Happy New Year everyone, I trust that you all have recovered from what was, quite frankly, a manic Christmas schedule – packed full of matches, goals and VAR controversy.
Just as I am planning my fitness regime to try and burn off the excessive gluttony of the festive period, my attentions turn to plotting moves for my own Fantasy Football team, to try and carry on my streak of green arrows.
Perhaps I am in a fortuitous position, but looking at my team, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. I managed to resist the urge of selling any Liverpool players, so have enjoyed Sadio Mané‘s (£12.3m) and Trent-Alexander Arnold‘s (7.5) hauls over the last few weeks and I’m not having to decide over whether or not to bring in Danny Ings (£6.7m) before his inevitable decline in form.
I’ve got myself a nice little differential in the form of Lucas Digne (£5.7m), and am effectively playing a 2-4-4 formation with Lord John Lundstram (£5.1m) and Anthony Martial (£7.9m) with the wrong positional classifications.
Things are looking pretty rosy at the moment, but I’m conscious that things are about to be shaken up with the impending Double Gameweek 24 on the horizon.
Despite having no Triple Captain chip in my locker (thanks for the 5 points Jamie Vardy…), I am looking at players who will take the coveted third Liverpool spot in my team.
There are a few options I am considering.
The reshuffle – Mohamed Salah
If I want to get the joint-priciest player in the game, Mohamed Salah (£12.3m), some surgery is going to be needed.
I can’t see myself wanting to lose Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) who continues to impress both the eye and the FPL scoring charts.
Mané obviously stays, as does Vardy, so I’m going to have to dump some players who are actually playing pretty well for me.
Martial could be a willing sacrifice, but he plays Burnley in Gameweek 24, who have struggled against the big clubs this season.
Jack Grealish (£6.4m) would be a reluctant sale, as he has been thriving in a number 10 role and was unlucky to ‘only’ come away with 13 points in the Gameweek 21 win at Burnley.
He plays a resurgent Watford in Gameweek 24… a few weeks ago, this would have been the best fixture of them all. Not anymore, as David revealed yesterday!
But it’s not a straight swap of Grealish to Salah of course. I’d have to systematically ditch other players who I’d actually quite like to keep hold of. Raul Jiménez (£7.5m) has blanked in his last two games, but before that, was delivering incredibly consistent returns.
Adama Traoré (£5.6m) is the flavour of the week, and while I have doubts over his ability to perform as a fourth midfielder, I quite like him nestled in my team as a fifth midfielder for when I need him.
Overall, I’m just not convinced that major surgery is needed. I know Salah is an incredible player, and looks to be getting back to his best… but the damage it may do to my team if I did go for him may be irreparable. Would I captain him anyway, with Mané being in such good form alongside him? I doubt it.
The defensive double up – Andrew Robertson
I absolutely love attacking defenders, and Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) certainly fits the bill. In a straight shootout, I’d choose Trent every day of the week, due to his set pieces and overall delivery – but pairing the two marauding fullbacks together may be a good bit of business for myself, and anyone else who will struggle to get Salah in.
I had the defensive double-up earlier in the season, and in truth, it was a bit of a nightmare.
But here we have a Liverpool side who have now kept five clean sheets in a row. Liverpool have already registered a shutout against Wolves this season and are unlikely to be worried against a Hammers side who, despite a strong showing against Bournemouth last week, have struggled in front of goal recently.
Another potential option could be Joe Gomez (£5.2m) , who has recovered from a pretty woeful start of the season to be an instrumental cog in Liverpool’s season.
His price means I could easily switch Lundstram out for him, without even needing to plan. Because I was so stubborn with John, I’d only lose £0.1m too. The perks of resisting the Lord for so long.
However, Virgil Van Dijk (£6.4m), the lynchpin of the entire side, just doesn’t really appeal to me.
He has three goals this season (two of them coming against Brighton), but for £0.6m more I could grab Robertson, or for £1.2m less, I could grab the bargain that is Gomez. I don’t feel as though he offers enough to justify his price with those two around.
The punt – Firmino
It seems strange to me that Liverpool’s only FPL classified striker, Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) who plays pretty much every game, has only six goals this season – given how potent Liverpool’s attack has been all season. Not only that, he has 10 blanks in his last 13 games, and only 8.9% ownership.
In theory, his form shouldn’t even warrant a place in my thinking, but if I did want to add another string to my Liverpool attack bow, then he’s the only real consideration I can make.
With Liverpool’s fixtures remaining good right up until Gameweek 29 however, I can see myself getting locked in with the pricy Firmino.
He’s off the back of his most prolific season for Liverpool, with 27 goals in all competitions last year, but we know that his role in the team is often to drop deep and connect play.
Firmino hasn’t impressed me all that much this season, with the game against Sheffield United being one of the worst I’ve seen him play in a long time. This one feels like a real punt, and not one that fills me with optimism… but a couple of hauls over the next few games may force my hand.
The outsiders – West Ham
Of course, we should not forget about West Ham, who also have two fixtures in Gameweek 24… albeit with much less inviting opposition in Liverpool and Leicester, the two best teams in the league currently.
Will Lukasz Fabianski (£4.9m) get enough save points in this week to justify a very boring goalkeeper transfer? I am not sure – and he has a particularly rough set of fixtures around the Double Gameweek too, with Manchester City and Liverpool (again!) both visiting the Olympic stadium.
In attack, Felipe Anderson (£6.6m) has had a significant price drop since the start of the season but has attacking returns in his last two games.
He played as a striker in the FA cup too, in a strong-looking line-up – and if this continues, could be a great differential with only 3% ownership.
Others are talking about Michael Antonio (£6.9m), but while I think he is a game-changing player, his FPL returns over the last few years have been disappointing and he seems quite expensive when you consider the price of other players such as Grealish and the amount of midfielders delivering week-in week-out.
In conclusion, it looks as though I’ll be wielding a Liverpool defensive double up for the Double Gameweek.
Not owning Salah will be scary, but I have to hope that my other players (with good games that particular week) can pick up the slack.
I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for tearing up their teams for Mo though, particularly if you want to have a January clear-out and are still hanging on to players like Mason Mount (6.3).
For those with Harry Kane (£11.0m) and even Raheem Sterling (£11.8m), surely the move to Salah will be an easy one, but for those who have spread the cash, getting the Golden Boot winner of the last two years may prove to be too difficult.
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