Thinking differently in FPL continued – 5-2-3 by Stephen Toumi

Here’s Stephen Toumi with his 2nd article in the series of thinking differently in FPL.  He’s continued his focus on the 5-2-3 formation

Thinking differently in FPL continued – 5-2-3 by Stephen Toumi

It’s Thursday and many FPL managers are licking their wounds and wondering what to make of results from Gameweek 3, as we stare at the upcoming international break. I’ll consider myself lucky, scoring 63 points and finishing 20 points above the weekly average. Unlike the previous few years, the number of clean sheets are up, to start the 2017/18 season. While the pre-season trend was a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2, I made the risky decision to start with a 5-defender set, in a 5-2-3. While I wouldn’t be capitalizing on a plethora of attacking options, my hope was to have success defensively, with teams that had lucrative early season fixtures; Southamption, Man United and Man City.

Points to date

Through 3 weeks, I have recorded 12 clean sheets (including Foster) out of a possible 18. This has not come without risk, as I have Ryan Bertrand (15 pts.), Cédric Soares (13 pts.) and Maya Yoshida (17 pts.) accounting for 45 of my 159 total points (28.3%). Heading into the international break, I don’t intend to break up this defensive core up, as they are home to Watford and away to Crystal Palace. Gameweek 6 does see them home to Man United (10 goals for/ 0 against), which could present problems, but the following 5 games (GW7-11) appear to be full of potential points.


However, there is an exit strategy in place, but much like activating the wild card, now is not the time. While my overall rank could be higher, currently 1.0m, it’s been the failure at captain, not the 5-2-3 formation. Based on FPL Statistico, the “possible total points if you always captained highest scorer” is 180 points, a difference of +29 points. That would improve my Overall Rank to 143k! The reality, a combined 10 points between Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne when given the captaincy through 3 weeks.

I am still locked in with Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as my starting midfielders, with an inkling to introduce in Sadio Mané and change the formation to a 5-3-2. With prices continuing to be quite volatile, adding the potential of a third premium midfielder would come at a cost, either defensively or downgrading a forward.

Captain disappointments

Up top, it has been the failure of Harry Kane to provide offensive returns, even though his underlying statistics are among top in the EPL. While Romelu Lukaku (TSB 58.2%) is the highest owned player in the game, his last 2 outings have not been good, but has still bested Kane. It’s been the play of Robert Firmino (26 pts.) and Gabriel Jesus that helped salvage a successful Gameweek 3. This success doesn’t come without question. What will Pep do with Aguero and Jesus? Does he continue with a lone striker or play both? I fear the rotation risk is real and while Jesus returned his first goal of the season away to Bournemouth in GW3, the uncertainty, priced at £10.4m could cause me to rethink investing in Man City assets.

Future transfer plans

It’s become more difficult to ignore the success that Alvaro Morata has tasted, recording double-digit returns in two of the first three games. Now just 2 points off Lukaku’s total of 26 points, he comes in £1.6m lighter to the budget. This limited success, along with the return of Eden Hazard to Chelsea could see Jesus being transferred out, in favor of Morata, which would add £0.3m, totaling £1.3m ITB. Unfortunately, it’s a situation managers faced last year, running without Alexis Sanchez during the season or Harry Kane at the end of last season, when he hit for a big return. Is it worth running without both Kane and Lukaku?

For my squad, the more important decision lie in the defensive five I have entrusted my faith in. To date, I have been pleased with their returns, but the allure of Marcos Alonso is strong. After dropping their home match to Burnley, the Blues appear to have turned things around, quickly. Alonso hit for a brace in GW2 and has been lethal down that left channel. To introduce Alonso, Vincent Kompany or Antonio Valencia would need to make way to free up the necessary budget. With Man United tearing up the league to date, I am considering transferring Kompany for Alonso before Gameweek 4.

There is no plan for any sort of rotation with bench players. Tom Carroll (8 pts.) and Dale Stephens (7 pts.) in the midfielder offer very little in terms of return. Rob Elliot, after pitching his first 7 point clean sheet, home to West Ham does offer limited return potential. This too could be irrelevant if Rafa Benitez makes a move for another goalkeeper before the transfer windows closes.


Currently, I have no intentions of activating my wild card or taking point hits to introduce any hot, young talent to my starting XI. The 5-2-3 formation has provided a solid start to the season, but as with any young season, you must remain flexible and open to change, should the formation begin to fail. I feel activating the WC during the break would be an unnecessary knee jerk reaction to what player prices are dictating, rather than the need of the squad. Hopefully players return from break will be injury free and the EPL season can pick up, where it left off.

