FPL: Captain Conundrum

As Gameweek 6 comes into view, I take a look back at what has transpired the first 5 weeks in the EPL. For me, it’s been a strong start to the FPL season, while my overall score doesn’t tell the entire story, I carry a confident feeling into this weekend’s action. It was decided early in pre-season I was going to play an unconventional formation, after reading Firetog’s article, In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. This was the point in time I decided I was going to start a 5-man defense to begin the season.

As summer rolled on, with the transfer window in full effect I began concentrating my efforts on a 5-3-2 formation, with two options. Neither of those options materialized, as 2 hours before the start of the EPL season I made a rash decision to move Lukaku out, scrap the 5-3-2 and changed my strategy with a 5-2-3, which included Kane, Firmino and Jesus up front.

While we know the outcome of not owning Lukaku and the August woes of Kane this article brings into focus the struggles with the captain’s armband. Being the highest owned player in the FPL, it was no surprise that Lukaku topped the captaincy charts weekly. While many have moved Kane in favor of more “in form” forwards, I have continued to show support for him, based on the outstanding underlying statistics.

Thanks in part to FPL Statistico, the numbers don’t lie. There is no way to play with the numbers to shed a positive light on a poor captaincy situation. I’ve tried and failed every time I look for a silver lining when I prepare to don the captain’s armband. Through 5 weeks here are the players I have captained:

  1. Harry Kane (away NEW)
  2. Kevin De Bruyne (home EVE)
  3. Harry Kane (home BUR)
  4. Roberto Firmino (away MCI)
  5. Harry Kane (home SWA)

Without knowing any other information, the only captain that seems out of place is the armband on Firmino, away to City in GW4. All the rest would appear to be quality captain selections. Based more on how players like KDB and Kane finished the 2016/2017 season, there was little to discourage fantasy managers from tapping these players not have success early this season.

I can hear many already saying, “yeah, but Harry Kane can’t score in August.” Sure, it’s been documented that Kane hasn’t performed well in August. Couple that with the fact that Spurs are playing their home fixtures at the larger, Wembley Stadium. I chose to ignore both factors and include Kane in my starting XI. That’s an 18 point difference from Lukaku (non-captained points). Mistake? Sure, but that’s and article for another time.

Captain points have been tough to come by to date. Through 5 gameweeks my selections, as well as that by many other fantasy mangers, has yielded just 18 points (that’s a paltry 3.6 points/armband) or 6.9% of my overall score. The vice-captain selections haven’t fared much better, just 2 points better. Looking at each individual gameweek doesn’t reveal much when it comes to the “better” options when deciding on the armband.

The first week of the season it came down to four options, KDB, Jesus, Firmino or Kane. In my GW1 Retrospect I wrote, “To start this season, the armband was on Lukaku before I transferred him, handing the captaincy to Kane, who was listed in many polls as the second choice option. If I would have held steady and not moved Lukaku I would have finished 25 point higher.” Yet, moving Lukaku saw me change the formation from a 5-3-2 to a 5-2-3 in order to spend bigger on defense. Spurs were facing newly promoted Newcastle, the match up appeared favorable, unfortunately Kane was yellow carded, but played 90 minutes and scored just 2 points.

The following week, I moved from Kane as Spurs were home to Chelsea and didn’t like the match up. While Man City didn’t have a very impressive 2-0 win over Brighton to open then season, the captain selection came down to a shorter list; KDB, Jesus and Firmino. Backing City, I selection KDB. GW2 Retrospect read, “Some reports of KDB playing deeper, allowing David Silva a more advanced position could shed a negative light on his potential, especially at £10.0. Returns of 3 and 4 (as I captained him in GW2) doesn’t bode well with the likes of Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Eriksen and Alli outplaying KDB at a cheaper price.” De Bruyne did not return wearing the armband and finished the game with 4 points.

Gameweek 3 had the makings of  Spurs explosion, home to Burnley, who struggled on the road last season. In the Starting XI article I wrote, “Heading into GW3, with a Spurs double (Eriksen & Kane) home to Burnley, I feel confident big returns are possible from Wembley.” At this point, even with the August struggles I continue to back Kane wearing the armband. With City not posting big scores and Liverpool home to Arsenal, I played the favorable match up. The retrospect reflected, “Captained again, he failed to return, but much like the previous two weeks, he had solid underlying stats. Not sure how much longer I can continue to promote this point and have with him in my starting XI.” Yet, here we are heading into Gameweek 5 and I am struggling to move away from Kane. Firmino surprisingly posted 12 points this gameweek.

After failing to return two of the first three weeks, I changed gears and handed Robert Firmino the armband away to City. Chalk this up to stupidity, as I talked myself into Firmino and out of Kane as the week progressed. Thanks Twitter! No Vincent Kompany meant a weaker City defense, but that wasn’t the case, as City spanked a 10-man Liverpool, 5-0. Firmino left the game on 66 minutes and didn’t return. This, the first weekend in September and Kane broke duck for the brace! Too bad he was my vice-captain, as this should have been my first big haul with him wearing the arm band. Jesus also posted a brace, but I didn’t really consider him with, as I favored Liverpool to defeat City.

Being the glutton for punishment I am, I moved back to Kane for GW5, home to Swansea. Again, statistics in favor of Harry, underlying stats excellent, he couldn’t finish and the match ended in a scoreless draw. After GW4, I wrote, “Kane appears to have the August “Hoodoo Voodoo” behind him and will look to get on track to his third Golden Boot this weekend, away to Everton. Backed by ungodly statistics, I continue to have faith in Kane putting up big numbers.” Firmino and Jesus again, were considerations but I am mesmerized by Kane. Much like last year with Sanchez, I did not want to get caught moving Kane in and out of my lineup, so I decided to hold steady and keep the armband on him. For the week, it was another no return, just 4 points.

Bad luck? Bad decision making? Probably a bit of both. Interesting to consult FPL Statistico for some data. If I always captained my vice-captain, I would have score 40 points (an improvement of 22 points). After 5 weeks I would be on 273 points if I had captained the highest scorer between the captain and vice-captain. However if I captained the player with the most points each week on my squad, I would be on 310 overall points, which would put me in the top 58k.

Luck continues to play a factor in fantasy football. Not all managers get a sniff during the season, but a bit of luck can go a long way in your fantasy football season.

Premier League GW5 Draft Retrospect

While I was unavailable all weekend, it appeared my starting XI were off to a great start on Saturday behind the foot of Sergio Aguero who fired home 3 goals against Watford. However “it got complicated” on Sunday and while I had a fair score, when compared to the other 7 teams in my league, I struggled to gain any ground on those above me. Prior to the start of GW5 I made 6 moves bringing in new talent in hopes of trying to gain an advantage to close the gap on the top three teams.

