Friday, 21 February 2014

How Do You Solve A Problem Like...The Next Few Gameweeks?

It's the hot topic of the moment, and some extremely useful articles are out there in the FPL community on Twitter about this very subject. I'm not going to rehack and steal their work, I'm going to put a personal spin on what I personally am intending to do about it.

The nature of the beast is that our post-January Wildcard teams are all now extremely similar so hopefully some of my thoughts will be relevant to you and your team.

So, where do we stand? The recent bad weather in the UK, along with Cup replays and Cup Finals mean the fixture list has been devastated.

GW27 will be the last time for a while we will see a "normal" programme of 10 fixtures. After that GW28 delivers only 8 and GW29 only 6 (possibly only 5 dependant on the result of Hull City's FA Cup replay). After that we see a return to normality in GW30 before the DGW's start to come into effect from GW31 onwards.

 Most forward planning managers have looked ahead already to see how many of their current squad they can field in GW28 and 29. It makes for grim reading for a lot of people. For me, this is all about forward planning, not panicking and not taking too many points hits. If you can make it through to GW30 relatively unscathed you will be in with a good shout to finish the season strongly.

Top Tip No.1

"If you can avoid it, DO NOT use your FT for GW27"

 If you have 2 FT's up your sleeve, go ahead and fill your boots. If you can field 11 players for GW27 then do not make any unnecessary transfers and ensure you have 2 in your pocket for GW28. That's my intent anyway. So, who am I fielding tomorrow?

This leaves me with 2 FT's in the bank for GW28. I intend to use these to enable me to field a full strength team. From my squad the following players will not be playing:
Mannone/Kompany/Smalling/Mata/Silva (plus Whittaker who is a cheap bench sub who plays very infrequently).
I intend to transfer OUT Whittaker and Mata, and (at the time of writing) I will bring IN Cahill and Ince.
This leaves my GW28 squad looking like this:
My bench players will be: MannoneKompany, Silva and Smalling
Everyone else gets a game (hopefully!!) with no points hit taken.
Moving on to the carnage that is GW29. This needs thought. With the actions already taken I will be able to field only 9 players (potentially 8 if the Hull City v West Ham game is cancelled meaning Nolan misses out). In itself, not the end of the world. But I have the "SAS" and BOTH will miss out, leaving me only J-Rod upfront. Ideally, I would like another striker. Therefore, I intend to use my 1 FT to...wait for it...TAKE SUAREZ OUT!!!
I don't have the time to go into the whys and wherefores of this decision, suffice to say I have not taken it lightly, and I will bring him back in before Liverpool's DGW's.
I intend to transfer him out and bring Rooney in. This leaves my GW29 squad looking like this:


My bench players will be: Mannone, Koscielny, Kompany, Silva and Sturridge

This plan means I field 10 players without taking a hit. Potentially 9 if Nolan misses out. If that is the case I will judge whether it is worth taking a 4 point hit to bring in cover (possibly look at ditching Mutch?)

GW30 sees a return to normality, but now is the time to consider the DGW coming up in GW31 and trying to accommodate a handful of players who will be playing twice.

Top Tip No.2

"Plan for the DGW in GW31"

This is why I have NOT dumped any of my Man City players. They play twice in GW31. Most City players are rotation risks, but I judge Kompany and Silva to be UNLIKELY to be rotated.

But back to GW30. I intend to use my 1 FT to transfer OUT Rooney (one week wonder!) and bring IN Aguero in preparation for GW31, presuming he is fit and playing again. Man City play Hull City away, Man Utd play Liverpool at home. I'm judging that Aguero will out-score Rooney.

So here is my GW30 squad:

My bench players will be: Marshall, Koscielny, Smalling, and Mutch

Onto GW31, and the first of a fair few DGW's. So what do you need to do? Field as many players who will play twice as you can manage? That's my plan anyway. It doesn't always pay off. But seeing as the teams playing DGW's are the two Manchester clubs, it might work. It's a gamble.

Top Tip No.3

"Field at least 3 Manchester players (Utd or City) in GW31"

So, who have I got to play in the DGW? Well, first you need to see my transfer plan. This will be (hopefully) the only time in the next few GW's I take a points hit. And even then it will be -4 and no more. I am jostling for OVERALL position in this years FPL competition. I believe that if you strive for that, mini-leagues take care of themselves. My current ranking is Top 5k and I intend to be Top 2k by the end of the season. I've taken a few points hits recently. Some have paid off, others haven't. At the top, starting a GW off with minus points can hurtle you down the overall ranking by hundreds or thousands of positions. It's that tight.

My intent is to transfer OUT Koscielny and Mutch (if he hasn't gone already in GW29) and bring IN a Man Utd defender and a Man Utd midfielder. Much will depend on funds, but at present I'm looking at Evans and Januzaj as possibles. The formers fitness and the latters game time will be the deciding factor. I could possibly get rid of Nolan in order to afford Mata, if he is on a run of form.

Here is the GW31 squad:

My bench players will be: Marshall, AzpilicuetaNolan and Ince

This allows me to field 6 players who will be involved in the DGW, hopefully with minimum risk of rotation: Smalling, Evans, Januzaj, Kompany, Silva and Aguero.

Top Tip No.4

"Keep calm, don't panic, plan ahead & don't take too many points hits"

If you absolutely must take points hits to get you through the next few weeks, think about "Risk vs Reward". I almost never take a hit for a defender. I'd rather they didn't play and score 0 than take a -4 and rely on a clean sheet or a goal that might not materialise.

If you are going to take points hits, please DO NOT take more than a -8. Ever. Under any circumstances.

Of course, if you've kept your powder dry and have still got your original Wildcard, then you are one of the lucky ones. But I'd advise using it for when all the rescheduled fixtures are announced and take advantage then.

I do have a plan for all of the other DGW's, but I'm not going to divulge them yet. All I will say is that Suarez probably won't be out of my team for long...

Hope you've enjoyed this, and it gives you a few pointers for your own team. If it makes sense to you, this was the very basic spreadsheet I knocked up to help me plan this: