So another good weekend for the blog team to build on its positive start in GW1. However, it wasn’t without incident and may have come at a cost in terms of my early planning.
Transfers Remaining: 40/40
Gameweek 2 Summary
It was pretty much a case of ‘as you were’ for the team as many of the same players returned for a second week in a row, racking up 83 points to follow up the 97 it picked up in GW1. This was always going to be the toughest of the first 4 weeks for the team given that Liverpool we’re going to Palace in a game where I had six participants, including two Palace defenders. Expectations were fairly low, so to come out of it relatively unscathed is extremely encouraging. A slight drop in rank but that’s unimportant at this stage.
From only 4 shots across the first 2 games, Richarlison notched his 3rd goal for Everton to maintain a level of efficiency that nobody would have imagined possible given his tribulations last season. He didn’t quite get the 3 bonus that Sky clearly thought he deserved by giving him the MoM, but the 2 he did receive has already seen him topple last seasons bonus total. It represents quite a shift for the young Brazilian, and I for one am hoping that it continues for a while yet considering his upcoming fixtures.
As I alluded to earlier, the Crystal Palace v Liverpool game was always going to be an issue for the team – two Palace defenders against that lethal Liverpool attack?? Understandably, I received a few inquisitions on this going into the gameweek, but it had been a decision I had made prior to the season and one that I was willing to ride out as it served the initial strategy. I figured that if I came out of it with a positive score then I’d be happy, and although it took until late on, the Liverpool trio duly obliged by doing what they do best. I’m particularly pleased with Robertson who has now picked up consecutive bonuses of all kinds across both the FPL and Sky formats. Captaincy aside, I would argue that he will be a far more valuable pick in the long-term than both of his esteemed attacking colleagues.
As for Man City, I guess I should address the main talking point of the weekend and that’s ‘Guardian-gate’! After I had published the blog on Friday afternoon with my reasons for an Aguero captaincy, along came a chap from the Guardian newspaper to cause mass panic. The headline read “Pep Guardiola considers dropping Sergio Aguero” and despite not having any direct quotes from Pep himself, it sent the FPL community into complete meltdown! A simple retweet from a City ITK meant that the article was dissected over and over, with opinions ranging from “no-smoke without fire” to “it’s nothing but click-bait”, and managers flip-flopped between captaincy options as a result.
I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t create some element of doubt for the blog team, but come Saturday morning I had made the decision to stick with Aguero. Whether substantiated or not, the article was not telling us anything new. We know that Pep considers dropping all of his players on a weekly basis, so selecting any of their players comes with a risk – just ask owners of Sterling, Sane, Mahrez and Walker. The simple fact of the matter is that City are an attacking machine, and this was a plumb fixture. Sergio was the standout pick before the article, it’s why we paid 11.0m for him, so why should that change?!
Don’t get me wrong, it was a nervous wait until Sunday (the vice captaincy was firmly planted on Salah just in case), and seeing his name pop up on the teamsheet at 12:30pm was a huge relief. All fears had been alleviated, and from the moment Ederson set him up via a long ball for his first goal (yes, City are even getting attacking returns from their GK now!!), the decision to stick with the Argentine had been vindicated. A total of 40 points courtesy of a hat-trick, assist, and a MoM performance just shows how deadly he can be on his day.
Now, I’ll admit it felt great to come down on the right side of such a big call. In my opinion, it’s these instances that are the reason why we have such a love/hate relationship with the fantasy game. However, it’s important to note that these decisions will not shape your entire season. Many managers, some who have far better records in this game than myself, have freely admitted to being swayed by the Guardian article. Yet, they are good at the game because they realise it ‘s just one of many to decisions come. The actual reality is that by taking the less risky option of captaining Salah over Aguero, those managers came out of it only 11 points down. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things and can easily be made up over the next 36 weeks!
GW3 – Transfers
Coming from Sky, the biggest bug-bear I have in FPL is the price changes. I understand it’s a fundamental part of the game, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The smallest change of 0.1 in either direction means an entire strategy can become worthless overnight. In contrast, the Sky game allows you to plot and plan your way through the season with only form, fixtures and injuries being of concern, so it’s a difficult scenario to comprehend.
As I stated in my first post, I had intended to totally ignore the price variations, but by Monday it was already becoming a problem for me. Those of you who have been following my watchlist will know that Alonso has been sitting on there since GW1. So after he continued his attacking display against Arsenal, I had intended to upgrade Luiz using the 1.0m ITB to do so……..happy days. However, it seems that plenty of managers don’t share my notion that waiting for the gameweek to finish is a good idea when making transfers. I had already been priced out of a move before the Liverpool game had even kicked off! Is it only me that finds this crazy???
No matter how much I wanted Alonso, I suppose the patient approach actually worked out in a way. That Monday game came at a significant cost to the blog team with Wan-Bissaka getting red carded for a professional foul to deny Salah a goal. His bargain price was an essential part of the strategy going forward and a 1 game ban is far from helpful. There is nobody else at his price point worth a precious transfer, so had this been in the Sky game then I would have just left him in the team and suffered his zero points for the week. He’s not a captaincy option so no problem.
However, instead of letting the bench pick up the slack (it’s not an option in Sky so I’m not allowing it here), I have decided to use this as an opportunity to resolve a few issues that I had hoped could wait until the intended Wildcard after GW4. Firstly, Mahrez has become a problem. He came off before the hour in GW1, and didn’t even start in GW2. I really would have liked to give him more time as I still believe he will score well in that City attack, but that brings me to a second issue that I highlighted last week – I don’t have Benjamin Mendy! As opposed to the to the City midfield who all seem interchangeable, he seems to be a lock at left-back, and I’m not sure I can watch him boss yet another City game without him in my team. My three City slots were taken so I’m sorry Mahrez, but room has to be made.
Lastly, there is now a distinctive fixture swing coming for both Arsenal and Chelsea that I definitely want some part of. Alonso was meant to be the man to take care of that until his price rise, so in order to accommodate Mendy, I turn to the midfield instead. Both Pedro (2 goals in 2 games) and Mkhitaryan (1 goal and assist in GW2) have impressed in recent weeks, and only just missed out on the watchlist due to having a potential rotation threat looming. However, given that Mkhitaryan leads the league for key passes with 7, and actually matches Aubameyang for attempts at goal, then I’m willing to throw my hat in with the Armenian. Arsenal’s fixture list is excellent, and with none of last seasons top 6 until GW11, I’m backing him to start racking up the points fairly quickly.
Last week I started a watchlist of players based upon the stats I gather from the games, as well as those who pass the eye-test. Anyone who follows me on twitter will have seen the updates I have made over the weekend, but for anyone who missed it, the updated list can be found here.
It’s a tough decision on the captaincy again this week with both Salah and Aguero having reasonable fixtures versus Brighton (h) and Wolves (a) respectively. Both teams have conceded 4 goals across the first two games, although Wolves seem to have been the unluckiest of the two considering they lead the league for the lowest number of shots conceded.
I think the simple fact that Liverpool are playing at home actually sways it for me this week as both are more than capable of big scores. The corresponding fixture last season finished 4-0 with Salah picking up a goal and assist, so there is a history there too. The bookies have him at 1.44 to score anytime, compared with 1.60 for Aguero, so it’s Salah’s turn to take the armband for GW3. Would another hat-trick be asking too much?
Transfers Remaining: 38/40