I’ve never done noticeably well during the month of December in FPL, ever. The festive period of 2019 was no exception.
After having a yo-yo start to the season, I needed a platform to push my way up. Buying Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) as an apparent long-term option for a hit only for him to get injured just before Crystal Palace kept a clean sheet didn’t exactly help.
Stalling on Danny Ings (£6.7m) and then missing out on his regular goalscoring proved costly. In addition, the lack of bench cover (due to lost points on the bench during November) was also problematic, especially when Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) wasn’t in the match–day squad for back-to-back Gameweeks.
At the same time, there were some small victories, especially on Boxing Day, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s (£7.5m) monster haul, Captain Harry Kane’s (£10.9m) returns and Mason Greenwood (£4.3m) randomly delivering for once as a risky starting pick.
However, these punches in the air were damage limitation in many respects after the dour servings of Gameweek 20 and Gameweek 21 which only delivered an aggregate tally of 99 points.
Still, I shouldn’t complain too much, my overall rank increased over 200,000+ places between December 1 and January 1. Every cloud…
One of the biggest frustrations that I’ve had this season, like many of us, is the failure to recognise when to buy Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) and Sadio Mané (£12.3m) – and when to captain them.
I simply failed to gauge their projected form correctly. Sure, I started off with Salah as he registered two double-digit hauls before the end of August. But from then on, you would be forgiven to think that Mané has been their most integral attacking player.
After all, to date, he has outpointed him on more or less all of the major FPL stats (see below). Mané was someone that I sold in September and then bought back in later November, only to be sold again due to the Blank Gameweek.
My impatience with him has been detrimental, with his high ownership and ever-increasing points tally.
At the same time, we need to put Salah’s stats into context. An ankle injury has hampered his minutes somewhat this season. But his points per game are almost identical to Mané’s.
In fact, since Gameweek 16, Salah has scored more points than Mané (45 v 31).
I wouldn’t be surprised if Salah manages to close the gap in terms of FPL points and goals scored during January. After all they have a friendly inter-team rivalry and he will be mindful that he is lagging at the moment.
In addition, Salah’s health has clearly improved – excluding the Blank Gameweek, he has started every Premier League game for Liverpool since Gameweek 16.
You could say that having Mané was the safer option due to his higher ownership level, but that masks over Salah’s recent form. It’s clear that both are as close to essential as it can get, especially with a Double Gameweek around the corner.
Furthermore, Liverpool are not playing Champions League football till February and with the league not yet mathematically secured you would expect them to both leverage this crucial time by playing at their optimum best.
There’s also a case to be made that the vast majority of FPL managers can’t afford both, thus having them in tandem in your FPL team gives you an extra edge. I hope to be in this exclusive club of owning both, it just makes sense, especially with the Double Gameweek around the corner.
Captain Fantastic After all that talk of Mané and Salah, I probably wouldn’t captain or vice-captain either this weekend. They face an embattled Tottenham team managed by Jose Mourinho who will make it a difficult away trip.
Even if Paulo Gazzaniga (£4.6m) is in the opposition goal, I feel that better armband options can be found elsewhere.
For instance, Vardy is due to play in his first Premier League match since the birth of his new child on his own birthday. The opponents may be a rejuvenated Southampton team but I can’t see them stopping him.
Also, Norwich have the worst away record in the league and they visit Old Trafford next. If I had Anthony Martial (£7.9m) or Marcus Rashford (£9.2m) I wouldn’t think twice about captaining either.
Finally, Raul Jiménez (£7.5m) could be an interesting differential captaincy pick against a Newcastle United team that have conceded 21 goals in 10 games on their travels.
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