Like most Fantasy Premier League managers, I am finding it very hard to plan for Double Gameweek 19.
In light of Thursday’s updated fixture list, here is my latest plan for transfers and chip strategies ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
But, you could not have caught me in worse spirits about the way this season is going. Oh, Raz, what have you done to me.
I know it really shouldn’t matter with everything going on, but Raheem Sterling’s (£11.4m) penalty miss has to go up there with one of my worst ever moments in FPL.
My Free Hit team was built around him being my key differential, and not content with a spot on the bench until the 82nd minute, Sterling had to go and make things even worse.
Using the brilliant “what if” machine over at LiveFPL.net, I worked out that if Sterling had scored, I would have been catapulted into the top million ahead of my Arsenal contingent facing Crystal Palace.
Even if Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) had shaken off his fatigue and scored, I’d have still gone up a few hundred thousand places. If ever a moment summed up my season, it happened last night.
With the pain of the miss still fresh in my mind, I now have to turn my attention to planning for the upcoming Gameweeks. We have never known anything like it. Double Gameweeks have dropped off the table, with both Leeds and Southampton now only having one game. There go four players that I had in place ready for Double Gameweek 19.
Aston Villa v Everton is off now too. So, there goes Dominic Calvert Lewin (£7.7m). Dean Smith’s men have earned a fixture back though, hosting Newcastle at the back-end of the Gameweek, although we still don’t know which of their plays have been dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19). And let’s not forget that top target Jack Grealish (£7.7m) is on four yellow cards. Another one against Manchester City and he would miss the second Double Gameweek 19 fixture.
Let’s add to that problem. Bruno Fernandes (£11.3m) is also one booking away from a ban and faces what is likely to be a fiery encounter against Liverpool to come, before playing Fulham. Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) is off form. Manchester City are proving rock solid in defence but a bit of a lottery in trying to work out how many goals they will score, even against so-called ‘inferior’ opposition. Are they back, or were good performances against Newcastle and Chelsea just the result of playing teams in poor form?
I am finding it very hard this season and I know I’m not the only one. It feels almost impossible to plan for things when so much is in flux. But, we must try. I’m not going to give up hope, but I am looking at this season through the lens of what it is. No matter what rank I end up with, I will know what went on. I am allowing myself this season as a freebie, whatever happens.
I think I want to have a bit of fun at this stage. I want to give my squad a bit of a freshening up once Double Gameweek 19 is out of the way. I am interested in Percy Tau (£5.5m), mostly due to my Brighton bias, but also because he presents an intriguing cheap option as a potentially out-of-position option.
Let’s face it, with competition such as Neal Maupay (£6.1m) it’s hard to imagine Tau won’t feature – and his most natural position is as an attacking midfielder. I expect to see him cementing a regular spot in the team going forward, given our lack of real goal threat over the last few months.
Barring any drastic news from the West Ham camp, I am going to finally make a move for Michael Antonio (£6.2m). West Ham have the best Double Gameweek schedule of the lot, hosting Burnley and West Bromwich Albion.
The reason why I am so keen is because the Hammers have sold Sebastien Haller (£, his only direct competition, to Ajax. While I don’t expect a full 180-minute outing in Double Gameweek 19 for Antonio, it looks like he has returned from injury at a good time, and got minutes in the FA Cup. With Sterling’s penalty miss making one of my low points of FPL, Antonio’s four goals against Norwich was certainly my high point. If he can get close to replicating this then I’ll be a happy man again.
Speaking of West Ham, this seems a great time to invest in their defence. I know a lot of people have got Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) and he seems a great option for the double – but a double up with Aaron Creswell (£5.4m) could be gold. I’d back West Ham for at least one clean sheet and Creswell has already registered 6 assists in the league. No defender has got more. Historically, defenders are often great picks in Double Gameweeks with the likes of Branislav Ivanovic, Aymeric Laporte and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) all registering huge returns in seasons gone by. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a West Ham defender as the top-scoring player for the Gameweek.
Another strong consideration for me is to double-up with Manchester City defenders. John Stones (£5.0) has finally come into my reckoning due to the consistency of strong performances from himself and the rest of the backline.
At this point, I don’t think the extra £0.8m is worth it for fellow centre back Ruben Dias (£5.8m) and I think not only does Stones keep his place, but he matches the Portuguese internationals points from now until the end of the season.
That said, I am very glad to have moved for João Cancelo (£5.8m). I am completely and utterly convinced that this man is going to hit a double-digit return soon. Could it be this week? Is he actually an outside captaincy option with other big-hitting players flattering to deceive?
One player who I think I will be keeping is Son Heung-min (£9.8m). His 62.5% ownership means that I’m not getting much benefit from his returns, but it feels amiss to be selling him before a run of games that includes Brighton, West Brom and Sheffield United.
I had earmarked a swap for him to De Bruyne, but with Pep Guardiola citing fatigue as the reason he didn’t take Manchester City’s penalty – combined with the fact that his side are still playing without a recognised striker AND that he only has one goal from open play this season, decimating my team and taking out the number one point scorer in the game just feels a bit of a luxury transfer when there are other moves I could be making to try and climb the rankings.
So, with fixture rescheduling putting any plans I had for a Bench Boost on hold, I am considering which chip I should use if any. With Fernandes on four yellow cards, I don’t feel confident enough captaining him this week – which makes Salah the obvious choice.
The trouble is, I’m just not sure how the Manchester United game is going to pan out. I think it might be a very cagey affair. While I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have the firepower to put a dent in Liverpool’s title charge, a point would suit them.
Do I really think Liverpool’s incredible home record of 53 wins and 11 draws in the last 64 games will come to an end against United? I’m just not convinced. At this point, I am strongly considering not using a chip at all and saving them for a bit later in the season. There is the guarantee of further Double gameweeks, and maybe a player will emerge as a stronger Triple Captain option on paper then.
Whatever you decide to do this week, good luck! Double Gameweeks are always something to get excited about. My advice is don’t be afraid to chuck a few hits to bring in some more players and make the most of it.
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