FPL Diary: June and July 2020

FPL Diary: June and July 2020

After months of uncertainty football and FPL have returned and we have a season to finish. There were nine game weeks left of the season when lockdown started, and they were rearranged into a very compressed fixture list. This means my final FPL Diary is going to be longer than usual.

At the end of March I was just outside the top 50,000 with a slim hope of finishing in the top 10,000. With a lot of ground to make up, and two chips remaining, will this be a season to remember or one to forget? Read on to find out!

Game Week Thirty:

Points: 118 (Average: 66) GW Rank: 50,588

Normally the last weeks of the season see lots of blank and double game weeks thrown up by cup commitments. The new look season finale featured only one double game-week with twelve games in the first week back. To build more excitement for the return of FPL everyone was given unlimited transfers. The combination of a wildcard and bench boost in the same week is incredible, and as the only guaranteed double game-week, I had to play this chip here. I could have used my free-hit chip, but that would have nullified the effect of the free wildcard.

After a lot of deliberation I scored an incredible 118 points for my highest ever weekly score and my second best game-week rank of the season. Other managers had a wildcard still available, so could field a team that targeted only this game-week. This meant I don’t have as many double game-week players as other managers. I was worried that I would be left behind by teams filled with double game-week players, but I came out well ahead of many such managers. I was especially pleased that Fernandes, Jiménez and Ings all returned as they have great fixtures coming up.

Man City were the stars of the show scoring eight goals over the two games. Some how Agüero only managed two assists from this bonanza. If I had captained De Bruyne as I originally planned to, instead I would have reached 125 points. Agüero was unlucky as he was rested for most of the Arsenal game and would have been expected to score goals in the second game against Burnley had he not picked up an injury. Eight points in a total of 55 minutes is still impressive. The real stars of the show were Mahrez and Foden with 21 and 22 points respectively.

For the first time this season I made it into the top 30,000. Unfortunately the injuries to Agüero and Leno have left me with problems to fix and this will make it harder to navigate the upcoming fixture lists.

Game Week Thirty-One:

Points: 71 (Average: 62) GW Rank: 2,204,888

How do you follow 118 points? The truth is you can’t. I finished with 71 points which is normally a very good score. Unfortunately this was the week Liverpool won the title and highly owned players were at the heart of a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace. Salah was highly captained and scored 11, Trent Alexander-Arnold was in almost every team and scored 14, whilst Mané and Robertson both got nine points. Martial’s epic 21 point haul and a successful Jiménez captaincy left me in a good position going into the Liverpool game, but I ended the game-week dropping 8,000 places.

I feel quite lucky to get Martial’s 21 points. I bought him expecting good value for money, but I didn’t expect such an explosive return. My transfer for the week was to take out the injured Agüero and to bring in Aubameyang who blanked. I regretted the transfer as soon as I made it. I thought about using my free-hit to cancel it, but I felt that I had better fixtures this week than in later game weeks.

Overall I was happy with 71 points, but even such a good score isn’t enough to avoid a big rank drop.

Game Week Thirty-Two:

Points: 98 (Average: 50) GW Rank: 29,382

For the second time in three weeks I had a fantastic game week. This time I didn’t make it over the 100 point mark, but my game-week rank was even higher. I may not have beaten my game-week rank from game-week 7, but it did lift me up to my highest overall rank of the season to inside the top 15,000. There are still quite a lot of points between me and the top 10,000, but it now feels more achievable than ever.

In contrast to last week, owning no Liverpool players was a blessing as they were thrashed 4-0 by Man City. A lot of important FPL players got great scores this week, so you needed to have many of them to get a good rank. The quartet of Fernandes, De Bruyne, Ings and Aubameyang earned me 74 points between them. Aubameyang’s two goals and an assist were a good nice pay-off for showing faith in a player that many FPL commentators were criticising.

My transfer this week was frustrating. I took out the injured Leno for Dubravka. Bournemouth were thrashed, but managed to score a very late goal to deny me two clean-sheets. To add to the frustration Ederson kept a very unexpected clean-sheet against Liverpool. This meant I would have broken the magic 100 point barrier if I hadn’t made any transfers.

June – Summary

Points: 1961

Overall Rank: 14,133

June was quite simply fantastic. I was averaging over 95 points a week and I ended the month
With only one month and six game-weeks to go, can I continue this fantastic form and rise further up the table?

