GW3 – The Fallout from Guardian-Gate

Blog Team

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.

Watchlist

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.

Captaincy

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?

IMG_4468

Transfers Remaining: 38/40

 

GW2 – And We’re Off!

Blog Team

So after all the planning and deliberation post-world Cup, the first gameweek couldn’t have gone much better for the blog team. It’s my best ever start to FPL and has provided some much-needed optimism for the season ahead.

Transfers Remaining: 40/40

Gameweek 1 Summary

The team got off to an absolute flyer in gameweek 1, racking up 97 points – well above the average of 53. Almost every player picked up significant returns, with only Aguero and Mahrez failing to produce. Theres no complaints though, as I always felt that Arsenal at the Emirates could be a tough opener.

(Note:- Coincidentally, this was the same opening score as my Sky team which included 6 of the same starting 11 above)

Looking at the team itself, I was particularly pleased with the Crystal Palace contingent given how strongly I backed them in my previous post. Wan-Bissaka certainly looked capable of holding down the right-back slot as he gave the lightning quick Ryan Sessegnon the run-around at Fulham. For a meagre 4.0m outlay, I expected to get the benefit of the odd clean-sheet, but with assists and MoM potential now in his locker too, he’s definitely shaping up to be this years gift from FPL Headquarters. Barring injury, he could be a season keeper for the blog team as I look to minimise transfers in defence.

As for Sakho, you may remember that I referred to him as a ‘beast for bonus’ and this week he proved it once again, earning yet another bonus point for his performance despite the likes of Wan-Bissaka, Van Aanholt, and Zaha all producing attacking returns around him. If he can stay fit this season, I predict that he could challenge the elite in that defenders bracket and prove to be a bargain at only 5.0m.

Liverpool certainly seem to have picked up where they left off last season. The triple up of Salah, Mane, and Robertson looked absolute dynamite as they combined for 3 goals, an assist, a clean sheet, and 5 bonus for a total of 43 points. It was a 50/50 call with both Van Dijk and Firmino also under consideration, so I’m delighted to have come out on the right side of that one. The only disappointment is that you can’t have more than three players from one team in FPL.

The riskiest pick of the lot was Richarlison, but it seems Marco Silva definitely has the magic touch when it comes to the young Brazilian. He’s already reached 40% of his goal tally from last season, and if he can remain as clinical with his finishing (two shots, two goals), then he should far exceed the measly 4 bonus points that he attained across the whole of 2017/18. He’s already amassed 3 for his MoM display, and even picked up tier 1 tackling for those of you also playing Sky. Given his style, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him playing as an auxiliary striker as the season progresses, so at 6.6m at the time of writing, he’s one to keep an eye on if you don’t already own him.

Oddly, my only regret in gameweek 1 comes from Manchester City. However, this isn’t down to Aguero missing when through one on one, or Mahrez getting hooked on 59 minutes, as both looked good during various periods throughout the game. Mahrez’s domination of set-pieces was rather pleasing in fact. No, the regret is that I didn’t give Benjamin Mendy more of a consideration. The City left back played the majority of the match as a secondary winger, and his link up with Sterling caused all sorts of problems for Hector Bellerin and the Arsenal defence. I can only hope that having Ederson in goal will be enough to cover the majority of his points prior to the wildcard.

Transfers

Given the self-imposed transfer limit and the success that the team had in GW1, I shouldn’t really be considering a transfer for GW2. However, those of you that caught my GW1 post will know that I held back 1.0m for the sole purpose of upgrading Mahrez to Kevin De Bruyne once it was obvious that he was available. His appearance from the bench had all but guaranteed his place in the team this week until news of a serious knee injury ended any hope of that.

That being said, I don’t really have anything planned now in terms of transfers. Already owning three City players means that a move for Mendy is out, so I’ll likely save unless there’s any other unexpected news to follow. My only real concern going into GW2 is my double Palace defence up against the deadly Liverpool strike-force. If I didn’t have a transfer limit to consider, I might have switched Sakho for someone like Mee or Tarkowski, who have a better fixture. However, I knew this game was an issue when selecting the team so I’m willing to ride it out.

Watchlist

To help me with transfers in the future, I have started to compile a watchlist of players based upon the stats I gather from the games, as well as some who pass the eye-test when I manage to catch them on tv. I will update it as the season progresses, but can be found here for anyone interested.

Captaincy

It’s a tough decision on the captaincy this week. 15 Goals in 18 home league games last season suggests that Aguero at home to Huddersfield should essentially be a no-brainer. If he starts then the ceiling for points could be huge! Therein lies the problem though; he plays for Pep Guardiola in a City team that has so many options its frightening.

Conversely, despite having an awkward fixture away at a more resolute Crystal Palace, Mo Salah is the epitome of consistency. He’s a nailed on option who, although he didn’t exactly pull up any trees against West Ham, still left there with his name on the score sheet and was only inches away from getting more. It’s a continuation of what we saw last season in that he delivers points whenever he plays.

