Premier League: GW9 Retrospect

Preach patience. Don’t knee jerk. Save your chips. None of this sage advice was followed hours before the Friday kickoff of West Ham hosting Brighton. All the Man City talk, the return of Morata and big attacking returns had me seeing points pouring in Gameweek 9. Unfortunately, Pep struck, defenders didn’t deliver and not surprisingly, Harry Kane delivered a season high at home. It all equated to my worst point total of the season and knocked me 600k down the overall rankings.

On the back of two successive green arrows, I should have used my own advice and practiced patience. In fact hours before Friday’s fixture I was inclined to roll the transfer and double dip ahead of GW10. Twitter and pundits I follow got the better of me and in a moment of madness I activated the Free Hit Chip.

All the talk leading up the the gameweek had centered on the play of Man City, the attack (without Aguero) had been lethal. The play of Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Otamendi and to a lesser extent, Walker had been posting great points in the past 6 weeks. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting Pep’s penchant for rotation, because it hit big for Gameweek 9 as Jesus and Sterling were both left out of the starting XI.

Put bluntly, the Free Hit Chip failed. UP front, I went with the popular Twitter selections of Jesus, Lukaku and Morata, all who had good match ups. As mentioned, Jesus failed to see the pitch, Morata was pulled in favor of Batshuayi after 60 minutes and Lukaku blanked for his second game in a row. I will be thankful he picked up an assist, coupled with the armband he scored 10 points. Well off the pace of Kane’s 16 points.

With Sterling not starting or featuring, Tom Carroll was substituted and he was no better than my other two starters, Zaha and Eriksen who netted 5 points. Both players were coming off spectacular games the previous weeks, but failed to produce this gameweek.

Defensively, my week was foreshadowed by Joe Hart failing to keep his previous 4-week form, conceding 3 goals to Brighton. Doubling up on Jones, who exited after 22 minutes and Smalling, didn’t help as Man United failed to keep a CS, only the second time in the last 7 games. One bright spot was Maya Yoshida with a CS and 2 bonus points, he continues to post solid numbers for the So’ton defense. Kyle Walker kept it clean as well for another 6 points.

At weekend’s end, it was just 36 points, on a week that averaged 50 points. I lose nearly 600k spots, falling to 1.1m on 476 overall points. Thankfully my team has reverted back to  my GW8 lineup and while I continue to have some problems with my squad I will be looking to make some changes. If I would have heeded my own advice, I would have scored 58 points, on the back of Kane and his 16 point performance (most likely captained).

One thing is for certain, Harry Kane will be locked every weekend and captained from this gameweek out. His performance against Liverpool should have been expected based on previous performances at Wembley, the fact his underlying numbers have been very strong, but no returns to Burnley, Swansea and Bournemouth had me questioning the star forward. Those thoughts are now erased and he’s now a template starter for me.

While I didn’t use my GW9 advice, I am not going to make any rage transfers before Friday. Ben Davies is my biggest concern at the moment, for the second week in a row, he missed out on a fixture. Other concerns with my 5-man defense, the lack of output from 7.0M, Marcos Alonso. No returns since Chelsea’s last CS in GW5 and no goals or attacking returns since GW2, currently being outplayed by “Dave.” Kolansinac is another big wingback I was banking on for offensive returns, but the fact Alexis Sanchez plays on the left has Sead limited in his advances forward. At just 2 assists on the season, his 6.0m price tag is becoming unsustainable.

The midfield will be dependent on what I do with my 3-forward set. Vardy hasn’t been the answer, no returns in the last 4 games. Firmino had fallen out of favor for Liverpool with no returns in 6 weeks I can’t see him in my starting XI. Alvaro Morata was on my shortlist, for this week, but introduced him a week sooner. The result didn’t work out in my favor, but he’s still near the top of my list as Chelsea has great fixtures through GW21. Then there is Jesus. Jesus, what do I do with Jesus? We know Jesus and Aguero will have games in which they don’t play or feature off the bench. Are there enough points to shell out 10.5m or 11.6m for players who may not feature every game for 90 minutes? Looking like Silva and KDB are the only reliable attacking players.

Finally, my 2-man midfield, which I was high on 2 weeks ago and actually Pascal Groß is still in favor with another 6 point return in GW9. I don’t plan on moving Eriksen either, calling him “fixture proof,” this coming off a blank against Liverpool in which he featured in a deeper roll with Alli and Son playing the advanced positions. I don’t believe this will be the norm for Spurs and their attack.

