“Always the last to know, how you’re feeling.
The last to know where you are”
Whilst “elite” football and FPL continue despite recent announcements the cloud of COVID continues to overshadow proceedings and has brought chaos to those trying to navigate the upcoming Winter break.
FPL managers appear to be the last to know about match cancellations, player illnesses or even which premier league superstars are the latest to break the rules and demand some company of a Latino persuasion.
In this environment, The Great and The Good prepared for a Gameweek which felt like a warmup with the blank and double on the horizon.
However, it still brought drama with an unexpected Liverpool defeat, a resurgent Man City and the additional fixtures in Gameweek 18 and 19 leading many to reconsider their strategies and leaving many a late Wildcarder cursing their luck.
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
Ville Ronka hit the high notes this week with a stunning 85, he was the only one to captain Bruno, had both De Bruyne and Son plus had the defensive differentials of Saiss and Holding to give him a rank boost of 274,000 places.
The battle for top spot continues to be fierce with only four points separating FPL General and Fabio and Az better beware the late-rising Lateriser as he cut the gap to just twenty-six.
Sean Tobin is the manager on form averaging 65.4 over the last five weeks and he has now overtaken Mark, who had a poor week fuelled by a Salah captaincy blank.
Mark was also one of the casualties of the Cup and congratulations to Pimpin Squad, ranked 5.2 million, who provided the biggest upset knocking out Mr Sutherns. Magnus, Matthew also had an early exit and Ville Ronka didn’t even qualify.
This is a summary of the transfers for this week:
Az – Coufal (Mitchell)
Fabio Borges – Watkins (Adams)
Joe Lepper – Dallas (Taylor)
FPL General – Lowton (Balbuena)
Lateriser – None
Magnus Carlsen – None
Mark Sutherns – Justin (James)
Matthew Jones – Konsa (Taylor)
Neale Rigg – Son, Dallas (De Bruyne, Nkounkou)
Sean Tobin – Johnstone (Forster)
Tom Freeman – None
Ville Ronka – Holding (Lewis)
*transfers out are in brackets
A slow news week when it came to transfers with benches being strengthened and 4.5 defenders being the currency of choice.
Neale did his best to inject some excitement by transferring out Kevin De Bruyne just before a blank Gamweek appearance, double Gameweek and fixtures good enough to make you weep. To make matters worse Pep decided to play him upfront and the strawberry blonde sensation obliged with a double-digit haul.
To be fair, Neale did bring in Son who continues to make a mockery of his price tag and Dallas who I suspect will score more points than Nkounkou.
Elsewhere, Ville’s move for Holding was well timed and confirms my thinking he is joining Lateriser in navigating the blank without the aid of a chip.
The template for The Great and The Good is as follows with number in brackets showing how many teams in which they appear:-
Johnstone (6), Martinez (5)
Robertson (8), Coufal (8), Dias (7), Justin (5), Dallas (4)
Salah (12), Bruno Fernandes (12), Son (8), Soucek (8), Raphina (5)
Bamford (12), Calvert-Lewin (5), Kane (5)
Only minor changes to the template this week with the injury to Taylor meaning he is replaced by Dallas with one eye on the double.
I have dug a bit deeper this week into the teams that The Great and The Good have invested in over the last few weeks. The table below shows the number of players owned by the managers split by Premier League team. Worth noting here that as there are 12 managers in The Great and The Good the maximum representation would be 36.
Liverpool, as you would expect, lead the way but the number of Leeds players in the squads has increased steadily over the season and reflects the value that the likes of Bamford, Dallas and Raphina bring.
Similar story for West Ham and Villa who have gained greater coverage but it appears that it’s not only Chelsea fans who are frustrated with Frank as there is only one Blue in any of the squads, this has been a fall from grace considering this number was 19 at the start of the season with all the excitement of the new signings.
Arsenal players are creeping back into the squads with Holding and Martinelli being the first Gunners to make The Great and The Good squads since Gameweek 3 when we all thought Aubameyang was essential.
Uncertainty breeds paralysis and so has been the case for many an FPL manager with fixtures postponed and players unavailable with little notice. The fear of the unknown has led us to waffle and waver on every decision.
In a way, for those looking to play the free hit chip, it gives them the freedom that we have not seen with the chance to gamble on a rejuvenated Arsenal, our old friend Callum Wilson or even, say it quietly, Phil Foden.
For those plotting the choppy waters without the free hit, these are difficult times with the fear that decisions made could have dire consequences for our ability to put out an eleven, or even an eight, as the season continues to be hampered by the global pandemic.
Perhaps, though this will give the more engaged FPL manager an advantage as I guarantee many a work or family mini-league will contain several baffled managers next Tuesday when they wonder where their team has gone.
So, my advice to you whatever your chip strategy is hold your nerve, keep a close watch on the boards and time your moves to the last possible moment as, all being well, there will certainly be some opportunity to make ground in the next two weeks.
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