This season is all about balance


OK, you’ve rolled the dice and things haven’t quite gone the way you’d planned or hoped. Players you’ve brought in are either losing form or being dropped, subsequently you can’t transfer in the players you want because you keep replacing those that aren’t scoring big. You start to take hits but meanwhile others in your league just seem to get the right players in early and go from strength to strength (our mate, that bloke from Saudi Arabia that goes by the name of Mesh comes to mind!).

Despite finishing 3k, 2k and 1k in the last 3 years I often find myself in this exact position and this season is no different. But you know what, it’s only here, the Winter Wildcard is here!

Right, use it wisely, this is an opportunity for us to rebuild the foundation of our teams, to catch those above us and win our mini leagues. This article highlights the art of recovery by firstly looking at bringing in a number of consistent scoring players that we call ‘Season Keepers’ before secondly adding in a few differentials as they are the ones that can see you through to a green arrow.

Named ‘Season Keepers’ simply because they pick up points regularly and appear not to get injured. Of course there isn’t an outfield player that never gets injured, look at Leighton Baines he was recently sidelined and he never gets injured! However what we can do is try to limit the risk by omitting those players that are prone to injuries. I wouldn’t worry about fixtures too much as there’s always a nice one around the corner in a week or two and what we are looking to do is achieve balance and resist chasing the single Gameweek points, well that is until the Double Gameweeks (who can resist them?).

For obvious reasons, I’m not including keepers nor am I including forwards because let’s face it this season we’re spoilt for choice in that area.

Defenders

Premium to consider – Zabaleta, Baines or Terry. I usually have at least one of these when rebuilding. Rising to £6.7m and £6.4m, we can add both Mertesacker and Coleman to this list too. Arsenal’s German defender has been bang on the money this season, strong in the air and more than chips in at corners / free kicks not to mention the bonus points. Everton’s change in manager sees Seamus Coleman playing further up the pitch than Everton’s winger however you won’t need me to tell you to get him in as 44% of you have the man that’s been on the score sheet 5 times already this season.

Premium to avoid – Vidic, he always seems to be injured for large parts of the season. It could be argued that you could consider adding Vincent Kompany to this list too as he seems to take an age to recover from either groin, calf or thigh injuries although currently back in the City team who knows what effect the heavy pitches will have on his body? Add Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen to this list too, currently injured but surely when fit can’t be considered at the price of £6.9m until Sherwood tightens up through the middle.

Mid to consider – Currently priced one million less than his defensive partner, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny looks good value at £5.4m. Southampton’s fixtures appear to be getting a little easier so perhaps it’s worth us adding both Fonte (£5.1m) and Lovren (£5.7m) back to our watchlists. Spurs captain Michael Dawson could be value at £5.2m, yet to score this season Dawson is captaining a team under a new manager and looks nailed on to continue playing regularly.

Mid to avoid – Ferdinand, Gibbs, Sagna and Luke Shaw all pick up niggling injuries.

Budget to consider – It is hard to pick a budget defender that scores good points consistently because they’re cheap for a reason! Given this there are a few defenders in the 4 million mark that start regularly and chip in with the odd goal / clean sheet, perhaps Turner (Cardiff), Gabbidon (Palace), Olsson (Norwich) or the now fit again James Chester (Hull).

Budget to avoid – Those players that appear to have done well in the past by scoring a goal or two but don’t start regularly then subsequently when you need that player he’s on his team’s bench and gets you nothing. Faye, Rosenior (both Hull) and Whittaker (Norwich) are 3 examples of this. Although Whittaker is back in the starting line up it surely must be only a matter of time until club captain Russell Martin again replaces him at right back.

Midfielders

Premium to consider – Hazard at £10.4m or the cheaper Oscar at £8.7m, either one will do. Make the transfer and then watch the points come in, bit like owning all the stations in Monopoly! Liverpool’s fit again captain Steven Gerrard is always worth considering too, on pens as well as corners and the odd free kick when Suarez says your turn! Yaya Toure, what a beast of a player, he could play 90 minutes every day of the week and not get injured however he will set you back £10.1m and even though we’ve been saying all season he’ll play deeper soon, he still gives owners a return to smile about.

Premium to avoid – Arsenal boast some good scoring midfielders: Walcott, Cazorla and the currently injured Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil. Soon all four will be fit which begs the question whether there is room for all to shine or will we see Ozil (£9.9m) being one to avoid too, simply because we see others taking their share of the points? Chelsea’s Juan Mata can be added to this list too however, you don’t need me to tell you that do you?

Mid to consider – Southampton’s Adam Lallana is looking to get a seat on the plane to Brazil. At the halfway stage of the season Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye has scored 5 goals from midfield, one less and one more than his previous two seasons. Usually like Aaron Ramsey he’d be one that I’d avoid however this season we’re all starting to take note.

