Tom’s good mate FPLGoops is back for another season, writing a weekly FPL diary from the perspective of an “FPL Everyman”.
Follow him on twitter @FPLGoops.
What a rollercoaster of a few weeks in FPL world.
We know the games come thick and fast over the Christmas period but this year we’ve had to throw in Covid postponements galore causing all manner of issues and challenges in how to navigate the choppy FPL waters.
Every time I sat down to write a new blog post something happened in the press that made me literally tear it up and start again – so I took the sensible step of pausing and seeing out the whole period in order to reflect on it afterwards.
Turns out my last update was just ahead of GW13 and we’re now heading into GW19 – the double gameweek – and still new games are being postponed or potentially drawn back in.
Frankly it’s hard to keep up but the upshot of all of this for me is to where possible hold onto my chips as their maybe some mayhem in fixtures as we press forward into Spring.
GW14 was the weekend before Christmas. There was plenty of chatter about Salah being rested. It was enough for some to move Salah out (for a City MF) and certainly for many to steer clear of the captaincy.
Salah was indeed rested but came on in the 2nd half and in less than 30 minutes had bagged 2 goals, an assist, 2 bonus and made a mockery of the ‘Christmas rotation challenge’. We know full well Salah can hurt non owners – I’ve long talked about the Bournemouth game I removed him for when he scored a hattrick (same time of year!) A 7-0 thrashing of Palace was really not on the cards. I started PvA for goodness sake! But on the evidence of this game alone, triple Liverpool was looking essential. Salah and Mane hauls. Robbo and TAA clean sheets and assist each. Yikes.
This was also the week, United fixed their home form with a 6-2 routing of Leeds including McTominay getting a brace in the first 4 minutes and a Bruno mega haul for my captain – phew, I’ve had a really average captaincy run this year.
Spurs also conspired to lose 2-0 at home to Leicester with Vardy doing what Vardy does (of course, I’d just removed him!) plus Kane and Son BOTH blanking for the first time this season. For once Soucek did nothing on my bench either.
Christmas gluttony ticked off, GW15 – our traditional Boxing Day cracker – was supposed to be all about City and Liverpool for captaincy – City at home to Newcastle and Liverpool hosting WBA. Hot off the heels of that 7-0, most of the community sensibly, you’d think, opted for Salah (C). Incredibly he not only blanked but Liverpool also conceded an equaliser and, just as City had done, drew 1-1 with this year’s whipping boys. I mean – this game was viewed as triple captainable.
City won – but only 2-0 – whilst Bruno contined to rake in the points with another double digit away day haul in a 2-2 draw with Leicester. Arsenal beat Chelsea in what would be the precursor to hugely contrasting fortunes for both London clubs through the Christmas period and Spurs stuttered again drawing 1-1 at Wolves with a second blank in a row for both Son and Kane.
51 points was OK but I was left cursing more Soucek points sat first bench – this time 10! I was like: you’re kidding me, WTAF? How many points am I going to leave stranded on my bench for this guy?
Unperturbed by Spurs patchy form, I was set on the big Kane/Son double up for their fixtures which were about to take a huge juicy swing starting with Fulham at home for GW16. This, however, was the beginning of what is becoming a horribly long and drawn out saga of Covid-impacted fixtures. Fulham’s camp was decimated and the game called off – with the 2 big hitters contributing a big fat zero. Unbelievable Jeff! How unlucky can you get?
With that Spurs fixture gone, the last thing we needed was another game to bite the dust but would you believe it the City squad was hit by an outbreak too and their game vs Everton was also called off. My frontline including Kane and DCL was ravaged and I could only get 9 players out. 37 points – total disaster! It was cup qualifying week in FPL too and I scraped through with a gameweek rank of 4.1m. Only the top 4.11m would make it through!
And so to GW17 – the first of a new year. Boy, I needed a change of fortune and this time the Son/Kane axis paid off – their fixture vs Leeds was always one to target and both scored handsomely – Kane with 24 captain points and Son with 13.
