Thursday, 1 September 2016

Review of Opening Gameweeks and Future Plans

After three weeks of the new season, I’m ranked 201,203rd overall with 175 points. I’m in a better position than I was at this stage last season, so I’ve got to be happy with that. I’ve only made one transfer so far, which was Deulofeu > Ramirez for gameweek two which didn’t turn out to be very exciting. I have two free transfers going into the international break and £1.0m in the bank. 

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Review of Gameweeks 1 - 3

I’m not usually a fan of doubling up in defence. This season though, I went for David DeGea and Antonio Valencia from the outset. I felt that under Jose Mourinho, United would be solid at the back. This has proven to be the case with just one goal conceded in their opening three fixtures. Valencia also managed to grab all three bonus points in the victory over Hull. Luke Shaw has performed well in the opening couple of weeks but I believe the Ecuadorian is the most valuable United defender in FPL at present. I’ll be keeping a hold of these two for the foreseeable future.
Leighton Baines brought home the points in Gameweek three after disappointing returns in his opening two games. In what could have been a huge points haul for a clean sheet and a penalty scored, Baines instead had to settle for an assist and also lost points (-2) for the penalty miss which Shay Given saved onto the post only for the ball to rebound off him and into the net. The fact that Baines took the penalty is reason enough for me to keep him in my side. The integration of Ashley Williams and the return from injury of Seamus Coleman after the break should yield more clean sheets for the Toffees.
My third playing defender has been a disaster. John Stones has returned four points from his three matches. While Manchester City have been very impressive going forward, they have conceded in every game so far. The signing of Claudio Bravo and the soon returning Vincent Kompany should shore things up at the back for City. I still believe Stones offers very good value at £5.0m for a premium defender and I am willing to stick with him for the time being despite the fact that he will lose value.
Gerard Deulofeu was disappointing in Gameweek one. Playing in an advanced role he had a glorious one on one chance which he bottled and was substituted after 67 minutes. I was worried about his game time going into Gameweek two so I shipped him out for Gaston Ramirez. The Uruguayan caught my eye while watching Match of the Day. He seemed to play quite far forward and bagged himself an assist and was also involved at set pieces. He looks to be a card magnet though with two bookings already and he has yet to play 90 minutes. I’m going to give him one more game to prove his worth against Crystal Palace who have been poor.
Eden Hazard has achieved 25 points in his opening three matches. He’s back to his best and he’s a season keeper for me if he continues his form. I am very reluctant to go down the Diego Costa route due to his anger issues so Hazard will continue as my Chelsea coverage.
A big disappointment for me thus far has been Roberto Firmino. Deployed as a false number nine in Gameweek one, the Brazilian failed to contribute despite Liverpool scoring four goals but he did manage an assist against Spurs in Gameweek three. I still fancy him more so than the other Liverpool options and I’ll be holding on to him for another couple of weeks at least. His points will come.
Another disappointment in the opening weeks has been Andros Townsend. He ranks highly among the players who have had the most shots without scoring but Crystal Palace have been awful. His returns should improve now that they have bolstered their strike force but he is likely to exit my squad before Gameweek four rolls around. He’s had his chance and he’s blown it.    
Nathan Redmond bagged 10 points on the opening day. Playing out of position as a striker he is great value at £6.1m. However, I am worried about his prospects now that Southampton have signed Sofiane Boufal as well as Charlie Austin and Shane Long being viable options up front. He could find himself back on the wing or may even be rotated. I’m going to keep him for now, but I’ll be monitoring his situation closely.
In the opening three weeks of the season I deployed a 3-5-2 formation to accommodate the two big hitters, Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Both have delivered with three goals each. Aguero has been my captian pick every week so far. Now that he is facing a three match ban, action is needed.
Future Plans
My initial plan this season was to use my wildcard around about now, during the international break. This plan has changed. I am quite happy with my squad with no major issues apart from Aguero’s potential ban. I also have two free transfers to play with.
My current thinking is to make two transfers for Gameweek four. Aguero will most likely make way for Romelu Lukaku and Townsend will be upgraded to Alexis Sanchez. I’m under no pressure financially to make these moves any time soon. I’m not a fan of making transfers early, especially not during an international break when any number of things can go wrong for your players. I don’t plan on making these transfers until the Friday before the deadline when I know it is safe to do so and when I know Alexis is back from South America in one piece! My advice to anyone who is wildcarding now and dumping Aguero is to plan ahead for how you will get him back in.   
By holding on to my wildcard, it will be much easier for me to incorporate Aguero back into my team once he has served his ban. If the ban is confirmed he will miss 3 games – only two of these are league games though, so he would become available again for the gameweek six clash away to Swansea. I will most likely use my wildcard at this point but this is not set in stone.
With the transfer deadline only closing yesterday, there remains a lot of question marks at this stage of the season. We have yet to see Dimitri Payet in action for example. How will Wilfried Bony and Christian Benteke settle at their new clubs? By waiting a little longer before playing my wildcard, I will know a lot more about each player and will be better placed to build a team for the long term. Patience is the name of the game here.
My Watchlist
As I mentioned in my first FPL article, I like to keep a watchlist which I update after each Gameweek. My watchlist is made up of the players I feel have a chance of becoming a part of my squad in the near future. You can see my current list below. These are the players who I am monitoring closely and who will be in my thoughts when the time comes to play my wildcard.


 Written by @FPLGeneral, Two-time Top 400 FPL Manager