Game Week Thirty-Three:

Points: 60 (Average: 50) GW Rank: 2,043,416

If you told me only two of my players scored this week, I would be expecting the worst. Nine of my players blanked, so thankfully I captained Fernades this week. The game of the weekend was Man United 5, Bournemouth 2 with goals for Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and two for Greenwood. Unfortunately I only owned two attackers, but they still got me 44 points between them. Just like last week, I lost a clean-sheet to Bournemouth. Owning Maguire is frustrating as it makes it much harder to get in players like Greenwood, who looks like excellent value at the moment.

Away from that game it was an underwhelming week with few stand-out players. Vardy got a couple of goals in a possible return to form, and Man City were beaten one-nil by an excellent Southampton. My transfer was also a non-event with Moutinho leaving my team for Saint-Maximin, who both blanked.

Game Week Thirty-Four:

Points: 63 (Average: 59) GW Rank: 3,140,468

If you look at my score of 63 points, it doesn’t seem that bad, but this week felt like a disaster. With Newcastle facing Man City and Sheffield United facing Wolves, it seemed I needed to free-hit to field a good defence. In fact Wolves blanked and my original team out-scored my new team. That is one of the worst feelings in FPL, knowing that you wasted a really powerful chip. At least with bench-boost and triple-captain you can expect a positive score, even when you don’t get a good score.

I started with a balanced free-hit team, but I decided to gamble. On reflection, I think the gap to the top 10,000 was still manageable and I should have stuck with my conservative team. The thinking was that I’ve had a lot of success from aggressively tripling up on teams. My best week of the season game from tripling up on Leicester, and when Liverpool were keeping clean-sheets every week, having Robertson, Alexander-Arnold and van Dijk was fantastic for my rank. I decided to try and replicate this success by being extremely focused on just four teams.

First Manchester United who won 3-0. I’ve owned three of their players since the free wild-card, but I picked a defender and two attackers. I was jealous of managers who jumped on the bandwagon later and focused on their attacking riches. Owning Maguire has made it harder to get Rashford or Greenwood. All three got returns, but since Maguire kept a clean-sheet the free-hit achieved nothing here.

Second Manchester City. They scored 5-0, which sounds like a fantastic time to own three of their attackers. Foden blanked, and I only got a goal and an assist between Mahrez and De Bruyne. Like Maguire, Ederson kept a clean-sheet so the wildcard was underwhelming here too.

Lastly I need to fill out the team with defenders. The Liverpool defence has brought me so much joy this season after keeping all three early in the season when they couldn’t keep a clean-sheet. This didn’t work as planned at all. Robertson didn’t even start, and Brighton spoiled my fun with a goal. The villain of my week was Salah again with two goals and an assist. He was in my original free-hit team, but I decided to gamble and I really got punished. He was very highly owned and captained so his 18 points really hurt my rank this week. My other defenders were from Chelsea. Crystal Palace have been poor this season but put two past Chelsea. I was hoping for returns from Azpilicueta, but like so many of my players this week he disappointed.

My bench was painful to look at. I wasn’t expecting all my players to play, so I managed to afford Vardy for the bench. I also wasn’t expecting him to score, but he did, so that was 9 points first on my bench. Taylor from Burnley was a cheap enabler, last on my bench, and in fact he was the second highest scoring player in my squad. This was a really demoralising game-week, knowing that my free-hit badly back-fired. My normal team did better, my original free-hit draft was much better, even taking the captaincy off Fernandes was a last minute decision. Chips are a precious resource and seeing it squandered this way was so painful.

Game Week Thirty-Five:

Points: 49 (Average: 42) GW Rank: 2,304,458

After a deeply frustrating free-hit, I only had one free transfer available to fix my team for some awkward fixtures. I could have used Baldock on my bench, but Chelsea seemed like a bad fixture for Sheffield United. so I transferred him out for Söyüncü which turned out to be an awful transfer. Sheffield United managed to win 3-0 and Leicester suffered a shock 4-1 defeat to Bournemouth. To make things worse, Söyüncü got a red card to score -3. This would have been a good game-week if I had done nothing. Once again since the restart, Bournemouth score against my defenders.

There were two must-have players this week and unfortunately I had neither. This meant an average game-week rank was all I could hope for this week. Sterling scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win, and Antonio went one better and scored all four goals in a 4-0 win that confirmed Norwich’s relegation.

