Stag’s Take – Gameweek 30
My fifth Gameweek rank over three million in the past few weeks has precipitated a collapse which needs to be arrested. After GW24 I sat at 78,226 overall, what I felt was a good platform to mount a move for the top 10,000. Unfortunately the wind fell out of my sails, mostly due to poor captaincy selection, and I now sit just outside the top 200,000.
Having been in a much worse position at this point last season, I have not yet lost hope of breaking the glass ceiling into the top 10,000, however unlikely it may be. What is certain though is that I will have to go against the tide to succeed.
For those of you who haven’t considered it yet, the standard approach to the home straight is this:
BGW31 – Use free transfers to ready your team to have at least eight BGW players
GW32 (or less likely 33) – Wildcard to remove BGW31 fodder from your side and prepare for the two DGWs
DGW34 – Bench Boost (or Triple Captain)
BGW35 – Free Hit
DGW37 – Triple Captain (or Bench Boost)
I won’t be alone of course in ploughing a different furrow. So many active managers have used their free hit chip previously. Even more used their wildcard earlier and so they will have to thread carefully and ride their luck to avoid pesky injuries. I think I’m in a fortunate position really having all my chips intact.
Thus, I will use my Free Hit to get through BGW31, hopefully benefitting from a Josh King hat-trick, the third coming of Steve Mounie, and a clean sheet from three Stoke defenders against and another Liverpool demolition job on Watford.
Just look at the fixtures, they’re all a bit lopsided based on form and position. West Brom are hopeless and play Bournemouth who have experienced a slowdown recently but overall haven’t been too poor. Huddersfield are a relegation threatened team who have started to put together key wins whilst Palace have started a downward spiral after the initial Hodgson jump. Stoke have tightened up at the back under Lambert and it is this which I am likely to depend on in this fixture. Everton under Allardyce sit bottom of the league in shots taken, shots on target, shots from open play and chances created, and they’ve scored just eight times in the same number of PL games in 2018, Brighton’s Glenn Murray has six league goals in that time. Big Sam is already facing questions about his future and I seriously question how he’s going to pull Everton out of this lull – they’ve been horrendous to watch since Christmas now with no sign of improvement. The fourth and final game of BGW31 sees Watford visit Anfield. I’m hoping both sides get on the scoresheet that day. In my eyes, BGW31 is lopsided and full of relegation six-pointers where only one team is looking good, to put it bluntly.
I’ll wildcard after, like everyone, but my team will be a bit more conscious of BGW35 than the norm. However, GW35 is not the apocalypse that some seem to think it will be. Thanks to Wigan, we’re likely to have the chance to triple up on Man City though the blank and if we don’t, we’ll have three Spurs players instead – simple (yes, yes, mathematically it’s possible (though unlikely) that neither side will be playing but this is the risk I’m going to run)!
Because it will be easier to ensure I have 15 DGW players for DGW34 than the latter 37, I’ll use my bench boost in the earlier one. It’s also worth noting that many more “dependable” sides are appearing in GW34 and so I’m more confident in returns coming my way then. I will admit that part of me is a romantic too – there’s something beautiful about keeping the Triple Captain ace up my sleeve for one last hooray in DGW37. Will Harry Kane score a GW37 hattie (it was actually four vs. Leicester) for the second season in a row? Don’t give me the “they’ll have nothing to play for” BS, Spurs had lost the title race by that time too last season.
I will put together a nice excel spread once we know for sure who will blank in GW35, which I will of course share in this column and on Twitter. Stay tuned for that in the coming weeks.
A note warning to anyone joining me on my Free Hit crusade in GW31 – make sure you use your transfers this week as you cannot roll a transfer through the BGW. No matter what, you will have just one FT ahead of GW32.
Other notes ahead of GW30
The Pep wheel of rotation fortune is spinning like a whirlwind through the minds of FPL managers again. In midweek, Sané and Jesús started in the loss to Basel whilst KdB and Aguero were rested. David Silva was also given the chance to return to Valencia to spend time with family though he will return for Monday’s Stoke game. Raheem Sterling is back in full training but yet to make an appearance since his injury, perhaps he will be back on Monday evening (I certainly hope so). I won’t even try to guess who will play except for guaranteeing you that De Bruyne will be in the middle of midfield, but keep an ear out for Pep’s press conference quotes for any hints or updates.
