Last time out, I wrote that my team was treading water. Well, not much has changed. I’m still struggling to get inside the top 100k (having been around the 115k mark for the last five weeks).
I’m not going to bore you by going through my team and, in all honesty, I don’t have much to report other than my squad is doing… well… okay.
It seems crazy that we have less than a third of the season to go, with just 11 Gameweeks remaining. It feels like each week is crucial, and it’s not the time to be treading water! So, what are some of the things that might make the difference? I have been pondering…
That third Liverpool slot
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m). Mohamed Salah (£12.8m). Does anyone out there not own these players? Let me rephrase… does anyone out there not own these players and is doing well?
Along with Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m), these guys are pretty much nailed down in every squad I see on the boards, on Twitter and in my mini leagues.
As people lose patience with players like Jamie Vardy (£9.7m), Anthony Martial (£7.9m) and John Lundstram (£5.0m), who have been so integral to our squads at some point in this season (all still in my own team by the way), no one can doubt the pedigree of Trent and Mo.
However, the third Liverpool spot is pretty contentious. The trouble is, as I see it, that there is a battle between the consistency of points from Liverpool’s defence (10 clean sheets in the last 11) and the potential of huge hauls from the talents of their attackers (11 goals in the last five).
Sadio Mané (£12.2m) has been out, and now he’s back. Roberto Firmino (£9.7m) has been delivering decent returns. You feel like there might be a brace or a hattrick for these players. However, the likes of Virgil Van Dijk (£6.5m), Andrew Robertson (£7.0m), and even Joe Gomez (£5.3m) are quietly racking up the points.
I see more and more people flocking to Firmino, but I actually feel like he may be the weakest player of all the above. Two double-digit returns mask five blanks in the last eight Gameweeks. His stats continue to be fantastic but are matched by the likes of Raúl Jiménez (£7.7m) or even Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.1m). The Brazilian’s quite erratic form is a problem when we have strikers playing well and delivering points.
Midfield and defence is a different proposition though. As I look through the lists of players, it’s very hard to pick any that really stand out to me in these positions. To me, this tells me that prioritising Liverpool players is the way to go, to ensure the best quality players from a small pond.
Mané is an unbelievable player, and will no doubt deliver for his owners from now until the end of the season. But he also costs over 12 million. I can get Robertson for nearly half that, or Van Dijk too. If they both carry on at their current rate, either of these options will smash 200 points for the season (and don’t forget Robertson has done this before). An unbelievable return.
If one of Salah or Mane are going to be your “go-to” captain option, is spending nearly a quarter of your budget on two players really the best play? I’m thinking not… double defence it is!
Ah, the Blank Gameweeks are approaching. The type of Gameweek which inevitably leads to Saturday morning texts from your friends being like “WHY ARE HALF MY TEAM NOT PLAYING?”. Noobs, the lot of them (although some of them are beating me, which really hurts…).
Some real basic advice for anyone reading… grab a bit of paper. Write down who in your squad has got a match in Blank Gameweek 28. If you notice you’ve got less than 11 active players, well, you need to be bringing in at least one more with a game that weekend.
I am always amazed by how many this catches out. We can expect hits as people freak out that they are only fielding seven or eight players, particularly as teams such as Manchester City, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Grealish FC also feature highly-owned players who will be missing out.
Quite simply, your bench is needed to cover these guys, and it’s a good opportunity to strengthen your squad.
Some cheap options to cover you in this blank could be the likes of Aaron Mooy (£4.8m) who plays a struggling Crystal Palace side at home, or the wonderful to watch Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m), who faces Burnley.
Leicester also have a fantastic fixture against Norwich, so this might be a great excuse to get midfield options like Ayoze Perez (£6.2m) and Harvey Barnes (£6.0m).
What I love about the Blank Gameweek is that it gives you the excuse to go for players that you might not normally consider – because, well, what’s the harm? There’s no danger of a blanking player outscoring them! And, if you are thrifty, you can always Wildcard them out, presuming you still have this chip of course – which brings me on to my next topic.
Frankly, I am astounded that I’ve seen Bench Boosts and Wildcards being used at this stage by some veteran players. What on earth is going on? Everyone knows it is sacrilege to use your chips in a single Gameweek! Have people forgotten how to be sheep?!
I am of course being a bit facetious here (as I used my Triple Captain in a single Gameweek), but I do fear for those who are using this chips this early, for what looks to me, an excuse to bring in one player (the now-injured Son Heung-min (£10.0m)) or to help correct a spiralling season. We all know that Double Gameweeks are on the horizon and the chips… well, they are pretty much tailor-made for use during them.
I was burned earlier in the season with my decision to Triple Captain Vardy in a single Gameweek. While I know those who went with Mané are probably still reeling from their three points, hauls for Salah, Robertson, Trent… all go to show that a great chance of getting captain returns comes from when your player plays twice.
You’re simply putting yourself in the best possible position to get returns and, crucially, we don’t know what the Double Gameweeks are going to look like yet!
Using chips at this stage feels like you are going into the crucial part of the season under-armed and under-prepared. If your team is serviceable, or you can get a decent squad with just a few transfers, then my advice is to wait.
Wait until we have the information about who is playing, when they are playing and who they are playing.
Leave it as long as possible to gather as much information as you can before making the call. This puts you in the best position possible to maximise the chips that can completely transform your season.
The Wildcard, in particular, is always tempting, but your team might not be in the mess that you think it is. As I mentioned before, at the moment, the pool of players that we should be considering is pretty small, and so it’s likely that you already own decent players who aren’t as bad as you think they are. You may be Wildcarding for equally small fish, flopping round in an even smaller pond. Perhaps, in a few weeks, we’ll have bigger fish to catch and fry. And with that anecdote, I’m off for dinner. Any guesses what I’m having?
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