Game Week Thirty-Six:

Points: 51 (Average: 40) GW Rank: 1,572,534

Just like last week, the points were spread around the team, with no stand-out players. Man City were disappointing as De Bruyne was benched, and Bournemouth once again denied me clean-sheets. To add to my misery here, I replaced the suspended Söyüncü with Walker, so I lost two clean-sheets to a Brooks goal. My highlight of the week was a Doherty assist to Jiménez which earned me a good chunk of my points this week. If it wasn’t for the red card last week, I would probably have transferred out the inconsistent Aubameyang. The other premium strikers Kane and Jesus both scored, whilst Leicester kept a clean-sheet, so that sending off cost me more points this week.

Game Week Thirty-Seven:

Points: 64 (Average: 53) GW Rank: 1,617,667

The penultimate game-week was a time of great frustration. I finished with perfectly reasonable score, but once again I was reminded how fine the margins are between success and failure. Yet again since the restart Bournemouth were my undoing. Instead of denying me clean-sheets, this time Ramsdale saved a terrible penalty from Ings. He had already scored a goal and was sitting on three bonus points. Missing the penalty and missing out on all the bonus points was a nine point swing. Add in the fact that I captained him, and that eighteen point difference would have made a huge difference to my game-week. Normally in FPL we want players who take penalties, but when they miss it’s brutal.

In total nine of my players got returns, if you include Ing’s four points, which is fantastic. My defence was fantastic this week with four clean-sheets and two assists between them. Even Martial managed an assist despite Man United looking poor against West Ham. Aubameyang was very frustrating too. He blanked as Arsenal lost to Aston Villa, lifting them out of the relegation zone for the first time since February. In the FA cup however, he scored twice against Man City, which unfortunately earns me nothing in FPL.

Despite nine players returning I had my fifth straight red arrow, although a small one. Liverpool were my undoing again. I hoped that a fixture against Chelsea would limit the damage against me. Alexander-Arnold had another monster haul this week, with a goal and assist earning him a total of thirteen points, despite Liverpool conceding three goals in a 5-3 goal-fest. It was the last game of the week and it completely wiped out what would have been a good recovery after four poor weeks. Will I end the season on a high with one last game-week?

Game Week Thirty-Eight:

Points: 72 (Average: 60) GW Rank: 2,001,852

The last day of the season is always a bit special with lots of goals and surprise results. I also have a tradition of making fun moves and captaincy decisions for the last game week. I decided to bring in David Silva . Given how important Silva is/was to City, he was nailed on the play against Norwich, the worst team in the league. He has always been a player I really liked, and a delight to watch. I had good memories of bringing him in for a short spell earlier in the season, and so I just had to have him this week. Man City scored five goals, but Silva managed to blank. That was disappointing, but it was much worse than a normal blank.

This game-week was unusual because so many managers had a free-hit left, so could really target teams that had things to play for. This included players going for the golden boot, keepers going for the golden glove and Kevin De Bruyne going for the record number of assists. KDB was the stand out player this game week, and unfortunately to make space for David Silva I had to transfer out KDB. If I hadn’t he was the clear captain for me this week as my only Man City attacker. With two goals and an assist, this decision cost me 32 points. I was already frustrated by huge swing caused by Ing’s missed penalty last week, but this swing was even greater. This was his joint best score from one game this season, and it meant he became the highest scoring player of the season.

It was really fun going into the week knowing I was going to captain David Silva, but now I feel stupid for trying to have some fun. Perhaps in future I will try to be more serious and not make a pick just for fun, but it’s a shame to lose that tradition. Manchester City are a lottery though, so you have to accept you can’t have all their players when they get explosive returns.

Of course, there are more players in a team than your captain, and with 72 points, this was a good week for a lot of my players. Aubameyang matched KDB with two goals and an assist, so he would have been a great captain. Overall I had 4 goals, 3 assists and 3 clean-sheets, which should be a great week, but the game week average was really high, so my game week rank was over two million. It was at least a small green arrow, which after five red arrows, it was a relief to finish the season with a green million.

My other transfer this week was Fernández to Tarkowski, which also failed as Burnley conceded two to Brighton. This was probably a good thing for me though, as many managers had two or three Burnley defensive assets. A lot had been made of Nick Pope’s dreams of the golden glove, but it wasn’t to be.

Final Points/Ranking

Points: 2320

Overall Rank: 30,257

The longest ever season is finally over, and my feelings are definitely mixed. At the end of June I had a great chance to break into the top 10,000 managers, but a mix of bad luck and bad decisions cost me huge chunks of points. I registered my highest ever points total, and averaged over 61 points a week but I still finished nearly 17,000 places behind my best ever finish. Importantly, I enjoyed the season much more than last season, and had a lot more fun which is the most important thing. I’ll be doing a full season review soon, to take a look at lessons I can learn and how I might change my philosophy for next season.