As an FPL manager for over 12 seasons, it’s been quite a while since I’ve witnessed such excitement over a double gameweek containing just a single extra game. I guess that’s what happens when Premier League champions-elect Liverpool take centre stage as they travel to Wolves and West Ham over the space of 6 days in gameweek 24. Certainly, the phrase “quality over quantity” springs to mind as FPL managers gear up for what could be a monster score for multiple Liverpool assets.

In this article, I’m going to share some of my thought processes which have guided me toward the strategy that suits *my* team. One of the most crucial pieces of advice I can give to any FPL manager is that everyone’s team is different – you need to put in the work yourself to see which strategy suits YOUR team.

With that in mind, let’s begin!

Playing like it’s Gameweek 24 when it’s actually Gameweek 22.

As the buzz surrounding the double continues to increase, we are in danger of overlooking strong opportunities for gains that could be made over the next two gameweeks. In fact, I think there are more ranking gains to be made now over the next two matches than there are during the double itself when everyone will have similar players! Furthermore, by selecting some high-performing cheaper players over the next two weeks, we could be in a better position to add higher-caliber Liverpool assets when GW24 eventually comes. My initial instinct was to examine which transfers I could make to bring in a Liverpool defender this gameweek.  I’ll discuss why I am avoiding this in my next point, but for this week, my attention turns elsewhere.

As I look at the fixture planner plastered on my office wall, I note that there are a number of teams with extremely favourable fixtures over the next five gameweeks. I’m particularly interested in two sides that are primed to return for Fantasy managers – Everton and Watford.

Although Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival may have been tainted by the loss to Liverpool’s “reserve” side in the Carabao Cup, there is no denying that Everton offers us some fantastic FPL options over the next five gameweeks. I’ve targeted Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m, 5.8% TSB) and Mason Holgate (£4.4m, 0.9% TSB) as ones to consider.

I’ve already spoken about Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr (£6.2m, 0.9% TSB) last week but I think that Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m, 2.6% TSB) is another interesting option. The Spaniard has two goals, one assist and three bonus points to his name over the last three matches. Spoiler alert: Sarr is likely to be my transfer in this gameweek instead of Lucas Moura so I’m not just recommending players that I am not backing myself. The common theme with these picks is a simple one – they are cheap, on form and playing for teams with excellent fixtures and good team form. They also free up funds for the moves I want to make and provide some excellent differentials.

These are just my own personal picks and the ones I am eyeing up this gameweek – there are plenty of other options to discover who will free up cash for Liverpool assets while tapping into teams with both cheap assets and good form/fixtures prior to the double. This, I feel, is one of the keys to navigating the next three gameweeks and beyond.

Finalizing GW24 options too early

Leading from the previous point, I’m quite happy to hold out on acquiring any more Liverpool assets until after GW23 has been completed. One of the most crucial assets we can leverage in FPL is one that we generate ourselves – the time to assess the information provided to us. By acting on incomplete information, we risk losing advantage against our rivals. I am going to hold out as long as possible before acquiring that third Liverpool player.

For the record, I currently have Salah and Mane so my the decision is likely to revolve around which defender I want to get into my team.  Liverpool face Spurs (A) and Manchester United (H) during that time and while I do think that the Merseysiders will win both games, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Mourinho and Solskjaer both put out teams that will stifle Liverpool and perhaps nick a goal. Granted, a Liverpool defensive asset may concede in both games and still register 15-20 points in total, but I’ll take my chances. That will allow me time to really look at all my options and react with as much information as possible. I risk the likes of Alexander-Arnold increasing in price ever further, but I am happy to pay a £0.2/0.3m premium for extra time to make the final decision.

It’s perfectly fine to have a good feel for the selection of players you might be getting in and work towards those transfers by freeing up funds where needed, but I’m personally going to acquire as much information as I can before pulling the trigger. We are one injury away from going back to square one in our planning. Again, do what’s best for your team…you may have a woeful defence and a Liverpool asset vs Spurs/United would be streets ahead of them!

