Following Teemu Pukki’s hat-trick and John Lundstram’s incredible 14 point haul, Gameweek 3 is previewed ahead of Friday night’s deadline.
Gameweek 2 Review & Mini-League Update
Gameweek 2 did not go to plan as eight of the 11 starters returned three points or fewer, resulting in a total of 35. On another day, it could have been so much better had Adrian not made a glaring error to concede and if Spurs had failed to score from just three goal attempts and an xG of 0.13 – the lowest of all 20 teams. Going against the original decision to swap Josh King for Teemu Pukki also proved costly. However, these things happen during the season and there is plenty of time to recover and move up the overall rankings.
Total Points: 121
Overall Rank: 1.1m
As expected at this early stage of the season, the mini-league has seen quite a shake-up at the top. The Gameweek 1 joint leaders have dropped to 11th and 23rd, whilst an impressive Pukki captaincy and 81 points sent Kavin Shah’s ‘Taking The Biss’ into first place.
The league is still open and can be joined using code ay9eij, with the monthly winner and 24 highest ranked managers securing a place in the 32 team World Cup style tournament during the final seven gameweeks of the season.
Gameweek 3 Team Selection
Looking ahead to Gameweek 3, the two available free transfers have already been used. It is easy to be stubborn in these situations, but having almost bought Pukki last week, he was the first to come in. Nobody can dispute that his current rate of goals will decrease, but he still ranks fourth for xG amongst all players, behind Sterling, Barnes and Aguero. Buying him now, rather than after the Manchester City game in Gameweek 5 avoids missing out on a few more price rises and in the hope that a goal or two will arrive against the far from water-tight Chelsea and West Ham.
As planned ahead of Gameweek 1, it was a decision between selling either one of the Bournemouth forwards. This was confirmed by the Cherries managing an open play xG of just 0.87, in fixtures against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Only Wolves (0.72) are ranked lower.
In the end, King was kept as the cheaper asset, with the £1.3m banked from selling Wilson funding Perez to Martial with the second free transfer. Albeit in tricky fixtures, Perez’s lack of involvement (three goal attempts and zero chances created) has been concerning. Martial has only taken five shots but is getting into excellent positions in his positional rotation with Marcus Rashford. A total of 15 penalty box touches and an xG of 0.81 indicate this, leaving him second and third respectively amongst FPL midfielders. A key reason for waiting another week to buy Pukki was to enable the possibility of buying a Manchester United player, making this move another no-brainer.
The two transfers were made on Monday night, so the only dilemmas are in relation to the starting lineup and captaincy. However, this is how the team is likely to lineup.
Confirmed Transfers (2 FT): Perez & Wilson out; Martial & Pukki in.
£0.2m in the bank
Deciding on a captain is a very tough decision this week because there are so many good options. Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have scored in all of their previous home matches against Arsenal, so it would be difficult to back against any of them delivering once again. Harry Kane carries obvious appeal for those who own him, against an out of sorts Newcastle side who just conceded three times against Norwich.
However, Raheem Sterling appears to be the standout captain option based on current form. Manchester City are a country mile ahead of any other side going forward – an xG of 6.17 is nearly double the nearest competitor. In addition, Bournemouth have accrued the third highest xGC during the first two gameweeks, continuing in the vein that saw them concede more goals than any other side in this season’s Premier League in 2018/19. Goals are surely on the way for the away side.
Sterling’s own stats are off the charts. An xG of 2.36 is far clear of anyone else in the league and he also tops the goal attempts (jointly with Pukki) and penalty box touches tables. That being said, an argument can be made for a number of players this week based on this week’s fixtures.
Hot Topic: When to Wildcard
A lot of wildcards have been deployed ahead of Gameweek 3 and for good reason. The likes of Teemu Pukki and Anthony Martial provide examples of potentially great value bandwagons who are set to continue rising in price. For those with other issues in their squad such as Bournemouth attackers, injured players or even having lost patience in the Liverpool defence, wildcarding now makes sense.
But when is the best time to wildcard? The simple answer is that it depends on your team and when you planned to use it with your initial setup. I have used mine by Gameweek 4 in each of the last three seasons and on every occasion, have found that it was perhaps a bit too early and that Gameweek 7 or 8 would have been more useful. This was the plan with the initial team selection in Gameweek 1 and remains the case despite a bad start.
For those who did not plan in this way or are unsure when to wildcard, there are a few factors to consider.
Are you changing any premium players? If doubled up on premium midfielders but wanting to buy Harry Kane, that is immediately two transfers. Add in De Bruyne, Mane, wanting to downgrade premium defenders as well as any other issues in your squad and suddenly the potential upside of a Gameweek 3 wildcard is huge. Ask yourself whether this will be the case or whether you are happy with your existing premium players.
How important is team value to you? Some people like to adopt an aggressive approach to the market, making transfers before the gameweek is over and wildcarding early to bring in several bandwagons set to rise in price. Others (and I would tend to put myself in this category) prefer to be more patient, waiting as long as possible to make transfers in order to think about different transfer combinations and wait for any injury news during the week. Both approaches are valid, it is about determining what sort of player you are and that comes with experience.
Will there be a better opportunity? This goes for all the chips. By looking ahead to future opportunities that may present themselves in subsequent gameweeks, it is easier to determine whether now is the right time. For example, Liverpool face Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City between Gameweek 9 and 12, a period that comes directly between two international breaks. This is something that I am looking at based on my aforementioned wildcard plan. Depending on how the rest of my team is getting on, there is the option of either wildcarding out Liverpool players in Gameweek 9 or wildcarding them in for Gameweek 13. With both gameweeks falling directly after an international break, this approach makes it easy to react to any injury news and have an extra week to decide on a squad that will last for the next 10-20 gameweeks. Based on my team and preferences, Gameweek 9 or 13 is a better opportunity than now or next week, but that will be the opposite for others. Determining which of these and any other gameweeks that best suit a wildcard for your team is the key.
If you do decide to wildcard this week, I have one piece of advice – to pick 14-15 players who play. This team has to last at least 17 gameweeks, until the second wildcard becomes available for the second half of the season. Injuries, suspensions and form/fixture swings will occur and being prepared for these instances cuts down the need for points hits. Given that the likes of Nick Pope, Todd Cantwell and Lewis Dunk can be purchased for around £4.5m, there is no excuse not to have a usable, budget-friendly bench.
Play the game your way. For instance, I have no interest in buying Kevin De Bruyne at this moment in time. Not because he is a bad pick, but with three Manchester City players already, a -4 involving two downgrades elsewhere or offloading Raheem Sterling would have been the only way. The same may be the case for teams without Pukki but that already have a strong forward line – nobody can have every player but everyone can and must prioritise.