The conclusion of GW30 saw me record my fourth green arrow in a row, taking me to 1.0m, my highest global ranking since GW15! On the back of 58 points I continue my run in an attempt to turn the season around as we progress towards the DGWs, starting in GW34. I left 12 points on the bench this week, as overall I have a very solid showing, even though I went against my “plan” I pitched late last week.
The injury to Coleman, while on international duty, threw me a curve and I reacted by moving him, thus burning my FT for the week. It then became a question of what sort of a point hit was I willing to take. After consideration and deliberation, I settled on an -8 point hit, my fourth in five weeks. Initially I was moving to bring Vardy and Mane in for Lukaku and Sanchez, allowing me funds ITB for future moves. Instead I sold Gabbiadini and Brunt, opting to run a 3-4-4, while keeping both Sanchez and Lukaku in the starting XI. Vardy will only be around for one more week, while I plan on Gibson through GW34.
Along with the the Coleman injury, I read nothing regarding Llorente and his ankle and was surprised when he was not in the 18 man squad for Claude Puel, as he was my third forward in my starting XI. While I was frustrated, it would work out, as Gibson was substituted and I ran with a 4-4-2, Gibson scoring 8 points. Not sure Llorente would have scored 6 points. However, I was spot on with Lukaku in my assessment last week, “Yes, you read that right, I plan on moving the most in form forward, Lukaku.” He wasn’t a factor in the derby versus Liverpool with no return. I don’t see Lukaku returning against Man U in GW31, again on the road. At a TSB of 46.6%, it’s hard to ignore and would rather run with him scoreless than without and see him bag a ton of points. Vardy did his part, strapped with the armband, returned 14 points, top scorer on my squad!
The midfield I had high hopes for again, as Sanchez was supposed to be sold for Redmond or Tadic. In hindsight, this non-move was a wash, as none of the players mentioned returned any points. I knew the Man City match up would be tough, Arsenal bagged 2 goals, but neither had Sanchez involved. I expect a better return this week. I thought Eriksen was awarded an assist, but it magically disappeared, however Alli did grab 1 assist and a CS as they combined for 9 points. Sigurdsson played well, but missed Llorente up front, outside of a CS point, he didn’t return either.
Defensively, I was sound this week. Where was this sort of scoring weeks ago? My starting three defenders all returned clean sheets. I had intended on starting Jakupovic, but forget to swap him with Heaton, which would be be a difference of 1 points. Mawson and Fuchs ended up a point lighter due to yellow cards, while Valencia was awarded 2 bonus points. As mentioned earlier, Gibson was subbed in for the missing Llorente and also picked up a CS and 2 bonus points. A total of 28 points from my defense, which I will look to build on this week.
My bench was sound as well, totaling 12 points, this while missing Llorente to injury. Yoshida had 7 points, Jakupovic, 3 points and Snodgrass (on a short list) just 2 points.
So where do I go from here? Question marks still remain in my starting XI. Sanchez and Lukaku still worry me for different reasons, but their ownership tells another story. I went so many weeks wishing I had Sanchez, now I am wondering if I can finish strong without him in my plans. his fixtures do improve over the next 4 games, but Palace could be the biggest challenge, as Big Sam has a brick wall in front of net. His DGWs are probably the main point in keeping him on my squad.
Lukaku however will struggle against United this weekend, on the road. I see another shut out and no return for Lukaku, who’s got better stats at home, which means 3 strong match ups after GW31. Unfortunately, there are many other options on the board; Costa? Has returned just 2 points in his last 2 games and faces a staunch Man City team at home in GW31. Kane is still sidelined due to injury. Zlatan returns, but with a hefty 11.4m price tag, but a toothless United need him to score…badly! Aguero, honestly, he is priced outside of being an acceptable starter for my squad.
As for GW31, there is little time to prepare and ponder moves, as matches begin Tuesday morning (in the US). Questions remain up front with Llorente and I don’t have much confidence in running out 3 Swansea City players…again, this time against Spurs. Not keen on keeping him, even though he faces West ham and Watford, both away and Stoke at home. Good matches, IF he is healthy. I am more likely to finally move Snodgrass for Kalim Grosicki, as I have been talking him up since moving to the EPL from France. The Polish international bagged 2 assists, giving him 4 in 7 games. Outside of GW32 and a tilt with Man City, he’s got great fixtures and Hull is fighting relegation, they will need Grosicki to remain up.
Still toying with the idea of bringing in Zlatan, who will make an immediate impact this week against Everton. Missing Coleman, their defense didn’t look up to the task in GW30, shipping 3 goals to Liverpool. The Swede may feast on more than meatballs this week. However it would come at cost of -8 to -12 points, as I would need to move Llorente and Snodgrass to make it happen. Not sure I want to surrender than many points before we have kicked off GW31. Thes mid-6.0m forwards have done nothing but frustrate this season.