As for the #5mandefence, my 5-2-3 formation might be coming to an end. As we have seen leading up to this week, the wing backs just aren’t producing, which has me looking at retaining a 5-man defense, but moving a forward to the midfield and running with a 5-3-2 with the introduction of Richarlison. Don’t want to jump the gun too early, so I will see how this week plays out before making necessary changes.

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

Now 8 weeks into the FPL season and it continues to be unpredictable. From Man City scoring 29 goals through 8 weeks, including 19 goals in the last 4 games to Harry Kane’s feast or famine approach as his struggles continue at Wembley. Nothing has come easy this season for fantasy managers. However at the conclusion of yesterday’s match I will consider myself fortunate that I finished the week on 50 overall points, which was 9 points more than the weekly average. On the season, I am now at 634k, my highest overall rank to date, riding back to back green arrows.

Much like Harry Kane, I am feast or famine when it comes to defense, setup in a 5-2-3 formation. If my defense doesn’t provide clean sheet points I am going to struggle. Gameweek 8 was one of those week, save Fabianski shutting out Huddersfield 2-0 to record 6 points. Before kickoff I was already sporting zero from Ben Davies, who missed out due to illness. My remaining 4 defenders; Alonso, Cresswell, Kolasinac and Walker totaled 6 points. Was riding high on Walker, transferring him in for GW8 as he provided an assist, which was quickly nullified due to an own goal and City giving up 2 goals.

Davies is now a concern with Danny Rose coming back into fitness, the ECL match could be the final straw for him, as he has performed very well from the start of the season. The concerns don’t end there, as Kolasinac was unimpressive against Watford in their 2-1 loss, while Marcos Alonso, who’s still getting forward and shots on goals has just 1 clean sheets since GW3. Change is on the way defensively, something I didn’t want to do, but Davies is now short listed, pending the Spurs ECL match midweek.

The midfield duo of Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen both returned in GW8. Groß picked up an assist in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Everton. Their fixtures look good through GW12. At this point I am still considering keeping him, but their lack of offensive returns is a bit concerning. Eriksen, not the top midfielder continues to provide at a consistent rate. Finishing the gameweek on 11 points on the back of a goal, now 3 on the season and a CS, he secured 3 bonus points. However, the lack of returns from Kane, home at Wembley is a big concern, as is the Spurs upcoming fixtures; LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. While Palace is highly tempting based on their poor start to the season, I don’t see many goals in the other 3 fixtures. There is some thought to ship the Dane for greener… make that sky bluer patches with a Man City midfielder.

Up front it’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde with Harry Kane, performing like a Ballon d’ Or footballer one week, followed by a League 2, has been the next. Owning him has been nothing short of frustrating. As I described in the beginning, it’s feast or famine and captaining him on a famine week has left many fantasy managers starving for points.

Jesus was the star of the show for the week, hitting for a brace and securing 3 bonus points, he finished on 13 points. I never considered him to don the captain’s armband, but with how easily City is scoring, he might be a candidate if Kane is playing home, at Wembley. The situation with Jesus is muddled further by the impending return of Aguero to the starting XI. Depending on home/away fixture, I would be willing to partner Jesus with Aguero. We have seen Jesus play the full 90 minutes just once. We will wait and see what the ECL match brings today for City.

My third forward, Jaime Vardy failed on Monday, to the point that Craig Shakespeare was fired. Just what that means for Leicester City is yet to be seen. The Foxes responded positively last season when he took the helm replacing Claudio Ranieri. I am considering holding Vardy with swa/EVE/sto to come. At 8.5m, Firmino is the only option I would consider, but have already walked that road earlier in the season and not sure I want to return to it until Sadio Mane is back in the starting XI for Liverpool.

The other option, which might be consider a stronger move would be the watch the fitness of Alvaro Morata and insert him into the squad. It will take a bit more of a shoehorn to fit him in, which would require dropping the consistent, Eriksen for the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Richarlison, both of whom were on my short list. Can’t forget Philippe Coutinho, who’s returned 28 points in the last 4 games since his return.

The other option to consider, move from a 5-2-3 formation to a 5-3-2, which is what I had planned to start the season with until a late change saw to go with 3 big forwards instead of two. While not a supporter of Tammy Abraham, as Swansea has a difficult time scoring, his price of 5.7m is hard to ignore and as a third off the bench could be worth it.

With a shortened week and ECL games midweek, it will be interesting to see the rotation of players from teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Man City. Having already missed the price rise this week, I am inclined to hold out until Thursday before making any changes, but I might end up with a -4 or -8 point hit, IF it can be justified. I do believe any Man City players will cover that hit, while providing a return.

