Stag’s Take – Gameweek 32
Hello, hello! Welcome back everybody after a thrilling international break and an unexpectedly high-scoring BGW31 beforehand thanks to Mister Mohammed Salah. As promised, this week’s column will go through my strategy for my wildcard, which is currently in play, and I will also do my best to highlight some of the key men for the coming few weeks.
Okay, a quick low-down on what we have ahead of us before I start:
In Gameweek 34, Bournemouth, Brighton, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester, Man United, Southampton, and Spurs play twice.
DGW 34 Highlights: Man Utd (WBA/bou), Leicester (bur/SOT), Chelsea (sot/bur), Mo Salah (BOU).
We will have just six fixtures in the following gameweek, Gameweek 35. Burnley are the only team with a GW34 double to play in this week. There is only one freak side who play one game in 34, but who are absent from 35: Huddersfield; Avoid.
BGW35 Highlights: NO SUCH THING… jk – Liverpool (wba), (by-then probably champions) Man City (SWA), Arsenal (WHAM).
We are as yet unsure for certain that the unscheduled remaining fixtures will be scheduled for DGW37, but precedent and television schedules suggest that you can work on the presumption that 12 teams will have double gameweeks then.
If what is expected occurs…
DGW37 Highlights: Arsenal (BUR/lei), Man City (HUD/BHA) (How great this would be if we know how Pep will line out), Spurs (probably relegated wba/NEW).
In no particular order, a few things to keep in mind:
- The FA Cup – Man United v Spurs, Chelsea v Southampton. Rotation effects?
- Champions League Last 8 – Man City v Liverpool: First leg between GW32-33, Second leg between 33 and 34
- Man City as Champions - Can be crowned at Old Trafford in GW33. Will they rest and rotate intensively afterwards?
- Champions League Semis – Week after GW35 and 36. Perhaps building in a reliance on City and Liverpool players for GW35 is a bad idea. One team must progress. City have nothing but the Champions League to play for so we could expect more rotation from Pep if City prevail.
- Arsene Wenger’s Europa League adventure – Coming to a screen near you every Thurday will be The Gunners’ continued quest to secure Champions League football for next season and a trophy… without their best plater. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should be safe from rotation as he is cup tied in the EL. Aaron Ramsey has already been an EL rotation victim.
- Safe midtable teams finding themselves on the beach – Players will either be waiting for the family holiday in Dubai or protecting themselves ahead of the World Cup.
- World Cup competition – Speaking of Russia 2018, some players will be trying desperately to impress their national coaches and steal a seat on the plane.
Without further ado, I’ll now get into my own Wildcard now.
David de Gea (5.9)
I wanted a secure ‘keeper pick who can be trusted to hold his place for the rest of the season, who also has brilliant double gameweek fixtures. DDG fits the bill perfectly. Having Dave covers me against the high ownership of United clean-sheet hoovers, but let’s me steer clear of the headache that will be selecting the right affordable United defender now that Jones, Rojo, and Smalling are fit to partner the ludicrously expensive Bailly and full-backs Young (classed as a mid) and Valencia (too costly).
Lukasz Fabianski (4.7)
Undoubtedly Fabianski is one of the weak points in my team, but I couldn’t determine a better option when I kept my plan to bench boost in GW34 in mind. The best alternative in terms of fixtures for the period is Wayne Hennessy (4.3), but as you’ll see I already have Tomkins and I want to spread my chances of nailing one clean sheet in DGW34 rather than putting the house on Palace’s defence. Part of me thinks that Swansea travelling to Man City in BGW35 may work in my favour. City will have the league wrapped up and may have a Champions League Semi-Final to follow days later. Of this whole team, swapping Fabianski for his Eagles counterpart is one of the most probable changes I may make ahead of the deadline. I must admit this would be a much bigger headache if we could be certain about the Heaton/Pope situation.
Andreas Christensen (5.3)
Currently carrying a knock but that doesn’t really worry me as I don’t plan to play the Dane in GW32 anyway. Primarily Christensen is in my team to cover Chelsea defence at a cheap cost for the double gameweek when The Blues have favourable fixtures.