Overthinking our Liverpool coverage options.

As Klopp’s men canter to an inevitable Premier League title, having three Liverpool players going into the double gameweek is the minimum buy-in required to be competitive. However, for many players, the task of choosing *which* three players is becoming more difficult due to the sheer volumes of articles, tables and opinions on the subject. Over the last number of days, I have read several compelling articles, threads and opinions which heavily recommend different Liverpool assets based on a particular set of stats or occurrences. I know I am not the only manager who finds himself looking at a dozen different coverage permutations (and that’s just in a single day)!

That being said, there’s one piece of information that the stats, the tables and the articles will not tell you – which asset will *actually* score the most. You can spend every second between now and 18:30 GMT on Tuesday, January 21st looking for the best options and find that it’s James Milner who gets 20 points while Salah gets 6 points. The realization of this fact hit me many years ago as I was studying poker and has saved me a great deal of stress. You can perform all the calculations you want to determine that you are well ahead in a given situation, but you can still lose. You may be 87% to win a poker hand and the wrong card hits on the river. You can’t get angry at that. You just put yourself in the position to win 87% of the time but you will lose in that situation 13% of the time. The main thing to take away is that, over thousands of similar instances, you will have won far more than you have lost. In FPL, all we can do is select who we think the best players are, but ANYTHING can happen over the course of a game. My goal for the double is to select a group of the best options from Liverpool and then select three from that best suit my squad’s long term structure – the key piece being that they are the ones that I *think* are most likely to return the huge scores.

This following isn’t exactly rocket science. As I look through the Liverpool squad, I have identified five options from which I can fill my three slots. The entire backline of Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk and Robertson are all worthy of a place in our teams but will leave Gomez out for now. I’ll explain why a little later. The defensive solidity which was such a hallmark of Liverpool’s performances last season is now evident once again. Further up the field, the selection Mane and Salah speak for themselves – they are FPL gold for the double.

I leave Gomez and Firmino out of my plans for now. For some people who may be reading, this might be plain wrong but I have my reasons. Starting with Gomez, I think he is a fantastic pick for the double if you are really struggling to acquire a second Liverpool defender or a third asset in total. He is about one million cheaper and while he does not have the attacking threat of the other three defenders, he will be in the mix for bonus if either of the games end 1-0 or 2-0 to Liverpool and none of the other defensive assets have scored an attacking return. Moving to Firmino, I am not saying that the Brazilian is a bad choice, but I feel that Liverpool’s listed defensive and midfield options are “best-in-class” for that position whereas Firmino is not when compared to other strikers. I will buy VVD or Mane, for example, and they will play every single game for me for at least the next seven gameweeks and I will not take them out because no one can touch them for returns or value.  On the other hand, Firmino is competing against incredible alternatives for one of just three forward positions in your squad compared to five defenders and five midfielders. The question I have asked myself is whether I think Firmino is someone I’d like in my squad long term over the likes of Vardy, Ings, Rashford, amongst others, for a price of £9.3m. My answer for my team is no.

Again, the main piece of advice here is “You do you, and let everyone else take care of their own teams”. Don’t rip the heart out of your squad and take unnecessary hits just because an FPL account tells you that you MUST own these exact three Liverpool players. A Mane/Salah double-up may easily suit someone looking to move away from faltering Spurs assets whereas the addition of Van Dijk or Gomez may be an easier route for those with an already-top heavy side including De Bruyne, Vardy and Rashford.

From all my analysis of the double and beyond, I personally think it’s hard to look past Mane and Alexander-Arnold as two of my three options, and certainly, if I was on a wildcard this week, they would be my first two picks. After that, I would be comfortable with any of the remaining three as Liverpool coverage for the next seven gameweeks.

  • Salah is actually a huge differential right now.
  • Robertson offers huge assist potential against a number of sides weak to changes and crosses conceded on his side.
  • Van Dijk’s needs one chance from a set-piece to net 15 points.