FPL: Shell Shocked

It’s Monday morning in the states and I am looking forward to the Leicester City fixture, as I have a vested interested in the match since introducing Janie Vardy to my starting XI. Figured I would hold off one more day before providing my retrospect commentary, but it was weekend that shell shocked MANY fantasy managers. Aside from the failure of “Captain Kane” to deliver, as well as Blankaku, Palace impressed in their 2-1 victory home against Chelsea, while the juggernaut that is Man City rolled to a 7-2 win over Stoke City. The oddity that is the 2017/18 EPL season continues, we it’s not too early to look at what potential moves to make.

This is the first week I am considering taking a -4 point hit to make an additional transfer. It was my intention to limit taking point hits, but I do believe the form that City is in, that -4 could be made up very quickly, as nearly every offensive player is currently in form. Since Saturday I am have considering my options, as I have a plan in place. Eden Hazard blanking in his first full 90 minutes since returning has me concerned, especially with cheaper midfielder options at Man City. It’s just a matter of time before Hazard becomes a mainstay in fantasy squads, but that could hinge on the return of Alvaro Morata to the Blues starting XI. In fact, I was targeting him before I entertained thoughts of starting Hazard.

Of all the positions, midfield has many questions marks. Current starters in my 5-2-3 include Christian Eriksen, who is in form and Pascal Groß, who was brought in this week (in place of Mkhitaryan) as the first of a series of moves. Thankfully be returned 6 points and Huddersfield has a favorable schedule through GW11. However his stay could be short lived with the likes of Wilfried Zaha starting OOP as the lone forward for Palace. His play against Chelsea was crisp and dynamic and left the Blues defense standing still. Palace has new/WHU in their next two fixtures, before an away fixture to Spurs, followed by a nice run of games through GW19.

Eriksen’s status is up in the air, as Spurs continue to look dismay at Wembley (home) against BUR/SWA/BOU, just 3 goals in those games. Spurs hit a challenging group of fixtures, LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. Based on what we have seen from Spurs at home, I don’t expect big returns. Scoreless draws against Liverpool and United, a goal against Palace and another, no return or single goal against the Gunners. Not the best run, even with an in form Eriksen. The Palace game looks tempting, but overall their home form doesn’t warrant keeping him for this 4-game run. I suspect I will still move Eriksen heading into GW9.

Currently I have two Man City players in my starting XI, Kyle Walker, who was transferred in for GW8 and Jesus, who has been my third forward since the start of the year. Walker contributed with an assist against Stoke, but also gave up an own goal, which negated a return. His place in my starting XI is not in jeopardy at this time, but Jesus even hitting a brace on Saturday could be. Sergio Aguero impending return will send one player to the bench, its yet to be seen how Pep will play all these fantasy producing players. Many fantasy owners already brought in Raheem Sterling (15 points) before the price rise, but a strong case can also be made for Leroy Sane (10 points), David Silva (7 points) and Kevin De Bruyne (9 points). A strong run of fixtures and an unrelenting offense means tripling up on City could be a must!

My starting XI for GW9 weighs in the balance, with Jamie Vardy yet to play. At 8.5m he’s returned 5 goals on the season and 3 out of the last 4 games. With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, Vardy’s spot could be up for grabs. With no rotation risk, Morata probably edges out Aguero, as it would be very risky to start both Jesus and Aguero, but it’s not out of the question. Continuing to back Harry Kane has been rewarding, but only when away from Wembley, his numbers at home have been terrible, 7 points in 4 games. These next 4 games could be critical, as I continue to keep the faith that Kane will deliver, home and away, especially when captained, but I have started looking at other options IF the decision to move Kane for 4 weeks becomes reality.

Defensively there are two concerns; Ben Davies and Sead Kolsanic. With Danny Rose nearly fitness, it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Davies, who’s been a very productive fantasy asset with 49 points on the season, bested only by Antonio Valencia (53 points). If it were not for CHE/tot in the next 2 of 3 for United, I would be boasting defensive coverage, but I recently move Phil Jones because of Liverpool and the upcoming unfavorable fixtures. A budget option could be in the works, but with more viable midfielders providing offensive returns, a change in formation could be warranted. I am more inclined to stick with Kolasinac, who didn’t have a great offensive game and really didn’t feature much in the box.

On the week I have a green arrow and hope that is strengthens my GW8 performance as we wait for Leicester hosting WBA later today. Vardy is the piece that could dictate my upcoming moves.