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  • Singh

    I have one transfer left for august and need some assistance, current team: –
    Dawson, Valencia, Davies, Ogbonna
    Mkhitaryan, Willian, Mane
    Kane, Jesus, Lukaku
    I am happy with my forwards, I am not happy with Ogbonna as west ham are conceding too many goals. However I am also aware Hazard is on his way back and this will cause game time issues for Willian. Options are: –
    (1) Ogbanna out, in for Pieters or Stephans
    (2) Willian out for Salah
    (3) Willian out for Alli
    Any suggestions would be appreciated?

    • TFF_Geek

      I assume you are talking Dream team and not FPL. Stephens could be a risk as he could lose his place (I also have him but have had him since the start).

      Alli has a 3 game ban in Europe which limits his appeal so consider Eriksen, although I see no harm in keeping Willian for now.

      How much £ do you have in the bank?

      • Singh

        TTF_GEEK yes correct I am talking about Dream Team, thanks for clarifying about Alli. I have 2m in the bank, so I could either swap Willian for Eriksen or Obgonna for Pieters.
        My other thinking is Hazard coming back in September, so another option is to swap Willian with Salah tonight and then in September swap Mane out for Hazard… so many choices

  • Stephen T

    Be cautious of Stephens, as he might lose out with the new signing of Wesley Hoedt, who is also priced at 5.0. Ogbanna does need to go, While you don’t indcation ITB, I would look at HUD for a defender, Zanka if you have an additional 0.1m ITB or Schindler if not, priced at 4.5.

    Outside of GW5, away to Spurs, Naughton might be a more solid pick in the wing back slot for Swansea. Great looking fixtures. Personally, I am not sold on Swansea, but maybe Clement will continue to push the defensive prowess and try to sneak that one goal, setting up shop. But Naughton is coming off 12 points, 19 on the season and 2 CS in 3 games.

    Willian I look at moving as well ASAP. He will lose his starting spot and become what he has been the last few years. As for his replacement Alli and Salah are comparable, I think I prefer Alli because of their fixtures. If Kane isn’t firing, Alli should be there to pick him up. Salah’s stats are a bit better but 3 out of the next 6 fixtures Pool playsaway to City, home to United, away to Spurs.

  • Simon Garner

    Great summary article Stephen. I read some of your blog posts last year and seems as though you’ve made a good start this year and kudos to you for going with a 5-3-2 formation. Kompany to Alonso is a no-brainer for me!
    Have you got a plan when/ if Sanchez/Hazard start returning as they normally do?

    • Stephen T

      Based on the partial game Sanchez played in GW3, I am not sure what to make of his effort and determination for the Gunners this season. He knows he’ll sign for big money next year, regardless of his performance this year. Could be his heart just won’t be in the game for Arsenal this season. That is pure speculation, but we do know he has drive and commitment to achieve greatness when on the pitch, maybe this will shine through and he will give 100% to put him in a prime position on the free transfer next season.

      Hazard looks like he could prosper between the two premium midfielders. Chelsea, after dropping the 3-2 loss to start the season seemed to have turned things around quickly. Adding Hazard as the maestro in the middle will improve the likes of Morata up front, who should play uncontested as a starter.

      While I already transferred 10.5 KDB out before he lost value and before last week’s match. Hazard could be a replacement for him, as long as you can make up that 0.1m difference. We know what Hazard can do and I don’t believe Conte can wait to ease Hazard back in. Now he might start him and see 60-75 minutes.

      What does concern me out of the break is the Blues schedule; lei/ARS/sto/MCI. All these fixtures should be winnable. The MCI fixture is the tough match, so I might wait until this 4 week run is over before investing in Chelsea, where the get cry/WAT/bou in a nice 3 game stretch.

      This near fixture is what has me reconsidering investing in Alonso. If I were to part with 7.0, then it would be more for the attacking prowess than the CS potential. Leicester, I could see a possible CS, the way the Gunners played against Liverpool, I could see a possible 2nd CS and even Stoke could provide a CS. City does provide a true challenge.

      As for my 5-2-3, do I plan on a high priced mid like Hazard of Sanchez? To improve on Eriksen or Mkhitaryan, I would have to further decrease the money I have invested in my defense. Yoshida is now on a short list with the announcement that VVD should be a starter in short time, along with the arrival of Wesley Hoedt, that could also jeopardize Stephens. There go two 5.0 options. Moving Valencia for Bailly wouldn’t provide that offensive spark, but still give me a United defensive asset with the high probability of CS.

      My plan is to run with my current midfielders and actually chase Morata in place of Jesus most likely. Not sure I want to ride the Pep-Go-Round, seeing him start Jesus or Aguero together one week, only be frustrated the next. Not that Kane will continue to misfire, but 2 more blanks and I might could see him being moved for Morata and use that 2.0m in the midfielder as an upgrade.

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