I already have Salah so I may just get in TAA for the double. Again, I’ll make that transfer before the double. However, I won’t overthink it. TAA is the better fit for me and I am not able to tell the future. Done.

Don’t try to be (too) clever…

If there is one lesson I have learned about myself in FPL is I know how to get myself out of a bad situation. In 12 years of playing, my worst ever result was about 75k in the world so my finishes have been hugely consistent regardless of how my season has fared overall. No matter how bad my rank is during the season, I have a good instinct to judge when to go with a differential and when to stick with the best options.  The urge is always there to try and look at some differential options in order to make up ground on rivals.

There is a time and a place for differentials but the process of selecting your three Liverpool assets is NOT one of them. Sure, picking Jordan Henderson over Mo Salah *might* just pay off, but it’s unlikely. Don’t be like one of the 7.5k managers who have transferred in Takumi Minamino this gameweek. I won’t lie – I assessed every option to see if I was missing something. I don’t think I am. Then again, I transferred out Alexander-Arnold for Aurier four weeks ago so what do I know!

The KISS principle applies here…Keep It Simple, Stupid!

But what about West Ham assets?

Actually, that’s right! West Ham also have a double. That brings me to my next topic…

There’s more to the FPL season than this one double fixture.

One of the most crucial determining factors when deciding my transfers are the fixtures before and, more importantly, after the double. Liverpool have a stunning run of five fixtures immediately after the double – visits to Norwich and Watford are sandwiched by home games against Southampton, West Ham and Bournemouth. My review of defensive and attacking stats for those five fixtures and the double indicate that double Liverpool defence could pay more dividends (particularly when you consider that it is far cheaper to have two Liverpool defenders and one midfielder than it is to have two midfielders and a defender – that £4-6m could bring in lots of points when distributed in 2-3 key positions).

That leads me to West Ham. Their double pits them against two of the best teams in the league. Leicester will be weakened defensively by the loss of Wilfred Ndidi who will be out of action for 3-4 weeks according to latest reports, but they are still a team that will look to compete for a Champions League place. After the double, they face Liverpool (again), Manchester City and Arsenal over the next five. That’s too rich for my blood. I’m not ruling out anyone right now. Fabianski might be an option in goals and Mark Noble’s penalty threat can never be ruled out, but I would be stunned if I actually go with an outfield player.

Recap

To summarize, GW24 is still over the horizon for me. I’ll be looking at transferring cheap players with form and fixtures over the next two gameweeks to make sure I can get the defender I want – TAA. Don’t be swayed by articles that tell you that you *must* have a particular trio and look at what is best for your squad.

Let’s be honest…we’ll all be cursing Alisson with his 30-point haul anyways.

Thanks for reading. If you have found this useful and want to continue to read/listen to my FPL ramblings, be sure to follow me @FPLStrategist and give the Tweet that all important RT!

Green arrows, everyone!

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 11

Posted: November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

THE DIRTSHEET: GAMEWEEK 11 (Formation: 3-4-3)

David DeGea (MUN)
Opponent – Crystal Palace (H)

Leighton Baines (EVE)
Opponent – Sunderland (A)

Aaron Creswell (WHU)
Opponent – Aston Villa (H)

Nathaniel Clyne (SOU)
Opponent– Leicester City (H)

Angel Di Maria (MUN)
Opponent – Crystal Palace (H)

Nacer Chadli (TOT)
Opponent – Stoke City (H)

Stewart Downing (WHU)
Opponent – Aston Villa (H)

Alexis Sanchez (ARS)
Opponent – Swansea (A)

Sergio Aguero (MCI)
Opponent – QPR (A)

Graziano Pelle (SOU)
Opponent – Leicester City (H)

Diafra Sakho (WHU)
Opponent – Aston Villa (H)
The Captain – Sergio Aguero (MCI)

The Clean Sheets
I’m looking to Wast Ham, Everton, Spurs, Manchester United and Southampton to return clean sheets.

