Pro Pundit Teams

A strong bench and going for broke: the ways FPL bosses can tackle a busy December

In his latest column, three-time top 5k finisher Az looks at the strategies to consider as we get ready for seven Gameweek deadlines in the space of a month.


I’m writing this on December 1 and having just received the news that the Aston Villa v Newcastle game, originally set to be played on Friday, has been called off.

In a way, it’s remarkable that, given the situation that’s happening across the globe, this is the first Premier League game to be postponed this season. Hopefully, it will be the last.

With many people holding two to three assets from Aston Villa and/or Newcastle, this comes at a bad time for our squads, especially as the focus for many is on juggling around their heavy hitters. 

For a lot of managers, there simply isn’t the wiggle room to consider shifting the likes of Jack Grealish (£7.7m), Emiliano Martinez (£4.8m), Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) and Callum Wilson (£6.5m) for one week only. All of these players have decent fixtures and are doing enough to justify their selections in our teams. It’s a shame to have to be putting out fires when we are trying to maximise the points potential.

As we look for ways to give our FPL squads the best possible chance of returns during an unpredictable month, one way of playing is to turn relatively defensive. This means ensuring that our teams are strong and healthy and that we can dip into our benches if and when needed. 

Alternatively, people might be looking to go for the jugular. This means trying to juggle heavy hitters and squeeze out as many points as possible during this busy period. While this poses a considerable risk, it of course may lead to huge returns if you can nail it.

Time to strengthen the bench?

Hunt for £4.0m FPL defender takes a turn as Ferguson ruled out through injury

The news of the postponement at Villa Park does serve as a bit of a wake-up call that a bench of players who at least play regularly for their teams seems a pretty good idea going into the festive schedule. With Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) now seemingly doomed to watch on from the sidelines, many of us are down to just two players on our FPL benches. 

The continued threat of coronavirus, as well as a packed winter schedule, means this may need to be addressed. Many of us are carrying players who seem likely to be at least in some way rotated over Christmas. For example, any of the Manchester City assets, Reece James (£5.1m), Timo Werner (£9.5m) and maybe even now Liverpool midfielders, with Diogo Jota’s (£6.8m) emergence, all look a little vulnerable. Now might be a good time to make sure you are prepared for any omissions.

Upgrading Mitchell to a £4.5m defender may seem a bit boring, but it might put you in good stead in the weeks to come. Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) looks the standout option at this price point for me. Five goal attempts over the last four Gameweeks puts him up with the likes of Reece James (£5.1m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.2m) and Leeds have a great run of fixtures to come, with only Manchester United looking like a potential banana skin right up until January 2.

Luke Ayling (£4.5m) is also a consideration, with the right-back boasting nearly double the number of penalty area touches (13) compared to Dallas over this time. However, despite promising stats, he has yet to register an attacking return this season, whereas Dallas already has a goal and an assist.

If one of the Leeds defenders doesn’t float your boat – or you already own one – then the other options to turn to are Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) or Vladmir Coufal (£4.6m). I really like how West Ham are currently set up under David Moyes, who is doing a fantastic job when many (including myself!) had written them off. 

Both Coufal and Masuaku have just 2.3% ownership at the time of writing, and once Manchester United are out the way this week, have a great run of fixtures right up until the end of January, with only Chelsea in Gameweek 14 looking like a good time to bench whichever defender you bring in.

Going for broke

The less conservative strategy at this stage is to accept whatever state our “fringe” players are in and really try and hammer the assets who have the biggest upside.

Mohamed Salah (£12.2m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) and Bruno Fernandes (£10.8m) all delivered in Gameweek 10. Many view these three as the “holy trinity” – players we should get in our squads no matter what.

However, is this perhaps doing a disservice to the likes of Harry Kane (£10.9m), Son Heung-min (£9.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), who have all had stellar starts to the season? For many, these are the sacrificial lambs as people look to pastures new.

I feel that a case can be made for any combination of the above, which really reflects how exciting this season is, with so many players being worthy of our consideration. However, out of all the options, I really do feel that Fernandes has done enough to make him immune from any form of “hokey-cokey”. If you don’t have him, he’d be the one that I’d look to get in before he’s out of reach.

While the likes of Jota and even Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) may be good value for their price – and this is how you should look at them, not as “coverage” for their more prestigious team-mates – I worry that the bubble could burst at any minute and we could be left with egg on our face. 