Spurs crashing out of the Champions League to Juventus means that they have nothing but a Top Four place and the FA Cup to play for until May. Last season suggests that Poch will not let them collapse after such a hammer-blow, but how many of those can they take? From an FPL point of view, the result basically guarantees that the first team will lineout against Swansea in the cup in the same weekend as GW35, which heightens the chance of injuries ahead of DGW37.
The pressure is mounting on Chelsea to bridge the gap to the top four again, as they are five points off the top four currently. Their Gameweek 32 clash with Spurs and GW37 clash with Liverpool are going to be pivotal moments in their season and hopefully guarantee that Eden Hazard will be firing come the last DGW.
Looking at the bottom half, the in-form relegation candidates right now are Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford, and especially Swansea. All four sides have taken huge strides to ensure their survival in recent weeks though none are on the beach yet – in the Swans’ case, their just three points off the dropzone still even though they’re fourth best side in the PL over the last six games where they’ve picked up 13 points!
Harry Kane (Bournemouth A)
A week where Salah isn’t the top captain pick? Shock horror. This week in the game of Kane-Salah, I’m opting for the Englishman, who will be desperate to bounce back from his side’s disappointing CL exit in the midweek.
Aside from that psychological, it’s not like Kane’s form is poor given he has three goals and an assist in his last four PL outings and he has 24 goals in total this season, averaging a goal every 100 minutes of PL action.
Kane has burnt FPL managers many times this season, often scoring in bulk rather than ticking along like his rival on Merseyside. At least his previous performances against Bournemouth can serve to allay some of those fears (or recurring nightmares), even if he did get his only blank against the Cherries in his career earlier this term. In 2015/16, he kick-started his season after a typically barren August with a hat-trick against them and he put two more beyond Boruc later that same season. Last season, he missed one encounter with Eddie Howe’s men but he made up for it with a goal and an assist when Bournemouth visited the old WHL for the final time.
Bournemouth’s permeability is not limited to Kane. Even though they’re doing well in the form tables as I alluded to earlier, their defence has still been too generous. In their last six games they’ve conceded nine times, in their last ten that unflattering tally grows to 16. Defence has never been their strong point.
Good form, good fixture, good pedigree. My armband’s on Kane.
Mo Salah (Man Utd A)
It’s very unusual to recommend a captain whose visiting Old Trafford but that’s a measure of Mo Salah’s consistency – it’s hard to doubt him. 24 goals and 10 assists this term is the headline statistic which outlines why many view the summer signing from Roma as the player of the season. So many times, the vast majority of FPL managers have bet against Salah and paid the price, there’s nothing to suggest this weekend will not be another instance of the same plague.
In spite of slow performances and a view defensive howlers recently, Manchester United’s defence is not to be sniffed at. David de Gea is leading the race for the golden glove with 15 clean sheets and they have the second best defence behind City in terms of goals conceded, two more than City on 22. They have the best home record of all though, with de Gea’s goal having been breached on a meagre six occasions.
All in all though, Salah has been Mr. Dependable this term and he will undoubtedly be a popular pick this weekend, even if recent United-Liverpool games have been a shutdown bore thanks to José’s tactics.
Riyad Mahrez (West Brom A)
Last weekend, Mahrez stepped up in the 97th minute to rescue a point for Leicester right at the death at home to Bournemouth, highlighting that he is back in the Foxes fold again.
This weekend, he travels to The Hawthorns to visit Pard’s stricken side who can’t buy a win nor a taxi home. The Baggies have lost five matches in a row and have shown no signs of a determined comeback from eight points from safety. They’ve secured just ONE PL win since August and have taken just eight points since Pardrew took the reins from Tony Pulis. I’m confident in Leicester beating them, and beating them well.
Aside from perhaps Jamie Vardy, nobody in the Leicester team is more likely to score than Mahrez, who has been firing in shots since his return to the fold. The Algerian has had ten efforts on goal in the first two full games of his comeback, scoring just that one dramatic free-kick but catching the eye of everyone. He has three key passes to boot too, exemplifying his overall FPL points potential. A good choice for the armband, but certainly a brave one with Kane, Salah and the City ensemble available for selection too.
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.