Stag’s Take – Gameweek 27
It may only be February but in my opinion, we have now reached the business end of the season where the impact of your decisions is magnified. A fairly defined template has formed and will continue to persist even when everyone inevitably shapeshifts to accommodate a few mercurial ‘ballers amidst the lesser blank gameweek teams. Thus when you move a step out of line and it backfires, you’ll be punished by the majority of active teams around you.
What’s more, the overall rankings are so compact right now. The world number one is currently on 1,741 points, streaking ahead of the “Peloton” of top FPL managers with only a lucky few for company. The Peloton are (in my mind anyway) well managed teams who currently find themselves ranked between 10,000 and 100,000 – only 68 points separates that whole group. Anyone at the 100k mark can have genuine hopes of eroding an average of 5.6 points per week to reach the top 10k whilst a similar 50 point gaps exists between 10k and the elite 1k mark. However unfortunately, whilst the rift may not seem so wide, it also highlights the serious punishment you’ll receive for an off week – there’s so many teams within one successful captaincy of anyone ranked between 10k and 500k that it’s easy to be risk averse, curl up in a ball, and follow the crowd. The final dozen gameweeks are where your season is won and lost; with two double gameweeks and a pair of blank gameweeks to circumnavigate; champions resting for Europe and the cup; midtable sides going “on the beach”; and unexpected results from relegation candidates doing everything to defy the drop.
Load up on Arsenal?
The most outstanding result in GW26 from an FPL point of view was Arsenal’s demolition of Everton at the Emirates. A hat-trick of assists for Mkhitaryan (7.8) to provide a hat-trick of goals for Aaron Ramsey (7.0) provided the bulk of the points on offer in the tie for those clairvoyant enough to back the just-fit Welshman or the new arrival from Manchester. But should you now be trying to fit some Gunners into your armoury?
For me, not right now. Arsenal face two extremely tough tests against Spurs and Man City in the next two gameweeks before two more straightforward encounters with Brighton and Watford. Maybe ahead of that trip to the AMEX, the timing will be better, but only if you plan to use your Free Hit chip in Gameweek 31. Otherwise, you should really be considering holding a maximum of two Arsenal men entering the DGW, depending on the overall makeup of your squad.
That said, if you’re restless and looking to choose between the two players, I’d personally plump for Rambo. By virtue of his deeper position, he tends to arrive at the box at opportune moments, escaping the marking system of even the tightest teams who have little time to press him. The contrary is true for Mkhi, who will surely be in possession in advanced positions but he will also be pressed and marked to within an inch of his life – and all for almost an extra million of scarce FPL money.
The Spurs match is sure to be the most-watched game of the weekend. If it is half the spectacle that Liverpool v Tottenham was, then we’re in for a real treat. The game is also what I view as the third and final part of the #KaneExit trilogy, given that nobody in their right mind will forego the double golden boot winner when he visits Selhurst Park in GW28. For my own sake, I hope the ex-Arsenal schoolboy makes up for two consecutive subpar returns.
Three late goals sealed the deal for Watford as they picked off Chelsea at Vicarage Road on Monday evening. With Alonso rested as a precaution and only the “FPL Troll” himself getting on the scoresheet for the Blues, it was a night of frustration for many. The loss also marked yet another terrible performance in 2018 for the under-pressure Antonio Conte – Chelsea have won just twice in 10 attempts since the turn of the year.
So is it time for AlonGO? Whilst I don’t own him, I don’t think so. Even with the Blues struggling for form, Alonso’s returns have remained steady aside from the last two gameweeks, so much so that the Bournemouth loss actually marked his first gameweek without a return (attacking and/or defensive) in EIGHT! That’s the measure of a player so consistent that it would be crazy to overreact based on a few patchy team performances, especially with West Brom up next. That said, with Manchester United and Manchester City following Pards and the Baggies as well as a highly-likely blank in GW31, you should have contingency plans ready to relinquish your grasp on other Chelsea assets.
I’d like to add a note on Alexis, the high ceiling differential in my own team at present. I’ve seen a few comments dismissing the Chilean as an FPL prospect because he missed a penalty (and scored the rebound) and was dispossessed a huge amount last weekend when Huddersfield visited Old Trafford. I think that’s a harsh assessment though which ignores his mammoth underlying stats in that game.
Alexis had six shots on Lossl’s goal, provided three key passes to his teammates, and won the penalty which he ultimately converted after a minor hiccup (as well as drawing six other fouls). Whilst he started on the left wing, he slowly drifted inwards as he had previously done in the loss to Spurs, eventually playing just off Lukaku in a seriously enticing position for FPL managers. José Mourinho was quizzed after the game and explained that this was no accident, instead stating the Sanchez’s positional fluidity with his teammates was actually the “objective” of United’s attacking. A great sign for managers. He’s sure to be in the thick of the action at Saint James’s Park on Saturday.
FA Cup alert!! Yes indeed after this upcoming weekend of action we have a thrilling break to absorb another healthy dose of cup magic and a romantic midweek of Champions League (don’t forget Arsenal’s Thursday night outings) action. After the FA Cup, we’ll know for sure who will have a blank in GW31.
With potential injuries and suspensions always a looming spectre capable of wreaking havoc on your side, prudence would always have been recommended at this time. However, the oncoming blank gameweek provides an extra reason to make sure your transfers count when probably 5 or 6 pairs of teams miss out.
Mo Salah (Southampton A)
Last week I described Salah as the safe pick for points and so it proved, though he really romped home with a brace and 15 points. He rarely blanks, picking up an attacking return in 13 or his last 15 outings in the PL in a run which has featured a whopping 16 goals and a smattering of five assists to accompany them.
Set and forget – likely to be the most captained player amongst the top active players in gameweek 27.
Harry Kane (Arsenal H)
Spurs’ loss to Arsenal was a turn on the recent trend of North London derbies, with Spurs having won two and drawn four of the six which came before. However, the NLD has taken on much greater importance than mere local rivalry, with both clubs currently sitting outside the Champions League places and needing the three points to stay in the race.
That’s why I feel like giving the armband to Sir Harold, who has a goal-per-game record against The Gunners in Premier League action. He scored in all but one of those appearances. His record against Arsenal is just a subset of his ridiculous London derby record in general, where he has 21 goals in 32 PL derbies – pretty brilliant consistency. The cream rises to the top in big games, and with Petr Cech ruled out, I think Kane is worth backing.
Sergio Aguero (Leicester H)
Sergio Aguero at home to a side suddenly lost after their star player submitted a transfer request, sulking, and suffering heartbreak. That’s a pretty decent deal. No matter what anyone says about the Argentine being passed his best, his goals record in the PL in 2017/18 belies their words habing found the net 24 times in 31 appearances in all competitions. Bizarrely, Aguero will almost certainly be a differential captain this weekend – perhaps you’re willing to take the (is it even?) risk and go against the flow.
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.