Gameweek 5 wasn’t too kind, as I introduce 6 new players to my 15-man squad, 5 of which were inserted to the starting XI. The only exceptiong being Fabianski, because of his match up away to Spurs. Little did any fantasy manager know he would shutout Spurs and gain 11 points on the day! It was my hope that bringing new players in would put me in a better situation it chip away at the leaders this week. In fact, I did gain all the three managers above me in the standing, which sees me 41 points behind the top spot.

On the day, nearly half my points came from Kun Aguero, scoring 20 points on his 3 goals/1 assist game. Unfortunately, his new strike partners failed to return, as I brought in Christian Benteke and Joselu. The Benteke move was more to prevent another manager from picking him up, while Joselu, like Kane had some great underlying stats.

In the midfielder, Philippe Coutinho made his first start on the season, lasting 78 minutes but not returning. From what I heard, his position was a bit deeper than where we saw him last season. He partnered with Dele Alli, who gained one addition point because of the clean sheet against Swans. Jese and Mooy, on the bench were both ineffective on the weekend. Pedro left at halftime, as he picked up knock, scoring just a single points. Change could be necessary in the upcoming week.

Much like my traditional FPL team I have leaned towards a #5mandefence for much of the season. This week I brought in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Charlie Daniels and Ben Mendy, all as starters. TAA was a punt against Burnley, but was left with no return as the game finished 1-1. Daniels was brought in for Yoshida (8 points in GW5) against Brighton looked promising, but the attacking defender was left with no return, leaving me in a -6 deficit. Hegazi out for Mendy in was a wash, as both finished with clean sheets (6 points). Elliot started the week between the sticks and even with a save bonus, he scored just 3 points.

Overall I have scored 202 points, with 57 for the current game week. As noted I did gain points on all the managers above me, but still have some transactions forthcoming in order to strengthen my team. As of today I have put in two waiver claims.  The first claim is to move TAA in favor of John Stones, doubling up on Man City defenders. Ritchie is still on the free agency list and has 4 assists in the last 3 games and and Brighton in GW6. If no other manager claims him, I will bring in and move Mooy out. Pascal Groß is currently the highest (32 points) midfielder on the free agency list.

 

Premier League: GW5 Retrospect

Someone please tell me what the hell happened this weekend? Away at adult leadership training (Wood Badge), I did not have an opportunity to watch a snippet of football this weekend, but it can be summed up with one name. Harry Kane. *shakes head* The frustration continues this season as Harry fired yet ANOTHER blank against bottom dwellers, Swansea City, who ended with a 0-0 draw at Wembley. I am beginning to this stadium is NOT a favorable home for Spurs.

With wildcard activated late during the week, I transformed my defense into 4 wing backs, while doubling up on Manchester United. It felt as if my luck with a So’ton treble defensively was running dry and the addition of Hoedt and fit Van Dijk worried me. While I continue to hold faith in Man United, four new defenders were brought in.

We talk about the “knee jerk reaction” in fantasy football as it relates to managers pulling the trigger on a hot player, in order to gain a price rise or activating their wild card because their squad is under performing. In hindsight, the activate of my wild card was the epitome of “knee jerk” as I should have stayed the course, which would have resulted in 21 additional points! While not unhappy with my defenders, I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling about So’ton, even though their strength of schedule said otherwise.

Defensively my new prospects were exciting; Marcos Alonso, Adam Cresswell, Sead Kolasinac and Ben Davies. These defenders partnered with Phil Jones, the only player I retained due to budget constraints. The biggest loser of the weekend, after seeing an early price rise was Ben Davies, who missed out on the Wembley fixture against Swansea. I am sure the managers who transferred him were left empty and disappointed by his omission. This would be the second time, a defender was removed from my 5-2-3 and the end result was a 4-3-3.

While I have no complaints defensively as Alonso (6 pts.), Cresswell (9 pts.), Kolasinac (5 pts.) and Jones (6 pts) combined for 26 points, each recording a CS. Couldn’t ask for me. Unfortunately the 3 So’ton defenders and Valencia accounted for an additional 21 points! Davies coming off his 14 points explosion in GW4 found him benched for zero points. So the wild card failed me immediately, but still feel good about the defenders I am starting.

A silver lining, I did pick up Lukasz Fabianski with little intention on playing him vs Spurs, to which he responded with 11 points, outperforming Rob Elliot’s 3 point performance. Last 3 weeks, my bench keeper has outscored my start 26-7!

With Davies benched, Dale Stephens slotted in at midfield along side Eriksen and Mkhitaryan. Stephens returned an expected 2 points, while Eriksen just 3 points, in the 0-0 draw. It was Mkhitaryan, who scored and assisted for 9 points in the 4-0 United victory over Everton. No concerns are on my mind, as I like my midfield duo. Three more favorable fixtures for Spurs, with GW6 and GW7 away from Wembley.

Up front I continue to see Kane striking nothing! Nada! Coming off a brace against Everton, it appeared he was one of the best selections in GW5 facing a weak Swans side that had conceded big chances. Unfortunately fantasy managers were frustrated and foiled against by Kane. Now I contemplate what the next move with Kane is.

It’s becoming hit and miss with the forwards this season. One game you feel you have the right combination, the next week it appears all wrong. Kane wasn’t the only one to blank, Firmino did too! Jesus saw just 64 minutes, but was able to bag one goal (to that of Aguero’s hat trick) in a 6-0 drubbing of Watford.

On the day I finished 3 points off the weekend average of 58, scoring 55 points and receiving all red arrows, as I dropped 300k down to 1.2m in the overall rankings. The only green arrow I recorded was in the Always Cheating Patreon H2H League, where I move to 4-0-1 on the season, good for second (13th overall) place behind two 5-0-0 teams.

So where do I go from here? Captaincy points continue to he my Achilles heal, as I’ve record just 18 points over 5 weeks, a lowly average of 3.6 points from the armband. Kane doesn’t appear to be doing it at home, but has just a single away fixture (13 points) to make me believe he is still “in form” as a viable captain. Lukaku is still off my radar, but has returned a goal in 4 out of 5 games to start the season. Reminds me of the consistency of Diego Costa last season.

Firmino has 2 weeks to further prove himself, as I plan on moving him when Liverpool plays United and Spurs starting GW8. Jesus has been the most consistent of my forwards, 4 goals in the last 3 games, but with Aguero doing the hat this past weekend, puts some speculation that Pep could look to the Argentine in the near future as a lone forward.

Fixtures are turning for Chelsea after their 0-0 draw against the Gunners, they will face sto/MCI/cry/WAT/bou in the next 5 fixtures, as Morata now comes into the radar. With Kane’s price tag, the consistency of Lukaku would be welcomed, the only concern when Kane goes off, just how big will he go? Like last year, would you rather run with or without Sanchez, knowing his explosiveness? Kane is a loaded gun ready to go off, but when will he start hitting?

