In Fantasy Premier League, timing is everything. And that mantra becomes even more important as the season winds to a close.
With just six Gameweeks left of 2019/20, my entire decision-making process starts to change, in regards to teams to target, when to play my chips and which players to spend precious transfers on.
For example, Liverpool winning the Premier League last week has been a much-discussed subject in relation to Fantasy. Will their assets play differently with the long-awaited title in the bag? Well, let’s not forget the title-race was effectively finished long before the lockdown anyway.
For me, there are much bigger issues to discuss when it comes to handling the end of this strange and unprecedented season, not least the ability to make quick and aggressive decisions between now and Gameweek 38+ if you want to make a late charge up the rankings.
The unlimited transfers and Double Gameweek that accompanied the Premier League restart felt like an unexpected bonus chip. Thankfully, I put it to good use, in combination with Bench Boost and the fall-back of a second Wildcard. I managed to score 124 points and cut my rank in half. That’s the sort of thing I want to be doing as often as possible when I still feel like more teams have something to play for.
I couldn’t rest on the laurels of my big Gameweek 30+ green arrows for too long due to the short turnaround, and a new squad staring at me from the transfers page.
The team as a whole performed well albeit for a Bruno Fernandes (£8.7m) captain fail but that didn’t prevent me from scoring 200+ points, back-to-back.
Had it not been for the FA Cup games over the weekend, I would have almost certainly used my remaining chip, Free Hit, for Gameweek 32+ because, as I said, I like the idea of making quick-fire aggressive decisions to string together consecutive rank rises.
However, I couldn’t take the risk this time around, as I felt Free Hitting in Gameweek 32+ would involve loading up on players that had an FA Cup game and then a Premier League outing so soon afterwards.
As an aside, this sort of thing shows that every remaining Gameweek has a different set of variables to those that come before and after it.
So, rather than looking at the final games as one block, I plan on viewing them in separate sprints.
Firstly, the primary focus for me is to strike while the iron is hot. I do want to use my Free Hit chip as soon as possible and I feel that there are favourable fixtures in Gameweek 33+.
Manchester United host a woeful Bournemouth side, Liverpool will welcome relegation-threatened Aston Villa to Anfield while Chelsea and Watford do battle at Stamford Bridge. With those three fixtures, I could form the spine of an excellent Free Hit squad, which I would hope could gain further ground. No doubt, the risk of rotation will be present once again but I feel that will increase further for each remaining Gameweek, especially as more and more teams lose motivation to either qualify for Europe or save themselves from relegation.
Secondly, the Gameweeks leading up to the penultimate Gameweek will rely massively on my wildcard team holding up. I also have two free transfers at hand after not making any changes this weekend. I will reluctantly take hits if I have to but I’m hoping that most of my players are either likely starters or still have something to play for.
Thirdly, I am treating Gameweek 38+ as a separate entity altogether. By then, a lot of the European and relegation position battles would have been all but settled and I would need to think very carefully on my final moves.
I have generally not been a fan of short-term/one-week punt transfers in FPL. The game is, after all, a marathon and not a sprint. So, with each team only having at least half a dozen games left the one thing that I don’t want to do is waste unnecessary transfers. Anyone I buy now will have to be justified as someone I am happy to have in my team until the end of the season.
I am sure this mindset could cost me a few bandwagon players but I don’t think it’s worth avoiding them in the interest of maximising my remaining transfers. I must be prepared to start all players from subsequent transfers in almost all remaining games and feel confident enough that the outgoing asset won’t do as well.
Assessing these decisions is, admittedly, harder than it was before, not least because it is more difficult to trust fixture schedules these days.
Before the Premier League restarted, the Bundesliga resumption was already in full swing and one of the early patterns that it validated was a loss of significance for home advantage in empty stadiums.
With the Bundesliga season now completed, it is clear to see that away teams performed far better than they might have expected.
This has already crept into the Premier League and I expect the trend to continue. It is those sides threatened by relegation who I feel for the most, as their ‘12th man’ edge has been completely eroded. In FPL’s first two Gameweeks, none of the bottom four won a home game.
It may still be early days with the Premier League’s restart but it goes to show that fixture difficulty ratings need to be reconsidered and the aura of playing at home without fans has been greatly diminished for certain clubs.
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 32+
- Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
- Watford 1-3 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
- Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
- Arsenal 4-0 Norwich City
- Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle United
- Everton 2-1 Leicester City
- West Ham United 3-2 Chelsea
- Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool
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