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.
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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