2019/20 Premier League: GW9 Starting XI

Yesterday, during my tinker and transfer session the decision was made to look at some advanced planning for the the hectic holiday fixture period, which I have tabbed as GW14-GW21. While NOTHING is set in stone, there are some players I want to introduce at certain points between now and early December. Having already activated my wild card, a little bit of planning now could  help stave off unneeded or unnecessary hits later. I’ve brought this up because this planning helped me determine my transfers this week and if you read yesterday’s article, GW9 Transfers, then you have some idea the direction I went.

It’s been a struggle the first eight weeks of the season, which has been interrupted by a much welcomed, international break. While it might not be the best way for players, clubs and countries to get these games in, I do like getting away from the FPL game for a week, to 10 days and hopefully return with a different outlook on the season. Yet, out of the first break after GW4, I recorded two green arrows, compared to just one in the first four weeks. Maybe we call those “baby steps.” Out of this most recent break, there are some higher expectations, especially with two vital transfers being used to improve my starting XI.

Teemu Pukki. I could have gone either way on the Finnish forward, coming off international duty scoring twice, there was strong consideration to hold the Norwich forward through Bournemouth. The big statistic that weighed heavy, just one goal away from Carrow Road. That lack of output was more important then the fact the Cherries defense have conceded seven goals at home (4th worst). I didn’t have to put that much thought or effort into dropping Oleksandr Zinchenko, as I felt the  City defender wasn’t playing up to his price, City wasn’t keeping clean sheets and felt he wasn’t long for a starting position in Pep’s squad. Both players were my sacrificial lambs for the slaughter ahead of GW9.

DEFENDERS

Since GW7, I’ve introduced three new starting defenders, while restructuring budget and formation. This week Ryan Fredericks gets the nod, bring brought in for the long(er) term to partner with Cagler Soyuncu and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Two viable options on the bench in John Lundstram and Martin Kelly. Both have tough fixtures this week but I could see starting Lundstram at home, but if that were the case, the Fredericks transfer didn’t need to happen. I still feel Lundstram is a solid first bench player.

Expectations, as they are every week continue to run high in hopes we start to see CONSISTENCY at the defensive end. West Ham probably has the best shot at a clean sheet, playing an Everton club that have scored just one goal away from Goodison Park. Looking back to 2016 and the rivalry, Man United v. Liverpool it’s interesting to note the three, 0-0 games and only three times has either team scored more than one goal (Liverpool twice, two and three goals, United, three goals). Could bode well for TAA, as I will keep en eye on the CS, but hope for something at the attacking end for Pool. At £7.1, he needs to do something than pick up bonus points. Our final defender, Soyuncu did feature in this fixture last year, which saw it end up as a 0-0 draw, shortly after the helicopter crash that killed the Leceister chairman. Defensive Expectations: 15 points

MIDFIELDERS

So much potential in the midfield! That has been the cause of so much pain and anguish through eight weeks. Missed starts, failed captains, no attacking returns and this is where the bulk of my budget resides. It’s the same 4-man midfield I’ve rolled out the last four weeks. Big expectations, but will they bang this week? Raheem Sterling has been sold over the break for his lack of returns, just a goal over the last four games. This week I continue to stand by him, as well as the playmaker for City, Kevin De Bruyne, who missed GW8 due to injury, He’s been one of the top performers this season and would not be surprised to see another double digit haul from him.

Many FPL managers are playing the “Mane-Salah Game” this week as the Egyptian has been transferred out by over 416k managers! For me, Mane is “feast or famine.” So, it’s either a big return or nothing, I’ve decided Salah provide more consistent returns, which is more important to me. That along with the fact I sold him last year and it came back to bite me in the ass, so I’ve got a slight case of FOMO. I have no doubts with Mason Mount, the Chelsea man has become a Frank Lampard regular in the starting XI. He’s posted returns in his last two games and three out of four. Midfield Expectations: 50 points

FORWARDS

The toughest decision this week, what to do with Pukki? In the end, I was not swayed by Adam Hopcroft’s video to keep or sell the Canary forward. Longer term planning dictated I move to Raul Jimenez now, to take advantage of the Wolves FDR, which is the second best over the next four week period. When I look further out, Wolves still have a generous schedule out of the break through GW18, with the possibility of holding him through GW21.

Sebastien Haller and Tammy Abraham round out my starting foward line. Haller has saved him job with a goal and assist in the last two game weeks and his numbers aren’t terrible, hopefully he can get the chances inside the box he needs to be effective. Abraham has been excellent on the season, even though he hit a two week spell (GW6/GW7) with no returns, but I like the Chelsea front man this week to double his pleasure with a brace at home against Newcastle. He’s been one of the top forwards the last two weeks with solid numbers over the past 4 weeks with 4 goals, 15 attempts and 6 big chances. Forward Expectations: 30 points.

CAPTAIN

This decision is more difficult to make than should I hold or sell Pukki? Right now, the armband is on Abraham, with the vice captain as Jimenez. Both forwards are home, but comparing the Newcastle and Southampton defense on the road, the Magpies have conceded 12 goals in 4 games, the Saints, just 5 goals. Jimenez would be a punt, not only adding him to my starting XI, as he’s owned by just 8.3% across FPL and none in the top 1k. A true differential, especially with how poorly captains have performed.

CONCLUSION

Lofty expectations again as I am hoping for 95 points at the end of the week. Realistically, I don’t think it will happen, but I can dream big! What I haven’t seen to date that “big” week. Now, my thinking tells me to keep my weekly scoring consistent. Last year, it was just one week achieving a weekly score over 100 points. While always welcomed, as long as I pick up a green arrow, everything will work itself out. One final note, my goal for GW10, as mentioned by Always Cheating, to have a weekly PPG average of 60 points. That means I need to average 71.5 points for the next two weeks to meet that goal.

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