It will be a few days, but I honestly have no idea what to do with my forwards. I’ll think on it and read a few pundits and FPL Twitter feeds before I make any sort of change.

Premier League: Wild Card Revelation

The last 2 seasons I have burned my wild card early, after the first international break. While I did see an immediate return last year, the end result was devastating, recording red arrows the next 15 of 20 game weeks. By GW27, when the bleed stopped and I turned my season around, it was too late. I was unable to recover from a 1.5m overall ranking and salvage an acceptable season. However, it was a learning experience and I would like to believe the perseverance paid off and has made me a better manager moving forward.

This season I have made it a week further than I have the last 2 years as I now contemplate activating the first of two wildcards. Before GW1, the plan was to hold the transfer until after the second international break. I believe fantasy managers must remain flexible to all conditions and factors as we plan our strategies. For me, I currently have a plan in place through GW11. I don’t expect to hold true to the plan, but it gives me an idea as to what I would like to do.

On the drive into work today I caught the tail end of the FFScoutCast Ep 232, which I had started yesterday. As expected, the banter was top shelf with Mark continuing to get a rubbing from Granville, using his wild card on some questionable players. Take a listen if you haven’t. What caught my interest was some comments from AZ regarding, considering going 5 defenders instead of spending on budget midfielders who aren’t producing. Names he brought up; Alonso, Kolasinac, Davies and Mendy.

This comment has me reconsidering moving the wild card up and playing it this week to bring in more wing back options in to further my attack. While So’ton still have strong fixtures, their fantasy assets are a mess. I’ve been lucky in 2 weeks to get the triple CS from Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida. While I haven’t been disappointed with Valencia (3 CS), his attacking returns haven’t really materialized to date. Last week Jones was brought in for the injured Kompany, but his tenure may be short lived.

So just what I am considering? It seems all the rage is being able to go big up front with 3 premium priced forwards. This is how it feels, as fantasy managers attempt to get a combination of Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Jesus, Morata, Lacazette, Morata and Firmino up front, while remaining strong in the midfield, but knowing you will run budget midfielders who need to start, as well as budget defenders, potentially in a rotational capacity.

Starting the season with Kane, Jesus and Firmino, I feel confident these forwards will return on a regular basis. These three forward account for £31.3m. Based on my starting two midfielders, many will say I lack a potent attack with Eriksen and Mkhitaryan starting in my 5-2-3. However both are healthy and both have started the season very well. The other three midfielders  (Carroll, Stephens, Chalobah) are starters, but I don’t plan on using them if injury should occur.

The activation of the wild card will be tailored to my defensive needs, as this is where I have allocated nearly £29.0m! While the So’ton treble has been rewarding and their fixtures appear worthwhile, it’s time to move away and provide more attacking opportunities.

Current defensive set up feature So’ton and Man United, but So’ton has the better fixtures moving forward, as they play each other at Old Trafford in GW6. The addition of Wesley Hoedt and resigning of Virgil Van Dijk adds a question mark on the playing time of Yoshida, while Bertrand and Cedric should continue to be nailed on as starters. Yet, the Saints offensive threat has been terrible through 4 weeks. Conversely, United have scored 12 goals, while conceding 2 goals, but Valencia has failed to see attacking returns. With their fixtures getting a bit challenging, it’s time to look elsewhere.

If I do activate my wild card ahead of GW5, it will be focus around upgrading the defenders to wing backs. Alonso and Kolasinac were in my pre-season plans, but both were left out of the 15-man squad for GW1. Davies has been the hottest commodity defensively since Alonso’s brace in GW2 but priced much more favorably at £5.7m. Kolasinac would be brought in for his attacking prowess and possibly a few clean sheets if they can get their starting XI squared away. The final 2 spots could be a number of offensive players; Maguire, Jones, Cresswell, Dawson, McAuley, Cedric, Daniels. My plans will include Cresswell, as fixtures turn for West Ham, as I retain Jones for at least 2 more weeks before I look to move him for someone like Maguire.

So my starting XI if I wild card by Thursday would look like this:

Thoughts on this newly revised 5-2-3 formation? I feel it takes advantage of the strong forwards, as well as strong defenders, while being able to fit in a few premium options in the midfield. While I can’t own all those high priced players, this feels right.

Premier League: GW4 Draft Retrospect

The FPL Draft game just isn’t doing it for me. Chalk it up to 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, but I find this version of the game boring. No other way to explain it. After 4 weeks I am 4th in my league on 145 points overall. For GW4 is was a score of just 30 points, which meant I didn’t lose my current ranking, but 5th place is creeping close, now just 6 points back.

Prior to the start of the weekend games, I made two waiver moves in order to better my starting XI. In hindsight, the moves only accounted for 3 points. With Britos on a red card, I picked up Phil Jones. Unfortunately United couldn’t keep a CS and drew with Stoke City, 2-2. The other move was dropping Dusan Tadic in favor of Aaron Mooy, who didn’t return away to West Ham.

Defensively I was led by “Dave” aka Azpilicueta, backed by his second assist scored 7 points to lead all defensive players. Hegazi, Jones and Lössl accounted for an additional 2 points. Needless to say, Hegazi is now on a short list to move out. Why I didn’t play Alderweireld against Everton, I am not quite sure.

Still holding onto Coutinho, who should see his first EPL start in GW5. Midfield is where I am struggling, as it’s been a rotation of players through to find someone who may hit, based on fixtures. Jesé, Pedro and the aforementioned Mooy accounted for 6 points, with none of them returning. Alli gets a small bump as Spurs kept a clean sheet. Of the 5 midfielders, he is the one I expect to perform on a regular basis.

Up front, it’s been a challenge with Agüero, Hernandez and Rooney. A pair of goals for the later two, but they haven’t done anything lately. Currently, I am on the verge of moving Rooney, but Everton does trail to Old Trafford, as Wayne faces his old team. Revenge factor? Hernandez hasn’t looked good, then again neither have the Hammers. But who in the free agency pool is better? Not much, but I’ve been considering a move.

That leaves Kun Agüero to pull his weight, scoring 9 points on the back of a goal and assist. However those are his first points since GW1. It also appears Pep favors Jesus as well. I still expect good numbers from Kun the rest of the season, so he will remain a starter.

For the week I have already submitted 5 waiver claims in order to strengthen my team and potentially take a shot at 3rd place this weekend.