James Tarkowski (4.5)
I could have saved an extra 0.1 by getting Matt Lowton instead of Tarko but I felt more confident opting for the newly capped England international given that Lowton only regained his place from Phil Bardsley at the start of February. As I alluded to, Burnley players are a useful bridge through BGW35 after a packed DGW34 so one Claret defender was a must for me. Two is too much. They’ve had just two clean sheets in ten. If you’re awash with cash, Ben Mee consistently gets up for shots (average of about one per game in the last 10 GWs) but a goal in ‘17/18 continues to elude him – maybe worth a punt.
Lewis Dunk (4.5)
I laughed to myself before my Wildcard about how much I was looking forward to slamdunking this defender into downtown and out of my team. Funnily enough that hasn’t happened as instead I will fumble around in the dark hoping that Brighton can pull a clean sheet out of nowhere for my bench boost DGW34. Dunk is a complete budget pick (I got him at 4.4) who does possess attacking threat – we live in hope but this is a position I’m very much open to suggestions for.
Wes Morgan (4.4)
A league winning captain for 4.4? Bargain! The Jamaican central defender is a nailed on starter for The Foxes, who have two decent double gameweeks ahead. At 4.4 he’s a good enabler. For those considering Chilwell (4.3), all I would encourage you to do is read this recent quote from Claude Puel when discussing left-back competition between Fuchs and Chilly:
"They have different qualities. It is good for me and the team to have different options. The players need competition”
James Tomkins (4.4)
This is certainly not a move motivated by Tomkins’ goal in BGW31 but the defender can consider this a formal invitation to keep up his goalscoring if he so chooses. Palace play every gameweek until the end of the season in the standard one game per gameweek manner, which is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t have the free hit chip left. A lot of the fixtures are pretty good too.
Mo Salah (price irrelevant)
Mo isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. He can keep leading me to 100 point gameweeks if he wishes.
Riyad Mahrez (8.9)
A pre-wildcard player of mine who gave my side a big boost in Gameweek 30 with 11 points. I just wish I had him the week before when his dramatic goal late in injury time robbed a draw for his side against Bournemouth. Very few players have shown form like the Algerian this season (when he has been in the right frame of mind to play) and so it’s impossible to look beyond him with two DGWs on the horizon. It helps that he’s less likely to mentally check-out when Leicester are confirmed as safe, as he is playing to get that long-sought after move away from the King Power Stadium.
Raheem Sterling (8.6)
I considered keeping David Silva over Sterling but I felt that the Englishman was more likely to return points in limited minutes when rotation gets a grip than the Spaniard. The opportunity cost for holding Raz is not having Heung-Min Son (8.3) who has scored four goals in his last two games and will be more advanced with Kane absent for at least this week. This decision is proving to be a difficult one to sit with, as you can see from my tweet:
Why am I keeping Sterling or any MCI mid over Son?
- Tough (although obviously winnable) fixtures
- Rotation with UCL incoming
- Rotation with league win incoming
- Pep rotation
- No guarantee any of the players you have will feature v Swansea in BGW35 because of... Rotation
— #FPL Stag (@FPLStag) March 29, 2018
Sterling is the best City pick of the lot I think, but watch me flip-flop a few more times on Twitter before the GW32 deadline on this one.
Eden Hazard is outrageously expensive, but thankfully his Brazilian teammate has outperformed him in recent weeks in terms of the money you pay for his points. Willian is a great way to acquire a trustworthy attacker from a top team with DGW34 ahead of him. In my current plans, he will not remain in my side by DGW37.
Kenedy is fantastic value for money. He possesses a genuine attacking threat, with his brace in GW30 the extent of his goalscoring off 14 shots (7 in the box) in six PL games for the Magpies. He creates opportunities for teammates too with two assists to his name from creating the same number of big chances. Alternatively, Milivojevic and his penalties is always an option, but Palace don’t have DGW37 like the Magpies and Kenedy do. A budget midfield option is good old Andy King (4.2) of Swansea, who should get you the two points per game you’d hope or from a player of that price.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10.6)
Arsenal have decent fixtures until the end of the season including DGW37, and actually play in BGW35. No matter what happens, as I mentioned earlier, we expect The Gunners’ Gabonese international striker to get consistent starts in the PL even if Arsenal totally turn their attention towards attaining Europa League glory as he is ineligible to play in the competition this season.