The Unusual Suspects
Defender: Stephen Caulker (QPR)
Midfielder: Sadio Mane (SOU)
Striker: Charlie Austin (QPR)
Captain: Graziano Pelle (SOU)

Please hit that retweet button at the bottom! Thanks!

And that’s a wrap! It’s quick, it’s informative and it’s helpful. It’s the Dirtsheet, and it’s here every Friday! Please share this on Twitter and Facebook! Every follower counts!

 

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 10

Posted: October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

THE DIRTSHEET: GAMEWEEK 9 (Formation: 3-4-3)

Fraser Forster (SOU)
Opponent – Hull City (A)
I’m going to give Forster a chance to show that he can also get some credit for all the Southampton clean sheets. I think he could get a save point or two in addition to racking up yet another clean sheet for the Saints.

Leighton Baines (EVE)
Opponent – Swansea (H)
Baines is becoming harder to overlook each week. Another assist in the 3-1 defeat of Burnely brings him to 51 points for the season – an amazing score considering the Toffees have notched just two clean sheets all season! Swansea will certainly threaten the Everton backline, but even if they do concede, Baines could easily get attacking points. A constant threat from free kicks, corners and penalties, I think he is a steal at £7.1m.

Calum Chambers (ARS)
Opponent – Burnley (H)
Burnely have five goals all season and Chambers is only £4.6m million. If you are looking for a cheap route into the Arsenal backline for the next few games, Chambers is an absolute no-brainer.

Branislav Ivanovic (CHE)
Opponent– Queens Park Rangers (H)
Despite the recent heroics shown by Harry’s men, it’s hard to see them trouble a well-marshalled defense. I’m opting for the attacking threat of Branislav Ivanovic to cover both defensive and attacking points on Saturday. I think QPR will draw Chelsea onto them and this is where Ivanovic truly shines as an FPL asset.

Nacer Chadli (TOT)
Opponent – Aston Villa (A)
I expect an open and pretty free-scoring game at Villa Park as both teams look for a win I think they feel they can achieve. Chadli is on a little bit of a dry spell after a stunning start to the season, but this is as good a time as any to find his scoring form.

Eden Hazard (CHE)
Opponent – Queens Park Rangers (H)
The young Belgian wis beginning to recapture the incredible form that saw him destroy defenses last year, and I’m opting for Hazard to be the catalyst for a Chelsea win over QPR. I still think Mourinho has a habit of not killing off teams, but with set pieces and penalties in his locker, I expect Hazard to get attacking points here.

Yannick Bolasie (CPL)
Opponent – Sunderland (H)
I wanted to pick a player from the next team to play Sunderland, a side who look absolutely calamitous. I wanted someone who possessed strength and speed and Bolaise has both in tons. He will run at the back four all day long and could make a mockery of his price tag.

Alexis Sanchez (ARS)
Opponent – Burnley (H)
It’s Arsenal’s most in-form player against certain relegation fodder. He has two goals and an assist in his last two games and looks to have cemented a place (finally) in Wenger’s Arsenal side. There’s no question in my mind – he could run riot on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero (MCI)
Opponent – Manchester United (H)
It looks like that City will be without the services of David Silva for the Manchester derby on Sunday, and although I think that may reduce the overall attacking threat of Aguero, I still fancy him to score against United. I think a lot of City’s chances will fall to Aguero and he looks absolutely lethal. Even though United looked much better defensively against Chelsea, Aguero needs a yard of space to score.

Graziano Pelle (SOU)
Opponent – Hull (A)
Having been the perfect third striker for many FPL managers over the last month, the form and confidence of Pelle is making many of us revisit our striking options and ask a very unfashionable question. Could Pelle actually replace the likes of Costa in our teams? He certainly has the confidence and form to do so, and even when the Saints’ fixtures toughen up in GW13, he could still score.

Digeo Costa (CHE)
Opponent – Queens Park Rangers (H)
It *seems* like he is fit. It *looks* like he’ll start. Costs is an adrenaline junkies wet dream – always on the edge of not playing. Enjoy your fix guys. He could get a point, he could get 20.

