scored, that tips West Ham as the defense to own, as they play eve/SHU/NEW/bur into the next break.
Based on the above data I’ve collected, Ryan Fredericks (£4.5) will be transferred in for Zinchenko, putting £0.5 ITB. The final decision, what to with the £7.4 and the forward position. Hold Pukki or bring in Jimenez? As it stands right now, I am leaning on moving Pukki, as Norwich City have just one goal in their last three games, losing three in a row since their shocking 3-2 win against City. Jimenez rested and Wolves looking as lethal as they did last season are trending up on the back of two wins, scoring four goals during that time.