My years playing Fantasy Premier League has taught me a very important lesson: there is a distinction between a bad decision and a bad outcome.
Understanding how to tell the difference between these two concepts is key to FPL success, especially when it comes to your own personal morale and decision-making process for the next Gameweek.
Gameweek 9 gave us a great example. I have been travelling a fair bit on weekends so, recently, I can only catch three or four live games a weekend and the rest is all highlights. This Saturday was a different case. The house was empty, the television remote was exclusively mine, I was all set to watch eight hours of football and I had eight players playing on Saturday, including my captain. The excitement and anticipation was real.
The armband was on Timo Werner (£9.5m) and emotions ran high as I watched him behave like a world class points dodger. For me, it is much easier to accept a poor decision than a poor outcome and this was definitely the latter. It is even more difficult when you’re struggling at an overall rank of three million and you need these good calls to come through.
But that is part and parcel of the game we play and once you’ve had your ‘tilt’ on the day, the brain functions more reasonably the next, at least for me. You have to ‘trust the process’ and take respite from the decisions you make are good or bad and not look at the outcome. Werner was a good captaincy call based on what we saw and I also bet against clean sheet odds and started Luke Ayling (£4.5m) ahead of Matt Targett (£4.5m).
Being where I am at the moment, and scoring a meagre 46 points in Gameweek 9, this is what I can take solace in and hope that the outcome matches the decision-making sooner rather than later. There is consolation in the fact that this was a ‘could have’ week and it’s not just a case of Werner being on the wrong side of variance.
There were a lot of players that should have done a lot better than they did in Gameweek and the one I would like to talk about is Patrick Bamford (£6.1m). Leeds United had 52% possession at Liverpool, 53% possession against Manchester City and 67% possession versus Arsenal. They also had a staggering 25 shots on Sunday evening.
In fact, Marcelo Bielsa’s men are top of the league for shots and shots in the box over the last six Gameweeks and that is all you need to know really to make the case for Bamford. I’m convinced he’s one of the best set-and-forget options in the Premier League at the moment because when it comes to Leeds United, fixtures don’t really matter.
There was a great article on the Athletic about Bamford which you should definitely read. What impresses is his mentality. Bielsa’s undeterred faith in Bamford is quite heart-warming to read about if I’m honest (I wish someone backed me the way Bielsa backs Bamford) and it has gone a long way in making him the player he is today. What really stood out to me is Bamford setting himself a target for 25 goals for the season. Whether he achieves that or not remains to be seen but that stats and the eye-test show he is really gunning for it.
My fellow Pro-Pundit Tom Freeman made a great point about Bamford on our podcast The FPL Wire which has stuck with me. He mentioned that Leeds were like Manchester City in the Championship where defences gave them a lot more respect due to which Bamford had a lot less space than he’s afforded in the Premier League and that does ring true.
Neale mentioned on this week’s episode of The FPL Wire that his goal conversion rate is at approximately 20% right now which doesn’t seem very unsustainable to me and if Leeds United continues to keep playing this brand of football, I don’t see Bamford’s output changing. I’m likely going in on him this Gameweek and I’m very excited about the prospect.
A lot of questions came in for the Manchester City assets and whether you should get them in. Yes they haven’t look convincing so far but given that their next four home fixtures read Burnley, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle, you have to roll the dice in my opinion.
I’m not someone who sits on the fence with my opinions. FPL isn’t a game about who has scored points in the past. It is a game about predicting who is going to score points in the future and in my opinion, when that fixture run shows up for a team that has scored the most number of goals in the league for the past three years, you have to roll the dice and go for it.
Which premium midfielder you pick is up to you but I would definitely get at least one in there for the run and then maybe double if they show signs of form. You have to place your faith in the quality of the manager and the players and hope that their woes (which were compounded by not having a proper pre-season or a fit striker) are behind them. Historically fixtures have always won and this set of fixtures is too good to not take a shot at it.
While we’re not sitting on the fence, let’s talk about Diogo Jota (£6.6m). Yes we can’t for sure say if he’s nailed-on to start but his numbers are comparable to his premium Liverpool midfield counterparts. The upside is more than the downside for me especially given the price. Historically, we have seen that he’s a very streaky player and he’s on a hot run at the moment. Get in while he’s hot would be my advice. Even if he doesn’t start, I reckon he’s Jurgen Klopp’s first attacking sub and I would expect him to play at least twenty to thirty minutes every game. If it doesn’t work, you’re only paying a small amount and the game that we play does allow us to transfer players out.
While we’re talking about Klopp, one thing on my mind is that I need to get Mohamed Salah (£12.2m) as soon as possible. Liverpool seem like the most trustworthy attack in the league at the moment and they have a great run of fixtures right until mid-January. Klopp is very much aware of the patched defence he has but is not compromising playing a more defensive approach (something I thought might have happened). Instead, he’s sticking to the team’s identity and going for goals.
I’ve gone freestyle with this article and quite enjoyed writing it. Looking forward to your feedback in the comments section and on Twitter as usual. I’m really hoping to see you on the other side with a warm and fuzzy green arrow to talk about. You know, process and everything. Unless a certain Sergio seduces me (it does feel like its too early but I’m writing on a Wednesday afternoon before their Champions League game).
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