FPL Family’s Sam reconsiders her chip strategy and the merits of Gareth Bale as she guns for a fourth consecutive finish inside the top 30k.
I have a love-hate relationship with international breaks.
In many ways, I enjoy the headspace that they provide from Fantasy Premier League (FPL) decision-making and really like the early optimism that comes with supporting England.
However, I also long for the return of FPL over the whole two weeks. During this international break, I decided to take a step back from transfer planning and wait until the conclusion of the World Cup qualifiers and friendlies to ensure that I’ve got as much injury news as possible – both from those players returning from international duty as well as from those left behind with niggling fitness issues.
Then, at 3pm on Wednesday afternoon, that break from transfer planning abruptly ended.
WILDCARD/BENCH BOOST RETHINK?
The announcement of new fixtures by the Premier League and indeed a Double Gameweek 32 for Spurs sent my mind catapulting back towards FPL and the decisions that I was planning.
As someone with my second Wildcard intact, I had been considering a Bench Boost for Gameweek 30, using my one free transfer for this week to replace Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) with Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy (£5.2m) to give me two playing goalkeepers.
However, the Spurs double does change my thinking somewhat.
There is now a case for holding the second Wildcard for after Double Gameweek 32 and Blank Gameweek 33. If I go down that route, then I need to ensure that the transfers that I make for Gameweek 30 are good not just for Easter weekend but also for a couple of weeks ahead.
Mendy’s fixtures look great but as an existing Emiliano Martinez (£5.4m) owner, I need to decide whether investing in two relatively expensive goalkeepers is worth it – especially given that I can only play the Bench Boost chip once.
For me, a Gameweek 30 move for a Chelsea defender, likely Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.8m) or the cheaper option of Antonio Rudiger (£4.7m), seems like a good choice ahead of a lovely run of fixtures for Chelsea. It’s also a better use of my FPL budget.
Doing this means that I potentially hold my Bench Boost and use it in Double Gameweek 32 instead of Gameweek 30, as this will give me a couple of matches to gain a full understanding of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s goalkeeper plans. If McCarthy regains his number one spot, then I could potentially Bench Boost with him; if not, then a premium keeper double-up doesn’t feel too bad if it’s only for one Gameweek.
The bigger question for both myself and many other FPL managers ahead of Spurs’ double in Gameweek 32 is what to do about Gareth Bale (£9.7m).
I brought in the Welshman ahead of Blank Gameweek 29 on the basis that without Son Heung-min (£9.4m), he looked like he would be a pivotal part of the Spurs attack alongside Harry Kane (£11.6m) and Lucas Moura (£6.6m). However, Bale’s benching and subsequent comments whilst on international duty had made me think about selling him – until, of course, the Double Gameweek 32 announcement.
“I think the main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost; going into the Euros I wanted to be match-fit.
“Over the last few years, this is probably the most match fitness I’ve had. I’m feeling fresh and ready to go.
“I always think when things aren’t going too well at a club, it’s nice to get away, especially mentally get away from the club environment. It can be a benefit. We focus on these games for Wales, which are very important for us. We forget club life and concentrate on this.
“The original plan was to do a season at Spurs and after the Euros still have a year left at Real Madrid. My plan is to go back, that’s as far as I have planned.”Gareth Bale
Whilst it was something that we all knew deep down, these comments from Bale are disappointing for Spurs fans like myself. They don’t hint at a player who is here for the benefit of the club and its supporters.
As an FPL manager, I worry that his minutes may be harmed by these words as Jose Mourinho looks to field his most focused team of players for the tilt at silverware and a return to the Champions League qualifying spaces.
As a manager tripled up on the Spurs attacking assets – Kane, Son and Bale – I know have some big decisions to make ahead of Gameweek 32. Do I stick or twist with these three picks?
Kane and Son are, at this stage, non-negotiable. Independently they are both owned by well over 40% of FPL managers. Together, LiveFPL.net has their combined ownership at just over 23% – making them, for now, differentials ahead of a great Gameweek 30 match against Newcastle and beyond.
Bale, on the other hand, is highly unlikely to start both Gameweek 32 fixtures. Moura has shown a real upturn in performances over the last few weeks and is highly motivated to see the team succeed. Likewise, the return of Giovani Lo Celso (£6.9m) from injury and Erik Lamela (£5.7m) from suspension will provide greater competition for the Wales international’s position in the starting XI.
Spurs will have both eyes firmly on the League Cup final against Man City, as it is now their only opportunity to bring silverware back to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season. This could also have a big impact on the teams that Spurs set out in Double Gameweek 32, as the Southampton match falls just days before the trip to Wembley.
The incentive therefore to hold Kane and Son and switch to a Spurs defender are definitely there.
Sergio Reguilon (£5.5m) limped off during the Gameweek 29 victory against Aston Villa, although the player himself later stated he was fine. Reguilon has registered 17 attempts on goal so far this season, the fifth most across the Spurs side and more than team-mates like Lucas Moura (£6.6m). He is also top for successful crosses from open play among Mourinho’s squad.
With a clean sheet likely against Newcastle in Gameweek 30, Reguilon could offer FPL managers the perfect storm of points at both ends of the field – especially when we look at Spurs’ fixtures moving forward.
With the exception of Gameweek 31’s match against Manchester United and Blank Gameweek 33, there are plenty of opportunities for clean sheets for Reguilon over the next few weeks. He also seems to be Mourinho’s preferred pick over Ben Davies (£4.6m), who pulled out of the Wales squad with injury while his positional rival had a fortnight’s breather.
Above: My current Gameweek 30 team before transfers
Gameweek 32 seems like a good time to Bench Boost based on my likely squad set-up:
- Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) and Luke Shaw (£5.2m) v Burnley
- Aaron Cresswell (£5.9m), Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) and Jesse Lingard (£6.2m) v Newcastle
- Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) and Stuart Dallas (£5.1m) v an out of form Liverpool
- Potential Chelsea defender v Brighton
- Leicester attacker v West Brom
- Triple Spurs – Kane, Son and Bale or Reguilon v Southampton and Everton
- No Crystal Palace players for their blank
With three transfers ahead of Double Gameweek 32, my priority will be to invest in the Chelsea defence and potentially the Leicester attack and, depending on what happens with Bale’s minutes over the next two Gameweeks, make an indirect switch from the winger to Reguilon.
The downside of owning three Spurs players for Double Gameweek 32 is the blank that immediately follows but selling one asset and benching the other two seems ideal, especially as the Lilywhites play Sheffield United, Leeds and Wolves thereafter.
Don’t let the blank in Gameweek 33 put you off from heavily investing in Spurs for Double Gameweek 32; in fact, seriously consider doing it ahead of Gameweek 30 once news on Son’s availability is confirmed.
Newcastle have only kept one clean sheet in their last four Premier League matches and they are top for defensive tackles lost across the same period. In contrast, Spurs have scored eight goals in that timeframe, which is the fourth-best total in the league.
Even with Manchester United in Gameweek 31, we saw what the two Spurs boys were capable of when these sides met at Old Trafford earlier on this season.
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