The first gameweek is over!
But was the preseason frenzy of last minute tinkering, stats checking, RMTs, trawling through expert blogs and plugging into podcasts worthwhile?
Well, we’re our own worst enemy as FPL managers.
As the curtain rises, you have to choose your path.
You need to trust your judgement and hope it doesn’t fail you.
All in all, it was a high scoring week predominantly because all of the big guns fired.
As expected, there were plenty of goals, VAR controversy, calamitous defending, a sprinkling of star quality and a few unexpected stars emerging from left field onto our watchlists.
Talking Point: To Kane or not to Kane?
This year I settled quite quickly on two teams/formations.
Fundamentally, they centred around whether I picked Harry Kane or not.
I truly wrestled with it for those final 2 weeks. I could have gone either way.
Mo Salah and Raz Sterling were absolutely nailed for me.
They will be the two highest points scorers this year bar none. I’m convinced of it.
After deciding that, though, there was very little room for another highly priced asset.
How can we possibly fit Kane or Aubameyang alongside the BIG 2?
As it was, I had an instinct on Kane and the fixtures were just so appealing.
However, it wrecked the balance of my team and broke a few golden rules around team structure and set up.
I found a team that worked but I knew I was making sacrifices:
- I’d have to forego the 2 Liverpool assets at the back, which looked an increasingly popular set up based on pre-season discussion amongst the FPL Twitterati.
- It also meant I couldn’t pick Callum Wilson, a long time fpl darling of mine with very favourable early season fixtures.
Did I dare risk it?
We all know Kane has a questionable August record.
He’s also redefined his game and drops deeper to receive and bring speedier players like Son and Lucas into play.
As the deadline for GW1 loomed larger, I started to question the value of blowing 11m on a premium striker and tweeted the following trying to convince myself how it might be a risk too far:
To Kane or not to Kane: Episode 673
Eriksen now desperate to leave
Alli and Son both out
No creativity in that mf
Kane will have to drop even deeper
Probably better investing in defence
I am finally starting to accept I can’t have them all.#makeadecisiongoops
— fplgoops! (@fplgoops) August 7, 2019
The Kane Team
This was how my KANE team looked.
Not as big at the back as I’d ideally want – but it was workable as long as those big guns all hit the ground running.
The non Kane team
Using another account from an unspecified family member, I set up another team in parallel (from which I would eventually pick a shambling no chips, no changes team for the WGTA Zombie League).
Instead of Kane, I included Lucas Moura as my Spurs attacking cover for those nice early fixtures.
In Son’s absence, Moura was guaranteed to start at least the first 2 games, has looked sharp in preseason and scored 2 hat tricks at the back end of last season.
It afforded me much better balance but it DIDN’T HAVE KANE!
This was how the NON KANE team looked:
It went to the wire.
But in the end I just couldn’t resist Kane for that Villa fixture.
Gameweek 1 review
I’m over on the Isle of Wight this week – 20 of us – celebrating a 40th birthday as part of a family holiday.
There was enough WiFi (just) to keep an eye on my FPL fortunes – but screentime was limited and I couldn’t give it my full attention.
Timing is everything!
I finalized my team on Thursday night as I was travelling over on Friday with limited opportunity to tinker.
A blessed relief in truth.
Despite a couple of inevitable wobbles, I stuck steadfast with my Kane team.
There was a sense of serenity that I was denied the opportunity for last minute tinkering based on the press conference updates.
As the deadline came into view, my two biggest FOMOs were no VVD at the back and no Wilson up front.
So imagine my dismay when VVD opened his account midway through my first evening on holiday.
I’d expected a clean sheet and some bonus but a goal?
It felt like a short, sharp punch to the gut especially given his ownership: the Pukki consolation goal was welcome relief.
Salah as captain was hardly revolutionary. but I was nonetheless pleased by his haul.
Saturday afternoon was classic FPL fare: a dominant City rout with Sterling bagging the first hat trick of the season.
I was comfortable with this, assuming most who had Salah would have captained him: the Sterling points were nicely banked without too much impact on rank.
My only regret was Dunk 3rd on my bench with an 11 pter in a 3-0 away win for Brighton, who have a wretched away record – the one result no one could ever predict.
I really, really hate leaving points on the bench.
Kane Steps Up
So as per my agonising above, my whole gameweek hinged on the 5.30 early evening Saturday fixture.
Kane at home to newly promoted Villa.
I’d seen some Twitter stats that Kane had a very good record vs Villa.
I needed an early Kane goal to steady the nerves.
It didn’t come.
An hour into the game, I was increasingly resigned to defeat – Spurs 1-0 down at home. The natives restless. Then Lucas in my non-Kane team bagged an assist and I reached for the rum.
You can’t spend 11m on a striker and suffer a blank at the first time of asking. The decision on which my whole set up rested looked as if it was sliding into ignominy.
And then with time running out the fog lifted. Kane showed us why he’s so coveted by fpl managers with a glorious quickfire brace and I was vindicated. It took me to 80 points with Perez of Leicester still to come on Sunday. A fine start.
Perez blanked on Sunday – bit of a damp squib – but he’s an OOP with great potential and a final haul of 83 is both a blessed relief and a vindication of my non template set up with 3 big hitters.
Can I sustain it?
Let’s finish off this week with a couple of regular weekly features.
Goops’ Unexpected Star of the Week
A few candidates in GW1 here.
John McGinn at Villa looks like he could prove to be a bargain at 5.5m with some decent fixtures ahead.
Tanguy Ndombele at Spurs could be viable at 6m with bonus, assist and goal potential already in evidence.
Dunk’s 11 pter was hugely unexpected (hence my 3rd bench) for a Brighton team with a woeful record on the road. Potter looks like he could weave some magic on the South Coast..
However, I’m going with Riyadh Mahrez for this first gameweek.
He chalked up 3 assists, and to the eye looked confident and reborn.
Pep seems to favour Bernardo Silva but, with Leroy Sane also out for a while, Mahrez may emerge as a great differential option.
Goops’ Weekly Pick
On to Gameweek 2 and who I think could be a standout differential pick.
It’s too early in the season to gauge who will fire.
I’m intrigued to see how Pepe will do at Arsenal and also all 3 newly promoted sides have pretty favourable home games -can Teemu Pukki lay claim to the ‘Jimmy’ mantle and be this season’s standout budget striker?
I’m homing in on the Everton v Watford fixture.
Watford already look in a spot of bother and Everton have invested heavily and well over the summer and always look decent at home.
Moise Kean looks a hot prospect and I’m going for him to kickstart his EVE career in GW2 with a cheeky brace.
Right then…hope you had a decent start and are well set for the season.
If not, don’t panic.
It’s early days and the worst thing you can do now is blow the wildcard or take a big hit.
I’ve got a boys’ night out at Cowes tonight – few beers and some seafood.
Enjoy, ’til next week.