Here’s Rob Reid’s fantasy premier league monthly review where he looks back at August. There’s his view on a number of topical issues plus his awards for player of the month and donkey of the month
Fantasy premier league – Rob Reid’s monthly review of August
You can also see Rob Reid’s imaginary wildcard article along with a number of other contributors
Hi everyone and welcome to the first of my monthly review articles. Regular visitors to the site will know that each month I write a reflective article about the previous few weeks in FPL. It’s a light-hearted observational piece based mostly on my opinion but with a few stats thrown in as well. As in previous seasons, I’ll also me making a few fun awards, have a look at another team from one of my mini-leagues and look forward to who I might think do well over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy and welcome feedback as usual. Let’s get started!
Fall Back on your Full Backs
We’re 4 weeks in and 4 of the 5 top-scoring players in FPL are full-backs. So just what on earth is going on here? First of all – these guys are effectively playing as wingers come auxiliary strikers. Their heat maps show serious attacking intent. As a result, they’re getting the returns a mid- to high-end midfielder is getting with the added bonus of getting clean sheets on top. All for a far superior points per million to their midfield and attacking counterparts. Add to this the 26 bonus points that these 4 have hoovered up over the opening weeks and what’s not to love? Let’s look at these 4 in more detail.
The Veteran and The Champion
So first up we’ve perennial FPL favourite Marcos Alonso. The rumours going into this season were that Sarri’s 4-3-3 system would see Alonso shunted back into a more traditional full-back berth. The evidence up to GW4 is entirely the opposite. 1 goal, 5 assists and 44 points are no fluke when you watch him play and see him repeatedly loitering around the edge of the penalty box waiting to cause havoc. Yup – Marcos Alonso is still FPL gold folks.
Then there’s Benjamin Mendy. Injury forced him to miss most of last season and robbed us of a chance to see his FPL potential. Since returning, he’s won Premier League and World Cup winner’s medals and he looks like he’s started this season determined to prove that he fully deserves those honours. He’s got 5 assists so far and even racks up bonus points when he doesn’t produce a return. His minutes may be cut when City’s UCL campaign starts, but he still looks a great option for our FPL squads.
The Dark Horse and The Young Pretender
Jose Holebas has been instrumental in Watford’s sensational 100% start to the season. He’s showed glimpses of FPL form in previous seasons but this has always been blighted by numerous bookings and inconsistency in The Hornets’ team selection and form. At the moment, he looks a steal at 4.8m with 1 goal, 4 assists and a great run of fixtures on the horizon from GW8-12. Much will depend on whether Watford can keep up this early season form and if they do, with his set-piece involvement on top I would expect Holebas to keep returning.
Then last up we have new Scotland captain Andy Robertson, who has picked up exactly where he left off last season. His attacking intent has been a key part of The Reds 100% start and he has 2 assists to add to the 3 clean sheets he’s picked up in the first 4 gameweeks. Like Mendy, his gametime may need monitored once the UCL starts and he also has a tough run of fixtures from GW5-8. Liverpool however look a match for anyone, so I certainly wouldn’t bet against him racking up some more returns in these games.
Show me the Mane
So the rogue midfielder amongst the full-backs at the top of the points standings is Sadio Mane, sitting 2nd overall on 39 (4 goals, 8 BPs.) He looked sharp in pre-season and he’s certainly carried this into the new campaign, though managers are starting to get a little twitchy with 3 of Liverpool’s next 4 fixtures against Spurs, Chelsea and City.
We should talk about Salah in this section as well. £13m and selected by every FPL manager and his dog, he’s also made a decent start with 27 points (2 goals, 2 assists.) Again though there’s an air of unease about Mo. He’s missed a number of good chances in these first 4 games, the upshot of which is that he hasn’t racked up any bonus points. For me the criticism is harsh. If he keeps up his current form, he’ll finish the season on a meagre 256 points. I’d certainly be wary of selling him – his high ownership will hurt you every time he returns.
Best of the Rest
There’s some of the usual suspects amongst the other high points scorers. Sergio Aguero leads the way in the striker category, though 20 of his 30 points came in one sitting against Huddersfield. (His 50% ownership is yet another overall ranking headache.) Another FPL favourite – Eden Hazard – is the 3rd highest scoring midfielder. 27 points across 2 starts and 2 sub appearances has served notice that he seems keen to put the Real Madrid transfer talk on the back burner and embrace the Sarri era.
There’s also some unusual players in the mix as well though. Philippines international goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has scored more points that any attacking player bar Sadio Mane courtesy of 2 clean sheets and 2 penalty saves. Aleksandar Mitrovic has also started well with 4 goals, 1 assist and miraculously no red cards to his name as yet. There’s also a couple of mid-priced South American midfielders performing well in Roberto Pereyra and Lucas Moura – not players who would have featured in many GW1 teams.
Every season we look for the emergence of FPL gold-dust in the form of a super low-priced budget player in one of the categories. Aaron Wan-Bissaka looked like he might be the Wan (sorry) but Palace’s defence has struggled since their opening weekend clean sheet and FPL managers suffered for his red card in GW2. In midfield there’s been a few chinks of light in Ruben Neves, Will Hughes and Danny Ward but nothing concrete as yet.
Up front, Danny Ings may be an enabler at £5.5m if he can stay injury and blister free and there may be some options in the £6-7m bracket in the aforementioned Mitrovic, Callum Wilson and Troy Deeney. For the moment though, there’s not a clear and obvious leader in the budget enabler bracket. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled!
