It’s Thursday and time to consider my options for GW3. While both teams are headed in different directions, I have a good feeling about both of them. The main team (6thGoal) has scored 136 points over two weeks and that is a weekly average I would really like to maintain. However, it was the 5-man defensive team (FPL Beer Mule) that posted the small, green arrow, but struggled the first week because of the lack of clean sheets. Now on just 108 points, there is much work to be done when building from the back. Change is inevitable and it might be time to consider the wild card a viable option. Reviewing the FDR, there’s a shift in teams rolling into purple patches as well.
WILD CARD FACTORS
Now I am not going to tell you it’s time for you to activate your first wild card, which needs to be used no later than GW16. You need to make the determination for yourself when reviewing your team and preparing for the upcoming period of games. While it would be nice to hold until the start of the festive period, if we get that far before another COVID shutdown, the fact is there is no right or wrong time to activate it. I would be lying if I told you I am not considering activating the wild card for both my teams. I am the same manager that told you a week ago, “I like my team, might actually make it past GW3 before I WC.” So much for that thought.
When I look over my team, I am seeing some key problems:
- Missing out on premium players.
- Injuries sustained in GW2.
- Non-performing players.
- Wanting a stronger bench.
- Change of formation.
Prior to the start of the season, when preplanning and strategy were being drawn up, I noticed that both of my teams were quite similar, minus the five premium defenders. The original thought was to make these teams noticeably different but when FPL managers start building teams and transferring players, its common for millions to share a handful of players. Not ready to whisper the word, “template” after just two game weeks.
Pictured below is the current status of my squad ahead of GW2. At the conclusion of the game week this team scored 61 points (total 108 points) and rank of 2.8 million. To say there is work to be done is an understatement but there are not really many goals I am shooting for with this team. It’s something different that isn’t a zombie team I can play with in an attempt to see how a 5-man defense competes during the year.
PLAYERS & CONCERNS
When I look over my squad there is an omission that I am really struggling with. Mo Salah. Since signing with Liverpool his performances have been solid and he, like others in the midfield are the cornerstone for many FPL managers. When I look at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, I don’t get that sense, he’s a fantastic player, who during the offseason was reclassified from forward to midfield, which means he could rival Salah in terms of the total points.
In just 14 games at the end of the season, Bruno Fernandes scored 117 points, returning in 11 games! I know I bought into the magic he displayed on the pitch, but he and the Red Devils looked off in GW2 against Crystal Palace. If you talk to Garf, FPL_Shark, he believes United is “3 weeks off the pace…” Three weeks in FPL is an eternity, right? While I bought and stashed Fernandes on the bench, based on United FDR, he might not get a second chance on my team this early in the season. That might be the wrong decision, based on what we have seen from other talented players who didn’t return in GW1, were sold by many mangers only to bite you in the ass in GW2. Son? Kane? Anyone?
James Rodriguez, while he didn’t return in GW1 looked sharp and the following week rewarded FPL managers with 12 points. However, the pricing system is broken and the Columbian has yet to see a price increase, unlike a few other players who have gone up once, possibly even twice since the start of the season. At this point, I am holding Rodriguez, he is the real deal and I like that fact he is reunited with Carlo Ancelotti and Everton have looked the best I have seen them in years!
I took a chance and doubled up with Newcastle to start the season. Based on their FDR, it was a good short term gamble. Callum Wilson made the jump from Bournemouth, where he scored 41 goals over five season, a career high 14 goals and 12 assists during the 2018/19 season. While he has the ability to repeat that with the midfield behind him, including his playing partner at the Cherries, Ryan Fraser, I am moving off the Magpies until GW8 when their fixtures team with that shithousery team from the south coast, the Saints.
What are current thoughts on Spurs? While I couldn’t afford their attacking options, I did bye in on Matt Doherty because of his statistics from Wolves. He’s attack minded, posting 15 assists the last two seasons and 20 clean sheets. His inclusion for Jose Mourinho’s squad should improve that defense. Much like having a healthy Hugo Lloris in goal, who missed much of last season. Though two games, Doherty has just two points but missed out on his first assist of the season, as Harry Kane was deemed offside last weekend. Spurs play NEW/mun/WHU/bur/BHA in the next five games, with the international break after game week four.
BUIILDING BETTER BALLERS
The treble Liverpool is quite risky, but very rewarding, especially if the Reds backed a clean sheet with some attacking returns. Looking back at last year’s interrupted season it only occurred four times. One of these defenders will need to make way for Man City’s Laporte. Along with Liverpool I feel this is the best defense in the league as they concede the fewest shots, just 280 last season. Fewer chances means fewer shots and fewer goals. At least that logic is sound. City was second to Liverpool in shots on target with 111. The question becomes who do you partner Laporte with? Nathan Ake? Kyle Walker? Feel those are the strongest of the defensive options back there.
Transferring out a Liverpool defender will allow me to reconsider Salah to partner with Rodriguez and De Bruyne in the midfield, but will also require two 4.5 million bench players. The saving grace in the forward line, I will be able to have three viable starters at 6.0 million and up. Depending on how I set up the formation, one of these “balllers” might not have a starting spot. As mentioned early, Mitrovic starts until GW9. Shuffling the remaining budget around allows me two options. Three forwards that would include Chris Wood and Dominick Calvert-Lewin. The other option drop DCL, add Raul Jimenez and pick up a non playing third forward (4.5).
6TH GOAL’S MAIN GOAL
Not disappointed with this squad, even though they did not tick over a green arrow in GW2. OR is not a goal this season, when I am looking at some of the other goals I want to achieve. In two weeks, I’ve gone 2-0 in a few H2H leagues, which is great news. The weekly average is still 68 points, which is excellent! Now approaching GW3 I’ve started tracking my VAPM and points I need to achieve a baseline for my team of 0.35. This is a topic I touched on in Episode 61 of the Pitch & Pint Podcast this week.
So IF the wild card is activated, here are the plans for the next 4-6 games weeks, keeping in mind the international break after GW4. Defensively I move out Alex McCarthy and bring in Emiliano Martinez. We saw how well he played in front of a rather less than stellar Arsenal defense last season and is now the starter for Villa with an improved defense.
The defenders are still built around Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, based on the fact he is on dead balls. Charlie Taylor also keeps his starting spot and doesn’t need to be a regular in my starting XI, but does play 90 minutes and has a great foot for assists. Maybe my conviction for double Liverpool is too strong, even if I were to drop one of the two, I wouldn’t save any budget as I would buy in on a City defender. The other defense I am looking at now is Wolves, great run to GW7. Initially, I was considering Roman Saiss, but the addition of Nelson Semedo has me reconsidering.
While I would love to stay on Mitrovic through GW9, his ownership is just 7.9% in the top 1k, which could be a determent or benefit as a differential. When comparing his TSB% to that of Calvert Lewin (22.1%) and Jimenez (22.9%) owned by the same group, the choice becomes easy. Sorry Mitro, need to run with the bigger dogs up front than take a flier on a poor Fulham that relies solely on your for goals.
No wild card decisions until Friday, still much information to consider before hitting that activation button. As I have said in the past, there is no right or wrong time to wild card. Activate this chip when you feel you need a major overhaul to your team. At this point, activation will tie my hands as we roll into mid December and the festive period. With COVID still a major concern, who knows, we might see another stoppage of the Premier League for a period of time, at which point I can only believe FPL would restart much like we did last season, giving everyone a freebie for the restart. Not that I am planning on implementing that sort of strategy. Good luck to all in GW3!