As the Fantasy Premier League Double Gameweek 30+ deadline edges ever closer, I am feeling more confident about my latest draft.
As you know, it has been a strange few months. So strange in fact I now own three Manchester United players but only two from Liverpool.
I made the most of the slow Wildcard over the last few weeks, bringing in players who had good overall fixtures left, although in hindsight the decision to play the fixtures in the same order was a pretty obvious outcome, and one I didn’t think much about.
With £2.0m in the bank my team is flexible enough, at least from Gameweek 31+ onwards.
The only chip I have left is Free Hit. While I’m quite happy with this side for Gameweek 31+ (as happy as anyone can be not knowing how teams and players are going to react to the long break, and who might be in form), I’m not so happy about it for Gameweek 30+. There are not enough Double Gameweek players for my liking.
As there aren’t any more Double Gameweeks planned I don’t see a great reason for holding the Free Hit chip with only nine Gameweeks to go and that’s why it will be activated before Wednesday’s 5pm deadline. Here’s how the current draft looks.
There’s some players that have been in every single draft so far, they’re the more obvious picks, lets get them out of the way first:
Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) has scored 16 goals already this season, that’s the same as Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) in 849 fewer minutes. There’s naturally concerns about the Argentinian getting two starts but I’m hoping the temporary five substitute rule may actually help teams like Manchester City have a more consistent starting XI that they can manage the minutes of easier.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) was the first name in my team. From a pure FPL point of view he’s finally shown us what he can do while being fully fit for the season. He looks on course to smash his previous record season tally of 209 points and if anyone outside of Edersen (£6.0m) has a chance of starting twice, it’s De Bruyne. He’s top for minutes played by an outfield Manchester City player in 2019/20.
Aston Villa are not a team I’m looking to load up on players from. They’re very generous when it comes to conceding goals and I can’t get excited by many of their attackers. Jack Grealish (£6.4m) has to be in though. He’s had a good season with seven goals and seven assists and I’d expect him to continue as the main points scorer in the team. No midfielder at his price or under has scored more points, and he represents good value going into this week.
I see some concerns from people about having Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.m) in their teams, but he’s been so consistent again this season whether playing as a centre-forward, or in a wider position. I can’t look past him when he has two games, even if one of them is against Manchester City.
The bench is Emiliano Martínez (£4.2m), Matt Targett (£4.4m), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.3m), and Ondrej Duda (£4.7m). I’m hopeful that I won’t have to rely on it this week.
John Lundstram (£4.9m) is currently missing from the team mostly due to fears of him having not won his place back completely from Sander Berge (£4.8m). The two goals he scored during a behind closed doors game has piqued my interest again though. I’m really hoping for early teams news that will let me swap him for John Egan (£4.6m). Lundstram has five double-figure hauls already this season. That’s four more than all of the other Sheffield United defenders combined. One start and a bench appearance in the other game could be enough to see him outscore the other options, and I, for one, am sick of being punished by ‘The Lord’.
With 10 clean sheets already this season I see the appeal of triple Sheffield United defence. My slight concern is whether there will be some rustiness to shake off which may lead to a few more goals than normal as players get up to speed. Dean Henderson (£5.3m) is also the goalkeeper who has prevented the highest expected goals at 4.4. You can view that from two ways – he’s a great goalkeeper, or at some point, he may not be able to keep preventing the number of good quality chances that the defenders are allowing. The triple up is an all eggs in one basket approach and I’m currently looking to avoid.
My third Sheffield United slot goes to Oliver McBurnie (£5.7m). I’ll be honest, this is a hard sell and you’d probably be better off without him, especially considering he has just four goals in 1,428 minutes of football. Around Gameweek 22 he started getting regular starts and minutes, although in the seven game period until the end of the season still only managed one goal. But there were some encouraging underlying statistics in that time.
Elsewhere in the side, Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) gets one of the midfield slots. For the first 29 Gameweeks, I think it’s fair to see he’s flopped considering his hefty price tag. He’s scored fewer points than Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) having played considerably more minutes.
I am encouraged by the fact he has the second-highest expected goal involvement for all players this season. It hasn’t gone right for him in terms of actual points so far but at some point I’d expect it to click. The enforced break, and the potential return of Leroy Sané (£9.3m) could really help him too. This is a player with over 32 and 35 attacking returns in the last couple of seasons. This year he has 13 and if there’s anyone that is going to come back and be the opposite of the rest of the season I’m putting my money on Sterling.
I’ll quickly touch on the single Gameweek players in the starting XI. As I mentioned for McBurnie and Sheffield United, I don’t think you can go wrong targeting Aston Villa’s defence for conceding goals and that’s why I’m looking at Chelsea players. It’s difficult to know exactly which side Frank Lampard will go with, but Mason Mount (£6.2m) has only failed to start three times in the league this season and with the ability to play centrally and off the left I’m hoping he’ll be given another start, although there is a lot of competition for places in that Chelsea team.
Raúl Jiménez (£8.1m) is definitely a consideration up front instead of McBurnie but at the moment I’ve gone with Matt Doherty (£6.3m) for my Wolves player. When I look at single Gameweek fixtures in Gameweek 30+ a few stand out, and one of them is Wolves getting to play a poor West Ham side.
Jiménez is incredibly consistent and I don’t for one second think he won’t get some kind of return this week. But in a week when I’m using my final chip and am trying to improve on a poor rank I want to do something different. The Mexican has 19 attacking returns so far, but when you include clean sheets, Doherty isn’t far behind on 16. The Irish wing-back also has four double digital hauls vs Jiménez with three, so it’s not like he’s any less explosive on his day.
That trio of McBurnie, Mount and Doherty is about the only part of this team that’s now fully locked in. That could be any combo of Sheffield United, Chelsea or Wolves player, and I’d even be tempted by an Arsenal defender instead of Leno to go for something even more different.
But for now I’m trying not to overthink. I know the fixtures I want to target, and I have a good core of Double Gameweek players I’m very happy with, alongside some calculated differntials.
We’re about to go into the unknown. We’ve heard the phrase “a new normal” a lot over the last few weeks and it’s going to apply to football as well. I’ve gone with what I know when picking this squad but the new normal could mean things are completely different, I just hope I’ve got at least some of it right.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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