City is coming into form with some good fixtures. While I don’t expect much defensively from Pep’s boys, I will be looking for offensive returns from Mendy. Daniels would make his second appearance in my squad, as I had him from through GW3, opting for Britos that week. Mooy or Groß? Call this a knee jerk reaction to his 18 point haul in GW4. Brighton does have some favorable games. Ederson’s injury is a concern, but it will be Lössl making way (the graphic isn’t correct).

 

Premier League: GW4 Retrospect

Let me preface this week’s retrospect with the fact I have been very disappointed with the decision making related to the captaincy. All other factors being equal, the captain’s armband has eluded me  to date, causing me to lose approximately 58 points. Captain points have contributed to just 6.29% of my overall score.

With that being said, the 5-3-2 formation has been productive to date, with 2 out of the last 3 weeks being green arrows, as I have improved about 1.0m spots in the overall rankings, now to 980k. While I can’t definitively say the 5-2-3 can be competitive yet, I am considering not changing formation when I activate my wild card.

Due to a camping trip to Pinnacles National Park, I had no mobile service and finalized my lineup Friday evening (US time) and didn’t have a chance to check scores until Sunday afternoon. It was met with mixed emotions, I was above the weekly average with a small green arrow, but I didn’t captain Harry Kane, opting for Roberto Firmino. It’s my belief I talked myself into giving him the armband on Twitter all week long.

Play a #5mandefence with three So’ton defenders has been a risk I’ve been willing to take all season. Knowing just a single goal could rob me of 12 valuable points, I was willing to run with the Saint’s easy schedule to start the season. This week Watford, which appeared to be favorable match up for So’ton, finished 2-0, as Bertrand and Cedric each recorded a single point, while Yoshida didn’t feature.

The transfer of Phil Jones to my 5 man defense meant I was doubled up on United with Antonio Valencia. It amazes me while I still run out Valencia when he hasn’t provided much at all this season. While he does have 13 touches inside the penalty box, he’s generate just 3 shots, one of which has been on goal. He fall well behind the leader, Marcos Alonso with 10 attempts. United didn’t fair well away to Stoke, finishing 2-2. Much like GW2, no clean sheets, meant it was going to be a struggle this week.

Yoshida on the bench meant I lost my 5-2-3 when Tom Carroll was automatically substituted in at the conclusion of the game week. His 2 points didn’t go far, but it also changed my formation to a 4-3-3. On the season the 5-2-3 formation was averaging 53 points/week.

Ben Foster could be on his last leg as well, not that I am all that unhappy with West Brom, but looking ahead to fixtures the Baggies are going to hit a buzz saw starting GW10. Options are to start Rob Elliot, as the Toons have a solid run trough GW11. If I look to ship Foster when I activate my wild card, Lukasz Fabianski could be my new starting 4.5 keeper.

Mkhitaryan and Eriksen are my only starting midfielders in the 5-2-3 formation. Eriksen has been with me since the start and has paid dividends. This week it was a goal and CS (8 points), on the back of a strong international showing. Mkhitaryan, who had been leading the league with 5 assists was quiet, not returnin but got pushed out wide by Mourinho, which seemed to take him out of his game. Still moving forward I favor him through GW7.

However…I will watch the progress of Eden Hazard, returning from injury, as he might place in my squad. I could take a -4 point hit at any time or wait until I activate the wild card. His inclusion would require me to downgrade Valencia (to Bailly) and Mkhitaryan in order to give the the £10.5m price tag.

Currently I have £1.9m ITB and the weekly FT. As mentioned in the defenders section, Yoshida will make way for Davies this week, as Spurs are home to Swansea City. Currently ranked 980k, I am just 11 points off being in the top 500k and 36 points from 50k. Again, still pleased with the look and feel of this squad. GW6 may or many not yield the activation of of the wild card.

Wild Card Urgency

Remember when you were a kid and you had $5 burning a hole in your pocket? That’s how I’m feeling,  continuing to hold my wild card after many were activated last weekend. Looking forward, the tentative plan is to activate for GW6, but that could be postponed. Currently, I am just 22 (204 vs 226) points off where I was this point last season, but 600k lower in the overall rankings. Unlike last year, I don’t feel an urgency to make massive changes. There are some players, looking ahead that I want to move, while a few others are on my watch list to make the 15-man squad.

The 5-2-3 (#5mandefence) formation has been solid this season, so no complaints about not having a 4th or 5th midfielder or a consistent third forward. While I do need to address my defense, it’s not all that urgent.  Maya Yoshida relegated to bench could bring the “So’ton 3” to an end. While they have returned a CS in just two of the first four fixtures, it was a risk I was willing to take. I might even keep three So’ton defenders through GW11, their fixtures are THAT good. Now if they could only score a goal.

Yoshida could lose his place in my starting XI this week, as the FT will go towards replacing him. With the signing of Hoedt and Van Dijk, making an appearance with the U-23’s, his days and those of Jack Stephens could be numbered. Who do we replace him with?

Currently I have £1.9m ITB and a squad value of £100.2 (£0.2m lower than where I expected to be). There is just a short list of replacements for Yoshida. Marcos Alonso had been heading that list (2 goals/1 assist, 1 CS) for a few weeks, Chelsea’s fixtures are improving but still have ARS/MCI/MNU/liv through GW18. Ben Davies has matched Alonso with two, 14 point returns on the back of 1 goal, 2 assists and 2 CS. A staggering £1.4m difference in price and better immediate fixtures could mean holding Alonso for just a bit longer.

The problem with Spurs has been playing at Wembley Stadium, where they have conceded 1 goal in each of their home matches, while remaining perfect on the road with 2 clean sheets. Facing the likes of SWA and BOU at home should provide great CS potential. Away, HUD is ranked 15th, while WHU is ranked 20th in attack based on Sqwaka statistics. Could be a great time to invest in Spurs defense!

So the short term is resolved, Yoshida out, Davies in, which now gives me Kane/Eriksen/Davies as the treble moves from So’ton to Spurs, to go along with Man United. Based on the team comparison above, I will be tempted to bring in Alonso after GW7 against MCI.

I don’t believe you can discount So’ton at this point. Outside of GW6, home against Man United, their schedule is still very favorable; cry/MUN/stk/NEW/WBA/bha/BUR. Not sure if Newcastle is for real or not, but they have 2 CS in their last 2 fixtures with good looking run forthcoming, only LIV to challenge in GW7.

Unless I feel a need to change formation, I have no problems with my 5 attackers. The 2-man midfield of Eriksen and Mkhitaryan have been solid, so has the play of Firmino, Jesus and Kane up front. Although, 3 blanks by Kane to start the season has been tough to swallow, he’s now just 2 goals back of Lukaku.

I would like to add Eden Hazard to my starting XI, but I believe it could come at a cost of either Eriksen or Jesus. Right now, I am not keen on moving either player. A change in formation would also necessitate the addition of a third premium midfielder. Consideration has been made moving forward to move to a 4-4-3. But realistically with no glaring problems, I have an issues changing from my 5-2-3.

