FPL Diary: December 2021 and January 2022
The festive period is always a highlight of the FPL calendar but this year it was extra-ordinary. Every week games were getting cancelled at short notice and there were even some double game weeks for a few teams. This might be one of the most hectic periods in FPL I can ever remember where planning became almost impossible. The goal for me was just to survive this chaotic time with-out my rank being decimated. Read on to find out if I succeeded.
Game Week Fifteen:
Points: 31 (Average: 43) GW Rank: 7,665,431
Unfortunately we are starting with what is my worst game-week rank of all time. What went wrong? Let’s start with my captain. I captained Kane against Norwich who were the worst team in the league. Spurs scored three goals, but Kane wasn’t involved in any of the goals. For comparison Salah bagged an assist in a one-nil win. His six point return might sound small, but given how many people are captaining him every week, him beating Kane by four points will have hurt my rank.
Did anyone else score a goal for me? Well no. Ivan Toney got covid, and Smith-Rowe didn’t even play. He’s now a big rotation risk because Ødegaard is playing really well and looks really important for the team. This is a worry going into December when every team rotates over the hectic festive schedule.
What about clean-sheets? Man City let slip against Watford, Chelsea had a tough game against West Ham and Southampton conceded to Brighton. That Watford goal really hurt with two Man City players in my team. The Arsenal game was also infuriating, with my goal-keeper conceding twice to Everton who have looked worse and worse in recent months.
Despite my horrific rank and my lowest points score of the season I don’t think my team was that bad. I was expecting clean-sheets from the fixtures my defense had, and Kane should have been scoring goals against Norwich. Hopefully December will only get better. My one transfer of the week was pretty boring. I brought in Guaita to make sure I have a playing goal-keeper for my bench and the Palace defence has been looking pretty good for its price in FPL recently. A playing goal-keeper on the bench isn’t usually that important but going in December I want cover for every position. You never know who will get rotated.
Game Week Sixteen:
Points: 80 (Average: 55) GW Rank: 521,409
Game-week sixteen marked the beginning of games getting cancelled because of Covid. After having a game cancelled for snow, Tottenham then had their game against Brighton called off after an outbreak at the Spurs training ground. Fortunately I had two free transfers so I could react without breaking a sweat. I brought in Dennis and Ronaldo who both rewarded me with goals straight away. I spent ages agonising over who to captain this week. Going against Salah is always terrifying but I decided to target Norwich again. It didn’t work last week but it paid off this week, although the rewards were extremely meagre. The one point advantage I gained going for Ronaldo over Salah is hilarious given how much I stressed over this decision.
Elsewhere on my team most players managed returns. Smith Rowe once again didn’t play which is really frustrating given that they put three past Southampton. My star player this week though was my other Arsenal player Ramsdale with 11 points. With six saves, a clean-sheet and three bonus points this was fantastic. Chelsea conceded twice, but Rudiger got nine points from two assists which is great. I’m slightly surprised my game week rank was so high given that many popular players got high returns. Trent Alexander-Arnold continued his fantastic form with nine points and Conor Gallagher scored twice. After such a bad week last week I really needed this one.
Game Week Seventeen:
Points: 48-4=44 (Average: 45) GW Rank: 3,962,749
This was the week that the fixture cancellations really started to bite. This time three fixtures got cancelled. I had four players involved in cancelled games including a very expensive Ronaldo and my vice-captain Dennis who had a juicy fixture against Burnley lined up. To guarantee a starting eleven I decided to take my first hit of the season taking out Chalobah and Cornet. Chalobah was far too much of a transfer risk and Cornet will be away at the African Cup of Nations soon anyway. In their place I brought in Gallagher who has been excellent this season and Tierney who got a clean-sheet and a bonus point on his debut in my team.
I didn’t have any stand-out players this week. Salah was my top scorer and fortunately I had captained him. I was very worried about making a full eleven this week. Cancelo got rested which meant he missed out on a clean-sheet and Smith-Rowe had become a big worry when it came to play-time. Once again he was benched but he managed to come on and score which is huge when your bench is filled with players whose games are postponed. The most notable game this week was Man City beating Leeds 7-0. The goals and assists were spread out across the squad with De Bruyne getting a brace and five other players getting a goal. Unfortunately I only had Dias who got booked so I only got five points from such a big result. The problem with Man City is knowing who to pick out of the attacking options. If De Bruyne is back to his best he will become a very interesting choice for FPL and could possibly rival Salah as a player to invest in and captain your team.
Overall this was a week where I was just happy to field eleven players even if one of those players Livramento scored zero points. With the number of postponed games growing and calls for more games to be called off, this is the moment everyone realised that December was going to be extremely challenging for FPL managers.
