The reigning FPL champion of India, Lateriser, shares his thoughts ahead of the Gameweek 16 deadline.
Things are moving incredibly fast in the Fantasy Premier League world and it’s important to stay on top of things and react. Traditionally, this is the period where the engaged FPL managers make ground on the casuals (who are getting not so casual, year on year).
For your information, I am writing this article on the morning after Saturday’s games so the piece will not contain relevant information from Sunday’s matches. Due to the current fifth-gear nature of FPL, this will be a freestyle ramble of all things I want to address.
First up, we need to talk about Manchester City. They are one of the prime culprits for my poor start to the season. In my Gameweek 3 Wildcard, I got in a triple City midfield and have had two City attackers for the most part of the season.
That explains my rank (1.7 million at the time of writing, which is a lot better than the 3.1 million it was in Gameweek 12). It has taken me so long to readjust my thinking in this case and I have definitely failed to adapt. Their fixtures from Gameweek 10 to 15 seduced me like prime Demi Moore (Burnley, Fulham, West Brom an Newcastle at home) and being a fixtures guy all my life, I jumped in.
I mean, we’re talking about Pep Guardiola and the most attacking team in the country for the past three years. But one of the signs of a good FPL manager is to adapt. I didn’t and my rank shows that. After watching Manchester City play Newcastle United last night, I was convinced that the play with the Citizens is their defence not their attack. I know I’m stating the obvious but we have three viable defender options from Guardiola’s side (I own two of them), all three of whom are under £6.0m.
For what they offer for their price, I personally think that taking the odd rest/rotation from them is fine because of the significant value they offer. City are playing a different brand of football (all audition games for the Champions League knockout stages) and we need to re-align our thinking with their attack.
One manager who did adapt is my pod-partner and fellow Pro Pundit, Zophar. He’s been sitting on double City defence since his Gameweek 9 Wildcard and reaping the rewards. That move reeks of low-key shrewdness that can go a long way in having a good season. He was sitting at 970k on his Gameweek 9 Wildcard and is currently at 119k.
What about Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), though? Well, if we’re talking about the game yesterday, except for that one-on-one chance, he didn’t do much else.
Manchester City are eighth amongst all teams filtered by shots in the box over the last four matches. Yes, De Bruyne is shooting a lot and is playing further up the field, but I get the feeling that while he’s a clean striker of the ball, he takes a fair amount of time to get his shot off. As a result, a large chunk of his efforts just seem to get blocked.
Here’s some more data for you. These are the average expected per goals 90 minutes (xG/90) figures for Manchester City this year and the past three years:
It just seems like us holding De Bruyne at the moment is for three reasons: ability, history and fear. Yes, he may explode and get a game with a penalty, an assist and a goal. But the more you actually watch Manchester City, the further away such a haul seems given that Pep Guardiola is channelling his inner Louis van Gaal these days.
I myself haven’t made the decision whether I’m holding or selling him but I will need to before Gameweek 16. To fund Harry Kane (£11.0m) into my team, I either need to downgrade Jack Grealish (£7.8m) to Raphinha (£5.4m) or move De Bruyne to Son Heung-min (£9.7M). It’s fair to say that I’ll be scouting some players tonight and Sadio Mane (£11.9m) is also someone I am monitoring closely.
A lot of you will be on a Wildcard while reading this article and I’d like to reiterate and say that don’t have a single-minded, tunnel-vision focus on just the Blank and Double Gameweeks. Every Gameweek counts and focusing on just Gameweek 18 and 19 isn’t going to help you. I urge again to look at the fixtures for players you are bringing in on your Wildcard before Gameweek 18 and after Gameweek 19.
At the moment, I’m looking at going chipless in Gameweek 18 and maybe using the Triple Captain chip in Gameweek 19. It is with this thought that I recruited both the Manchester City centre-backs before Gameweek 15 so as to play them in Gameweeks 18 and 19, and I particularly like their fixtures from Gameweek 20-22.
I’ll briefly talk about captaincy in Gameweeks 16 and 17. Scanning through the fixtures, Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) and the Spurs attacking duo stand out as captaincy options. The game against the Cottagers seems like a more Kane than Son game as I expect Fulham to sit deep, which means more chances closer to the box for the England international.
That said, Fulham are on a bit of a resurgence and are in the best five teams for expected goals conceded (xGC) in the last four matches. Spurs, on the other hand, are second only to West Brom for expected goals (xG), but we’ve seen that this does not seem to matter with them too much because if they score, it is very highly likely that their premium FPL duo will be involved.
I just happen to trust Salah and Liverpool a lot more than Spurs at the moment, which is why Salah will likely have my armband in Gameweek 16. Unlike Fulham, Newcastle are in the worst five defences in the league for expected goals conceded in the last five matches.
Gameweek 17, though, is where I’m looking to captain a Spurs attacker. A match against Leeds United should be considered as a prime fixture for captaincy and on paper, this just looks like a Son game to me, given the space Leeds United offer their opposition. The one good thing about this game is that we know that Bielsa is stubborn about his style of play and we can rely on him to offer the opposition tonnes of space to run behind. This captaincy call in Gameweek 18 might be what influences my transfer decision later tonight, depending on how the games pan out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what is possibly my last article for the calendar year. Here’s hoping that 2021 is a much better year for all of us.
As a side note, I would like to thank Fantasy Football Scout for the opportunity to write for them and all of you for reading my articles, supporting me and always providing me with valuable feedback.
Given the year that we’ve had, I’d just like to add a small note on mental health. I haven’t had a good season from an FPL point of view (so far) but I’m slowly beginning to climb the table. That hasn’t affected my enjoyment of the game at all.
Firstly, those of you that are struggling should remember that at the end of the day, this is just a game and that is exactly how you should treat it. If you ask me personally, I’m really enjoying this challenge of a bad start and am simply focusing on making good decisions week on week.
One of the best things about this game is that it enables you to talk to likeminded strangers from all over the world and develop new friendships. That is the essence of the FPL community. That is the primary. The rank is secondary. A lot of you ask me about my rank goal and I personally feel it is too early to think about that. FPL is about assimilating information between Gameweeks and then making decisions. Focus on that and make good decisions and leave the rest to chance because the rest isn’t in your control.
Secondly, the ‘perceived’ bad luck appears greater than it is because of the slow-drip of games that we are witnessing. So if you do end up watching a lot of matches, you do end up seeing a lot of chances missed, which just leads to a greater tilt. Just know that on an average, it takes four to five chances for a player to score a goal and these single incidents become magnified in your head because in most cases, you are watching one game at a time. Expectation management during FPL is a thing so that you don’t drive yourself crazy.
I repeat, it’s just a game.
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