FPL Diary: December 2019 and January 2020

FPL Diary: December 2019 and January 2020

We are four months into the football season and things are really heating up in the world of fantasy football. December gives us a challenging fixture pile up and January offers a tantalising double game week. How did I fare? Did I manage to turn my season around? Read on to find out.

Game Week Fifteen:

Points: 63-4 = 59 (Average: 49) GW Rank: 1,299,089

This week was all about the strikers. All of my strikers got returns, although Vardy’s yellow card was painful as it meant my captain also missed out on bonus points. Jesus repaid my faith with two goals complemented by David Silva getting two assists. Rashford completed the trio with two goals. Tammy Abraham also had another great week, and is a player I’m desperate to get back in. Game of the week was Liverpool 5 Everton 2 with ten different players getting returns. I only got one assist from my players, but luckily for me the returns were spread around many low ownership players. If it had been five goals for Salah and Mané my rank would have really suffered.

My transfers this week were a bit careless. I knew Grealish and Lundstram were players I had to have, but I took a hit to get them both in this week and they both blanked. Dendoncker then taunted me by scoring his first goal of the season. That wasteful points hit meant that my overall rank only rose by 1,500 places. My game week rank looked great, but it didn’t translate into any meaningful progress up the table.

Game Week Sixteen:

Points: 63 (Average: 54) GW Rank: 2,190,846

Somehow for the third time in four weeks I scored 63 points. Vardy continued to be the perfect captain with two goals. His ownership now is getting much higher, so he no longer counts as a secret weapon. Spurs had a great game beating Burnley 5-0 but my only Spurs player is Gazzaniga so I failed to see the big returns other managers got. I was very excited to bring in Zaha, even if I had to sell David Silva to get him. Zaha was a big disappointment against Watford, earning only a yellow card.

Managing rotation is a challenge everyone faces in December. I put Grealish on my bench, but expecting him to play. Alexander-Arnold was benched and Grealish scored a goal, so everything should have been perfect. Unfortunately TAA came on for 50 minutes, missing out on 5 points by ten minutes and blocking Grealish from my line up. Finishing nine points above the average was only enough to see my overall rank by 5,000. This game can be very difficult.

Game Week Seventeen:

Points: 46 (Average: 56) GW Rank: 5,336,672

My game week rank was terrible this week, and I finished ten points below the average, but it could have been so different. What went wrong? Firstly I got my goal keeper wrong. Bournemouth played Chelsea so I benched Ramsdale but he scored ten points in a 1-0 win. Next to him on my bench was Zaha who I expected to play because of rotation. In fact Robertson was benched, but forced to come on for a 1 point cameo. My confidence in Chelsea punished me with Abraham as well. I was worried about Aguero coming back from injury so I replaced Jesus with Abraham missing out on an assist. Grealish missed a penalty to cancel out all his appearance points. This is not the look of a good game week.

It was a good game week for many though. The big names got some great scores this week. Lundstram got a double-digit return, Salah scored two goals and De Bruyne dominated Arsenal with two goals and an assist. This wasn’t my worst week of the season, but it was definitely a rough start to the festive fixture list.

Game Week Eighteen:

Points: 38 (Average: 38) GW Rank: 3,736,441

This was a challenging game week. Liverpool were away playing in the Club World Cup, so like many people I had three expensive players who couldn’t play. I had to transfer Van Dijk out in order to field a full eleven this week. I brought in Aurier, hoping that Mourinho could stiffen Spurs’s soft defence. In hindsight this was a very unrealistic expectation. To make things worse Man City and Leicester were playing each other, whilst Spurs hosted Chelsea.

It was very hard to field a team of eleven players with good fixtures this week. Only three of my players got returns, and I finished with a bang average score that saw me plummet 80,000 places. I was hoping unusual weeks like this would reward prepared managers, but it wasn’t to be. I had captained Vardy for the previous 8 weeks, and I was punished for it. Watford pulled of a shock against Man United, meaning I missed out on seven points by not keeping faith for a ninth week. Jesus also scored again this week, making last week’s transfer look worse.

Game Week Nineteen:

Points: 69 (Average: 49) GW Rank: 630,972

Some game weeks are dominated by one player and it feels so good to have that player. Trent Alexander-Arnold was the first name on my team sheet at the beginning of the season and his performance against Leicester showed why. With three assists and a goal he dominated this match and his 24 points are a record for the season so far, and an all time FPL record for a defender. TAA is highly owned, but his ownership for this match was lower than normal because of the previous blank game week for Liverpool. I can’t imagine how managers who recently transfered him out would have felt.

Five other players chipped in, including new arrival Alli. I brought Alli in to replace McGinn who had a severe injury. There were still reasons to be frustrated this week. A Spurs clean sheet would have given me a huge boost, my captain Abraham blanked when Chelsea suffered a shock defeat to Southampton and Norwood scored ten points but was sat third on my bench.

Game Week Twenty:

Points: 52 (Average: 54) GW Rank: 4,169,419

My transfer this week was to restore my Liverpool triumvirate at the heart of defence at the expense of Lundstram who faced difficult fixtures. This paid off as Liverpool’s run of clean sheets continued. My only other players to return were Rashford and Abraham and fortunately I captained Rashford, my highest scoring player. This would normally be enough for an OK game week, but I was left with a game week rank below four million as De Bruyne and Mane both hit double digits.