Game Week Eighteen:
Points: 56 (Average: 39) GW Rank: 1,421,841
This week was total chaos with six fixtures postponed because of covid outbreaks. Many of these games were cancelled at really short notice. I waited until Saturday morning to make my transfer, but the Aston Villa game was cancelled after I brought in Ollie Watkins. I took out Antonio who has been frustrating recently but using my transfer on a player who didn’t play was a waste.
Strangely despite there only being four games this weekend, with Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal involved most highly owned players actually had a game. With so much uncertainty I played it safe and captained Salah. I was expecting Spurs players to have lost some sharpness having not played for a few weeks and had their training interrupted by the training ground closure. In fact Spurs looked much improved and they played out a really entertaining 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Team of the week was definitely Man City who beat Newcastle 4-0. With a goal, an assist, clean-sheet and maximum bonus Cancelo really cleaned up this weekend. I briefly considered captaining him this weekend, but Salah against a team that had come through a really disruptive period was too tempting. Missing out on an additional 16 points is just as frustrating as transferring in a player who didn’t play. My favourite moment of the week was Smith Rowe coming off the bench to score a goal for the second week in a row.
Game Week Nineteen:
Points: 54-4=50 (Average: 36) GW Rank: 1,191,916
After only having four games being played last game-week this week was a lot easier with seven games being played. The Liverpool Leeds game being cancelled was very interesting. First it sets up the possibility of a fantastic double game week for some of the best players in FPL. It also gave managers a dilemma. With Salah heading to AFCON soon, the community was suddenly considering whether to transfer out the best player in the game. I decided to make the switch myself, bringing in Son who had good fixtures and the potential for plenty of double game weeks in the future. I also took out Raphinha which was a shame because he’s such an exciting player to watch and own. Son at least was an instant success with a goal against Palace.
There were three big games this week. First Arsenal thrashed Norwich 5-0 with Tierney even getting on the score-sheet for a fantastic 13 point haul. This was a great game for me with three Arsenal players. Smith Rowe managed to score from the bench for the third consecutive week which is pretty crazy. There were even more goals in the Man City Leicester game that finished 6-3. This meant my defenders Cancelo and Dias missed out on clean-sheets but both bagged an assist as compensation. The goals and assists were really shared around so if you had Man City attackers they probably scored.
The third game that grabbed my attention was Man United away at Newcastle. The red devils were awful and captaining Ronaldo suddenly seemed like a terrible idea. This game was a disaster and none of the United players could pass the ball with any accuracy let alone create chances or score goals. I was shocked at how bad they were and I’m determined to get Ronaldo out of my team and never pick any Man United assets for the rest of the season.
Game Week Twenty:
Points: 90 (Average: 37) GW Rank: 270
This week I was almost forced into using a chip. Three games ended up being cancelled, and there was a lot of uncertainty as the deadline approached. The Arsenal Wolves game being cancelled was awful for me with three Arsenal players in my team. I decided to focus on the games played on Tuesday and not rely on Thursday games going ahead. I would prefer to keep my chips until all the double game weeks at the end of the season, but I was feeling very unhappy with my team. My rank had been pretty static for a while, with every hint of progress being wiped out the following week. Normally in this situation I would play my wildcard, but this was an awful week to wildcard with so many fixtures in doubt.
This left the free-hit chip or should I say a free-hit chip. In response to the unprecedented chaos we were gifted a second free hit chip. I would always advocate saving your free-hit chip for the blanks caused by the FA cup semi-finals but getting a second free-hit lets me use a free-hit chip at a different time of the season. I don’t think I’ve used a free hit chip in this way before and it’s so liberating. I was able to target teams like Norwich by bringing in three Crystal Palace players and get the better of rotation at Man City by picking players who were rested only a few days earlier. It worked even better than expected with almost every player getting returns. 90 points was an amazing score giving me my best ever game week rank. I’ve finished just inside the top 5000 a couple of times, but to get inside the top 500 is fantastic.
Obviously to finish this high requires a lot of luck. Salah missed a penalty and Liverpool lost which really hurts the average score. Crystal Palace rewarded my faith with clean-sheets for the defenders and 14 points for Edouard. The Man City and Spurs games lined up really well for me. Both teams only scored one goal but I had both goal-scorers and assisters in my team and they moped up with bonus points as well. The only disappointment this week was that Ronaldo got a goal and an assist against Burnley for twelve points. I took Ronaldo out after Man United were awful against Newcastle. If Ronaldo had blanked I think I would have finished with a two digit rank. Having said that I’m still delighted with my rank of 270. This will be a week I remember for years.
December – Summary
Overall Rank: 191,283
I was treading water in December, unable to make any progress. But that fantastic final game-week lifted my overall rank by over 300,000 places. I struggled with all the cancelled games but every manager has struggled so I think I have come through December better than most. I’m ready to wildcard as well so read on to find how I get on.
