We head for the final rodeo of the season in Gameweek 38 (GW38) on the back of a monster GW37 for many a manager. With 10 double gameweeks (DGWs), wise managers saved their bench boost chip (BB) and stacked the their benches with DGW lads. This manager had no luck with the bench (5 points) but the starters and the captain produced. Can we push on in a week often subject to rotation and in-season beach parties? Let’s have a look . . .
By my reckoning, there are four teams to invest in heavily and luckily it’s not a big step to get there for most managers. Three teams are obvious: with the title sorted and the relegation places sorted, the only three teams with something to fight for – Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal.
City’s position in the Champions League positions looks fairly impregnable but City look in the mood these days and will not want to fall into fourth and Champions League ‘play-in’ games in early August should Liverpool win. Most active managers will have 2 or 3 City assets already. David Silva and Jesus book their places in the Stoosher FC starting lineup.
Liverpool are probably the side where you might need to add a player. Liverpool play an abject Middlesborough team at Anfield and this looks like 3-0 or 4-0 written all over it. Liverpool have struggled on occasion against lower level sides but this is THE key game of the season. Philippe Coutinho is the most transferred in player this week and that’s a good bet. A sneaky punt on Daniel Sturridge should probably wait until Jurgen Klopp’s presser and news about Roberto Firmino.
Arsenal’s Champions League hopes rest on a slip up by Liverpool or City, so I doubt Arsene Wenger will rest his key men; he’ll want to win and hope. Arsenal have the FA Cup the following weekend so it may well be an early day for the likes of Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil if second half results suggest it is a fruitless chase. But Arsenal are on a bit of a run and certainly Sanchez will get his share of armband proponents after his monster DGW37.
The fourth team I would add is Chelsea. First they play the worst team in the league in Sunderland. Contrary to many, I think David Moyes has done a good job this season with what looks to clearly be Championship level talent. His dour pronouncements last summer and fall probably were not what the team needed to hear from a confidence perspective, but the lack of quality investment has taken its toll. Chelsea should roll Sunderland here ahead of lifting the trophy, and the only question is who might be amongst the points. One or two might be rested by Antonio Conte who will have one eye on the FA Cup. And one would expect no more than 65-70 minutes for one or two others. But who? I suspect Conte will play his starting side having given most of his normal starting 11 Monday off – with one or two exceptions perhaps. With only Eden Hazard in my side, I am sticking with the Belgian, whose home form is excellent. If I had Gary Cahill, I’d start him and count on my clean sheet after he leaves for John Terry on 65 minutes.
Again, with three of the four, very much as you were for most managers who will no doubt have had 6 or so of these lads in their sides.
Oh, Yea, Tottenham.
Anyone who says they saw 6-1 to Spurs coming on Thursday is making sh . . . sh . . . shtuff up. Leicester have climbed to mid-table safety since Claudio Ranieri was replaced, and this looked like a chance for Leicester to regain some ‘street cred’ against arguably the best team in the league right now. And Tottenham could certainly be forgiven for taking a midweek away game off following the loss away to West Ham a fortnight ago, which had cost them a stretch run at the title. And in expectation of a Spurs fall-off, a fair few managers moved on their Spurs midfield assets: Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Heung-Min Son all sustained net transfers out over the last couple of weeks.
But if you don’t know by now, there is one clear cut FPL rule: Never bet against Harry Kane. Four goals for the Spurs man with a hearty helping of points from Son. In my own personal “aaarggghhh!” moment, Christian Eriksen was left on the bench for the second half of the DGW37 and missed out on his de riguer two assists; I had to be satisfied with his 8 point contribution v. Manchester United. Kane will hardly want to rest on his 2-goal lead for the Golden Boot, and a trip to Hull City looks tailor made for another 2-3 goal performance from Spurs.
There are two caveats to a potential big win for Tottenham: (1) only 2 days off between games and (2) Hull City’s sturdy home record under Marco Silva with only the home loss to Sunderland a fortnight ago to blot what has been a pretty outstanding home record since his appointment. Whether Hull City turn up in their final home game before another year in the Championship will be the big question. Silva is rumoured to be on his way out, preferring another challenge rather than stay at a dysfunctional Hull City. If I was a Prem team looking to make a manager change, Silva’s number would be on my speed dial.
A Look Ahead.
Those members of the management team who bothered to come into work yesterday sat in stunned silence as Harry Kane ran riot at a Leicester side who were well beaten – and knew it – by half-time. One of us remarked how it was impossible to believe we held Kane for as little as a month all season. But one’s transfer history does not lie. We speculated on his price next season – the consensus was 12.0 mil – and yet we all concurred he will be the first name on the team sheet no matter the price.
But after a 158(-4) point week and a move inside the top 40,000, overall rank (OR), the management team are looking to set up defensively. We are not in a mood to buy last week’s points, the lessons of our consultant Ghost Ship Inc. (GSI) firmly implanted in the management team’s DNA at this point. It would take a -4 and mean dropping Alexis Sanchez to get Kane and that looks a bit of imprudent business. If lesson #1 for FPL is ‘never bet against Harry Kane’, then lesson #2 is ‘never bet against Alexis Sanchez’. See DGW37, et., al. Before Spurs big win, our plan was to move Christian Eriksen for Philippe Coutinho. Basically “cover” the player most active managers are buying. But with Eriksen rested on Thursday (we’ll be monitoring Mauricio Pochettino’s presser closely for Eriksen news), he looks the perfect player to unpick Hull City’s defence and either help Kane to insure his Golden Boot status or score in his own right from outside a packed box.
Can we afford – or dare we sit on a free transfer in GW38? Madness perhaps, but such are the lessons of GSI that the management team is contemplating it. We can play some ‘small ball’ too; if Sergio Romero will get the final game in goal for Manchester United he looks like a decent punt. So we’ll be listening as Jose Mourinho provides his ‘woe is me’ presser for any indications that Romero is nailed on v. Crystal Palace who have no doubt spent the few days since their critical win against Hull City reviewing summer travel brochures.
But after Stoosher FC’s disaster of a season last year, we will take a 2nd place finish in our main mini-league and a 40,000 OR as a good, solid ‘mid-table’ sort of season. ‘Job done, lads’ someone said last night, and we all hoisted a cold Sam Adams summer ale.
I deeply appreciate the opportunity Tommy affords me to share my thoughts every week with you all. It is a great community and I feel blessed to have the forum to reach out to you all. I view myself as a bit of an ‘everyman’ manager with perhaps a bit more flight of fancy than most; I doubt many of you have imagined a home ground for your fantasy side, let alone named a stand after a former fantasy team legend. But that is the writer in me and I hope these weekly flights provide a few laughs, a few controversial points to discuss, and a few sensible suggestions.
No doubt the summer will bring changes to the EPL and to the community itself. But I look forward to renewing our pain, our suffering, our joy, come August. Cheers !