Add to that yet another Bruno double digit haul – only 10 this time – a Saka goal (I bought Saka in for Podence over Christmas) and a most unlikely Mitchell clean sheet for Palace it was a decent recovery up to 73 points. Mitchell – what a hero – I never managed to sell him and he’s 3.9 and looks nailed.
I won my first cup tie easily enough too and so musn’t grumble but can you believe who was my first bench? You guessed it – Soucek. This time with 11 points.
Come on, this is now beyond ridiculous.
I’ve benched half a century or more of Soucek points to date and when I do play him, he invariably blanks. I’m not sure if I’ll ever learn – looks like Moysey has his new Fellaini!
And so over the festive period I did manage to finally break into the top 1m OR and at one stage was up to the heady heights of 700k.
I finished the Christmas fixture rush c.the 900k mark and now is the time to push on towards the top 500k. Not exactly glorious but will be something of an achievement after a wretched season all round.
And so now to the blank GW18.
Blank GW18 Review
For some weeks I’d been setting up towards BGW18 and DGW19 with a plan to ride out the blank when everyone else using the Free Hit Chip and then attack the double gameweek 19 with the Free Hit. I don’t think I can optimise using no chips and I have ground to make up so this feels to me the best way to make up ground. Lose a bit first and then attack attack attack.
Not using FH was always going to be contingent on Spurs playing the Blank. It won’t now be Villa (yes Covid outbreak) but the Spurs v Fulham game that was irritatingly postponed in that ill fated GW16 was enough to be my ticket to getting through relatively unscathed with both Son and Kane in place
My aim for the week was a small red arrow. With no chip activated in the Blank and only 9 players available after taking a hit it was always going to be a case of damage limitation.
So what I needed was an underwhelming week – no real hauls – and whilst it was dull to watch that’s what we got. Only Everton scored more than once.
City still haven’t rediscovered their mojo. Not properly anyway. Sterling’s late penalty miss was irritating for us KdB captainers denying either the assisrt or his pen goal! but not as painful as those who had Free Hit Sterling into their side. First benched, then a missed pen – negative points. A disaster!
Son blanked which was probably hygiene – though we need to take heed of this. Right now, Kane looks the Spurs asset to keep.
Pogba gave us a masterclass for once in a United shirt (perhaps he thought he was playing for Juve in those colours) but Bruno, for once, was largely anonymous and blanked away for the first time this season
So going into the Arsenal v Palace game, unbelievably I had a small green arrow with Saka, Laca and Mitchell still to play.
And what a mind numbingly terrible game that was. That Mitchell was my joint highest points scorer speaks volumes about many things, not least how difficult this game is to call. I had doubled up on Arsenal’s attack. I kind of had to with the DCL hamstring twang – Laca was in form and the best striker option for replacement. Alas Arsenal reverted to being dreadful.
All in though I scraped 50 points (-4) from a non chip blank gameweek and a 110k rank rise. Up into the top 800k. Incredible. Really chuffed with that.
Coming through GW18 unscathed I was still set on using the Free Hit for the double gameweek but when I reviewed my team I realised that perhaps save for Vardy and a West Ham defender my team is in pretty good shape and the only hurdle for me is how to get Salah back.
I can do it with a -4 by moving Son to Salah, and downgrading 1 week useless punt Laca to either Antonio or Watkins who both have decent looking doubles.
I’d love to take that punt on Antonio but he’s been out for so long I’m worried his minutes will be managed despite too very presentable fixtures.
Watkins is a player I’ve not owned and have watched my fellow FPL comrades cry out with despair many times as he’s been so close to a haul or 3.
He’s statting incredibly well up to the bit that counts which is actual goals but he could be a decent bet especially against a dreadful Newcastle team.
I’ve had one eye on how to get Vardy – who is the player I’ll have most FOMO over not owning. The only way to do it is sacrificing Kane and no Mo. I just can’t do it. I think that’s step too far.
So here we are – I’m NOT using the Free Hit chip. I’ll muddle through with a hit and I think a half decent set up. I feel as if I’ve navigated this tough 18/19 conundrum pretty well and can use chips later on when others won’t have them to call on.
I won’t make the changes til after the pressers – so can’t post here yet.
Good luck folks – especially if you are being brave and activating another chip.