Salah and co look set to continue to deliver points all season. The trick is going to be knowing when these hauls are likely and when to get on them.

I brought in Vardy this week and a poor Leicester performance is making me consider whether he can really keep pace with the other players in his price bracket. An away game at Sheffield United, who have made the worst start to a Premier League season from any team in history, looks a good match-up for the Sheffield Wednesday fan so I’m not panicking just yet.

But, depending on whether you think Brighton is a tough game, Vardy’s fixtures are a lot less rosy thereafter and so the short-term pick of the Englishman may prove to be a costly one. He looks set to depart my team after being given little time to truly impress.

With no Salah or De Bruyne in my squad, and both with Fulham on the horizon, I am getting jittery. I think Son and Kane who will simply struggle to match De Bruyne and Salah over the next five Gameweeks, until Spurs themselves play Fulham in Gameweek 16. But moving these players out will require a hit, so timing feels like everything. For those that made the move before the Chelsea stalemate, well played. I think this was the time to do it. 

With games against Arsenal and Crystal Palace next, it feels risky shifting out the Spurs assets, so if you think they can continue to deliver points, then holding might be a sensible strategy. That said, can you really afford to ignore the upside of both De Bruyne and then Salah against Fulham? 

It’s hard to argue with a move for De Bruyne this week, which may be even better if paired with plans for another switch to Salah for the Gameweek after. Jiggery-pokery at its finest. 

My decision

The best Man City players for appealing fixtures after 5-0 win over Burnley

I’m toying with the idea of acquiring Mahrez for the Fulham game, which would mean ignoring De Bruyne entirely and looking for a way to bring in Salah for Gameweek 12. 

Getting a City player in feels a priority this week and a rest for the Algerian in the Champions League and some very, very promising comments from Guardiola about how “players who score will start” certainly bodes well for his chances of a start against the Cottagers.

This means I could hold on to both Son and Vardy this weekend and potentially move them both on next week to get Salah and Bamford, who have Fulham and West Ham respectively in Gameweek 12. Alternatively, I could lose Son this week and keep Hakim Ziyech (£8.3m) for his home match against Leeds.

Salah is the player who I’m coveting for the long term. Simply put, not owning him in my squad just feels… wrong. Okay there is the increased chance of rotation now that Jota is doing such a good job, but put simply, the Egyptian has proven over the last few seasons that he is the player most likely to register huge returns and if I’m ever torn between who to captain, he’s my go-to. 

As a captaincy option, while I’m happy with Fernandes if I need to, games against Fulham, Palace, West Brom and Newcastle in quick succession provide a perfect platform for the Liverpool double-up of Salah and Jota. City’s fixtures do also remain excellent, but there is the higher chance of rotation, a slight risk of De Bruyne dropping deeper to control the midfield in “tougher” games and from what I’ve seen from Man City, the high likelihood of a spread of points across their very capable forward line. 

Turning my back on last season’s top FPL performer doesn’t feel great and I know what he’s capable of. But you can’t have them all and this feels like something we are all going to have to put up with this season. Hopefully, we’re about to see the Mahrez of old who is more than capable of scoring 200+ points this season if he plays a decent number of minutes – although I also appreciate that he’s someone that can cause misery for those who take the punt on him. We’ll see what happens.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck for the following weeks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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1,832 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Catastrophe
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Martinez
    Chilwell, Zouma, Justin (Kilman, Mitchell)

    Justin -> who? Was all set for Dias (only have KDB for city cover), but now doubting he will start.

    Cheers

    1. jomikijiq
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Lamptey/KWP

  2. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Fred in trouble

  3. Ógie
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Fred the red

  4. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Fred yellow for a headbutt

    Crazy

    1. Super Saints
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Head push rather than butt.... PSG player should be booked too

  5. DannyDrinkVodka
    • 1 Year
    2 months, 24 days ago

    G2G? I’ve taken a hit to get rid of Cancelo and get RJames.

    Martinez
    Chilwell James Lamptey Dallas
    (K)DB Bruno Ziyech Foden
    Vardy DCL

    Grealish Watkins Mitchell Forster

    1. Dwotle
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Looking good but I fear a Foden benching...

  6. JONALDINHO
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Varchester United.

  7. F4L
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Wow, Fred a lucky boy

  8. Ógie
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    In fairness it was only a half arsed headbutt so a yellow card is fair enough.