The Captain – Diego Costa (CHE)

The Clean Sheets
I’m looking to Chelsea, Everton, Arsenaland Crystal Palace to return clean sheets.

The Unusual Suspects
Defender: Neil Taylor (SWA)
Midfielder: Stewart Downing (WHU)
Striker: Danny Welbeck (ARS)
Captain: Alexis Sanchez (ARS)

Please hit that retweet button at the bottom! Thanks!

And that’s a wrap! It’s quick, it’s informative and it’s helpful. It’s the Dirtsheet, and it’s here every Friday! Please share this on Twitter and Facebook! Every follower counts!

 

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 9

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

THE DIRTSHEET: GAMEWEEK 9 (Formation: 4-3-3)

Hugo Lloris (TOT)
Opponent – Newcastle United (H)
A home clean sheet and perhaps a save point would be a great return for the Frenchman – I cannot see Harry Kane returning between the posts after his Europa League cameo 😀

Leighton Baines (EVE)
Opponent – Burnley (A)
A superb 15-point return last week was not unexpected, and I fancy Baines to continue his rich vein of form as Everton visit a Burnley side who has scored just 4 goals all season in the league. Baines will get forward at every opportunity against the Clarets. With 4 great fixtures ahead, buying Baines is a smart investment for the savvy FPL manager.

Nathaniel Clyne (SOU)
Opponent – Stoke City (H)
Southampton defenders are providing to be real value for money so far this season, especially Clyne and Bertrand. Along with 4 clean sheets in 8, Clyne and Bertrand have a goal and an assist apiece. I think you need to have at least one Saints defender and I really don’t think there is much difference between them.

Andre Wisdon (WBA)
Opponent– Crystal Palace (H)
An assist against Manchester United showed that the Liverpool loanee has attacking points to fall back on if WBA concede. Having said that, the Baggies have three clean sheets to their name already and I expect a fourth against Crystal Palace. More importantly, last week was the first time that Wisdom and Gamboa were both available and it was Wisdom who started – perhaps he is going to be the first choice

Raheem Sterling (LIV)
Opponent – Hull (H)
Last Sunday, Liverpool snatched an unlikely three points, jumped into the team bus and drove away from Loftus Road as quickly as possible – it was the type of smash and grab result we hadn’t seen from Liverpool for some time. The events of the last week seem to show that the mood could be changing for the better at Anfield as it looks likely that Balotelli will finally be dropped, allowing for Rickie Lambert get a shot at a starting role. What this means is that they will have an experienced target man to draw out defenders which could provide plenty of room for Sterling. Two assists in his last 3 games is a decent return but there are goals in the young Englishman, and I think the porous Hull defence could prove highly accommodating this weekend…

Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA)
Opponent – Leicester City (H)
A goal and six assists suggests that Sigurdsson is more of a creator of goals rather than a scorer. Don’t let that fool you – on his day, he can bag a brace and Leicester provides him with an opportunity to do so right before Swansea begin a tough run of fixtures. I’m pretty confident we will see a big performance from the Icelandic midfielder.

Eden Hazard (CHE)
Opponent – Manchester United (A)
Simply put, there is no way Manchester United are keeping a clean sheet against Chelsea, regardless of whether Costa plays or not. Mourinho’s side have too much power and pace for the Old Trafford outfit to contend with, regardless of who lines up in their team on Sunday afternoon. Hazard is finally showing his attacking threat after some pretty unspectacular displays, and scored a brace in the Champions League during the week. Even if United somehow stall Chelsea, I’m backing Hazard to break their resilience.

Alexis Sanchez (ARS)
Opponent – Sunderland (A)
A goal and an assist last week means that Alexis Sanchez retains his Dirtsheet place as Arsenal visit a Sunderland side who simply crumbled against Southampton. While we won’t see a similar result, Sanchez gave everyone a reminder as to why the Gunners shelled out £40m for him. I can see two or three Arsenal goals at the Stadium of Light – attacking returns for the Chilean look likely.

