Premier League: GW35 Retrospect

For the first time in 10 weeks my decision making didn’t pay off and I was left to ponder move before the DGWs begin. While I don’t have any players in today’s match, Watford hosting Liverpool, I can only hope that the Hornets tighten things up and don’t give the Reds opportunities in and around the box. I finished GW35 with 57 points, which included 3 players with just a single point. Between the pipes I had been strong with Heaton and Jakupovic, but in a hasty, last minute decision I brought in Caballero. What a disaster!

The once hot Crystal Palace has definitely cooled off. Their DGW34 wasn’t all that impressive, unless you owned Benteke. I chose Zaha and van Aanholt and held them over through GW35 for the Burnley match. Winless on the road, Burnley put in a great shift and held Palace goalless, 2-0. Zaha and van Aanholt (bench), each finished with a single marker. Benteke came into the squad replacing Llorente, played just 70 minutes and picked up a yellow card. Originally I had planned on holding Palace through GW37 and their home fixture against Hull, but their their defense ailing, these players may be in jeopardy.

Another failed move this week, one that I was one leading up to GW35 was introducing Gabbiadini. He picked up 59 minutes in GW33 and 85 in GW34, with an assist against Chelsea. It appeared he could be back in form. Facing Hull in GW35 at home, the table was set, as he was highly transferred in and captained. At the same time I was considering Afobe as a budget buy in order to introduce Sanchez for DGW36. Following other managers Gabbiadini came into my starting XI. It was a very uninspiring performance for the So’ton forward, who now has us asking questions on the horizon of DGW36 and DGW37 for the Saints.

At this point, you need to figure he could see a consider amount of playing time. I do believe he is their best option up top, but there is some risk with Long and Austin, who’s returning from shoulder injury. As of now, I have not see a return to fitness date, which could bode well for Gabbiadini owners. Liverpool, one clean sheet in the last 10 games and Arsenal, three out of the last 10 games, have given up goals, so Sot’on could profit offensively. Yet, it’s been the defense that has played better for the Saints. At this point, I do plan on playing Gabbiadini through both DGWs.

Elsewhere up front, it was Kane setting the tone for Sunday, picking up another goal while wearing the armband for 10 points. This was his third return in 3 weeks as they play away to West Ham this weekend. In GW37 they face Man United (H) and Leicester (A). Kane is a starter for the duration, along with Eriksen and Alli, as I plan on all three Spurs players through the end of the season. Early chances weren’t converted or all three players would have posted higher scores. That being said, Alli picked up 8 points with a goal and CS, while Eriksen added another assist and CS for 6 points.

On the weekend, it would be King for Bounemouth who topped all starters with 11 points, on a goal and 3 bonus points. While he doesn’t have a DGW, he will be play out the season in the starting XI. GW37 could see him as a strong captain option, home against Burnley, but the draw of the DGW players might be to strong, even with a solid match up.

Hazard returned for his fourth week out of five with an assist and clean sheet. He’s been dynamic and vital to Chelsea’s run to the title, but has only played 90 minutes twice in the last 10 games. Home to Boro in GW36 should prove fruitful…then again I am sure owners of Man City players said the same thing.

Speaking of Man City…Caballero, on paper looked to be the beneficiary of an injury to Bravo between the pipes. On paper, away to Boro appeared to be “business as usual” for City, who should have rolled into town and beat Boro. That didn’t happen, two goals and City were reeling, as they had to come from behind to register a 2-2 draw. As for Caballero, he was a late change on Saturday morning. I felt Heaton and Jakupovic didn’t have strong fixtures and I wanted to add a DGW keeper to my squad. In the end I opted to move Heaton, who scored 7 points against Palace, which included a CS and save points. But it was Jakupovic, 14 points that made me hurt. he registered a CS, save points, 3 bonus points and a penalty save. I can take solace in knowing I would have started Heaton, as he was in my starting XI before move to Slick Willy. Hopefully his gloves are more sticky come GW36.