 

Premier League: GW4 Starting XI

It’s been an extra week off for fantasy manager as we head towards GW4 and a return of the EPL! International matches are now in the books and there were some gutty performances throughout the world. This break has provided time to reflect and strategize the coming game weeks. My current plan is to activate the wildcard for GW6, giving me 2 more weeks to run with a 5-2-3, potentially banking 2 FT and hoping for a £0.2, team value increase.

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

Opting not to activate my wildcard, I had one FT available for any changes to my 15-man squad. Initially I had planned on introducing Marcos Alonso, but failure to see any price increases over the break has me stuck £0.1m short of his £7.1m price tag. It’s my belief that Alonso is “essential” to fantasy squads, yet many mangers are balking at his high price.

While Newcastle and Brighton seemingly have better defensive schedules than Man United, the fact United has yet to concede through 3 games, saw me bring in Phil Jones. His inclusion this week is merely temporary as we play out the next few weeks, in anticipation of my wildcard. United will face sto/EVE/sou and partner with Valencia, as I double up. It also means I maintain 3 So’ton defenders (home to Watford), in search of a third CS in the first 4 games. Foster will earn his 4th start, away to BHA. I feel confident with this group of defenders the next 2 weeks.

Mhkitaryan transferred in GW2, while Eriksen was introduced for GW3. This will be the first week I have maintained the same 2-man midfield for consecutive games. Eriksen was absolutely nasty during the international break, 2 goals/3 assists over two games. This bodes well as Spurs are away to Everton and with September here, means Kane should benefit from Eriksen’s blistering form.

With 10 goals on the season to start the season, Man United has been the hottest team on the pitch, thanks in part to 5 assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He and the Red Devils will look to continue their torrid pace away to Stoke City. Based on the Sqwaka data, Mkhitaryan bests teammate, Paul Pogba in assists (1.67/gm), key passes (3/gm) and chances created (4.67/gm). Yet, it’s Pogba who’s got the better shooting statistics.

Entering GW4 I have some concern up front, while I still have faith in Firmino, Jesus and most notably Kane, the first two players are flying back late from international duty in South America. As hot as Firmino has been, I don’t see Klopp starting Sturrdge in his place. As for Pep, who the hell knows, as both Jesus and Aguero have long trips in order to represent City this weekend against Liverpool.

Kane appears to have the August “Hoodoo Voodoo” behind him and will look to get on track to his third Golden Boot this weekend, away to Everton. Backed by ungodly statistics, I continue to have faith in Kane putting up big numbers. To date, it’s been a string of no returns and 2 yellow cards, but can’t deny the 22 attempts he’s had in 3 weeks.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

Moving to the draft game, I still spend very little time and maintain little interest in this style of fantasy game for football. Currently I head into GW4 with an unchanged 15-man squad. I have put a waiver wire claims in for Serge Aurier and Phil Jones, who would replace Miguel Britos. The squad still appears to be finding their feet as their combined performances hasn’t been overly impressive to date. Teams like West Ham and Everton will see their fixtures improve, while there could be some competition defensively for So’ton and WBA assets.

I change the formation for GW4 from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3. Britos currently suspended is on the bench giving me a back four comprised of Azpilicueta, Alderweireld, Yoshida and Hegazi. All have favorable fixturs with So’ton and WBA carrying he best chance at clean sheets. As poor as West Ham has been, I tap Lossl to keep a CS and record some save bonus points for Huddersfield.

With Stoke City home to United, I make a questionable decision to bench Jese in favor of going with 3 forwards for the game week. Jese is still trying to find his fitness, but more importantly United hasn’t conceded to date. This leaves me with Tadic, Alli (middle finger and all) and Pedro to be the creative influence in the middle of the pitch. Still considering a play for Mooy in place of Tadic, even with So’ton in a great run of fixtures, Mooy appears to be more instrumental, carrying better form into GW4.

The wildcard I still have is Phillipe Coutinho. Just what will he do for Liverpool is anyone’s guess. Rumor has it he doesn’t want to feature in the ECL for the Reds as he looks ahead to possible inclusion for another team if he leaves in the January transfer window. The Liverpool midfield is already crowded, but they could benefit from his inclusion in the starting XI. He’s listed at a ‘75% chance of playing – lack of fitness’ but featured for Brazil during the break. Go figure! Currently, he’s on the bench for the 4th consecutive week.

Up front, Aguero is tapped to start, going back to a 3-man front line with Hernandez and Rooney. Vokes and Okazaki present two interesting options, but fixture for both Everton and West Ham are improving, which has me holding both players. Rooney and Hernandez have both found the net twice and could feature this weekend as well.

Sitting in 4th, 32 points from the leader and a red arrow from last week, I will look to turn things around before we look to make further changes in the starting lineup.

FPL: …now for something completely different

For fantasy managers, the international break has been met with mixed emotions. Knowing there will be no EPL matches for 2 weeks makes the break even longer, but we can watch our players represent their nation and more importantly, remain fit. Unlike a majority of managers, I rode into the international break on a high, scoring 63 points, with areas I need to address.

While I haven’t put much time into FPL the past week, I have been dabbling on Twitter, while providing a second article for Fantasy Football Geek called, Thinking Differently in FPL. It explores the idea of running from the herd with a 5-2-3 formation. You can catch up with the first article, Thinking Differently: 5-3-2. With some time to kill and a wildcard still in my pocket, I have 1 FT to use this week as I ponder the next 4 weeks of action.

The current plan is to active the wildcard during the second international break in preparation for GW8. Looking forward at the strength of schedule, player statistics and having just 3 weeks of data to go on, one must remain open to adjustments. An idea I am considering is altering my 5-2-3 to a 4-5-1, to take advantage of the midfielders who appear to be stepping up and scoring the points.

Currently, I own Kane, Firmino and Jesus up front, but it’s not without concern. Coming out of the break I could see both Firmino and Jesus on the bench for GW4 because of the trips back to Europe from South America. Aguero would also be hit with a long flight, so who starts up from for City is anyone’s guess. I’m sure Pep doesn’t even know.

Looking at the next 13 weeks is a bit daunting, as so much can change in the span of just a few weeks. However, I believe it warrants a look to help in your long term planning, depending on how your plan and strategy are doing. With an total score of 159 points and an Overall Rank of 1.0m, I am not tearing up the league, conversely, I am in a better place than many other managers who entered the international break on a sour note.