    1. JONALDINHO
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Paredes reaction deserved a yellow

  9. gaurava1216
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    What the hell to do with this lot?

    (Martinez)(Foster)
    (Mitchell) (Lewis) Chillwell Dallas Lamptey
    (Grealish) Sterling Ziyech Bruno Bissouma
    Vardy (Wilson) (Watkins)

    8 Players...3.1M ITB

    Villa and newcastle games are too good to drop the front 3!

  10. Boss Hogg
    • 11 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Any chance that Adams rises tonight?

    1. Super Saints
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Yes a small one

  11. dogtanion
    • 11 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Wow..a referee showing common sense . Hook it to my veins

  12. Captain Vantastic™
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Bruno pen coming soon looks like it

  13. 1912 F.A Cup Winners
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Finally a bit of common sense!!! The PSG player took 5 minutes to fall to ground and was clearly acting too!!

  14. Qaiss
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    If anyone ever says Man United don’t have referees blatantly cheating for them in matches, don’t ever take another word of theirs seriously.

    P.s. Martial is an overrated bum

    1. Boss Hogg
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Go on then, I'll say it. I don't think referees "blatantly cheat" to award decisions to Man Utd.
      😉

      1. Qaiss
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        Probably a Man United fan. Wake up!

        1. Boss Hogg
          • 11 Years
          2 months, 24 days ago

          I'm really not! I just tend to think that bad decisions in football (and just generally) are mostly due to incompetence rather than conspiracy.

          1. Qaiss
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 24 days ago

            So you think Chelsea - Barcelona 2009 an an example was simply incompetence? Watch it on YouTube.

            Man united as well have many, many favourable decisions in their favour. Same thing against West Brom last week, was a disgrace.

            1. Boss Hogg
              • 11 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              Like I said, MOSTLY due to competence.
              I remember that game and it is certainly a suspicious one, I agree. There are other examples too. But the vast majority of refs are not corrupt. Just human.

            2. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              I wonder how the ref wasn't murdered by a chelsea fan. I was 89% sure it would happen

          2. Pumpy Pro
            • 11 Years
            2 months, 24 days ago

            Do you even watch the UTD games? Can't just label it conspiracy when it happens every week right before your eyes.

            1. Boss Hogg
              • 11 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              I've seen terrible decisions at all levels of football pretty much every week of my entire life! Accept it is part of the game or you'll tie yourself in knots. The alternative world of beefed up VAR is far worse.

            2. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              I think u just focus on united too much. Focus on other teams getting these decisions and you'll be convinced the referees take their sides everytime too. Its not exclusive to them.

          3. potatoace
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            2 months, 24 days ago

            I would argue its inert unconscious bias of human nature rather than incompetence, but I get you point and agree.

            1. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              Combination of both i think.

              1. potatoace
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 9 Years
                2 months, 24 days ago

                Maybe so.
                I think ref messed up and in this instance circumstance and unconscious bias took over.

                One could argue though that the actual conspiracy is the ability to instil that bias in minds in the first place.

  15. Klip Klopp
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Can I get some help please? I have 3m itb and 1FT

    Martinez
    Coufal / Kilman / Chilwell /
    Jota / Son / Grealish / Bruno
    DCL / Kane / Werner (c)

    Bench: Kilman, Stephens, Douglas

    A. Son to KDB and play Kilman
    B. Son + Kilman —> KDB + 4.6
    C. Son + Kilman —> Mahez + any defender
    D. Kane + Stephens —> Jesus + Mahrez (but i’ll have a benching headache)
    E. Any suggestion?

    Bench; Lamptey, Stephens*, Douglas*

    1. Iceball
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      B and captain KDB

      1. Klip Klopp
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        thanks. Should I get Dallas as the defender?

  16. F4L
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Ref just didn't want to ruin the game for the neutral. Top man.

  17. Reeker
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    The ref bottled it. Clear red. If he did the same thing in the 85th minute its a red. If its maybe a team like Krasnador the ref would of probably gave a red too. May not be worthy and the player made a meal of it but according the rules its a red and you got to be consistent with the rules. 9 time out of 10 thats given as a red.

    1. Qaiss
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Pepe a week and a half ago, same thing.

      1. Brosstan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        This decision was correct, Pepe decision was wrong. Anyone with a brain understands that those situations are yellows, and yellow to the diver too.