Defensively, I rant with just two defenders this week as I activated my All Out Attack chip. Staring defenders were Yoshida and Bailly, both put in solid shift rewarding me with two clean sheets for 12 points. Unfortunately, Bailly was lost on the stroke of 60 minutes, but I was able to get the full complement of points from him. He appears to be a risk for the coming game week, which means another hit to transfer in a healthy defender, unless I hold him out of the gameweek in an away match to Arsenal. Bailly had returned 42 points in the last 7 games!

Tentatively I was rewarded a 9th green arrow in a row, a record I continue to build on, now in my 4th year as a fantasy manager. The 8 points hits, while beneficial, have still hurt my global ranking, as I moved up just 10k this week to 627k. It was my hope I would be around 300k by this week. I suspect I will drop after Monday’s game, but SHOULD remain with a green arrow.

Looking towards DGW36 I am not sure what to do. More injuries have put me into a quandary over what direction I want to go for the next 2 weeks. With no WC to use and just the Bench Boost remaining, I know I will activate it in DGW37. Injuries to Bailly, Aguero and Afobe all come at a cost as further transfers will need to be evaluated to see if I can fit them within my budget, which now stands at 104.4, a season high for me.

Initially plans called for Zaha and Benteke being transferred out in favor of Sanchez and Afobe. But the groin injury picked up by Aguero means that Jesus could be starting over the next few games. He looked excellent, partnering with Aguero up front in GW35. I am unable to bring both Jesus and Sanchez in, as I have a shortfall of 1.8m. So do we trust a very unimpressive Sanchez over back to back DGWs to flourish with the armband? Do we play the Brazilian young gun for City looking to impress with his flair and excitability on the pitch?

Options include passing on Sanchez but adding Ozil, who’s got two double digit hauls in his last 5 games. This would allow me the budget needed to add Jesus to the mix. Adding Sanchez leaves me with only 6.9m for a third forward. That list includes Origi and Rashford at the top with the usual suspects; Negredo, Deeney and Llorente also available.

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Premier League: DGW Double Take

Leading up to DGW34 I had been planning, scheming and strategizing on how to navigate GW34, GW36 and GW37. With DGW34 in the books, I have a solid core group of players to carry me through the end of the season. My previous article, Seeing Double had me favoring a Man City trio, not paying much attention to Arsenal or So’ton, each who play 4 games in GW36 and GW37. Injuries and a rethink seemingly have brought me full circle and now I have established, what I feel, is a good plan. Still, we need to get through GW35, but here’s how things are laid out.

GW35
OUT: Lukaku, Llorente
IN: Afobe, Benteke

Notes: While neither player have a DGW remaining, both are in form and feel they deserve to be in the starting XI. Benteke has Burnley (H) this weekend and Hull (H) in GW37, that’s enough for me. Man City hasn’t been all that impressive on defense, and Palace could nip a goal or two in that match. Afobe may seem an odd pick, but a budget forward, has 5 returns in the last 7 games, which includes 3 goals. Remaining fixtures include Sunderland (A), Stoke (H), Burnley (H) and Leiceter (A). We know Eddie Howe loves his offense, Bournemouth are safe, goals could fly! His inclusion frees up budget for use in DGW36.

GW36
OUT: Zaha, Gibson
IN: Sanchez, Holgate

Notes: Still high on Zaha, but I need to free up a midfield position in order to bring Sanchez in, who’s potential is too much to pass up. After GW35, it could be feast or famine for the Chilean, but DGW37 holds hope, Stoke (A) and Sunderland (H). It’s a case of I would rather be with, than without on the off chance he scores big. To free up the remaining funds, Holgate (4.1m) comes in with CS potential in GW36 and GW37.

This is what my squad looks like for GW36, which would carry over to DGW37.

Not sure what Big Sam’s intentions are with van Aanholt. I picked him up for DGW34, but saw limited play in just one game. Injuries have taken a toll on the Palace defense, but Schlupp still holds a starting spot. Depending on taking another hit in GW36, van Aanholt could make way for Jagielka, who was in my original plans, like Holgate has CS potential in GW36 and GW37, plus has some offensive prowess with 3 goals on the season. Fuchs, Yoshida and Bailly will constitute the rest of the defensive line due to DGW37.