I have a big concern over Gabriel Jesus and his starting status among the city XI. We have no idea what Pep is going to do. Based on the first 3 game weeks, Jesus has retained his starting position, while Aguero was relegated to the bench in GW3. City hasn’t been a lethal offensively as expected, just 5 goals to start the season. Both Jesus and Aguero have netted once. You can read more about expected goals (xG) from Nick at Transfer Hub. Great article on who should be returning and who is returning. While City isn’t listed in the article, I think we all agree they should have netted a bit more through 3 games.

The return of Coutinho to Liverpool, having failed to move during the transfer window will make that midfield even busier, which could equate to more rotation. Daniel Sturridge is currently healthy, potentially giving Firmino a run for his money as the lone forward. Firmino has 2 goals / 2assists in 3 games, to the 76 minutes and 1 goal of Sturridge. With both squads involved in ECL, rotation is a must. Will we see Jesus and Firmino remain viable options up front, safe from rotation?

Another option in order to minimize the rotation, a change in formation. Looking forward to GW7 and the activation of my wildcard I am putting together a 4-5-1 option. This formation would resolve a few problem areas.

First, I could rid myself of possibly two So’ton defenders. The re-signing of Virgil Van Dijk and the signing of Wesley Hoedt could mean the run out of Yoshida and Stephens are nearing an end. In the meantime, I would keep Bertrand and/or Cedric or introduce Hoedt to the back line. Based on fixtures, So’ton defense has a very good run of fixtures through GW11, with Man United their toughest opposition in GW6.

As I spoke about in previous articles, Vincent Kompany is on the short list to be moved. A single CS in 3 matches has caused a bit of frustration, but the next 5 out of 7 matches could provide some CS oppotunities outside of GW4 home to Liverpool and GW7 away to Chelsea. However he needs to be moved in order to free up budget to build our 5-man midfield.

Finally, Antonio Valencia. While I am not displeased with him, returning 20 points with 3 CS and 3 bonus points, his days could be numbered as well. After GW7 United will face a tough run of fixtures; liv/hud/TOT/che. In order to free up 0.5, I might swap Valencia for Bailly, which would help me introduce new defenders.

Defensively I am looking at teams who appear to have favorable matches and players who have put together a good start to their season. For the upcoming period, beginning GW7, four teams top the list based on the RMT tool at Fantasy Football Scout.

With So’ton already represented in my back line, it would require 4 additional defenders. Everton, Leicester City and Swansea City appear to have good fixtures, the could provide some defensive magic. Of these four, there are only 2 fixtures against a top opponent (ARS) out of 20 fixtures.

In order to field 5 midfielders I would introduce the following defenders to my starting XI; Harry Maguire, Kyle Naughton, Phil Jagiekla and Marcos Alonso. On paper, it appears to be a very good move to shore up some questionable fixtures if I maintained my 5-2-3 formation.

Between the posts, Elliot would remain as the alternate, but Ben Foster would lose his starting spot in favor of Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea. Through 3 games, Fabianski has recorded more saves (9 to 3) than Foster. Both have 2 CS to their name, but it’s been Foster conceding 1 goal to that of Fabianski’s 4 goals. There is a one-point difference between the two player, which favors Foster, but the schedule is the difference maker, which means a change in goalkeepers.

It’s the midfield that would see a considerable bump from a 2-man midfield to five starters. I would double up on Man United adding Paul Pogba to complement Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Considering I am not starting Romelu Lukaku, I figure I can gain more points from this duo than a streaky Lukaku.

To make up for dropping Roberto Firmino, I would add Mohammed Salah. While I haven’t been a very big supporter of Salah, you can’t deny his statistics through 3 games. Yet, he could be a rotation risk, as he played 29 minutes in GW2. The addition of Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal and Coutinho remaining on board only makes that midfield more crowded, providing Klopp many options.

The final midfield spot would go to Gylfi Sigurdsson, now at Everton he looks as if he could provide a much needed spark for the Toffees. I believe he has stronger players around him at Everton than he did at Swansea, which could produce some better numbers. Again, his schedule looks very good to provide some good returns.

Up front I continue to back Harry Kane. Blame it on the curse or just poor luck but the underlying figures were amazing! He’s started September strong scoring in the England vs Malta fixture. He would represent my only starting forward, with Collin Quaner (HUD) and Freddie Ladapo (CRY) as 4.5 budget forwards. Ladapo could be the next in line, if Benteke were to be injured.

Starting GW8, this would be my 15-man squad as seen above. Much like the 5-2-3 I am currently fielding, feels strong. It does add a 6th attacker to the mix, going from 3 forwards and 2 midfielders to 5 midfielders and 1 forward.

Risky? Yup, very much so, but unlike a single goal ruining a CS for 3 So’ton defenders, I feel there are good potential returns from this midfield group. Kane would end up bring the main captaincy selection for this selected time frame. With 4 weeks to go before my planned WC, there are many things that could happen, but a plan is in place. This is also contingent on maintaining or exceeding a squad value of 100.3m.

Thoughts?

FPL: GW3 Draft Retrospect

Out of curiosity, I jumped into the public league for the roll out of FPL Draft. I entered the season with no expectations, after spending 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I have gotten quite bored with the snake style draft and use of the waiver wire and free agency. I also felt that 8 teams wasn’t enough for a competitive league. Looking at it, 10 could potentially be too many. So I reserve judgment until the end of the season on just how successful this fantasy game would be. Now onto my GW3 retrospect.

I entered GW3 in third place on 80 points (56 pts & 24 pts), but finished the week on 35 points. With a total of 115 points, I lost one spot, now sitting in fourth. Expectations were high, as I had made 5 transactions heading into the game week. The only non-starter of the bunch was Jonas Lössl, who actually outscored Ederson. Other transfers for the weekend include Miguel Britos, Jesé, Ahmed Hegazi and Javier Hernandez. None of these “hot players” fared well, totaling 5 pojnts, including a -2 points from Britos, who was red carded.

Thankfully it was Azpilicueta, aka “Dave” to the rescue with 9 points on an assist, CS and bonus point, while Yoshida picked up a late assist and bonus point for 6 points. The midfield struggles continued, thankfully Alli picked up the slack, as Kane remains goalless in August, with a goal and 2 bonus points. Pedro, now fit started over Tadic, but the decision was a wash, as both midfielders finished on 3 points.

On paper I like my forwards, led by Aguero. We saw the displeasure on his face as he started on the bench away to Bournemouth. He did make a cameo and get 24 minutes of action. Chicharito, coming off 2 goals against So’ton played the full 90 minutes but picked up a yellow for just a single point. The decision was made to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench, but his 1 point was no better than the starters.

