The reigning FPL champion of India, Lateriser, tackles an assortment of issues in his latest Pro Pundits column.
In this season of absolute fails for me, there is finally some reason to cheer. In the last two Gameweeks, I’ve gone against the grain with my captaincy calls – and both picks came through.
I captained Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) in Gameweek 21 and Bruno Fernandes (£11.4m) in Gameweek 22 and I’m finally close to breaking into the top one million for the first time this season, as my fight for respectability continues. I’m eight points away from that landmark rank, so I’m hoping to pass it sooner rather than later.
Some time ago I realised that if I was to have a respectable finish this season (so difficult from where I am sitting because the template is so strong at the moment), I will have to take some calculated gambles. Captaining Bruno ahead of the popular Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) was one of those decisions.
This wasn’t a shot in the dark as I weighed up Southampton’s injury problems, their worsening underlying defensive numbers and Brighton’s form. While we know that Salah sees a higher percentage of returns without his Sengalese compatriot, I personally thought Liverpool would find it difficult against a tough Brighton outfit without him. I was assisted by an early red card for Southampton and some dodgy decisionmaking but given the season I’ve had, I’ll take this small win with both hands.
That’s enough about me. This is going to be one of those freestyle articles where I talk about all things I find relevant to FPL.
First up, let’s discuss Luke Shaw (£4.9m). I talked him up in this article I wrote in early January and he is currently emerging as one of the best-value picks in the game.
Manchester United are in the best five teams in the league for big chances and shots in the box conceded in the last four matches and have a decent run of fixtures on the horizon, with a potential Double Gameweek 26.
With Shaw, you are not just dependant on clean sheet points. He’s become incredibly vital to the Red Devils and is a ball progressor and an attacking outlet on that left-hand side. In the last six Gameweeks, Shaw has created 19 chances, which is top amongst all defenders. Shaw is also top for big chances created (five) in the same period and is on some set pieces and corners.
For those in the market for a defender, Shaw is a very good cut-price pick and definitely offers value. Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about rotation when it comes to him. He’s very much first choice and will only miss the odd game, which you can afford at this price point.
There is a lot of talk about people being impatient with Salah and looking at selling him, which seems like a little bit of an overreaction to me right now. He has decent fixtures coming up, including a likely Double Gameweek 26, and has very strong underlying numbers as well. In the last two matches, he is top of the league amongst all attackers for shots, second for shots in the box and third for xG non penalty. All his underlying numbers are moving in the right direction and I would urge more patience.
Let’s talk a little bit about macro strategy now. A lot of Fantasy Premier League managers have a lot of cash flying around with the plethora of budget midfielders and forwards in play. That said, having that cash handy is very easy only because it gives you a lot of flexibility to jump very quickly without any surgery to the premium attackers that emerge.
Tottenham Hotspur potentially have a very strong-looking Double Gameweek 26 and the return for Harry Kane (£11.0m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) isn’t too far off. Be patient with that cash as the timing could be crucial.
For those looking to Wildcard in Gameweek 25, there is a good opportunity to punt on Manchester United, West Ham and Chelsea assets in the next few Gameweeks. With there being a Double Gameweek 24 as well for Everton (and three others), there is the freedom to gamble on an extra Toffees player or two in the knowledge that they can be got rid of in the Wildcard in Gameweek 25.
I’m personally hoping for Brighton to beat Leicester in the FA Cup, which makes the in-form Seagulls a very attractive target for a Gameweek 26 Bench Boost, with cheap defenders available.
It looks as of now that Aston Villa, Manchester City, Spurs and Liverpool are the teams to target for the big Double Gameweek 26 but anything can happen in the FA Cup and we will have a clearer picture after the fifth round in the coming midweek.
In case you don’t plan to Wildcard in Gameweek 25 (which is very much possible as it might be do-able to field a good team without it), you can wildcard after the big Double Gameweek and have a relatively thinner bench. That said, we’ve seen the bench be very useful this season and with the Champions League and Europa League coming back very soon, having one or two good substitute players might be very useful in the latter stages of the season.
If you’ve already used your Wildcard, it might be worth saving a transfer this week so that you’re able to make your moves next week with a lot more information, as the FA Cup ties will have been played.
A lot of people have been moaning about a lot of benched points lately. Let me just give you the flip side. When the City defenders and Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) were rested against Sheffield United, most had good options coming off the bench while I had non-playing bench fodder. Trust me, I’d rather be in your position than mine and take a few points hauls on my bench. You aren’t going to get all your benching decisions right but it is a good problem to have and one that will be very useful when the random benchings occur, which they will as the season continues to remain congested and European football returns. The frustration you face is only psychological. Take it on the chin, trust the process and move on.
Those on double or triple Manchester City defence shouldn’t be too worried given their upcoming run. They are still the best defence in the league by a distance and I still expect them to keep more than a fair share of clean sheets in the upcoming Gameweeks. Since I’m on a triple Manchester City defence, I’m looking to shift one defender and get an attacker instead to balance things out. But I see no problem in holding City defenders as they are by far the best defensive options in the game at the moment and I don’t expect that to change.
That’s it for me this week with the quick turnaround and when it comes to captaincy, I will be making my decision after watching Son Heung-min (£9.7m) play tonight against Chelsea.
If you want more of my thoughts, you can watch the latest episode of The FPL Wire below. Good luck this Gameweek!
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