We are still a few weeks out from DGW37, anything is possible. Not too surprising to see how drastically plans have changed in the matter of 10 days, when I posted Seeing Double. The possibility of City players still exists, but with the uncertainty surrouding who to start, they have all taken a seat on the bench for now. We will wait and see what GW35 brings before formulating a new plan…if needed.

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Premier League: GW34 Retrospect Part 2

This is the second in a two part recap of DGW34 (read Part 1 if you missed it), which ended Thursday, just hours ago as the Manchester derby ended in a scoreless draw. However, that’s excellent news for me, as I finished the week on 78 points. Not outstanding for a DGW by any means, but in this limited game week, where many managers fancied Negredo or Rashford as their DGW captain, I take solice in knowing Bailly picked up 24 points with the captain’s armband. Talk about a punt, but it paid dividends with the City and United going scoreless. Without the armband, Bailly was still my high weekly scorer with 12 points, just missing out on bonus points in the derby. My final score of 78 points has me seeing green for an eighth week in a road, a record for me in the 4 years I have participated.

 

As mentioned, Bailly was major punt on my part. I felt confident he would start both matches in DGW34 and knew his offensive potential was limited, requiring CS in order to make this work. Burnley was somewhat of a given, even at home with their limited offense, United was able to handle the Clarets, 2-0. The derby had me questioning the move, as City dominated the game, but the resilient United defense came up with big saves, big blocks and a few timely calls from the officials. In a surprised turnabout…not really…Gibson came back to redeem himself as Boro shutout Sunderland, 1-0 where he picked up a bonus point. On the whole, my defense accounted for 38 points!

I do believe Eriksen salvaged me from a rather dismal week with his goal in the Spurs 1-0 victory as he captured 11 points, with a CS and 3 bonus points. Alli was quiet in the win with just 3 points. There might come a time in the next few weeks I need to move one of these two players, currently it’s Eriksen that would be on the chopping block. After watching City today, I am not so sure I am ready to triple up on Sterling, Sane and Aguero. Hazard was supposed to be sold before this week to make way for City players. As it goes, he stayed in the starting XI and has me rethinking my strategy, which appears more foolish than foolproof. Hazard netted a goal, CS and 2 bonus points for 9, giving him good returns in 3 out of the last 4 games as we look toward an easy run to the end of the season after GW35; MID (H), WBA (A), WAT (H), SUN (H).

Overall a very pleased 78 points as I move up in the global ranking to 637k, as improvement of 78k spots. Since GW27 I have gained 495 points, averaging 61.8/week, a figured just over the 60 points a game I had set as a goal. The DGWs in 36 and 37 will be the turning point of the season for me. If I can gain 120-140 points, I have a good shot at 2000 points, down from 2170 points last year and a finish in the top 75k. Both mini leagues have made a drastic turnabout, now sitting second in one, just 44 points off the lead. The other league sees me in fouth place, 6 points out of third and 133 from the apex. Hopefully positive differential players will give me an advantage starting in GW35.

As I sit here contemplating GW35, I don’t really have a plan. My original of transferring up to DG37 has failed, as I didn’t bring in the necessary players last week, deciding to hold a few players back before of good fixtures. Two moves I know I will make, Gabbiadini and Benteke will grace my front line in GW35. With questions still surrounding the fitness of van Aanholt, he might need to make way for a DGW defender and I would like a keeper, most likely Forester to replace Heaton or Jakupovic. I was all hot and heavy into bringing in Aguero, but after today’s derby not sure that will be the case. IF a move is made for a City forward, it will be Jesus and most likely Sane if I double dip.

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Premier League: DGW34 Retrospect Part 1

With lofty exceptions, there was a letdown at the conclusion of the weekend games. I started GW34 with 4 players involved in DGW action; Bailly, van Aanholt, Zaha and Gibson. The only DGW fixture that appeared straight forward was Man United visiting Turf Moor and Burnley. Many managers, including myself took a chance on Middlesbrough. Gibson had been starting since GW30, but many transferred him in. I took a hit last week and bought Zaha to start in my 3-5-2. Van Aanholt and Bailly were late transfers, in order to take advantage of DGW34 and DGW37 for Man United. Crystal Palace also has good fixtures in GW35 and GW37.