Premier League: GW7 Retrospect

Rebounding from a disappointing 51 points in GW6, Harry Kane’s clinical finishing powered my squad to a season high, 78 points this week. While everything has been smell roses, its comforting to head into the break on a green arrow that sees me at with 390 overall points ranked 792k. This after two red arrows in the previous weeks, but all isn’t well and this international break could prove interesting.

One constant this season has been my patience. There has been an effort not to “knee jerk” players because of a single bad performance. However, I still feel I was a week early on my wild card, but amazingly 2 weeks later all seems forgotten. This week I was toiling around Phil Jones and Jamie Vardy, both carrying knocks into Friday and there was some question about them starting. Jones was still a concern when I went to bed Friday evening, but I decided to role with him. Thankfully both started.

Defensively, the #5mandefence has been solid all season long. Now that the treble So’ton experiment is over, I had one of my best returns from the back five this week, with Ben Davies leading the way with 16 points (goal/assist/CS/BP). His 49 points puts him top of the league for defenders, ahead of the heavily priced, Marcos Alonso (32 points). Most managers knew it would be a tough fixture against City but his 2-goal performance in GW2 is nearly a fleeting thought, on the back of just 2 clean sheets this season. The good news, Chelsea has a favorable run in the next 3 fixures; cry/WAT/bou. Just MNU/liv stand in their way for a great run through GW21! It’s yet to be seen if Alonso will make it out of the international break. Based on fixtures, it’s hard to bet against the Spaniard.

Sead Kolasinac, Phil Jones and Aaron Cresswell all came up with clean sheets, a total of 18 points. Of the group, Kolasinac has the best short term fixtures; wat/eve/SWA, while Cresswell faces bur/BHA/cry. United and Spurs hit some tough fixtures through GW11 but the way both are playing, their inclusion could remain a constant in my 5-man defense. Still looking to introduce a Man City defender. Nicolas Otamendi doesn’t really pique my interest due to his penchant for yellow cards, which put John Stones at the top of the list, due in part to my budget. Currently priced at 5.6m, puts me 0.4m short without retooling my defenders, which could mean moving Alonso for teammate Caesar Azpilicueta, freeing up 0.4m.

It was a cruel late goal for West Ham that saw Lukasz Fabianski lose his 4th clean sheet of the season. He continues to rack up save points, earning another one in Sunday’s match. He will continue between the sticks out of the international break, HUD/LEI/ars, but could lose out in subsequent weeks to Rob Elliot who face CRY/bur/BOU.

The midfield duo of Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan struggled both failed to return this week. For Eriksen is was his second no return in 3 weeks, while Mkhitaryan seen just one return in his last 4 weeks. Both Spurs (BOU/liv/mnu/CRY/ars) and United (liv/hud/TOT/che) face a tough run of games the next 4-5 gameweeks. Mkhitaryan (15 pts) has been outplayed by Mata (16 pts) and Fellaini (22 pts) in the last 3 games. He’s also been hooked in the last 3 games; 87 mins, 74 mins, 65 mins, while Fellaini has seen the full 90 minutes in Paul Pogba’s absence. One the whole, midfielders are struggling league wide.

If unproductive midfielders aren’t enough, the forwards seem to have gone from feast to famine in the blink of an eye. Behind Harry Kane’s brace, to go along with the armband, he finished on 26 points, but it could have been much more if Spurs kept pushing through 90 minutes. Kane was clinical in his approach and netted his third 13 point return of the season (3 out of the last 4 games). All of which have also been away from Wembley.

With Sergio Aguero now injured and out for 4 weeks, Alvaro Morata sidelined with a muscle injury, it’s Gabriel Jesus as the only pure forward left for Pep. His starting spot should be secure. Jesus picked up the only assist of the game, finishing with 5 points on the day. City’s fixtures now turn for the better; STO/BUT/wba. For GW6 moved Firmino in favor of Vardy, but he’s failed to return. However, he is carrying a hip injury, which could be cause for concern, but still better than Firmino not making the starting XI yesterday. Vardy stares at WBA/swa/EVE/sto in the next 4 games. This was the period I purchased him for, with an eye on bringing Firmino back in starting GW10.

While Romelu Lukaku has been the most consistent forward, much like Diego Costa last season, he’s form isn’t sparkling. While he has lasted every minute of every game, returning all but one game and doubling up in GW1, 60.3% of fantasy managers still own him. Yet his days as the de facto captain could be called into question. Still in fantasy football, consistency is a good thing, but right now I don’t plan on bringing the Belgian into my starting XI.

