“Just keep swimming”
Wildcards, rotation and last minute COVID cancellations left many a FPL manager feeling overwhelmed as the festive football tidal wave crashed down upon us, leaving some of The Great and The Good just trying to keep their head above the water.
For others this was the time to switch into the fast lane as the great white sharks Mark, Tom, Fabio, FPL General and Matthew took a bite out of their squads and played their Wildcards.
For those just dipping their toes in this series of articles, The Great and The Good are prominent FPL managers I follow over the season to try to aid my own ailing rank.
This year The Great and The Good are the Scouts Neale Rigg and Joe Lepper, Pro Pundits (Mark Sutherns, Az, Lateriser, Fabio Borges and Tom Freeman ), FPL “celebrities”, FPL General, Magnus Carlsen and finally from the Hall of Fame we have Ville Ronka, Matthew Jones and Sean Tobin
Fabio remains at the top of the food chain despite only fielding nine players in Gameweek 16, he managed a third green arrow in a row and sits at his highest rank for the season just outside the top 10,000.
FPL General can consider himself unlucky as he briefly took the no.1 spot after Gameweek 15 with his patience in Watkins and Walker-Peters paying off, unfortunately he only put out eight a week later and his lack of investment in Leeds on his Wildcard was his downfall.
Matthew Jones was the leading scorer over the two weeks with 121 points and he continues his remarkable recovery, that is nine out of ten green arrows and a move of 3.4 million in that time.
The unexpected blanks this week certainly favoured those building towards the Double Gameweek 19 and it’s fascinating to see the divergence in chip strategies amongst the managers.
The majority including the five Wildcarders, more on them later, are taking the Free Hit 18 route, Lateriser is navigating without any chips and it looks likely Magnus is building to a Free Hit in Gameweek 19.
The question marks are Ville Ronka who already has eight for the blank and Sean Tobin with six so could use their remaining transfers to follow any of the strategies being considered, will any of the latest COVID cancellations alter their plans?
Let’s jump into the deep end and look over the five, yes five, Wildcards this week, the full moves are listed below:-
IN – Meslier, Johnstone, Robertson, Balbuena, Anguissa, Soucek, Kane
OUT – Martinez, Steer, Walker-Peters, Taylor, De Bruyne, Burke, Calvert- Lewin
Only the seven changes from FPL General with a strengthening of the bench seemingly his main priority, the big move in investment sees De Bruyne shifted out for Kane in time for the nice set of fixtures, should they go ahead, but interestingly he keeps faith with Watkins up front.
He has four players with only one match in Double Gameweek 19 so one assumes he will sacrifice one of the Spurs pair or the aforementioned Watkins ready for the bench boost.
IN – Johnstone, Areola, Maguire, Coufal, Balbuena, Ralphina, Anguissa, Fernandes, Kane, Adams
OUT – McCarthy, Button, Dias, Stones, Walker-Peters, De Bruyne, Bissouma, Grealish, Calvert-Lewin, Watkins
Fabio puts his faith in Leeds with a triple up from the West Yorkshire outfit, no City players make the cut which now looks prophetic and he is another one to go with the Spurs double which was less prophetic.
He’ll be hoping West Ham can sort out their defence for the double, but perhaps the move that jumps out is Harry Maguire, the fixtures improve for United after Gameweek 20 so maybe this is a long-term play by Mr Borges.
IN – Pope, Johnstone, Alexander-Arnold, Mane, Raphina, Rodrigo, Wood
OUT – Martinez, Steer, Ayling, De Bruyne, Grealish, Calvert-Lewin, Brewster
Guided (?) by whisky and Az’s wisdom on a late night Blackbox Mark’s decision to triple up on Leeds attack looks a smart move. He has also gone big on the Liverpool midfield with Mane and Mo preferred to any Spurs attackers.
He was unfortunate with the decision to keep a double City defence, for this week at least, but it’s the heavy investment in goalkeepers that proves most controversial, will Pope be a move of divine inspiration?
IN – Johnstone, Meslier, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Dias, Coulfal, Taylor, Fernandes, Soucek, Raphina, Wood, Adams
OUT – McCarthy, Steer, Stones, Cancelo, Vinagre, Ayling, Justin, De Bruyne, Reed, Grealish, Kane, Watkins
Tom took full use of his Wildcard making the most changes of the managers with 12 transfers. Counter to Mark’s approach he has gone big at the back with Liverpool defenders, he has two Leeds attackers and gambled on the cut-price strike force of Adams and Wood.