However, the team’s start good start in GW1 means I can afford to take a slight risk, so unless there’s bad news from the press conferences, then I’m currently leaning towards Aguero. The bookies have him at 1.40 to score anytime (compared with 1.73 for Salah) so put simply, if you can’t stick the armband on Sergio against Huddersfield at home, then when can you?!

2A602394-8883-4976-B33D-5BAE50B4B3D6

The Blog Team – GW1

Blog Team

So it’s finally here. After weeks of planning, drafting, tinkering, and tinkering again, gameweek 1 is now only a matter of hours away. I’m more or less there with my team and will discuss my choices below.

Twitter Poll

Before I get into that though, I recently ran a twitter poll to help me decide on a transfer strategy for the season. I was unsure whether to allow bonus transfers for formation changes, or to stick with the 40 limit as with Sky. Thank you to everyone that voted and the result ended with 67% of you choosing to stick with the 40 limit.

I’ll be honest, I had secretly hoped it would go the other way, but the people have spoken so that’s what I’ll be working with. It will no doubt be restrictive as the season progresses, but as good friend of mine kindly pointed out – “You don’t get the benefit of the chips in Sky” – so I guess it’s only fair.

The Strategy

As explained in the previous post, Sky’s Overhaul kicks in during the international break after gameweek 4 so I’ll be aiming to using the Wildcard at the same point. It just makes sense with all the uncertainty surrounding the World Cup players, and the bedding in of any new transfers sealed before yesterday’s transfer deadline. Plus, the two weeks thinking time will come in handy in order to regroup after a manic few weeks.

Playing it this way also means I only need to focus on the first 4 weeks, so focussing on the fixtures is absolutely key. I highlighted Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Burnley, & Everton as having a relatively good start in that respect and most of my initial thoughts have not strayed too far away from that.

The Team

So here we go………..The blog team.

Goalkeeper

I had wanted to start the season with a Burnley goalkeeper. Whoever it is, they always seem to offer the right blend of clean sheet potential, saves, and bonus. I can’t count how many times Nick Pope chipped in with a Man of the Match performance to boost by Sky scores last year, and that seems to translate to FPL too. However, Pope and Heaton’s pre-season injury woes, as well as the arrival of Joe Hart, has clouded judgement there. I’ll be watching keenly to see who gets that spot, but for now I’ve had to look elsewhere.

De Gea was the obvious first stop. He was the top scoring keeper last season, but his price 6.0m price tag proved to be a little prohibitive. Had this been Sky, I would have been looking at him for tonight’s captaincy, but not for FPL. Instead, I’ve switched over to the other side of Manchester with Ederson for a 0.5m saving. He wasn’t that far behind De Gea in the points table and offers a sure-fire way into a City defence that could see huge rotation from Pep this year.

Defenders

The blog team is going to start the season with 4 at the back, following on from some of the excellent ‘value’ articles produced by the community during pre-season. The security of starts (and hopefully clean sheets) means that its worth that little extra outlay, and in a limited transfer game, should reduce the number required in these positions.

Andy Robertson was the first defender name on my team sheet for this season due to his ability to pick up passing and tackling bonuses, which should relate well in FPL’s bonus system too. Once he earned that first team spot last season, he never looked back and generated stats to rival even the mighty Alonso. Van Dijk was another consideration given Liverpool’s great fixtures early on, but the young Scot’s attacking ability just sways it for me.

Next up is David Luiz. This is a bit of a punt given there was very little stats to go off last season, but Sarri has been talking him up and he seems to have forced his was back into the starting 11 after his problems with Antonio Conte. Many of you might ask why not Azpilicueta or Alonso, but they come with premium price tags and the shift to a back 4 seems likely to hinder their output of season’s past. Apart from Arsenal in GW2, Chelsea have some decent fixtures to start so Luiz at a 1.0m saving seems like a risk worth taking, especially if he can take a few trademark free-kicks.

Then comes  Mamadou Sakho.Now, he’s not one that I’ve heard much talk about in pre-season but his influence in the Crystal Palace defence is huge and he’s always a goal threat at set-pieces. At 5.0m, there are plenty of others that might be worthy of selection, but that brings me to the main reason for his selection – the guy is an absolute beast for bonus point collection!! The Sky game has shown me that this is always something to consider, and to give you an idea of just how good he is, he finished 4th overall for defenders. And, that’s having played less than half the minutes of the likes of Azpilicueta and Otamendi due to injury – that’s impressive!!

Now, I brought it up in my previous post that the benefits of an ‘uber-cheap’ starter cannot be overlooked in Sky. If one presents themselves, they will be hunted out to allow for more budget to be pushed up the field. This generally tends to get overlooked in FPL due to the bench, but not by me…..not this season. During pre-season, Aaron Wan-Bissaka seems to have nailed down the Crystal Palace right-back slot ahead of Joel Ward, and from what I’ve seen of him he’s looked decent. Listening to some of their fans, he arguably should have got this position last season so at just 4.0, he could be a bargain.

 Midfielders

These were the hardest positions to select from a Sky perspective. The likes of Kante and Matic, who are huge in Sky for their passing and tackling stats, just don’t seem to translate well to FPL – ridiculous really given their performances and importance to their teams. Therefore, I’ve had to look to the attacking spectrum for the guys who get the goals and assists, as these will be the players that should also get the bonus in this format.