The weekend started off greast with King getting on the scoreboard for Bournemouth, but finished with just the one goal and no bonus points finishing with 8 points. Ten man Hull played outstanding after losing Niasse but Watford didn’t mount much of an offensive showing and goalkeeper, Jakupovic kept a CS for 6 points. Everton, as expected disappointed at West Ham, Lukaku had but one shot and really never was in the game, looked a bit lethargic offensive. Yet, that’s been his road form, poor…piss poor. This is the final weekend I will own Lukaku, who is being transferred out for GW35.

Top performer over the weekend, Eric Bailly, solely based on the captain’s armband. Looking over my starters, including three Spurs players and a few different captain polls, there was never really a consensus captain. Names such as Negredo and Rashford, as well as Benteke and Kane seemed to come to the forefront. I decided on Bailly, as he had a DGW facing Burnley (A) and the Manchester Derby against City. Rolling the dice, I felt good about United shutting out Burnley, which they did, 12 points for Bailly to start the week.

While City wasn’t involved in an EPL match this weekend, but visited Arsenal in an FA Cup semifinal match. City lost 2-1 in extra time, but registered 20 shots with just 3 on target. United have won 2 of the last 3 games, in all competitions against City. The last October 26, 2016, 1-0 in the EFL Cup 4th Round with 1-0 victories in their two wins. Confidence is high, this game could be played out to a 1-0 or 0-0, which would mean Bailly ends with a minimum of 24 points for the DGW. Of course that’s speculation, but that was my rational for captaining him.

My 31 points tentatively gives me an 8th green arrow in a row, now globally ranked at 699k, but expecting better at the conclusion of the week. There is no movement in either of my mini leagues, but just 55 points off the leader and 5 points from second place. My other mini league has second and fifth separated by 27 points, I feel confident I can push into second place by the end of DGW34,

With lineups already set, it’s not too early to look to GW35 and impending changes to my squad. My “Seeing Double” plan went out the door in GW34, when I decided not to pick up Sane for City, as I was going to triple up with Sterling and Aguero rounding out my squad. A knock picked up by Aguero in their FA Cup match may have me changing strategy before GW35. More GW35 discussion later this week at the conclusion of DGW34.

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Premier League: Seeing Double

The current EPL season comes down to two weeks, as managers either planned or are scrambling to navigate the the DGWs in GW34 and GW37. Many managers have held their second WC and Triple Captain Chip until GW36 in order to maximize their opportunity for a big return. For me, I activated my WC in GW21 and my Triple Captain Card was applied to Aguero in GW27 for just 27 points. Managers were hoping to Sanchez would continue his run of form and triple captain him against Stoke City and Sunderland in GW37, but based on his last 3 fixtures (before GW33), it appears he might not be the best option.

Here is my current squad as of GW33, before any transfers for GW34:

Since GW25 I have made 16 transfers with seven 8 point hits during this period. My season turned the corner in GW27, when I started a run of 7 green arrows that has seen my global ranking climb 947k to 682k! This run of success has me pushing for the top spot in both mini leagues, where I sit in 2nd and 5th place.

With the help of Navigating the Double Game Weeks I formulated my strategy for the rest of the season. Using this article as a template I started looking forward to DGW34 and DGW37 in an attempt to maximize returns to end the season on a strong run. While it’s not the best DGW plan, moving forward without a WC means I miss out on potential points or risk take a -4 or -8 point hit in order to see a higher return each week. So far the additional transfers I have made have equated to a positive return of 15 points over those 7 weeks. Not great, but at least I wasn’t negative.

GAMEWEEK 34
Transfer OUT: Grosicki, Hazard, Mawson
Transfer IN: King, Sane, Van Aanholt

Notes: Transferring Hazard will free up the addition budget I require to kick off this strategy. While they do have a favorable DGW in GW37, I feel there are stronger midfielder available with better fixtures. Grosicki, has been good for Hull, at home. While the Tigers need help, there has not been enough scoring to justify retaining his services. Mawson served his purpose, picked up a few goals, but Swansea is struggling…still. No DGWs and a mixed schedule, didn’t like those prospects.