Finally we need to look at the early season strugglers and top of the list (or bottom depending on which way you interpret it) are West Ham. It’s been yet another dire start for The Hammers despite heavy investment over the summer and looking at the fixture list, I suspect it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Only Marko Arnautovic is showing any promise at this stage and he does look like he could score against anyone.
Burnley are another team who have struggled, though they will no doubt be helped by their Europa League exit which should ease any rotation worries for both Sean Dyche and FPL managers. Finally there’s Newcastle, though Magpies fans will take heart from the fact that their fixtures improve significantly from GW6 onwards. Think carefully folks before you invest in any players from these teams folks, though a Burnley defender could be an ok differential moving forward.
Player of the Month – Marcos Alonso (Chelsea £6.8m)
No surprises here that the game’s leading points scorer wins this month’s award. It’s a brave FPL manager who goes without Alonso now – 39% ownership, nice fixtures in GW5&6 then again from GW10-15; can you really afford not to own him? The only thing to watch will be how the Europa League affects both his selection and Chelsea’s form, though I’ve a suspicion The Blues will field a weakened line-up through the group stage and concentrate more on their league position. We’ll see.
Donkey of the Month – Alisson (Liverpool £5.6m)
There have been a few cock-ups in the opening few weeks of the season, but I had to give it to the Liverpool stopper for his gaff in the Leicester game. To be fair, he’s looked solid in the first 3 matches but maybe he got carried away after his skilful chip over the defender in the Brighton game. Liverpool certainly have a habit of racking up eccentric keeper moments that harks back to the Halcyon days of the 1980s and the legendary Bruce Grobbelaar. Mind you, if Alisson’s keeping can help The Reds to be even half as successful as they were in that golden period, I don’t think The Kop faithful will mind the odd crazy moment.
FPL Trolls of the Month (new for 2018-19!) – Richarlison and Theo Walcott (Everton £6.7m & £6.8m)
Richarlison was a source of great frustration for many managers last season, with those endless weeks of FPL famine from November onwards. His £50m transfer to Everton looked a dubious bit of business but he rewarded those who had faith in him for GW1 with 3 goals in the first 2 gameweeks thus generating a hefty bandwagon. He then proceeded to troll us all with a stupid sending-off in GW3, costing us 2 points and a transfer out for many (myself included) who had just brought him in.
Who did many of us look to as a replacement? Team-mate Theo Walcott. Yes he has an inconsistent and chequered FPL history. Yes he has glass ankles. And yes his stats perhaps belied the 2 goals and an assist he had in GW2 & 3. Surely he couldn’t let us down again? So along came GW4 and guess what? 1 point and off with an injury. We should have known better. Thanks for nothing Theo.
Team to Watch – Arsenal
If we’re looking purely at the fixture list, you simply can’t overlook The Gunners, with Liverpool the only team from last season’s top 6 that they will face before GW14’s North London derby. That’s a great run. I’ve therefore put them down as this month’s team to watch, but I think FPL managers should also be aware of the potential pitfalls of selecting an Arsenal player.
First of all the good. They’re scoring plenty of goals and making chances. This bodes well for their attacking players. The pick for me at the moment would be Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) who has a goal and 2 assists in the last 2 and looks to have temporarily grabbed the centre-forward spot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m) was superb at the end of last season, but hasn’t started this season in the same vein.
It looks like he’s going to be played more on the left and despite netting his opening goal of the season against Cardiff, his stats in the last 2 games have flatttered to deceive. There’s certainly plenty of talent in midfield as well – Ramsey (£7.4m) and Ozil (£8.3) both have good FPL history and Mkhitaryan (£7.2m) looked very lively in a 12 point haul versus Chelsea in GW2.
Now the bad. Any of the above players could be rotated as Mkhitaryan’s benching in GW4 and Lacazette having to wait until the Cardiff game for his first start has proved. Add to this the upcoming Europa League campaign and I think Unai Emery will be leaving us playing the same guessing games we usually play with the likes of Pep Gaurdiola. Then there’s the defence. In previous seasons, their GW5-13 run of new, EVE, WAT, ful, LEI, cpl, LIV, WOL, bou should be yielding several clean sheets.
The current Arsenal defence however looks an absolute mess. Bellerin and Monreal are still getting forward as much as ever, but they seem to have forgotten how to track back and the defensive midfielders don’t seem to understand that they have to cover them. Then there’s their centre-half partnership of Mustafi and Sokratis, who look like they can be pulled open at will. Add to this some very uncertain displays from the usually dependable Petr Cech and it’s clear that the Arsenal back-line needs to show some serious improvement before we can confidently invest in them.
Personally, I’m stubbornly sticking with Aubameyang for a little longer, but I’d advise caution with any Arsenal player despite their favourable fixture list.
I’m starting out by looking at the team that won my friends and family league last season. You may remember that this is a highly competitive league that has needed a top 5k finish to win it in the last 4 seasons so as usual I’m expecting a tough competition. This manager has made a strong start again this year and leads the league at the moment with 279 points for an Overal Rank of 64k. He’s got a fairly template team with a number of high ownership options either in place or covered with a cheaper option (TAA for Robertson and Luiz for Alonso for example.) He’s also had Mitrovic from GW1, which has proved to be a very shrewd investment. I’ll be watching this manager with interest as the season progresses.
So that’s it from me this month. Feel free to leave feedback or message me on Twitter if you have any thoughts, ideas or just fancy a bit of FPL banter! All the best for GW5 and onwards and I’ll be back in the next international break with my next review.
See also the FFGeek contributors imaginary wildcard teams part 1, 10 top FPL managers article, the underlying stats GW4 article, Jordans wildcard team, the early thoughts on the FFGeek team article and thefixture ease article
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