        1. Boss Hogg
          • 11 Years
          2 months, 24 days ago

          I'd give Pepe a red card if I saw him walking down the street.
          The man is a d*ck.

          1. Qaiss
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 24 days ago

            Done nothing wrong to be a d*ck. You just hate for no reason.

            1. Boss Hogg
              • 11 Years
              2 months, 24 days ago

              He just annoys me. And it would be funny to bump into a footballer and pull out a red card. 🙂

        2. Baps hunter
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 24 days ago

          This one was close to self defense imo. He just reacted. A bit towards after "the other guy" begged it with aggressive behaviour. In the end it was almost so called "eskimo kiss".

        3. Qaiss
          • 5 Years
          2 months, 24 days ago

          Yes... What I was saying... one rule for one, another rule for Man United.

    2. Ógie
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      You wouldn't bust popcorn with that lame attempt.

      If you are going to take a red for a headbutt you might as well do it properly.

    3. Salarrivederci
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      I actually think the ref did a great job there.
      Think Paredes walked into Freds head with a superior amount of speed compared to Freds retaliation.
      Fred swinging his neck in the act was just childish and got him a yellow.
      Glad Paredes found football - acting does not suit him.

      1. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        Totally agree

  18. Couch Potato
    • 1 Year
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Is Zaha gonna be cleared to play this weekend?

    Already got the 3 x Villains out, Kane doubtful, plus Saiss/Mitchell in witness protection!

    1. Baps hunter
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      At least deadline moved to saturday! So perhaps more time to find out.

  19. wildnothing
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    What to do with this? Tripled up in Villa. 1 ft 0 itb.

    Martinez
    Chilwell Lamptey Cancelo Masuaku Dunne
    KDB Salah Fernandes Jota Grealish
    Bamford DCL Watkins

  20. Boss Hogg
    • 11 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Common sense or consistency?
    Which would you rather have in referees?

    1. dogtanion
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Common sense.

    2. mynameisq
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Consistent common sense

    3. Reeker
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Only if the common sense is consistent. It isn't fair on other teams if you don't give the red here.

      1. Boss Hogg
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        Hence why it's one or the other.
        "Common sense" by it's very nature involves judgement calls and the consideration of other factors in making decisions. It's the approach I want to see referees take, but I accept that it comes at the cost of consistency.

    4. Brosstan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Common sense. Correct decision there. Wrong decisions to send off Pepe and Martial in the PL this season.

      1. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 24 days ago

        Is Lamela back from hospital?!?

    5. Pumpy Pro
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      I just want them to stop gifting UTD week in, week out

  21. Super Saints
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    IMO Fred had every right to push the PSG players head away from him, PSG player was the aggressor, it was not a headbutt

    1. Baps hunter
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      He was even able to shake his head to show that.

  22. SomeoneKnows
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Which would you rather have?

    A) Robertson + Ziyech + Adams
    B) Bednarek + Salah + Brewster (-4) *

    * Brewster will have to play this week because of Grealish's blank

  23. Geordie19
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    If the villa game is off this week. I would have 10 players.
    Worth starting Riedewald or doing Mitchell to KWP/Dallas to field 11? Thank you

    1. potatoace
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Mitchell to whomever is a sensible move in any scenario this week.

  24. dogtanion
    • 11 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Forgot Pogba existed

    1. G-Whizz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Who?

  25. Camzy
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Pulisic looks up for it tonight. Very exciting to watch.

    1. dogtanion
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Yeah he always is..it's just a shame he's made of absolute glass

    2. Boss Hogg
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      Quality player that lad. Great attitude too.

    3. Zim0
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 24 days ago

      I gave up on him when he got injured in the warmup after just coming back from injury.

  26. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    OMG rashford

  27. G-Whizz
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    I still call him Marcus Trashford 😆

  28. sentz05
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    No keeper
    Cancelo Justin Chilwell Coufal
    Ziyech KDB Jota Fernandez
    DCL Brewster

    Players who can’t play
    Martinez Forster Digne Grealish Watkins

    Was going to transfer out Digne and I’ve got 1.8m itb. Want to get Salah in next week. What should I do?

  29. Captain Vantastic™
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Is that Howard Webb in disguise??

  30. Zim0
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 24 days ago

    Lol