King and Sane come in on good form, more importantly with good fixtures ahead of them. King could be seen as a questionable selection with no DGWs but home matches against MID, STK and BUR. After GW34, City has a great looking schedule, thus the inclusion of Sane, who will face CRY, LEI, WBA at home and MID and WAT on the road with a DGW in GW37. Van Aanholt, back from injury could be a strong differential candidate. While the fixtures for DGW34 don’t justify it, his style of play could benefit Palace against Liverpool. His inclusion is based on GW35 and GW37 home to BUR and HUL.

GAMEWEEK 35
Transfer OUT: Llorente, Eriksen, Lukaku
Transfer IN: Gabbiadini, Sterling, Aguero

Notes: What could be seen as questionable transfers come to the forefront in this week. Llorente has been a waste of space, injured for 2 weeks and no returns in 4 weeks. Eriksen, really? Even now I have a hard time making this transfer happen, as he has been fantastic this season! Good returns since GW26 and a challenging DGW in DG37, I would rather hold Alli and Kane as the attacking pieces of my squad. Finally Lukaku, the Belgian has been outstanding…at home but atrocious on the road, just 12 points in his last 4 away fixtures. With 3 of the last 6 on the road and a home match against Chelsea, I can’t justify keeping him in the starting XI.

Gabbiadini hit the EPL in grand form, 4 goals in 3 EPL games before succumbing to injury. He’s got DGWs in GW36 against LIV (A), ARS (H) and GW37 against MID (A) and MNU (H). Sterling will come in to partner with Sane for City with LEI and WBA at home in DGW37. Aguero is the final piece of this offensive puzzle, but not sure if that piece will fit, with the word that Jesus could be returning. That could call into question Aguero and his playing time or worse, rotation. It is Pep in charge, but with no UCL and Aguero in form, Jesus might be called upon from the bench. Thankfully I have a few weeks to wait and watch.

GAMEWEEK 36
Transfer OUT: Gibson, Heaton
Transfer IN: Vertonghen, Courtois

Notes: The defense gets an overhaul, as Gibson makes way with no DGW in GW37 and a terrible schedule after GW34 there were better options. Heaton has been masterful between the sticks and with good fixtures to finish the season, like Gibson Burnley doesn’t have a DGW.

Vertonghen comes in for the final 3 weeks of the season, away to WHU and WBA and a DGW in GW37 against MNU (H) and LEI (A). He’s the cornerstone of the Spurs defense, his inclusion could be questionable depending on the return of Rose. Courtois, currently injured, returns to my squad as Chelsea look to win the EPL Championship. Three out of the last four games are at home with WBA and WAT in DGW37.

GAMEWEEK 37
Transfer OUT: Fuchs
Transfer IN: Monreal

Notes: The final piece is put into place, as Fuchs makes way for Monreal, who faces STK (A) and SUN (H) in DGW37. Arguably the best DGW fixtures in GW37. Not much for Arsenal defenders this year, at least Monreal gets forward in that wing back position.

CONCLUSION

The team above costs me 103.5m, leaving me with 0.7m ITB for unexpected changed. As I mentioned earlier, this plan looks great on paper, but how it actually plays out is another story. Potential injuries, falling out of form or the return of players from injury could change my strategy. I don’t move forward without concerns, most notably the “second coming” of Jesus at City. Not including Hazard (30.6%), Sanchez (24.8%) and Lukaku (46.9%) is risky, all are highly owned and all have been in form, Sanchez for much of the season, excluding the last 4 weeks. For DGW37, this gives me 8 players with two games, which potentially could be 9 players if I select Gabbiadini over King or Zaha.

While I don’t have it on paper yet, I am working on a contingency plan, which could include Townsend or a Chelsea defender. Up front if Aguero becomes a rotation risk I will make the move back to Ibrahimovic, but United’s DGW37 is tough; TOT (A) and SOU (A).

It’s a risky proposition, but many fantasy managers wait for the DGWs in order to make their moves, activating this WC and chips. Final note, speaking of chips, I only have my bench boost and all out attack remaining, as I played by triple captain chip back in GW27 on Aguero. GW35 I will plan on using my AOA chip nd GW37 will feature the bench boost.

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