This week was interesting because all of my Leicester players were rested for a great fixture. To add insult to injury, Spurs could only draw with Norwich, and one of Spurs players Aurier scored a very costly own goal. A Spurs clean sheet against the worst team in the league would have seen me finish well above average.

December Summary

Points: 1119

Overall Rank: 402,236

The month started with a frustrating inability to climb the ranks or make good transfers. I was trapped at the 250K rank and barely moved. Then a few bad weeks hit and I dropped like a stone. December is always a difficult month because of rotation and the crowded fixture list, and my rank definitely suffered because of it. Let’s hope that a new year and new decade will bring a change in my FPL fortunes.

Game Week Twenty-One:

Points: 63 (Average: 48) GW Rank: 804,217

I started 2020 with a very good game week. Grealish and Robertson were two of the weeks highest scorers and five other players chipped in. Robertson showed in particular how good premium defenders can be. One assist and a clean sheet was enough for maximum bonus points.

The only players who blanked were my trio of Spurs players and my captain Rashford. Spurs have been extremely disappointing and Arsenal suddenly became a much better team against Man United. Vardy was rested which was frustrating, but since everyone owns Vardy, it doesn’t really affect anyone’s rank.

Game Week Twenty-Two:

Points: 76 (Average: 57) GW Rank: 593,156

This was a great week and very satisfying. An impressive eight of my players returned, I captained my highest scoring player and both players I transferred in scored 9 points. Rashford was my captain with two goals against Norwich. The only disappointment was that he didn’t manage 60 minutes, so he could have scored even more.

My transfers this week were extremely successful. Zaha has been extremely frustrating, often scoring only when I bench him .I replaced him with Fleck and he was the most exciting player for Sheffield United this week, when his assist earned him maximum bonus points for me on his debut in my team. My other debutante has been one of the best players of the season, and I should have changed my team structure to get him in much earlier. Once again De Bruyne was a key player as Man City demolished Aston Villa. Agüero and Mahrez were on fire and scored five goals and two assists between them. Unfortunately the risk of rotation makes them scary picks for FPL.

Game Week Twenty-Three:

Points: 76 (Average: 44) GW Rank: 115,454

This was a strange week. My premium attackers all blanked, or were injured. My captain blanked and Vardy missed a penalty. I benched Aurier who kept a clean sheet. Despite all this, I finished way ahead of average. The Liverpool defence was once again magnificent, with Van Dijk scoring from a TAA corner and the defence hanging on against Man United. Grealish continued to shine and Fleck was even better than his debut last week with both players hitting the magic 10 point mark.

The biggest surprise this week was Gazzaniga who has consistently disappointed. This week he kept a clean sheet and saved a penalty for a monster 14 point haul. I was very lucky that I expected Ramsdale not to play, otherwise I might have started him instead. Between Gazzaniga and Liverpool keeping a clean sheet, this was a very lucky week. My luck was so good, it propelled me up over 130,000 places to leave me inside the top 80,000 and much happier with my rank.

My transfer this week was to finally get rid of Tielemans in favour of Ward Prowse. I don’t expect much from Ward Prowse, but he did get an assist this week which is more than Tielemans has done in a long time. Abraham and Rashford both picked up injuries this week, which means I may wildcard soon, but before I can do that, we have a very exciting double game week to finish January.

Game Week Twenty-Four:

Points: 87 (Average: 53) GW Rank: 217,849

Game week 24 has been much anticipated. Liverpool are by far the best team in the league and they played twice this week making three Liverpool players essential. It was also a popular option to play the triple captain chip. It wasn’t a perfect week for the triple captain chip, but it’s probably a bad idea to wait for a perfect week that might not happen. Three candidates really stood out, Salah, Mané and Alexander-Arnold.

My team structure doesn’t make it easy to get the premium midfielders in, and I’m very happy with the continuous stream of points the defenders provide. This meant triple captaining a defender, but it seemed like a reasonably safe option. I was predicting a clean sheet, an assist and a bonus point, and this is exactly what happened for a score of 12 points. Two clean sheets would have been perfect, and with each clean sheet worth 20 points to me, these games were tense to watch and follow. Salah was ultimately the best option with 16 points, but Mané provided the story of the week. He was the most captained player, highly triple captained and went off injured after barely half an hour to earn a solitary point. I can’t imagine how Mané owners must have felt.

Nine other games were played this week, even if they were completely over shadowed by the two Liverpool fixtures. Pereira matched TAA’s output by scoring a goal and an assist. KDB and Aurier also helped out with an assist and a clean sheet. My score this week was noticeably defence heavy. My strikers both played limited minutes either through rotation (Ings) or picking up an injury (Vardy). Ings was brought in as a good long term purchase for the injured Abraham, so his blank isn’t too worrying. With the rate at which my strikers are getting injured I’m considering using my second wildcard. It would also let me take advantage of some shifts in the fixtures.

January Summary

Points: 1,421

Overall Rank: 36,160

January was the complete opposite of December. I went from outside the top 400,000 to inside the top 40,000. I’m still 30 points behind the top 10,000 but it now feels achievable. This was easily my best month of ever playing FPL with an average of 75 points per week. There are more blank game weeks to come and more opportunities to make up the difference to the top 10K.