Premier League: GW31 Retrospect

What a game week! Although it appears it was a feast or famine week for many managers, I finally feel as if Lady Luck has found her way to me, albeit a bit late in the EPL season. Regardless, I am not turning her away but welcoming her with open arms. After Tuesday’s action I was sitting on 32 points from 3 players, 19 points above the weekly average. However, I was disappointed in Valencia not starting against Everton.

Wednesday arrived with high expectations with the remaining seven players and very good match ups. For the second week in a row I was frustrated to see Llorente not suited up, watching from the stands. Unlike Tuesday and a plethora of clean sheets, it was an absolute goal fest! Oddly enough the Gunners were the only CS of the day. Yet goals and assists continued to roll in and when it was all said and done I had a final score of 81 points, which represents my highest score on the season.

In goal I had two good options, as Jakupovic had grabbed the starting spot last week due to match ups. This week it was Heaton against Stoke or Jakupovic home to Boro. Heaton recorded a 1-0 shut out (6 points) but Jakupovic wasn’t as lucky as Boro found the back of the net twice, a difference of 5 points, not what I wanted after selecting the correct keeper the past 3 weeks.

Defensively my starters have played well during my current run of success (now 5 weeks); clean sheets, goals and bonus points. The addition of Fuchs has been outstanding with another 7 point return this week (total of 12 the last 2 weeks). Leicester on a fine run of form as I plan on keeping Fuchs, to be used as a rotation option through GW36. Yoshida came up strong with a goal today (8 points) in So’ton’s 3-1 against Palace. New boy, Gibson had me worried as Hull put 4 past Valdez and Boro but he chipped in with a late assist for 3 points. As I said when you have luck on your side anything is possible.

Another new addition this week was Hull City’s Grosicki. Just read my previous articles and I’ve been high on his play since arriving. Coming off two assists last week Grosicki picked up another to take his total to 5 in 8 games for the Tigers. I continue to see him as a big differential given favorable match ups. Unsure about his involvement in the starting XI next week away to Man city.

I continue to run with the Spurs duo of Alli and Eriksen, after a brief out of form spell the two combined for 25 points in a late charge to victory away to Swansea. These two have been outstanding in the absence of Kane. Who needs Kane when these two continue to perform on  the pitch? I don’t expect to move either player as Spurs continue to have a good run of games including Watford and Bournemouth in the next 2 weeks.

The biggest question mark right now, what the hell do we do with Sanchez? I posted an article called The Sanchez Effect showing how many points I missed out on without him in my lineup (armband not included). I went against mt gut feel last week and kept him knowing it was a difficult fixture against City, just out of the international break. This week a 3-0 victory against WHU and NO POINTS for Alexis. At 11.7m it’s too much to have wrapped up in a misfelder who is not returning. The Gunners are away to Palace and Boro followed by a home clash against red hot Leicester City. Not sure I am willing to give Sanchez any further opportunity in the starting XI. Hazard could be a direct replacement based on recent form.

On the bench sits Snodgrass, who’s been on the short list for weeks now, but I haven’t moved him yet because I have continued to run with a 3-4-3 formation over a 3-5-2. The transfer is coming, just not sure when.

Up front, “The Great Vardy Experiment” has been a success! He was given the arm band again this week and rewarded me with 18 points. Yet it’s getting difficult to find in form forwards. Plans are to move him before this weekend’s fixtures, but if a suitable replacement isn’t found, then I will run him out against Everton. Without Coleman and Funes Mori, their defense hasn’t looked as solid. The question becomes, how long do you stay with Vardy? Leicester will have one DGW, home to Spurs but it’s a mixed schedule through the remainder of the season. We saw last year what happens when Vardy is on. Could this be the start of another run?

I continue to plan for the upcoming week, as I have worked out a player movement spreadsheet, but decided to move Lukaku this week in favor of Ibrahimovic. I had also planned on Niasse, but due to budget and the injury to Mane, Sanchez has remained on my squad, which required me to change my plan. It should have worked out for 2 goals for Zlatan this weekend against Everton, but his headed attempt was disallowed due to bring offside. Replay clearly shows him onside and the goal should have been allowed. Zlatan and Llorente made up the remainder of my front line. Unfortunate, as I mentioned Llorente was in street clothes and unavailable, so I started a 4-4-2 and was pleased with returns from both forwards. Llorente finds himself on a short list and will most likely be replaced by a budget forward.

At the conclusion of the week 81 points was 36 points above the weekly average. I saw greens arrows for the fifth consecutive week and jump from 1.1m to 814k, an overall improvement of 252k in the global rankings! Maybe 75k will be attainable after all. This is also my highest global ranking since GW15. Looking at the two mini leagues, I have jumped up in both, with an outside shot at overcoming a 100+ points deficit to win one of the two. When compared to the overall #1, I am well off the pace by  nearly 450 points. That notwithstanding, I am pleased I have seen some success on this season, while I still don’t consider this year “successful” we still have to add green arrows and continue to climb in the rankings.

So the question becomes, how do I improve on GW31? Sanchez has been ineffective the last 2 weeks, while Hazard is picking up the pace. Lukaku has been hot at home, and missing on the road, while Man U needs Ibrahimovic to pick up the pace. Vardy returns in 4 out of 5, is a forward in form, do we continue to start him as fixtures get tougher? Kane still shows no return date from injury.

Initial plans are to move Sanchez and Llorente, coupled with the 0.9m ITB, my budget would reflect 18.9m to spend on two new transfers. Going for Hazard as a direct replacement for Sanchez, leaving 8.7m ITB for a third forward. As I look over the bunch, I am just not impressed with what I see as a starting third forward. Benteke (7.0m), 2 goals in his last 2 games, but Palace’s schedule is terrible! There was some talk of Gabbiadini being ready, but he’s currently showing a 50% chance of starting, not a gamble I want to take.

The other option would be to move the aforementioned Sanchez and Llorente, as well as Snodgrass. Hazard and Coutinho would be the two midfield replacements, leaving 6.0m ITB, which would allow me to spend on a budget forward. Niasse and Hernandez of Hull City head the list. Outside of those forwards, not many others fit into my budget. These moves would allow me to shift back to a 3-5-2.

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