Hello there, fellow FPL Managers! Hope you’ve had a great Christmas and risen in your Mini Leagues / Overall Ranks during this crazy festive period.

I am going to focus on a subject that interests me the most when it comes to FPL – Attention to Details. In Football, there are innumerable minute details that are focussed on while planning strategies, tactics, formations, etc. Similarly, I personally prefer to focus on a lot of details while strategizing my moves in FPL, as well.

So what are these various “details” that I have been talking about?

  1. The defence a player is up against in the upcoming fixtures (Just the 1 or 2 players he is most likely going to face).
  2. A player’s morale in the last few games / overall situations at the club.
  3. Overall link-up play with fellow-teammates & its impact on a player’s performance.
  4. Captain Picks – Analysing the probability of returns

Now let’s get into the details of each points that I mentioned above –

  1. Defence the player is up against. I would like to take an example of Raheem Sterling here. The Man City winger is up against Liverpool, Newcastle, & West Brom in the next 3 games. Assuming he starts at Right-Wing (like he has recently) against all 3, here are the probable players he will face –
  • Andrew Robertson / Trent Alexander-Arnold / Alberto Moreno (if he is back & fit)
  • Paul Dummett / Javier Manquillo
  • Kieran Gibbs / Chris Brunt

Although Sterling has been in the form of his life, a quick glance through that list of players he would face, and you can tell that any decent winger would tear them apart. I personally am so tempted that I might even captain Raheem against Newcastle / West Brom.

I use this methodology not only for identifying players to bring in to my side but to also figure out whom to bench when most players have easy fixtures.

  1. Morale of a player & the overall situations at the club really affect his performance on the field, I believe. Let me explain my point with the example of United’s No. 14 – Jesse Lingard.

Mkhitaryan’s dip in form led to him being dropped from the side and this gave a chance to the other contenders of the number 10 role to make the most of this opportunity. Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, and Jesse Lingard – all would’ve wanted to impress their boss to make this position their own. Although Pogba was the preferred choice and started in the ‘hole’ v/s Arsenal, his red card meant he was now suspended for the next 3 games. Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard stepped up and not just scored a brace in this game but also ‘Milly Rocked’ at the Emirates – this performance (apparently) impressed Jose and he then went on to start behind the striker for the next few games even after the return of Pogba.

I bought him in GW 16 at £5.8 and since then, he has returned 43 points in 7 Gameweeks – which means a staggering 6.14 points per GW. Now that is exceptional for a midfielder who is still only owned by 15.5% (at the time of writing this article) and is thriving in his new position.

Talking about his morale – this lad is brimming with confidence at the moment. Take a look at his recent Twitter post and you would know why I think he is only going to get better –

For a guy who is just 25, playing around the likes of Pogba, Lukaku, and Mata at a club that is always under the pressure of performing well, scoring and assisting every match and already planning for his next celebrations – this may look too much to someone who has not seen him play but for me he is going to be the key to this United side’s fortunes and may even end up being their top scorer come May.

  1. In a team game, it is common that the performance of every single individual matters. If the two CBs are at their peak, it is easier for a GK to maintain Clean Sheets. If a winger has been firing, the job of the striker is made easy.

I want to evaluate Leicester City here and how Mahrez creates an impact on the performance of this team. He is no longer just assisting Vardy like he did 2 seasons ago, but he has also been scoring for his club of late. Now some may argue that he does so around January only to lure other clubs to buy him in the mid-season transfer market, but the guy is a class apart and would only do better when playing around better players – be it Liverpool, Arsenal, or Chelsea.

Of course one would want to buy him if they can, but just like myself, there would a lot of managers who would not want to change their midfield-5 of top players (mine – Salah, Hazard, Sterling, Lingard, & Son) at least for now. My point is that his recent performances has made the lives of his teammates easier – Islam Slimani, Demarai Gray, Shinji Okazaki, Marc Albrighton, and our all-time favourite FPL forward, Jamie Vardy.

If Mahrez is out there trying to impress the big clubs, Vardy has a tougher job to impress Gareth Southgate for preferring him over the likes of Kane, Rashford, Welbeck, Sterling, Sturridge, etc. And with Mahrez in the form of his life, he wouldn’t have a better chance to get back to the score sheet than now. I’d keep an eye on him and would probably replace Firmino, if Liverpool struggle in Coutinho’s absence.

  1. Captain Picks are something that make or break your overall performance of the week and are a major contributor to your ranks. No doubt we all want to select the highest scorer as our skipper, but we do not always end up doing so. I have personally had a really bad history when it comes to choosing my captains, but I think if we analyse the probability of players returning maximum points from a team – we will make it easy for ourselves.

Let’s take an example of my current team for GW 23 –

 

Although I’m yet to make any changes, I think I am going to save the FT and would stick with this team for now.

I rarely captain a defender, so I have to make a choice out of my top 7. Here we go…

Salah / Firmino – After Coutinho’s departure, I am not really sure how the side copes, especially against Man City who have not conceded many goals lately.

Probability of returns – 0.4

Hazard – Morata’s dip in form would affect Hazard’s output, in my opinion. Although Leicester do not normally keep a CS away from home, I think it will be a tight game and Chelsea would face a tough task, unless Morata decides to turn up.

Probability of returns – 0.4

Sterling – As mentioned above, I would prefer captaining him against Newcastle / West Brom than v/s Liverpool. However, he visits his old club and would fancy a goal (or two!) at the Anfield.

Probability of returns – 0.6

Kane / Son – Kane just scored a brace in the FA Cup midweek and Son scored a screamer last week v/s West Ham. Everton have arguably done well under Big Sam but can they stop the Spurs’ stars from scoring? Well, my gut says they won’t concede more than a couple & there’s a good chance Son & Kane are involved.

Probability of returns – Kane 0.6, Son 0.5

Lingard – By now, I guess you all know that I love this man and I have multiple reasons to captain him against Stoke City. They lost to League Two club, Coventry, in the 3rd Round of FA Cup, their Manager just got fired, they just got thrashed 5-0 by Chelsea and also lost to The Magpies at home. Meanwhile, Lingard has scored or assisted 53% of Man United’s goals over their last nine games and has accrued 70 FPL points since GW 14.

Probability of returns – 0.75

Jesse Lingard is my GW 23 Captain!

Thank you & Good luck to all – May your arrows be green!

Saaquib Dawoodani (@s44quib)