After a two week international break, Gameweek 13 has finally arrived; the first of 9 gameweeks in just 40 days. This article will consider how to tackle this upcoming stretch, Mourinho’s impact at Spurs and my captaincy and transfer decisions.
Gameweek 13-21 Plans
Whilst the focus should primarily remain on the immediate gameweeks, there is no harm in casting an eye ahead to the Christmas period. For example, Aston Villa face all of the bottom three in a seven day period from Gameweek 18-20. If only they had a midfielder who had played every minute in the league this season, priced under £6.0m, providing a steady 4.2 points per match and who ranks third in his position for total goal attempts. That man is of course John McGinn, who is certainly one to watch ahead of the Christmas period.
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Leicester look less promising over the same period, with a respective blank gameweek and trip to Manchester City in Gameweek 18, before facing each other on Boxing Day. However, their current form and immediate five fixtures demands significant investment in both sides. Avoid overcomplicating transfer plans by looking too far ahead. This goes for Liverpool’s blank gameweek too; a result of their participation in the Club World Cup. Even for teams tripled up on Liverpool players heading into Gameweek 18, with no playable substitutes, there is a simple escape. By downgrading one of these pricey options, funds become available to make a further two upgrades in order to field 11 players that week. By carrying two free transfers into this week, even the most unprepared can retain two Liverpool players and navigate Gameweek 18 with just a four point hit.
But for those aiming to maximise potential points between Gameweeks 13 and 21, it is worth starting to think about a bench strategy. Previous seasons suggest that teams will make changes as fixtures come thick and fast, both that the key men will retain their places throughout. Fortunately, there is an abundance of good cheap defender options this season, which makes it easy to have at least two playable subs. These will certainly come in handy as auto subs and occasional starters, with popular Sheffield United and Leicester defenders facing both Liverpool and Manchester City between Gameweek 18 and 21. Therefore, two or three good cheap subs at around £5.0m or under, provides protection against any unexpected absences, but still maximises funds in the starting XI.
Spurs & Mourinho
Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Spurs’ new manager has divided opinion, not least due to the incredible job predecessor Mauricio Pochettino did at the club. But following a run of just 25 points in their last 24 league games, the Argentinian has unfortunately lost his job. Such a poor run of form has largely eliminated Spurs assets from our FPL considerations; in fact Harry Kane is their only player to be part of over 10% of teams.
In a few weeks, there will be a consensus – invest or avoid. But right now, everything is up in the air, as nobody knows whether and to what extent Spurs will improve upon a so far dismal domestic 2019. That in itself is exciting. Now this is not to say that Spurs will suddenly start winning games by three or four goals at will, but this is a world-class manager, inheriting a squad that possesses enormous quality. Mourinho himself has continued to indicate how much faith he has in the club’s players during the 2019/20 season. In August, he remarked that Spurs were the only conceivable challengers to Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League title race. He has backed that sentiment since joining the club, believing they can be in with a chance of winning it next year upon starting on a level playing field again.
You can choose to believe Mourinho or not and for what it’s worth, I maintain doubts as to whether he can back up those claims over the next 18 months. But what if he can? What if Saturday is the start of Spurs’ return to a team resembling one that has qualified for Champions League football for the last four seasons? Considering the strength of Spurs’ squad, fixtures against West Ham and Bournemouth up next are an enormous opportunity, just like Manchester United last season, who faced Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first three games.
My Team & Transfers
The absence of a standout captain option, the plethora of good value cheap defenders and Mourinho’s potential impact at Spurs has prompted two transfers for a second four point hit of the season. After selling Sergio Aguero for Jamie Vardy ahead of Gameweek 12, a handy £3.0m was left sitting in the bank, funding Heung-Min Son in place of Todd Cantwell after Andy Robertson was downgraded to Charlie Taylor.
Selling a Liverpool defender ahead of the upcoming five gameweeks was a tough decision, but the aim is to exploit move funds into midfield and exploit the value in cheaper defensive options. Starting all three of Alexander-Arnold, Soyuncu and Lundstram over the next five should hopefully provide a better balance, rather than having to bench one of the latter two when playing three at the back. Taylor at £4.2m came back into the Burnley starting lineup last week and is set retain his place for the foreseeable future. At his price, he will be a useful fifth defender option, after Winston Reid is upgraded using the remaining £0.8m in the bank.
As for Son, time will tell whether this is a gamble worth taking. Spurs under Mourinho provide an opportunity for differential returns if they click, as many managers bide their time before investing. I have decided to take advantage of this indecision because their best two fixtures in the next six are the next two. It feels like a case of jump on now or wait for Christmas and with a wish to restructure towards a 3-5-2 anyway, this felt like too good an opportunity to pass up. And if it goes wrong and Spurs are poor against West Ham and Bournemouth, it’s an easy switch to Pulisic or Martial or almost any other midfielder. Therefore, in the context of my team, it feels like a gamble worth taking.
In a week also lacking a standout captain option, the potential damage of going against the grain is reduced. Therefore as crazy as it may seem, Son gets the captaincy straight away. It is rare that an 8.1% selected player of Son’s points potential is up against one of the league’s worst defences, who are missing star man and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. I believe that the potential upside greatly outweighs the downside in this particular week, given the fixtures. Several players appeal, but not to the extent that there are one or two standout contenders. So for better or worse, I am backing a player who I traditionally always own at the wrong times, but why play FPL without a fun differential pick now and again?
With those transfers made, this is how the team lines up for Gameweek 13:
Subs: Button, Taylor, Connolly, Reid
In the bank: £0.8m to upgrade Reid or Connolly soon
Overall rank: 146k
Note: Salah to Mane for an additional -4 will be a late decision depending on injury news
All the best for Gameweek 13 and may your arrows be green!