Comparing this season to last, I’m currently on 390 points, which is an increase of 14 points. Yet, looking at the overall rank, there is a huge disparity, as I currently sit at 792k this season, but 376 points last season saw me at 168k. To break the top 50k requires another 47 points and 38 points to get into the top 100k. Team value is currently 101.0m, which is ahead of where I was planning, but it’s down 0.9m from last season.

The 5-2-3 formation continues to flourish, as it’s been played 4 out of 7 gameweeks, averaging 59.3 points! Non-starters have shifted the formation to a 4-3-3 twice and a 5-3-2 once, both averaging 51 points. While the numbers aren’t all that impressive, it does prove that this season a 5-man defense, while risky does carry merit with midfielders struggling.

With 2 weeks off we wait with anticipation to see how our players fair over the international break. We keep our hopes high they all return fit and without injury. It’s also time to evaluate where we are and what we play on doing to improve our squads. For me, 2 FTs does provide me a few options. Lukaku is tempting, but with unfavorable fixtures, I just don’t see it happening.

Reading the Twitter feeds, as well as a shout from #1, Matthew Barrick, his 3-4-3 has Lukaku, Morata, Kane up top. More importantly, his midfield has 3 budget starters (Carroll, Brady, Ritchie) with Salah as his higher priced player. It’s something I am now considering, downgrading one of my big midfielders to free up some budget to potentially improve defensively and go bigger up top.

Premier League: GW6 Retrospect

I have been avoiding any fantasy football sites and Twitter feeds this week. Frustrated and disgust has set in and we are just 6 weeks into the EPL season. The wild card has been more of a vex than revelation as we finalize plans for Gameweek 7. Thankfully, we can look ahead, but for now we look back at what COULD have been for GW6.

Gameweek 6 is being viewed as a failure or week that could have been. Been better. Been more productive. Jesus was started, but Pep rested him. Alonso hit with a yellow card saw just 56 minutes on the pitch. Kane hit for a brace, which was great, but I decided to captain Vardy. Speaking of Jamie, he missed a penalty. This was also the first week I reorganized the bench order and moved Dale Stephens to the second substitute, as he scored 6 points. Instead, Jack Cork came in for Jesus. *sigh*

Final score for GW6 was 51 points, 9 off the average of 60 points, which saw another red arrow, for the second consecutive week. I dropped 500k spots, now at 1.78k. The season continues with its twists and turns. I don’t believe anything is settled at this point. One thing remains consistent, I am showing more patience than I have the last few years. However, I probably should have kept Kane as my captain instead of flip flopping through my forwards, looking for an differential.

Defensively, I am pleased with my #5mandefence, but it was a rough one as Davies, Cresswell and Alonso accounted for just 2 points. I expected a low score from Cresswell, but Davies and Alonso were unexpected. Kolasinac and Jones responded well, each with a clean sheet, while Jones picked up 3 bonus points. Last week it was Fabianski’s time to shine against Spurs, but failed against Watford with just a single point.

At this point in time I don’t feel bad running out two starting midfielders, as many attacking returns are coming from the forwards. Eriksen picked up his second goal of the season, as well as 2 bonus points for 9 points. Mkhitaryan and the Red Devils could only slot one goal home against a stingy So’ton defense, unfortunately he didn’t feature any attacking returns.

Up front, the benching of Jesus was somewhat expected, but I opted to move Firmino for Vardy and with no other stong contender in the midfield, I was left with Jesus as the third starter. Kane continues to feature well on the road, hitting for his second brace in 3 games, finishing with 13 points. Vardy was brought in because of his prolific scoring the past 2 seasons against Liverpool (5 goals). The missed penalty would have been his third brace against the Reds, but it was saved. Couple that with a yellow card and his return was just 6 points with the captain’s armband.

Looking ahead, I feel my luck has to change. Every move I seem to make is counterproductive. Strangely enough I am still running the big wing backs, as well as three big forwards. The big forward line seems to be all the rage now.

I have two problems to address. Phil Jones is dinged, as well as Vardy (75% chance). While Jones has been solid for United this season, I might have to move him if he isn’t going to play. On the short list is Harry Maguire, sitting on 27 points for the season and the Foxes face Bournemouth.

While I hadn’t really considered Morata, he does have one thing going for him. He has no competition up front, unlike Jesus. That would be the sole reason to make the move to the Chelsea front man, as own Jesus and seeing him benched (like Kun was in GW3) with no appearance is cause for concern. With Chelsea facing City this weekend, I can’t see bringing him in before the international break.