An abbreviated Preview is on order ahead of Gameweek 29 (GW29) as work and spring coaching responsibilities put some outside parameters around my obsession. In any event, most managers will have been glad to see the end of the chaotic period from GW26-GW28, with its blanks and double gameweeks (DGW). Despite being seduced by the Manchester City stardust and left short for GW28, Stoosher FC have clambered into the top 100,000 overall rank (OR) for the first time all season. But there is no smugness in the engine room of the BoulStadWest, home to Stoosher FC; only hard working lads fixed upon a chalkboard with transfer options and fixture possibilities. Determined to build on our momentum. Gameweek 29 then . . . .
Time to Begin Pre-Planning
For those savvy managers who have managed to save their wildcard button (WC) and their bench boost button (BB), let alone the triple captain button (TC) – it is time to begin to get the spread sheets out, or in my case, a legal pad and begin to look at the possibilities.
Perhaps the key big-picture question is whether to wait on the WC until GW36 ahead of what presumably will be a mega-DGW. That strategy paid dividends for many managers last year and not waiting cost the Stoosher FC side significant points in its most ill-fated fantasy season; by the time of the mega-DGW last year, the side were carrying injuries and benched players and 1 or 2 lads without a DGW for the BB. Sad.
Until we know the scheduling of the postponed games, I think managers should be weighing their options and developing their watchlists. As it stands, the FA Cup four semifinalists (Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal) will blank in GW34; will those games be placed later in GW34 resulting in no blank GW34, or moved? What of all of the previous postponed games? Which GW will they fall in? We know only that GW37 is likely to be the mega-DGW, but other gameweeks are likely to have some teams playing twice as well.
It’s probably worth perusing any target’s games in hand to see what sort of DGW that player might have (see below).
The management team are keeping options open vis-a-vis when to push the WC. It depends heavily on where the FA places the postponed games. If there is some advantage to attacking with a WC team ahead of GW36, perhaps taking advantage of multiple DGWs, it is something to consider. Luckily, the side emerges from the dust of GW28 well positioned to move forward one transfer at a time.
Once again, the Stoosher FC mantra, patience. Let’s see what the rescheduling brings. And the international break which follows this GW.
Those managers who fell under the spell of the Manchester City DGW27 stardust, particularly those managers who hit the TC on Sergio Aguero, may be recollecting the line from ‘My Way’, preferably the incomparable Sid Vicious version ‘ . . . regrets, I’ve ‘ad a few . . .” He clearly sounds like he, indeed, had a few. At least those managers who did not go in for Leroy Sane.
After Harry Kane’s gonzo goal hauls in GW26-27, most sentient managers who owned Aguero but not Kane were planning to “downgrade” in the immediate aftermath of GW28. Indeed, some 41,000 managers did not wait (notes managers toward the back of the room wiping egg from faces). Then. FA Cup. Millwall. Ankle.
If there was ever a more dramatic example of the standard fantasy bromide ‘do not to make an early transfer’, well, I haven’t seen it.
Stoosher FC fell heavily under the City stardust and brought in Aguero (TC) and Raheem Sterling (er, one game played during the DGW27) for a -4. 27 points for the TC was okay . . . ish, although I have seen far worse. But I promptly moved them both out for GW28 for yet another -4. The folly of hits and all that, I guess. Part of my rationale for moving both was the immediate City schedule (LIV (following the dispiriting Champions League exit this week to Monaco), ars, che). That schedule does not scream “goals” !
However, longer term, from GW33-38 the schedule is quite favourable. GW34 is against West Brom so it will be important to monitor where that game lands. But the other game to be rescheduled is home v. Manchester United. One might expect a Mou park job for that one, but still, a home game.
Frankly, I wish I had gone for Sane (so does Mr. Hindsight) ahead of DGW27. He has looked City’s best player recently and at 7.5 mil, no manager is too disappointed with no returns on occasion.
In any event, we no longer have any City assets and I feel very okay with that. I’ll check in in three weeks.