It’s my belief that the struggle is real based on the fact I am without a second round selection, as Phillipe Countinho continues to feign injury, looking for that exit before the transfer window closes. No points through 3 weeks and the real fact that he could be on his way out doesn’t leave much available that can replace a player of that caliber. The newly acquired Swansea man, Renato Sanches might be an option, but hasn’t had a good year. Other options include Klaassen, Zaha and Lanzini, all three I have already owned and dropped. Redmond is available, but the lack of So’ton offensive is worrisome. In fact none of the “budget” type midfielder (although there is not budget in Draft) aren’t impressive, which has me lining up my starting XI in a 5-3-2 formation.

While we wait for the transfer window to close and the EPL restart after the international break, I am a team with needs. The uncertainty at City, which we knew was coming from Pep has be concerned about Aguero’s pitch time. West Ham United being a complete shambles has me wondering if Hernandez will be a viable two or three option up front. With all the shit I talk regarding the traditional FPL, I went against my better judgment and picked up too many hot players; Hegazi, Britos, Jesé and Chicharito. None of which followed up their GW2 performance to provide me much confidence.

I do believe the season will hinge on Coutinho, if he does indeed move, I will struggle the rest of the way, relying on rotating midfield to carry my #5mandefence. With any luck, as the strength of schedule changes, Rooney will be reintroduced as a weekly starter (GW6). Hernandez appears to have good fixtures through GW13, minus fixtures hoem to Spurs and home to Liverpool.

FPL: Threeview

Now that the international break has officially began, what are fantasy managers supposed to do? First, get up. Back away from the keyboard and take a break. It’s been a volatile start to the 2017/18 season, after many managers thought they had things worked out with great GW1 results, only to be bitch-slapped back to reality with the struggles in GW3.

Unless you are chasing price rises over the break, more on that later, I would take a few days to forget about fantasy football and direct your energy elsewhere. All those lingering questions can be put on hold, return a few days later with a clear head, which could provide you a fresh view of your lineup dilemma.

While I don’t consider it a luxury, I did go into the international break on a high, scoring 63 points in GW3, without facing many glaring questions that need to be answered. The biggest concerns I have are:

  1. The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation.
  2. Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI
  3. Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats.

Realistically, I could end the piece here and go into GW4 feeling confident with my current starting XI. Entering the break with a single FT, I will hold it until all international matches are complete. If we are fortunate, players will return to their club team, injury free and ready to resume league play.

The word of the week has been “wildcard” for many FPL managers. Before you hit that button, consider the sage advice of Nick (@NickTriggerlips) at Transfer Hub, in his article, Why did you wildcard?The problem is there are very few real patterns that have formed…Most of the wildcard  Rate my teams that I am seeing look like a who’s who of last weeks point scorers.” Wise words, from a wise manager, the article is well worth a read.

I have continued to read articles at Fantasy Football Scout, Fantasy Football Geek, tune in the podcasts from Nick and Tom (@WGTA_FPL) at Who Got the Assist as well as, Josh and Brandon (@hailcheaters) at Always Cheating. One key piece this season has been the use of Twitter (@W6ONV) to promote discussion and decisions. This was something I missed out on the previous 4 seasons participating in FPL. This outlet has allowed more flowing discussion than some forum threads I have been involved in, which I feel have provided me with a more positive return when it comes to decision-making.

At the end of last season, one of my strategies this year would be to actively chase price increases. We have watched the ups and downs, while it appears more volatile than last season, the numbers really haven’t backed that statement. Based on price rises last year, I am still on track, gaining £0.1m/week through GW3. It has allowed me to maintain £1.0m ITB. At this point, with the “few real patterns” and uncertainty, I have decided to forego chasing and exercise patience with my starting XI.

Prior to the start of the season, I mapped out a plan for the first 7 weeks of action. While I didn’t plan to remain intact, it did give me some solace in knowing that a downturn in performance wouldn’t necessarily put me in a precarious position requiring the use of an extra hit or the use of my wildcard. From GW1, it’s been my intention to use the WC during the second international break, GW7.

This plan is still contingent on how players perform when action kicks off after this first break. Holding my head high, I feel confident that I can ride out these early season trends, one-week wonders and volatility until things calm. However, this thinking doesn’t solve my three problems areas that need to be addressed.

The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation

My expectation on the City attack were high heading into the season with fixtures against new boys Brighton (A) and Bournemouth (H). Yet a 2-0 and 2-1 victories in those matches hasn’t provided much confidence in owning City attackers or defenders. I started the season with Kompany, De Bruyne and Jesus in my starting XI. Just 2 weeks in and let KDB go in favor of Christian Eriksen, due to his deep lying play and lack of creativity in the attacking third.

Up front, I didn’t go with “Big Rom” figuring I could score more points with a 3-man front spearheaded by the dynamic Gabriel Jesus (and Roberto Firmino). While Jesus has yet to play a full 90-minutes, he has netted a goal and has the potential to be Pep’s “go to forward.” But in the back of my mind lurks that uncertainty that says, “move him in favor of Alvaro Morata.” The “Aguero Factor” will always be in play with Pep, does he play up front with a single forward or run both Jesus and Aguero out? I don’t believe we will see a clear cut answer to this question. With Kun ended up benched against the Cherries, we could possibly see a reversal with a dejected Jesus on the bench when GW4 commences home to Liverpool. Bottom line, we don’t know.

Finally, Vincent Kompany, who’s been riddled with injuries the last few years, but is the heart of The Sky Blues defense. His clean sheet record tells you the story; 23. 30, 21, 22, 32 clean sheets between 2010-2015 with 8 goals over the period. His selection meant I would hedge my bet and not start with Marcos Alonso, as Chelsea had a mixture schedule to start the 2017/18 season. To date, City has disappointed at both ends of the pitch and Kompany is now playing on borrowed time.

Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI

In the preparation leading up to GW1, I had fully intended to include Marcos Alonso and Romelu Lukaku in my starting XI. Last minute information and a change of heart saw both players not included, After GW1, it appeared a wise move, as Chelsea underperformed and lost, 3-2, home to Burnley. However, our faith in the £7.0m wing back was restored the following with, as he hit for a brace, in a 2-1 away win against Spurs. Last week, it was  Chelsea’s first CS of the season. Indications are Alonso is back on track, justify his current price, £7.1m as a top defender in the EPL.

While many managers have gone with a budget 3-defender set in their 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations, I have spent big, knowing I could swap defenders without having budget constraints. Yet these premium defenders need to justify their inclusion to the starting XI with attacking returns, as well as the potential of CS.

