Stephen Toumi’s think differently articles have been on ice recently as he succumbed to the temptation of the template. Here he explores some ideas to break away from it with his team
Stephen Toumi looks to set himself free from the FPL template as he continues his “think differently” series
It’s been since August I have contributed to my Think Differently series, on FFG. The main reason, I haven’t been thinking differently, but playing boring, taking no chances and surprising it’s been a nice run of green arrows in six out of the last seven weeks. The series returns this week, as I look ahead to the run in to the international break.
Think Differently last appeared came out ahead of GW2, which resulted in 66 points and a red arrow, with an OR just over 970k. A week later, I would activate my first wild card.
The template has been pretty good to me
The results since that time have made managers green with envy, so to speak. I’ve posted green arrows in six of the last eight games weeks, seeing my OR climb to 163k. My squad is averaging 61 PPW after posting 87 points in game week 10, a season high.
As we move though the week, I banked a free transfer last week, as I prepare to make a few moves to potentially set up a move for another premium midfielder. Currently, Mo Salah (£13.0) anchors a midfield that had been struggling, until last week when he and Ryan Fraser (£5.9) combined for 41 points. Unfortunately, I have continued to hold and start Theo Walcott, brought in for game week 4 (£6.4) and Lucas Moura (£7.2), brought in ahead of game week 7. Walcott has posted one attacking return over that second week period, while Moura has lacked the early season form that made him highly desired with Harry Kane struggling.
While Callum Wilson (£6.6) wasn’t in my original long-term plans, I picked him up for game week 9, when Wilfried Zaha’s start was a game time decision. Marko Arnautovic looked great through the first five weeks, then missed a game due to a knee injury, then last week was an illness. Hammers have an amazing run of fixtures, hopefully this talisman is ready to return. I didn’t start the season with Sergio Aguero, which was risky as I missed his hat trick, only to bring him in on the wild card.
The success of my season has come down to the strength of my defense. Last year, I started this season to give FPL managers an alternate to the highly used 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations, believing a 5-man defense could be successful. This season, it’s been the play of Marcos Alonso, Benjamin Mendy and Andrew Robertson that have been stalwarts for owners. Dubbed “RAM” on Twitter, this defensive unit is owned by 25.4% of managers in the top 1000 squads but just 4% across all FPL. David De Gea failed to perform early on, but I quickly made the change to Ederson, providing the Man City double, which in the last five weeks has provided a string of clean sheets.
Now it’s time to break free
As the upcoming game week approaches, I am running a few different scenarios based on last week’s performances.
Kevin De Bruyne (£9.8) saw 51’ that last few weeks, but it’s match fit and looked “off” on a poor Wembley pitch on Monday. While he’s already seen a £0.1 increase, it’s evident he’s still a few weeks away from where FPL managers expect him. Eden Hazard, after an excellent start, returning points in the first eight weeks, didn’t see an attacking return against Man United and then was held out of Europa League action and game week 10, which affected over 45% of FPL managers. At £11.3, his price can be limiting, the back injury only casts doubt on his match fitness.
However it seems he may have picked up an injury in the EFL cup last night which could already shelve these plans
One option I do favor in the midfield is Man United midfielder, Anthony Martial (£7.4) to replace Moura. While this costs me £0.2, I feel his inclusion, based on key statistics are better than Ross Barkley (£5.8), who’s seen great success over the last three weeks.
Double Liverpool defence?
Another strategy that has been floated is to double up on Liverpool defense. Many managers got burned by Robertson last week, as Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.1), Dejan Lovren (£4.9), Alberto Moreno (£4.2) and Virgil van Dijk (£5.9) started. Robertson appears to be nothing more than rest after playing every minute up to this point of the season. Yet, there could be a rotation forming between Lovren, Gomez and Alexander-Arnold for the final two spots. This leads to van Dijk being the reliable option, for those managers who don’t have Alisson (£5.7) in goal.
This move would strengthen my defense even more, as Liverpool have a good run of fixtures through game week 19. As a team they have already posted six clean sheets on the season and could double that number before the year is over. Van Dijk at £5.9 has scored 42 points on the season, which bests some midfielders including Richarlison, Riyad Mahrez, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Anthony Martial, just to name a few. Rotation, FDR and current form are three considerations for bolstering the defense to include four premium defenders.
Transferring out Aguero?
The case to move Aguero is a curious, one I am not comfortable with making because of his 51.1% ownership. At £11.3, he’s the highest owned player in the game, but arguments can be made to look at a budget forward line and spend the budget you save in the midfield. This strategy is not without risk. As mentioned, I started without Aguero and hid behind the couch for two weeks, knowing his capabilities and potential with City. Even a move to the lower priced Alexandre Lacazette (£9.8) would save you £1.4. With 52 points on the season, he’s been a regular returner for Arsenal, as he’s just 8 points behind Aguero (60).
Glenn Murray (£6.5) is going another direction and reducing my forward line to budget player. It would free up more budget, allowing me to look in the direction of KDB or possibly look to free up an addition £0.7 to considering Hazard.
Lots of options to consider, none of them are short term. Investment in the premium players are longer, but I feel it will be the form and fixtures of the budget players that will be where I chop and change. One thing will remain consistent. Patience. As an FPL manager, I don’t want to get caught up chasing points or swapping non-performing players on a weekly basis. To date, I have been pleased with my decisions and how the season has played out through 10 weeks.
See also the popular and not so popular transferred players in the bandwagons and sinking ships article plus also who the 10 top managers I follow have in their team. Also who I have or maybe interested in getting in the early thoughts on the FFgeek team article
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