It was an easy choice to start with however – Mo Salah! This man needs no introduction from me after his record-breaking exploits last season, as we all know what he can do. His goalscoring record was exceptional and even earned him a re-classification as a forward in Sky. He remains a midfielder in FPL though, and as far as I’m concerned, he could have priced at 14.0m and I still would have picked him. He’s a captaincy option each and every week and therefore worth every penny!

Second on this list should have been should and would have been Kevin De Bruyne. Wherever he plays in that City team, he’s at the heart of everything that they do. He’s brilliant in every sense of the word and ticks all the point scoring boxes across all fantasy formats – goals, assists, passing, tackling – and is always a Man of the Match Contender. This was underlined by the fact he was second overall in Sky last season, only falling behind Salah.

The only problem with this is that he took Belgium to 3rd place at the World Cup and only returned to training this week, so there’s a chance he might be eased back and doesn’t start GW1. That risk is enough for me to switch focus to his City’s big summer signing in Rihad Mahrez. Being City’s record signing, that should at least see him guaranteed a starting spot while the likes of KdB, Sterling and David Silva are eased back after their World Cup exploits. His qualities are undoubted after what he has been able to do for Leicester (12 goals, 13 assists and 19 bonus points in 2017/18), and a move to such an attacking side as City should see him excel. I have every faith that he will do well, but KdB will be coming in at the first sign of a regular return and have kept 1.0m in the bank to facilitate it.

Sadio Mane fills the third slot in my midfield at 9.5m. Again, this could have been a number of players at that price point. It came down to a toss-up between Mane and Eriksen, and post-Wildcard, I think Eriksen may still take this spot due to his overall scoring and bonus potential. However, while there seems to have been some uncertainty over who Spurs have available for the early gameweeks, Liverpool have the fixtures to come out of the blocks all guns blazing. Mane has explosive potential and has been slotting away penalties in pre-season too, so he’s in.

I’ll explain the reason for going with a 4-4-2 formation, instead of the aforementioned 4-5-1, below. However, the final midfielder in my lineup is Richarlison at 6.5m. He tailed off massively last season after the departure of Marco Silva from Watford, but in the early stages he was registering big chances at a rate comparable to the likes of Salah and was a must own at his price in Sky. Only Kane, Eriksen and Salah himself finished the season with more shots than the young Brazilian. Therefore, with Silva again there to guide him, I think Richarlison could kick-on for what could be an impressive season. Everton certainly have some potentially excellent fixtures to get him started if they can pull it together after a few dicey performances in pre-season.

Strikers

I alluded above to the fact that I have switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation. The reason being Wilf Zaha. He’s had a re-classification from FPL this year, and seems to be a different animal since Roy Hodgson shifted him into more of a forward role. He was exceptional at the back-end of last season and seems to have hit the ground running in pre-season too with pretty much a goal a game. He’s a Man of the Match bonus hog in Sky, and at 7.0m in FPL I think he’ll provide far better returns than the comparatively priced midfielders.

As for my premium forward, I debated this for while in pre-season. Harry Kane was the obvious go to, but despite notching the golden boot at the world cup, he’s just not looked right since coming back from injury towards the end of last season. Also, we’re all aware of his issues in August by now and with the birth of his baby this week, there’s every chance he may miss the start of the season anyway.

There’s just too many issues there, so that left Sergio Aguero and Aubameyang as my big hitter considerations (I already have 3 Liverpool and United don’t score enough goals). Neither need discussion really, they will both get bucket-loads of goals this season. Aubameyang hit the ground running at Arsenal and his  record at Dortmund speaks for itself. His first two fixtures aren’t, great coming up against City and Chelsea, but I would still think he could get something in both those games. In the end though, the Community Shield made the decision for me……………..it just has to be Agueeeeeerrrroooooooo!

Bench

As stated in my ‘Sky FF Approach’ post, I will be writing off the bench in order to focus on the starting 11. I’ve not given any thought to it at all but as FPL require you to fill it, in come Kamara at Fulham (4.5m), Stephens at Brighton (4.5m), Peltier of Cardiff (4.0m), and Stekelenburg of Everton (4.0m).

So there it is, my Sky Player in FPL team:

C21EA87B-10FC-4C8B-8527-EB4E5BF402F7

I don’t see this changing before the deadline, but if there’s any last minute injury news that forces my hand, then I’ll highlight it on my twitter feed.

My Captain

At this point, I’m so glad FPL don’t require daily captain changes like Sky do. For the first 4 gameweeks, it allows me to just move between Salah and Aguero depending on who has the better fixture. Salah will take the armband for GW1.

Comments

By all means hit me up on twitter with any comments or thoughts you have on the Sky Player In FPL team, especially if you have any last-minute suggestions. Plus, if you want to follow the progress of the team, there are links to the blog team (and my personal team for anyone interested) listed in the links section.

Hope you all have a great opening gameweek folks and I’ll be back next week for gameweek 2.