Alonso heads my list of wants when it comes to transfers. While I want to maintain United coverage based on their fixtures out of the break, I look towards Kompany being the fall man in order to transfer Alonso in. The hesitation lies in the Chelsea’s fixtures out of the international break; lei/ARS/sto/MCI/cry/WAT. Based on the Gunners poor performance against Liverpool in GW3, the home fixture to Arsenal doesn’t concern me as much as the Battle of Manchester. Keep in mind some of Alonso’s statistics:

  • 56 touches in the final third
  • 34 passes received – final third
  • 84.4% pass completion rate
  • 23 passes – final third completion
  • 12 touches – penalty area
  • 135 minutes per goal
  • 8 attempts on goal
  • 3 shots inside box
  • 4 shots on goal
  • 33.8 minutes per chance

These figures rival midfielders in and above his price range. So his inclusion in my starting XI is becoming detrimental. This opinion also based on the fact I only start a 2-man midfield.

Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats

We should have seen this coming, right? Harry Kane can’t score in August, so we were forewarned. Still with that lingering in the back of my mind I made the decision to purchase the £12.5 forward to lead my squad. As we all know, there were better options, but his underlying stats (a word I continue to abuse) are outstanding!

  • 26 touches in penalty box
  • 24 attempts on goal
  • 18 shots inside the box
  • 3 big chances
  • 11.3 minutes per chance
  • 25% shot accuracy

The above statistics highlight the success Kane has seen. Unfortunately the real fact remains, Lukaku has scored 3 goals, Kane zero. Of the figures above, Kane betters Lukaku in every category except, big chances (Lukaku has 4). While the August voodoo hoodoo continues to Harry I am backing him out of the international break.

Kane put August behind him and start firing on all cylinders with eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU taking us to mid-October. Looking over the last 3 years in which Kane has scored 29, 25 and 21 goals, he has just 3 goals in September combined. Not impressive, but remember he picked up the malleolar injury last season and didn’t feature in the squad 2 years ago, until later in the season.

All indications are the back-to-back Golden Boot winner will return to form that saw him bag 8 goals in the final 3 games of the 2016/17 season. While I continue to read and hear banter about none of the top managers owning Kane, I am keeping the faith instead of introducing Lukaku to my squad out of the international break.

As you can see, I don’t have issues that require a restructuring of my team. With a strong showing going into the international break, I plan on looking forward and stringing a run of green arrows together in order to rise up the OR and the mini-leagues I participate in. Even on the outside (ranked 1.0m) looking in at the top 10k, I feel confident I have the proper pieces in place to challenge the next 4 weeks of the EPL season.

Premier League: GW3 Retrospect

Depending on what side of the ball you were own, your squad felt like the victorious Liverpool or more likely, Arsenal on the butt end of a 4-0 thumping. For me, I came through GW3 shining, as we head into the international break. I finished the week on 63 points, that’s 20 points better than the weekly average, but well of the high of 109 points (played bench boost).

When Saturday’actions came to a close, I had gained nearly 1.4m spots up to 828k and was sitting on 42 points from 7 players (avg. of 6 pts/player). This was well over the 17 point average, as Lukaku turned into Blankaku with 1.7m handing him the armband (this included the top 50 managers in the world). Thankfully, I could breath easy knowing I had Kane on Sunday to finish the game week.

Saturday was a good fantasy day, as I continue to live dangerously with a treble of So’ton defenders. Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida combined for 18 points, that’s now 2 out of 3 game weeks in which the Saints have recorded a clean sheet. Out of the break they play WAT/cry, with the potential of 2 more CS. Valencia and United recorded their third CS of the season, while providing no attacking return, he did bank 3 bonus points for 9 points on the week and 20 points on the season.

Vincent Kompany, as well as the entire Man City team have disappointed. Last week I transferred KDB in favor of Eriksen. The clean sheet from Kompany away to Bournemouth, was shattered by a rock from Charlie Daniels, arguably the best goal on the season. City’s fixtures are mixed out of the break; LIV/wat/CRY/che, which now puts Kompany on the short list to be transferred. My only target, Marcos Alonso.

There are no illusions, Foster is my shot stopper and never had any inkling to start Rob Elliot. Newcastle has looked shaky at best on defense. Yet they did play West Ham, who seems to be the laugh stock of the EPL this season. Elliot tossed up 7 points on the bench, while WBA gave up a 77′ header to Crouch to spoil the clean sheet. Still high on the Baggies defense with bha/WHM out of the break before facing Arsenal.

Gameweek 3 was the first week for Eriksen in my starting XI. Again, expectations were high for Spurs against lowly Burnley at Wembley. Unfortunately, the Spurs lacked creativity and spark against the Clarets and Eriksen didn’t return any offensive points. Still, I feel good about this moving as the fixtures are solid through GW8; eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU.

It’s been a pleasure to watch United playing such beautiful, flowing football with Pogba and my man, Mkhitaryan seemingly all over the pitch. It was a 5th assist for Mkhitaryan over 3 games, as he continues to be an enabler in the midfield. Still a bit light on the shooting stats, but if he continues to produce assists, he’s well worth his £8.1m price tag.

Seeing Aguero start on the bench in favor of Jesus, as the lone forward was awesome! His 21′ goal sparked further excitement of big returns, but it was not to be. He did however record 3 bonus points, finishing on 9 points for the game. Sunday it was Firmino, on a goal/assist and 3 bonus points who powered Liverpool to a 4-0 ass whooping of Arsenal!

The remainder of the weekend relied on Harry Kane. Captained again, he failed to return, but much like the previous two weeks, he had solid underlying stats. Not sure how much longer I can continue to promote this point and have with him in my starting XI. To date, I have scored just 6 points from my captain selections. I would of had better chances at captaining one of my 5 defenders to return! Even an average return on my captain selection would see me 20-30 points higher than where I currently sit with 159 total points.

With the international break upon us, we now have 2 weeks to prepare and make decision as it relates to our squad. Ask me today, I don’t plan on activating my WC. I don’t feel I have pressing issues that need to be addressed. Sure, Kane isn’t scoring, but his stats are there and we will be out of August in a few days. Defensively, I don’t plan on shifting my formation from a 5-man defense. However I might shift from a 5-2-3 to a 5-3-2, capitalizing on a plethora of midfielders who continue to return.

None of my league standings are overly impressive, however I do have green arrows all around, which is more than many other managers can say, headed into the break. I am just 11 points off my 2016/17 total to this point in the EPL season. Not stellar by any means, but considering the total scores of many managers this weekend I will continue to have a positive outlook.

The only negative I have to point to, outside of Kane not scoring, the fact I have only gained £0.2m to start the season. Prices have appeared more volatile to start the season, but historically, that statement doesn’t really stand up. Colback and Jesus have each lost £0.1, while only picked up £0.1m from Mkhitaryan. I do expect some price increases this week; Firmino, Mkhitaryan and potentially Foster.

Look for numerous updates as the international break starts. I have lots of thoughts on a variety of subjects. Also thanks to those on Twitter, as I feel I have received some better information and updates than from some of the forums I frequent.