Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Walk on the Wild Side

Written by @fplchips

TL;DR don’t let anyone else tell you what to do do do do do do do do do

Little Joe never once gave it away

With the dust still settling on one of the most vitriolic weeks in FPL memory, I’d like to give you my take on Wildcard-gate. I’d also like to show you my strategy from last week in detail so you can assess whether I made the right decision to walk on the wild side or not.

One-sided game

Before we get started, I am assuming we can all agree that the first two weeks of the season were an out and out disaster...

...WAIT! Stop right there. I have already committed the cardinal sin of suggesting that you all had the same results as me. This was clearly not the case. Some 1.6m of you did better than me and - although hard for me to comprehend given the shower of shambles I had in my team - around 1.7m of you did worse than me. By stating that we all did terribly, I’ve already made misassumptions about your individual situations.

So now when I go on to say,
"I think it’s imperative that I play my WC this week.",
a bunch of you will be screaming,
“Amateur! Didn’t you have a plan? Are you a man or an elephant?”.
Whilst, another bunch of you will be screaming,
“What on earth took you so long? I’ve had Mahrez, Gomis and Kolarov in since my WC in GW2. It’s like you’re trying to do badly.”.
Then there will be a small, reasonably smug, bunch of you who will be screaming,
“I’ve had Mahrez in since GW1. Didn’t you watch the pre-season matches? If you’re not going to play this game properly, you might as well just delete your account and take up stamp collecting instead.”.
The vociferous nature of these reactions can be attributed to two main factors:-

  • A poor start to the season for the high-priced players
  • The seemingly unstoppable form of a handful of low-priced players.

This led to accusations of novice or weak-minded managers wrecking their own prospects or, worse still, wrecking the prospects of others. Even though WCs have no effect on price rises, the perception was that those who played them were trashing the price-rise system with their unnecessary panic. The reality was that it was actually the FT activity - brought on by the high ownership of high-priced flops and low ownership of low-priced, high-scoring gems - that was causing the swathe of price changes. It was this frantic activity which caused many, including myself, to push the WC button, in order to cash in on early price rises/falls whilst addressing their increasing points shortfall.

Caught short

Club History

So that’s my take on how things got heated and why so many will have played their wildcards last week. Now I’d like to give a bit more perspective on this by taking an in-depth look at my own situation. Cast your minds back to GW2: Depay and Rooney had blanked for me on Friday night; my defenders were all breached during three, horrific first-half minutes on Saturday afternoon, which also saw yet another haul from Leicester’s midfield Poundshopticos, none of whom I owned. It’s fair to say I was pretty miffed at this point. I made a snap decision to use my FT on Saturday night to beat Albrighton’s price rise and to ditch Henderson. This was primarily to free up £2m, as I had nothing spare in the bank and Sanchez and Aguero were due back sooner than expected. Also, I was less certain of Henderson’s *impact in the double-pivot role. OK, so a bit knee-jerk, but I hadn’t completely lost the plot.

*(NB: As it turned out Hendo got an assist and would have had a CS and BPs too had it not been for his early bath due to a foot problem. Meh, hindsight)

Sunday afternoon saw Arsenal bounce back from their opening day defeat, as well as the demolition of Chelsea by Manchester City. Not only were Arsenal and City in the goals, but Sanchez and Aguero had both started for their respective clubs. With Hazard, Rooney, Depay and Walcott all faltering, now is perhaps a good time to take a look at my GW2 team:

Relegation form

It’s fair to say I went all out for class over fixtures with my opening lineup; using up all my budget in the knowledge that, if things went pear-shaped, I would probably have to use my WC to reshape things. GW3 was always going to be a tough week anyway with Arsenal and Liverpool playing each other (more so having transferred Gomez in for Huth after GW1). In addition to this, Sunderland and Southampton’s defences were looking shaky and Sakho and Wilson were yet to register (although Sakho had been a bit unlucky not to score at least one and Wilson...who knew?!). So I was left relying on two, reasonably favourable, matches: Man United vs Newcastle and WBA vs Chelsea. But with Hennessey not available to replace Myhill, Hazard a concern, Man U misfiring up front and Chelsea misfiring at the back, things were not looking promising. My players were plummeting in price and those of Leicester, Swansea and City were rocketing and it was time to take action.

Wholesale changes

I pushed the button on Sunday night and immediately drafted in all the predicted price-risers whilst ditching the fallers. Throughout the week, I made several changes, holding on to as many price-risers as possible (not easy with Man City players, given you can only own 3 at a time!) and continued to monitor price fallers. Although I spent a lot of time studying statistics during this time, my transfers we based solely on value at this point. No decisions had been made regarding who to cover, what balance to strike or what formation I would go with. It might seem crazy, but this is how I roll on WC weeks; save the pennies then splash the cash.

Friday pm I set about forming a strategy for the next 6-8 weeks. I had earmarked a few teams for defensive or attacking cover and some key players. I wanted to try and buck trends where possible but still focus on form. With this in mind I drafted some ground rules:

  • Max out on City cover
  • Pick no more than 1 player from any other team
  • Aim to cover the other top 5 teams
  • Only pick players with good underlying stats
  • Rotate all players from non-top 5 teams
  • Stick with Myhill and make sure I had budget cover for him in GW3
  • Vary player prices and save as much cash as possible

And here’s the team I settled on:

Expect the Pulis magic from GW4 onwards, Foster not due back for a while yet

Short term backup, just need him for GW3

Based on his and Watford’s underlying stats and rotation with Villa

Based on his and Villa’s underlying stats and rotation with Watford

Cheap Liverpool cover, will occasionally be benched for Cath/Rich

United defensive cover is at a premium during kind fixture period

On fire and no one had more pts/game last year. Cath/Rich to deputise when rested

Will continue to deliver after Mahrez has stopped scoring, plus 4-way rotation

Cheaper than Redmond, good underlying stats plus 4-way rotation

Toss up between him and Silva. Money talks

Good underlying stats and a nice price, Arsenal cover until Sanchez gets going

United cover, one last chance to notch against Newcastle, then swap for Chelsea MF

Unlucky not to notch yet and 4-way rotation, might swap for premium FWD

Great stats with plenty of supply and good 4-way rotation

#1 on my team sheet and solid captain material

Switch between 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 depending on fixtures.

Results business

We all know that talk is cheap and points mean prizes, so how did they perform?

The results are in...

As you can see, a marked improvement on the first two gameweek scores of 31 and 39. More importantly, I now have a plan to take me into the international break and beyond. I will try and ignore the Mahrez express this week in order to have 2 FTs going into the break, so I can play a mini-WC (@FPLHints™) before GW 5 if required. Also, I currently have £5.3m in the bank and a squad value of £95.6m. So that’s a net gain of nearly £1m, but more importantly, I can buy any player with a single FT without selling Aguero.

So whether you used your WC or not, the only thing that really matters is whether it was the right decision for you. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

@FPLChips can usually be found knee-deep in stats or on Twitter