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.
I have a small confession to make.
I was all set to dead end so I could wildcard this week for 25 with a view to setting up the best DGW26 squad but after I published my blog I started to wonder if it was worth jumping on the wildcard a week early.
The main drivers of this were:
1) Confirmed injuries to key members of my squad – notably Justin and DCL, with clear doubts over Antonio too
2) An opportunity to bring forward Burnley coverage with a nice looking double in 24, a great fixture at home to WBA in 25 and another albeit less exciting double in 26 – that’s 5 fixtures in 3 weeks
3) A chance to scratch the Sterling itch early – move the in form City captain into my squad to double up with the irrepressible Gundogan and attack the fixtures.
And as I weighed up the pros and cons it became too good an opportunity to miss out on.
In came Pope with Lowton ahead of Mee (purely on basis of funds)
Out went Salah for Sterling – a brave call but the pull to Raz was greater than the FOMO of NoMo.
DCL across to Richarlison who convinced me with his performance vs Spurs in the cup in midweek that he was worth a go to cover Everton over their double.
Mo played in the first fixture so I was on edge, knowing any sort of haul could derail my wildcard before it had even begun.
When he fired Liverpool ahead with a lovely finish from Bobby Firmino’s sumptuous double dragbackheel he was set for an 11 pointer and I was feeling pangs of regret – but then in 10 crazy minutes, Leicester came to life, Liverpool imploded and Salah was down to 7 points. Surely Sterling across 2 games would beat that…
Next up it was Burnley’s turn and a chance to see if my double Burnley defensive punt was worth the trouble. I was hopeful of a clean sheet, maybe a couple of cheeky Pope save points but when Lowton, my budget makeweight fired in a cracking 3rd goal I was in dreamland. Clean sheet intact and max bonus. He’s the new Justin!
We went straight into the City game – it was all about Sterling here. Gundogan’s EO was very high and the double up was mouthwatering. What followed, of course, was another sublime masterclass from Gundogan – 19 points secured before he was forced off the field early. A solitary assist for Sterling. I had reshaped my entire squad around Sterling and here was heavlily captained Gundog stealing the headlines and delivering me a red arrow to boot. I’d 60 points from 5 players but I was on a red arrow – unbelievable.
Despite my delight at Pope’s clean sheet with another game to come I was nevertheless a little anxious about how one of my FPL faves Emi Martinez would fare in Saturday’s evening fixture. I felt like a traitor consigning him to the bench. He’s been amazing. And he duly punished me with a really stunning performance to secure a 12 pointer. That’ll teach me.
I consoled myself that Pope had the Fulham game to come AND a really great fixture in 25 and that the odds would restack in his favour.
On Sunday I watched in horror as United turned in a cowardly, pathetic performance against WBA and was relieved I’d overlooked Cavani. Bruno did what Bruno does and still hauled for FPL despite the rest of the performance being wretched.
So then all eyes were on Richarlison at home to Fuham. I’d received a bit of stick for the Richarlison pick. Mainly because I’m such an advocate of DCL – he’s my man. Again I was betraying one of my own – but the pick seemed sound – he had 2 fixtures even if one was vs City.
I’d hoped to be able to stick it to the doubters but alas Everton reverted to type and put in a woeful performance against a resurgent Fulham and Ricky blanked. Not good.
The news that Antonio had failed his fitness test came as something of a relief to me. Every manager and his dog seemed to still own him and it was one of my sacrifices on Wildcard to remove and bring Bamford back in in place for GW25.
It felt like it justified my choice when his name was ommitted from the team sheet.
Any haul for Antonio would have seriously dented my undoubted progress. However I’d overlooked that a lot of managers would benefit from the West Ham defenders they had all put first bench and so a lot of my ML opponents lucked out anyway.
I kept Soucek for one last last hurrah against the bottom club, and he did what I expected whenever I start him which is to blank. Never mind – it’s been a rollercoaster there but I’ll be glad to finally ditch.
So at the end of the regular GW I sat pretty on 86 points – thanks to the Lowton power play alongside those City hauls – a small green arrow mainly because so many had 38 Gundog captain points compared with Sterling’s 12.
As the double gameweek fixtures rolled back round into view I had high hopes of the double Burnley cleanie and for Sterling to justify the captaincy by delivering the goods with Gundogan ruled out with a groin strain.
It was a strangely paradoxical feeling, being comfortable that one of my double gameweek players would miss out on a second game as he’d already done so much damage to rank!
Sterling was a big call for me – the removal of Salah as the enabler being central to this – and I needed him to deliver to justify that faith.
He didn’t. In fact worse still he was back marooned on the wing, not influencing play, and then proceeded to pick up yellow card. A very unpalatable way to end the gameweek despite a score in the 90s.
I was hoping to break the century and briefly Richarlison’s equaliser had me over the line but Pep’s now all too familiar rotation strategy to bench Stones and that late yellow saw me fall short with 97.
Let’s face it that’s a damn good score for a WC – but having started the 2nd round on 86 you could forgive me for expecting a little more.
Now, now Goops – steady as she goes – that’s still a 55k rank rise and up to 190k – it’s stellar progress and the strategy is working.
Wildcarding early presented some challenges.
I needed to ensure I had enough coverage to navigate DGW25 where Leeds and Southampton will play twice and so both Dallas and Bamford were drafted in early. The Saints double, despite their form, made me consider KWP too and this proved an immediate error has he was ruled out of 25 by pulling his hammy vs Wolves, a game which they then proceeded to lose – their 6th in a row.
Suddenly backing the Saints feels like a trap. A lot will be on Ings – who is fit and firing – but one that for me is too complicated to switch to if I want to maximise GW26
Instead the easy switch of Soucek to Raphinha makes a lot of sense – but it does leave me with 3 Leeds players going into the double where they only play Villa.
There are 2 ways to look at this – technically Leeds play once in 26 but they do play 3 over 25 and 26 much like most other teams so is it a big issue? Bamford will most likely become Kane anyway so Raphinha, who is very much in form right now, is worth that move I’d say.
I’m less comfortable with KwP – what do I do now? I can’t carry him if I play my Bench Boost so I’d need to take a hit for another double gameweeker – but who is there at that price point? It might have to be Rudiger.
That injury is making me a little twitchy about even using the Bench Boost. In our WGTA Slack channel, our leading manager Banana Nose Maldanado made a very sound argument that your BB can only be judged on the performance of 12-15 as your first XI would play anyway. So it doesn’t really matter which week you play your BB as long as your 12-15 do well.
I’m actually torn as to whether I should switch across to the Triple Captain chip in 26 – most likely on Kane.
If so then I don’t really need to worry what moves I make leading to 26. However when would I then play the BB – surely 26 is the best week.
All I know is I have double Burnley defence, double City attack (if Gundog is back) possibly Triple Leeds for their double – and both Bruno and Shaw up against a stuttering Newcastle. I am overlooking Ings for now (unless he earns a double in 26 and I could be convinced to take out Richarlison).
It should be enough to yield a decent 25 before we get into the real business of working out what to do in 26.
Here’s the bus team – Raphinha in would mean Richarlison demoted to the bench.
I don’t need to overthink the captaincy – makes sense to put it on Bamford.
For those of you on wildcard, hope it goes swimmingly – but as we know the acid test is how you fare over the next 5-6 weeks.