IN – McCarthy, Cancelo, Justin, Johnson, Raphina, Son, Vardy, Rodrigo
OUT – Button, Dias, Ayling, Walker-Peters, Grealish, De Bruyne, Adams, Watkins
The Welsh wonder who has surged up the rankings over the last ten weeks has gone for a triple threat Leeds attack but it’s his decision to invest in Leicester which sets him apart. There have been question marks of his call to start Vardy versus Palace but could his decision to go with Jamie out fox the competition over the upcoming double?
Away from the excitement of the Wildcards, there was also plenty of transfer activity, Az took the headlines in Gameweek 15 with a -8 bringing in a double Liverpool defence but Big Sam’s West Brom spoiled the party. The poor guy must feel he’s cursed as the following week he brought in Cancelo for Chilwell and we know how that ended.
Az now ascends to the throne of “King of Hits” with seven for the season and overtaken his Blackbox buddy Mark, worth noting Neale has still to take one minus four all campaign.
Lateriser was more successful with his minus four for Stones and Dias as the City defence continues to be a valuable source of investment, he took another hit the following week for a double Spurs attack but that proved less fortunate.
Magnus moves are the most intriguing as he appears to be going against the tide by building for Gameweek 18 with differentials such as Martinelli and Regulion joining his squad, I assume this means he is Free hitting in Gameweek 19 but let’s wait to see his next move.
Fabio made a rare misstep bringing in De Bruyne for Bruno Fernandes in Gameweek 15, but this was quickly reversed in his Wildcard.
This is a summary of the transfers :
GW15 – Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Raphina (Mahrez, James, Lamptey)
GW16 – Cancelo (Chilwell)
GW15 – De Bruyne, Stones (Fernandes, Chilwell)
GW16 – Wildcard
GW15 – Stones (Chilwell)
GW16 – Mane, Justin (KDB, Lamptey)
GW15 – Coulfal, Dias (Lewis, Chilwell)
GW16 – Wildcard
GW15 – Dias, Stones (Chilwell, Lamptey)
GW16 – Kane, Son (Martial, De Bruyne)
GW15 – Stones (Chilwell)
GW16 – Martinelli, Regulion (Bowen, Mitchell)
GW15 – Coulfal (Chilwell)
GW16 – Wildcard
GW15 – Adams, Robertson (Chilwell, Wilson)
GW16 – Wildcard
GW15 – Balbuena (Lewis)
GW16 – Brewster (Welbeck)
GW15 – Dallas (Lamptey)
GW16 – Kane, Soucek, Robertson (De Bruyne, James, Calvert-Lewin)
GW15 – Stones (Dunk)
GW16 – Wildcard
GW15 – Taylor (Lamptey)
GW16 – None
*transfers out are in brackets
The template for The Great and The Good is as follows with the number in brackets showing how many teams in which they appear:-
Martinez (5), Johnstone (5)
Robertson (8), Coulfal (7), Dias (7), Taylor (5), Justin (4),
Salah (12), Bruno Fernandes (12), Son (8), Soucek (8), Raphina (5)
Bamford (12), Calvert-Lewin (5), Kane (5)
A sea change in the template, most notably in midfield, with familiar favourites Grealish and De Bruyne paddling off to be replaced by Raphina and Soucek.
The defence seems a bit more settled with Coufal and Robertson the most popular options with Chilwell making way based on the unreliable injury updates from Lampard – has the template been Franked?
Sam Allardyce’s influence is probably a factor in Johnstone joining the squad and all the budget additions mean Harry comes back upfront but I wonder how long that will continue after we untangle the upcoming fixture schedule.
Gameweek 16 made the less than subtle point that having a decent bench in these new normal times is essential, so I thought it worthwhile to look at the bench success so far of The Great and The Good.
Lateriser has looked to the pine most often as he called to his reserves 14 times this season but has not been the most successful as Fabio has averaged 6.7 from his three substitutions.
The Wildcarders may be slightly more anxious about pushing the bench boost button in double Gameweek 19 after the events of the last week with the last minute cancellations causing panic, but subject to normal programming West Ham and Leeds look to be teams they are relying on to provide the points. Will the events of this week cause any of them to back down from their plans?
The chaotic season continues but perhaps rather than try to fight it we should accept it and learn to live in it.
No matter how great or good we think we are let’s stop trying to force order and perfection to an imperfect life full of ups and downs and uncertainty. Often, stress, worry and tension occur when we fight hard to change something we cannot change.
We can’t control the chaos, but we can control ourselves so let’s focus on the positive, the opportunity and make sure we have some fun along the way and remember what Dory said, “just keep swimming”.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now and remember don’t have nightmares.
For those affected by any of the topics raised in the above article then you can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Greyhead19