FPL Gameweek 12: Team Reveal

How did I fare in GW11?

Gameweek 11’s average total of 62 points was the highest so far this season, with most of the premium assets and captaincy picks such as Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah, Harry Kane, Henug-Min Son and Bruno Fernandes returning with goals and assists.

In hindsight, it was perhaps not to best week to field only 10 players from the outset; my decision to keep Martinez for a certain 0-pointer and bench Grealish and Watkins for Dallas and Masuaku proved disappointing.

However, captain Kevin De Bruyne’s dominant display against Fulham earned me a crucial and pleasing 28 points, and it was very nice to see Jamie Vardy score late on, despite his subsequent booking for damaging the corner flag.

Overall, it was a disappointing week, receiving only 60 points and a painful rank drop from around 8,000 to 20,616 – which showed to me just how tight it is at the top.

On reflection, I find it helps to categorise my decisions into luck and judgement. Certain scenarios that play out are simply unlucky, whilst others – like taking a -4 before an international break in the middle of a pandemic (my GW5…) – is arguably down to poor FPL management. Here is a breakdown of my decisions last time out.

Bad luck:

- I didn't have foreseen Bruno Fernandes starting on the bench at the weekend, despite Manchester United’s grudge match at RB Leipzig on Tuesday. He’s been in red hot form and is critical to United’s style of play, so I’m putting this one down to bad luck. At least he came on, changed the game and returned an assist.

- Considering Villa are the only team of which I have 3 players, the Newcastle vs. Aston Villa postponement was very bad luck – but the blank has certainly made me think more cautiously about tripling up on teams in the future.

- Finally, Ziyech getting injured really hurt my score, as most players over 8.0m scored highly this week. Although frustrating, I can’t really get annoyed at myself for that one.

Good luck:

- Vardy looked vacant in both the Sheffield United and Fulham games, so for him to score a last-minute goal and pick up all three bonus points was pretty lucky. His lack of regular big chances is a worry long-term – but I got away with it this week!

Bad judgement:

- Whilst there was no definitive way of getting Salah back in without losing Bruno or KDB, it was probably a mistake taking him out in the first place a few weeks ago. The silver lining to this transfer is I now have Bruno firmly in my team and wouldn’t have otherwise, but I can’t help but hide behind the sofa every time I watch Salah now. He’ll be returning to my team as soon as possible.

- I was deliberating whether to trade out Watkins for Bamford with last week’s free transfer but decided against it, which proved costly. The Leeds striker has the highest non-penalty xG of all players so far, and with an ownership of 37%, his 8 points hurt me this week. Only time will tell if Watkins can outperform him in the upcoming games.

Good judgement:

- Keeping Martinez and not panicking seems a very good decision now, with McCarthy, Johnstone, Meslier and Mendy all blanking. Now Martinez is due two double gameweeks in the future, and with my usual restraint towards using transfers on goalkeepers, it is likely I’ll have him in for the long haul, and catch up on the lost points in the end.

- Choosing Kevin De Bruyne as captain saved my blushes this gameweek and helped me come out with a score just around the average. De Bruyne looks by far City’s sharpest asset this season and with him hitting the bar and missing a 1-on-1 as well, he was perhaps unlucky to only return 14 points.

An update of the watchlist:

Defence (in order of preference):

1) Reece Jamesseems to have secured a first-team spot; Chelsea’s expected goals conceded (xGC) is the lowest in the league; a Chilwell/James double-up could be fruitful differential.

2) Ruben Diaslooks the most nailed starter in City’s defence; has offered goal threat for Portgual and in the UCL, which could transcend into the Premier League.

3) Eric DierSpurs have shown their teeth defensively; at 5.0m, he could offer a lot of clean sheet potential in both the ‘easy’ and ‘tricky’ fixtures.

4) Trent Alexander-Arnold – unlikely to favour a Liverpool defence double-up with so many premium midfielders, but we know what he’s capable of; will watch him closely in the coming weeks for expected assists (xA)

Midfield (in order of preference):

1) Mo Salah easily the No.1 target this week with a plum fixture against Fulham; top captaincy option this week in my opinion.

2) Heung-Min Son – difficult to fit him in right now, but he will continue to get chances and he’s an incredible finisher; pencilled him in for a possible GW16 transfer, but if he keeps performing, I may have to act earlier.

3) Diogo Jotastill very tempted by his price tag, but it was nice as a non-owner for him to start on the bench against Wolves; offers potential hauls for his value.

4) Jarrod Bowenscored double digit hauls twice this season; could be an explosive differential; mainly looking at him for West Ham’s double gameweek in GW19.

Forwards (in order of preference):

1) Harry Kanehard to ignore after 98pts so far this season; currently I’m leaning towards Son because of my team structure, but Kane has to be on the watchlist.

2) Timo Werneralthough wasteful at the moment, he is third in the league for expected goals (xG) and big chances; a haul is likely just around the corner.

*I don’t tend to track the progress of goalkeepers as I’m fairly averse to using transfers on them*

What are my GW12 plans?

After banking a free transfer last week, I’m able to follow my original plan of bringing Mo Salah in to captain this week. Ziyech has made way for the Egyptian and his hamstring injury makes the departure far easier to swallow.

However, in order to raise the necessary funds, I’ve downgraded Vardy to Patrick Bamford; the Leeds forward has been in fine form and hopefully has the non-penalty xG to sustain it. Although Jamie Vardy could still score against Brighton, Bamford’s fixtures throughout the Christmas period are very attractive, and the budget frontline permits me to own the trio of Salah, De Bruyne and Fernandes. This allows me to captain my No. 1 pick over the next few gameweeks:

GW12: Salah vs. Fulham (A)

GW13: KDB vs. West Brom (H) or Bruno vs. Sheffield United (A)

GW14: Salah vs. Crystal Palace (A) or Bruno vs. Leeds (H)

GW15: Salah vs. West Brom (H) or KDB vs. Newcastle (H)

GW16: Salah vs. Newcastle (A)

Usually, I wouldn’t have made my transfers long before the deadline, but with Ziyech due to drop, and Bamford and Salah due to rise in price on Monday night, I decided to take the risk to save 0.3m. I was anticipating a rest for Salah in the UCL – personally, I still think he’ll start against Fulham despite playing 98 minutes against FC Midtjylland. Salah has started every Premier League match after featuring midweek in the Champions League, so I'm not too concerned, but can see him getting subbed around the 60-minute mark if Liverpool are cruising.

If Salah blanks entirely, I’m confident with Kevin De Bruyne as my vice-captain. He perhaps isn’t the most explosive pick of the weekend, but the Belgian has excelled playing further forward this season and will be raring to go for the Manchester derby.

Team this week (3-4-3): Martinez, Chilwell, Robertson, Dallas, Salah (C), De Bruyne (VC), Fernandes, Grealish, Bamford, Watkins, Calvert-Lewin

SUBS: 1. Masuaku, 2. Lamptey, 3. Bissouma

2 free transfers used.

0.8 million in the bank.

Good luck everyone!

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