Sergio Aguero (MCI)
Opponent – West Ham United (A)
Four goals. Four. Did I expect that return? Not in a million years – then again, I didn’t expect him to get three penalties either. Next up on the Aguero slaughterfest tour 2014 is West Ham United. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the Hammers are good value for their fourth place right now (and have one of the top defensive records so far), but I think Aguero is back to his very best and there isn’t a team in the league that can stop him on this form.

Graziano Pelle (SOU)
Opponent – Sunderland (H)
Pelle was perhaps overshadowed by the performance of Dusan Tadic, but I still think the Italian forward is the better choice if you had to choose just one Southampton attacker. His brace against Sunderland brought him to six for the season and he must surely be relishing the idea of facing a Stoke side with just two clean sheet so far this season. A home win to nil is a likely outcome.

Saido Berahino (WBA)
Opponent – Crystal Palace (H)
Jose Mourinho is back at the mind games after announcing that Costa has a little chance. Regardless, most of you already have him and so I am going to freshen things up by selecting Berhahino as the Baggies welcome Crystal Palace to the Hawthorns. I will be stunned if he doesn’t start next season at a top Premier league club after starting the season with six goals in eight games. Palace have yet to record an away clean sheet.

The Captain – Sergio Aguero (MCI)

The Clean Sheets
I’m looking to Southampton, Everton, Spurs, West Brom and Swansea to return clean sheets.

The Unusual Suspects
Defender: Neil Taylor (SWA)
Midfielder: Christian Eriksen (TOT)
Striker: Wilfried Bony (SWA)
Captain: Diego Costa (CHE)

Please hit that retweet button at the bottom! Thanks!

And that’s a wrap! It’s quick, it’s informative and it’s helpful. It’s the Dirtsheet, and it’s here every Friday! Please share this on Twitter and Facebook! Every follower counts!

 

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 8

Posted: October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

I would like to make a request to my thousands of readers. Can I break the rules this one time? Please? Allow me to explain to you the merits of going with a 3-1-6 formation this week. Who cares if it’s an illegal formation in FPL – it would make my Eleven selections a much simpler task!

There are many fantastic players vying for your attention and they can be divided into two tantalising groups. The first is the big hitting players like Costa, Aguero and Falcao – all great options based on the pedigree who have good (not great) fixtures. Then we have the mid-priced strikers who have mouth-watering home ties – Pelle, Wellbeck, Naismith and Cisse all come to mind.

I have decided to choose 2 from the former category and one from the latter – let it be said that if your strike force contains three from the above group, a good gameweek is very likely indeed!

SPECIAL COMPETITION: As a bonus, I will give out a special prize of a full personal FPL team evaluation to anyone who shares the Dirtsheet on twitter this week. Simply RT the Dirtsheet and say which pick you like best. I’ll pick a winner tomorrow night.

Please use that fantastic RT button at the bottom to RT the Dirtsheet – every one is appreciated!

Without further delay, here’s the Dirtsheet for Gameweek 8!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 7

Posted: October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

As mentioned earlier on my twitter feed early this morning, I managed to lose nearly three hours of writing for this weeks Dirtsheet. Not to be defeated, I have restarted from scratch as I had promised a full version this week after my wedding adventures.

For the neutral, there are some great fixtures to enjoy this week, most notably Chelsea vs Arsenal and Manchester United vs Everton, but apart from a certain Spaniard, I look elsewhere for a slice of FPL gold.


Please use that fantastic RT button at the bottom to RT the Dirtsheet – every one is appreciated!

Without further delay, here’s the Dirtsheet for Gameweek 7!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 6

Posted: September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Greetings from sunny Tenerife! While Mrs. Strategist takes yet another hour to top up her tan, I´ve taken some time to get all my thoughts on Gameweek 6 down in this weeks Dirtsheet.

Please use that fantastic RT button at the bottom to RT the Dirtsheet – every one is appreciated!

Without further delay, here’s the Dirtsheet for Gameweek 6!

Read the rest of this entry »