Game Week Twenty One:
Points: 91 (Average: 46) GW Rank: 77,729
How FPL can change. After worrying about being able to field a full eleven only a few days ago, we started 2022 with double game-weeks. It was only one extra fixture, but West Ham played Crystal Palace and Norwich in one week. It was clear that I wanted to invest heavily in West Ham. This absolutely paid off with 63 points from just my three West Ham players. I was hoping with so much chaos going on with games being cancelled all the time, other managers might not of been able to react to a double game week at short notice. The only way I could do this was to play my wildcard, but I wasn’t happy with my team so I was happy to do this.
Bowen was the star of the show. I hadn’t expected him to be highly owned or captained but he was by far the most popular captain this week, so this huge return was shared with many other managers. I nearly captained Antonio but went with Bowen for the clean-sheet points and extra points per goal. This was a very lucky escape. Nine points for Antonio was good, but twenty-one for Bowen was sublime. Coufal was also a nice pick with an assist and a clean-sheet. The bulk of all these points came in the second game against Norwich and after one game it looked like this double might be disappointing, but it turned out to be fantastic. There will be plenty more double game-weeks in the months ahead and I hope they are all as good as this one.
My other players all contributed as well with a couple of clean-sheets and assists. The week would have been even better if I had played Tierney against Man City where he got an assist but I only missed out on a few points. Another disappointment was that the Leicester game against Norwich was cancelled which I had brought Maddison in for. Finally during this week it was revealed Son would miss the rest of January with injury. Fortunately there are very few games in January because of the FA Cup fixtures so I decided to keep him on my bench and save my transfers. Hopefully he will bounce back in February and reward my patience with lots of goals.
This was also the week that players would start leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations. Salah leaving could be a big shake up for the FPL season. I haven’t planned yet when to get him back, which is scary. Because he is so expensive you often have to plan transfers over multiple weeks to finance the move. This could be a real challenge and I might gamble and go with out Salah.
Game Week Twenty Two:
Points: 48 (Average: 51) GW Rank: 5,087,710
All good things must come to an end and after back to back amazing weeks, FPL returned to normal for me with an underwhelming week. I was expecting the Arsenal Spurs game to be postponed so I took out Kane for King in anticipation of Watford’s great run of fixtures. The Arsenal game was postponed but Spurs still had one game against Leicester who were awful. Kane scored a goal and an assist earning 11 points. This single decision made the difference between a below average week and a good one. The game itself was incredible and will be remembered for a long time. Spurs dominated the game, played good football but were losing five minutes into injury time. Bergwijn then scored a brace to win the game in the most dramatic way possible.
Not only did I miss out on Kane’s points, but Watford’s game against Burnley was postponed so the double game-week evaporated in front of my eyes. With Dennis captained and King transferred in this was a awful postponement for me. I just didn’t expect a game that had already been postponed to be postponed again, especially as Burnley are facing a real backlog of games to rearrange. Notable players this week for me included Sá who got seven points through saves and bonuses despite not keeping a clean sheet. In fact only Man City and Liverpool kept a clean-sheet this week. Cancelo and Alexander-Arnold also got assists and bonus points on top of their clean-sheets which is why the average score is so high this week.
Game Week Twenty Three:
Points: 27 (Average: 35) GW Rank: 7,142,873
Watford let me down last week, I kept faith with them and they let me down a second time. With games against Norwich and Burnley I couldn’t resist keeping King and Dennis upfront. Many players in the community only had one or other and I was convinced that having both would give me a big advantage. Owning King was a waste of time as Watford failed to score against two of the worst teams in the league whilst captaining Dennis was even worse. He got himself sent off and missed the second game to finish a week that looked so promising with a negative points total.
However it wasn’t just the Watford players that let me down this week. All but two of my players blanked and even my transfer of Coufal to Cancelo backfired. On paper this was a smart move but Coufal was substituted before Man United scored so he still kept his clean sheet points and a bonus point whilst Cancelo failed to return. Frustrating, but I’m glad to have Cancelo back in my team because he’s such a terrific player.
I finished below 30 points for the first time this season, but the average game week score was also at its lowest for the season. My game week rank looks awful, but there are nearly nine million players in the game now, so it isn’t quite as bad as it looks. I fell less than 30,000 places which is pretty modest for such a terrible game week score. I’ve said this before, but it was definitely true this week, it was a good week to have a bad game-week.
January – Summary
Overall Rank: 184,342
January was one great week and two terrible ones. Luckily that one week was enough to push me up the rankings for January even if I only ended the month about 6,000 places higher than I started it. After all the cancelled games in December it was fun chasing double game-weeks. The West Ham double game-week worked spectacularly well but the Watford doubles were a huge flop. The good news is that there are plenty more double game-weeks on the horizon. Join me in two months time to see if I can continue to make progress this season.