As well as fixture details, it helps that Auba is playing well since signing for Arsenal having found the net three times in five outings in the league. He gets in good positions to score constantly, as can be attested to by his quick start off a dozen shots in the box. As much as anything else, you should look at getting Aubameyang to cover yourself against other Wildcarders, who have picked up the striker in their droves.
Romelu Lukaku (11.4)
One man who has outperformed Auba since he got going in the PL is Romelu Lukaku, who has wrestled himself back into goalscoring form after months in a confidence-less wilderness. Rom has three goals and two assists in his last five games even if the United team designed to provide him has been wilting.
The Belgian is famed for being a flat-track bully and for failing to live up to big occasions, fortunately he will have few encounters with his kryptonite between now and the gameweek 38 aside from the Manchester derby whilst he has some of the best fixtures of all in both DGWs. There’s a hint of Déjà- vu to Lukaku’s return to vogue – at the beginning of the season, it seemed like he would be a default captain pick. How things had changed, right up until now. What goes around, comes around…
Chris Wood (6.2)
The consensus pick for third striker is Ashley Barnes, whose form has improved of late. His popularity of course is linked to his club Burnley’s fixtures, but what I don’t understand is how people are overlooking his teammate who is returning from injury, Chris Wood. As you can see from my tweet here, Wood has completely outperformed Barnes recently having coming off the bench twice as he was phased in from a long time sidelined:
More than this point to come in my column for @Rotoworld_PL later today
— #FPL Stag (@FPLStag) March 29, 2018
Dyche spoke about the “very fine margin” which was at play in making the decision to bench Wood. The decision was predicated on having strength to spring from the bench but Dyche’s quotes make me wonder whether he feels like he got away with the wrong decision on the day. Perhaps Jeff Hendrick is in line to lose his starting berth to facilitate Wood coming into a 4-4-2 for the Clarets. The manager seemed pretty sympathetic when he spoke about the Republic of Ireland interntional doing well in an unnatural position at number 10 – this is personal speculation for now but I’m going with it.
Why I’m using my Bench Boost in Gameweek 34, not 37
What it basically boils down to is that I can predict the starting elevens of many more teams in the near future than in May. Just look at the list of future considerations which I mentioned at the start of this piece. Add to that injuries, suspensions, losses of form, and rotation – it’s a nightmare. For a BB to be successful, you can’t have no-showers! I’m minimising the chances even if it means I won’t have 15 (or even 11) DGWers.
There’s also the added fact that there are much better fixtures available for a Triple Captain chip if the Double Gameweek happens to be DGW37. I don’t want to be forced to play that when it doesn’t suit.
A word of advice
Ensure you can see the wood from the trees – don’t forget to meticulously plan for Gameweeks 32 and 33 like you always do. FPL managers and wannabe geniuses, myself included, are guilty of focusing completely on the doubles and the blank over this international break – there’s more to play for than that. A good anecdote to keep in mind is that my BGW31 success, where I got 115 points on my free hit, was only a little better for my rank than GW30 when I was liberated from the worries of BGW31 by my free hit and so new transfers in Riyad Mahrez and David Silva led me to a good score.
A little shorter this week given the length of the rest of the column:
Mo Salah (Palace A)
The Egyptian PL topscorer will definitely be the most picked captain this week. The safe option.
Romelu Lukaku (Swansea H)
Swansea have caused Man United all sorts of bother at Old Trafford in recent years but that was usually because of Siggy if memory serves me well. Rom is in a purple patch lately and had a good international break too, where he scored twice against Saudi Arabia. United’s form is incredibly variable, but they need these three points ahead of the derby in GW33.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Stoke H)
Auba’s form is good and the game on Sunday at the Emirates will serve as a convenient way for Wenger to work on team cohesion ahead of the crucial Thursday night clash with CSKA Moscow in the Europa League. Stoke’s defence have been leaky all season, and the Paul Lambert bounce has ended as the Potters haven’t tasted victory in their last seven attempts in the PL.
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.