I’ve tried to fight it but it’s hard to deny that I’ve spent a lot of this season seeking out an explanation for my struggles. I’m heading for my worst ever Fantasy Premier League campaign and I’m not going to settle for that without finding a scapegoat. It can’t all be Edin Dzeko’s fault and it’s certainly not mine.
If you’ve read these ambling words before or, indeed, been unfortunate enough to listen to my nasal whines via the ScoutCast, you’ll know that my favourite target is the “midfield”. Not one midfielder, not a few – the whole damn lot of ’em.
The midfield has been broken this year. At the start of the campaign I decided to put emphasis on playing five across the middle, set my side up to accommodate the tactic and paid for it ever since.
Of course I’m overlooking one small detail: my reluctance to sign Yaya Toure and Aaron Ramsey and my stubborn refusal to admit my mistake. Having said that, my theory that the midfield has been a cruel master this term has some substance. Typically, I plundered the data to support my case.
Toure has almost been the exception to the rule. He currently sits on 13 goals having never previously suggested he could achieve such a strike rate. Having said that, four of those goals of come from direct free-kicks, and three more came via penalties with first-choice takers off the pitch. That’s another argument for another day, though.
My main point is that, aside from Eden Hazard sitting just one goal behind the Ivorian, no other midfielder has been able to keep pace. Quite simply, if you didn’t get on Toure early or swallowed pride and brought him in since, you’re left clinging to Hazard and cursing every goal that comes the City man’s way – via a dead-ball or otherwise.
Is this really different from last season? In a word, yes. On the eve of Gameweek 28 last term, we had Gareth Bale sitting on 15 goals along with Michu. More significantly, there were five other midfielders on double figures for goals at this stage. In a nutshell, then, there was a much larger spread of goals across the midfield area with several “heavy-hitters” to align with – not just a couple.
While Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez blazed a trail up front with 19 and 18 goals respectively, our midfields were a selection box of treats with the likes of Theo Walcott, Marounne Fellaini and Juan Mata all contributing goals and assists with regularity. This season the best we’ve currently got is Adam Lallana and the seemingly unappealing consistency of Steven Gerrard who appears to rumble on as a Fantasy asset – churning points but never really establishing himself back amongst the elite Fantasy midfielders.
Ironically, then, I’m thinking that, along with Yohan Cabaye’s departure and Michu’s failing legs, the injury to Aaron Ramsey was pretty much disastrous for my one-man campaign for midfield variety. The removal of these three players from our game, compounded further by injuries to Walcott and Mata’s inability to get a place in Jose Mourinho’s lineup, has killed the chance for diversity in this area of our squads.
Even now, it’s almost unthinkable to shed Toure and Hazard – unless of course you can afford to fetch the Ivorian back after City’s blanks. Elsewhere, you’re left to grab the skippers at St Mary’s and Anfield, whilst hoping that Adam Jonhnson can come back to form or that Kevin Nolan or Charlie Adam can continue to maintain matters. Charlie Adam. It’s got that bad.
The knock-on is that we’ve had the money for the heavyweights up front – that’s helped kill variety in that area of the pitch and, low and behold, we’re left waiting for Sergio Aguero to return so we can spend the cash we don’t need to invest elsewhere.
It’s all the midfield’s fault. All of them. They built the template. They made Dzeko miss those sitters. They’ve ruined my season. I’m blameless.