South Coast dreams.
At first glance, Southampton look a good side to invest in, if not this week (away to Tottenham), then next week when they begin a nice little run (BOU, CRY, wba). But overall, Southampton’s schedule is fairly brutal –
tot, BOU, CRY, wba, MCI, __*, HUL, liv, mid, STK, (* may stay as away to Chelsea) with three games to be rescheduled, including GW34: ARS, MUN, che.
The upside: two extra games. 7/12 at home. The downside: Southampton play the top six teams in the league, half their remaining fixtures. Against those six teams in the season’s first half, the record: 0-2-4, GF:3 GA:11.
Manolo Gabbiadini has hit the ground running as a mid-price forward. And the SOT defensive record is reasonable (9 clean sheets) with Maya Yoshida and Ryan Bertrand offering a budget option and attacking returns respectively. Unfortunately nobody has really caught fire in the midfield, Nathan Redmond’s two GW27 goals notwithstanding.
From GW33 on, I am not sure I want to go more than 1 deep with SOT; not enough ‘pick me’ options and the schedule from hell.
Arsene Wenger left Alexis Sanchez out of the starting 11 in their last crucial league tie with Liverpool. Trailing 2-0 at half, on came Sanchez to create Arsenal’s one goal. Subsequent rumours suggest a falling out with Wenger or some of his teammates; a training ground picture surfaced with Wenger and Sanchez shaking hands. Then there was another soul-crushing beating by Bayern Munich to send Arsenal out of Champions League.
All of which leaves those of us who moved Sanchez out during his two blank stretch between GW26 and GW28 in a bit of a muddle. Other midfield options are performing well (Sane, Pedro, Hazard, Alli) at less cost, although Sanchez has not been priced this low (11.5 mil) since GW14.
Is this a team in chaos or has the FA Cup win against Lincoln City restored the mojo? Arsenal have a history of breaking down after Christmas to ruin its title hopes; but making a late run to assure Champions League status. Arsenal have two games in hand – good ones – LEI, SUN – which will form part of two DGWs. Yes, Manchester City, Spurs, and United remain on the schedule but they get two of the three at home.
Right now, I am betting on Arsenal. With Kane out for seven weeks or so, Sanchez becomes this week’s obvious transfer for my side (but see below). I’ve got my eye on a resurgent Theo Walcott as well and perhaps Petr Cech to replace Ben Foster who has a brutal schedule ahead and no DGWs* (*depending on where GW34’s match at City is placed).
Those two games to be rescheduled simply look too good to ignore as part of two DGWs.
The Run In.
The lads are being put through their paces on the training pitch no more than 100 meters from the BoulStadWest, home to Stoosher FC. As the management team studies the chalkboard with various transfer options and scheduling scenarios on the board, we occasionally look wistfully out the broad window facing the training pitch. Ah, to have the legs again to be haring about, shouting for the ball! A cold spring afternoon, but the sun peaking out now and then to warm us, raise a sweat, promise us more. Alas, management, second best, of course, to our playing days but it is all we have now.
An international break follows this GW29, and our putative transfer, Alexis Sanchez, has two difficult world cup qualifying fixtures in South America which will no doubt require 100% of his exertions to see Chile through. Upon his return, Arsenal play Apr 2, Apr 5, and Apr 10 – three games in eight days. Dead legs anyone?
The management team’s discussions twist this way and then that; Sanchez is the leading scorer in FPL, we’ve got to get him in against a Tony Pulis side who have leaked goals against the big boys. On the other hand, we can put out a strong side as-is and sitting on two free transfers after an international break permits a certain freedom to sort and assess changes.
It never changes. I am nervous sitting on a transfer and find it hard to hold them. Our advisor, ‘Ben Thar’ of Ghost Ship, Inc., sleeps in a chair. The last time he spoke was hours ago. And the last thing he said was ‘The team is fine, let’s hold and roll’.
But he always says that . . .