Mid to avoid – The Manchester United midfielders priced £7.0m and above: Nani, Valencia, Young, Kagawa and Fellaini all appear ones to avoid as they don’t seem to start enough but it could be argued Valencia does. Where is Zaha? I’d also avoid Newcastle’s Ben Arfa, for me he is just simply not consistent enough. Jack Wilshere is back playing but he’s prone to injuries as well as being the fantasy nightmare of assisting the assister! Finally Kevin Nolan of West Ham, priced at £6.5m, and is one to avoid especially if you play in midfield and he’s marking you.

Budget to consider – Morrison of West Ham, it’s just a shame he doesn’t play in an attacking team, imagine what he could earn us! Cardiff’s duo of Jordan Mutch and Pete Whittingham look reasonable value, priced at £4.6m and £5.3m, they’re both not afraid to get stuck in especially in the final third of the pitch.

Budget to avoid – Again this is a hard one but the same as above with budget defenders, if you need to rely on a 5th midfielder then you need to ensure he gets a regular start and doesn’t play sweeper (or very close to that position).

Other tips are avoid players coming back from injury, anyone that has played football will know there is a difference to being fit and being match fit. Consider this and you’ll limit the risk. A good example is Christian Benteke and Wayne Rooney. They both appear when coming back from injury to need a little more time than others to get back to sharpness. Also we’re at the point in the season where yellow cards will start to have an impact on our squads thereby it’s always a good idea to check how many yellow cards players have accumulated and remember not to forget domestic cup competitions too. This is especially relevant if you use your Wildcard at the end of January.

Until recently, this season many of us have had the same front three forwards. Our front line has been dominated all season with most of us owning 2 if not 3 of the following players: Suarez (52%), Rooney (22%), Lukaku (32%) and Aguero who was also owned by 20+% before his injury. I scored 73 points in Gameweek 17 but still got a red arrow despite my captain Luis Suarez racking up 32 points. Unfortunately every man and his dog captained Suarez that Gameweek and subsequently the rest of my team was pretty average in comparison.

So what we need is a differential or three to set us apart from the average, as stated above the value of a differential cannot be emphasised anymore than right now. Lets take a look at the following positions where we can make a difference to our teams; once again I’ve avoided goalkeepers:

Defenders

Leighton Baines is included in 13.8% of FPL teams however I don’t see him being owned by that many of my rivals so I guess neither do you. Perhaps now is a good time to buy the Everton left back, there are managers that won’t want to double up on Everton defenders and with 44% owning Coleman he could be your differential. 7% own Laurent Koscielny compared to 29% who own Mertesacker. Koscielny is yet to find the net this season but he has scored 2 in each of his past 3 seasons in the Premier League.

Vincent Kompany has a 5% ownership scoring 2 goals in the past 4 Gameweeks. If he keeps fit he could be your man. 2% of us own Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov. If he can nail down the left back position at £5.3m we all know what he can produce.

Midfielders

5.5% have opted to include Liverpool’s Phillippe Coutinho who has rewarded his managers with 15 points from his previous 3 games. With favourable fixtures this midfielder could be returning to the form he displayed in the latter part of last season. Currently 5% of us own David Silva compared with a whopping 45% having Yaya Toure. If there was ever an example for including a differential then this is one for sure.

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen is owned by less than 3% of teams. Under Tim Sherwood the Danish playmaker has scored 25 points from the past 3 Gameweeks, there’s food for thought! Eriksen’s team mate Aaron Lennon sparked into life earlier in the week at Old Trafford and if he stays fit with a low ownership of 1% a few of us could be tempted especially with a price of £7.3m. Also consider Arsenal have Ozil and Ramsey out injured and Santi Cazorla is owned by just 2% of managers making him every bit the differential. Priced at £7.4m my all time favourite FPL player Captain America could make our Wildcard teams. Will Clint Dempsey’s return to Fulham see us scrambling to transfer him in?

Forwards

It’s hard to see anyone out-scoring the usual suspects of Suarez et al but perhaps one of the following may provide a differential for you in attack: Adebayor (4%), Jay Rodriguez (9%) and if the rumours are true Berbatov (3%) could be on his way to the Arsenal but watch those hamstrings!

I could go on and list many more players that fit into the categories listed above but this article isn’t so much about players or fixtures, it’s about using a tactic to climb the league. I wrote a similar article last season about not chasing the Gameweek points and looking at the bigger goal, FPL God Shiva highlighted those tactics saying it wouldn’t score you extraordinary points. He was right it didn’t but as with this philosophy it will I think score you steady above average points and give you an opportunity to chase down your opponents.

This is only one tactic, you may find it works but you may prefer a different way of playing and that’s great too because at the end of the day it’s your team but I hope this article has been helpful to some.

Good luck guys because we all know that more than plays a part!