It’s been a strange international break for me. On what was a classic FPL weekend for me in GW29, I promised wife that ‘next weekend, I would do whatever she wanted to do’, safe in the knowledge that there was no Premier League on (aren’t I clever).
The problems started last Friday, Reeves and Mortimer were on Comic Relief and I was told to switch it off, that the comedy pair were silly. Saturday I went to Ikea, and by Sunday morning I was posting messages on the internet saying ‘does anyone know when anything’s gonna happen?’. In the end I found myself at a Floral Garden in Surrey happy with a nice cup of tea and a daffodil behind my ear. I had lost control.
Fortunately since then, Chris got on my case and reminded me that there is still a reason to live, and that even while nothing is happening, I still have a purpose, someone needs me. Thank you Chris.
I love you.
Anyway, the point of this ramble is not to detail my sorry existence to you but instead to have a little look at what is without doubt, the most pivotal point of this season so far. Pivotal. Pivotal. PIVOTAL!!!
For me, the key aspects contributing to this pivotal time accumulated through February and March, and this is where we are. IT’S BUSINESS TIME.
THE DIARY AND THE DOUBLES
The first point I’ll make is that the Premier League diary is almost full, and crucially there are no more ‘blank’ gameweeks, except for WBA who will miss out in GW34. You will remember last season, and the hurdles we had to overcome, especially for those of us that loaded up on GW34 double gameweekers to then battle through GW35 with most of them not playing (bloody Klopp). Well that stuff’s done with this season, we’ve ridden out the blanks in GW26 and GW28 and we’re now out the other side, with a virtually full fixture list to come.
The Semi-Finals of the FA Cup are being played in GW34, but the associated postponements have been shifted to midweek, so no blanks. We also now know that in that week GW34, some rearranged fixtures will be played, meaning there will be double gameweeks for:
- Manchester United – Burnley (away), Man City (away)
- Middlesborough – Bournemouth (away), Sunderland (home)
- Crystal Palace – Liverpool (away), Tottenham (away)
Then there are a load of other fixtures to be rescheduled. Rumour (or logic) has it that the most likely week for these fixtures will be GW37. They are:
- Chelsea v Watford
- Southampton v Man United
- Arsenal v Sunderland
- Man City v West Brom
- Leicester v Spurs
*Plus there is Southampton v Arsenal, which we can expect to be rearranged for one of the other remaining gameweeks, although it is unlikely that it will also be in GW37. According to my sources, the dates for these fixtures will be announced next week, and once that happens, the fixture list will be complete.
Now what all that means is that we can now really start planning for the run in, and for many of us, when we would like to use our chips! Further, this is the last international break of the season, so after this carnage has passed, we’ll have 6 gameweeks in April, then 3 gameweeks in May.
THE FFUK TOP 10
Week after week we can talk about Nick Johns (1st) and Sean Colohan (2nd) and their lead at the top but soon, in fact in about 6 weeks time, one of these two are probably gonna win it, and then there will be no lead, there will be no catching them, they will have done it. These two have been battling it for months, and if you remember back, it used to be a Top 3, with Stuart Newton (18th) a mainstay too. Nick currently sits 15 points above Sean, but I’m sure there is more to this battle yet.
I know I’m talking like it’s all over, it’s all decided, but I also know that it’s not quite right to do so. It just seems difficult to see one of those two slipping, or someone else coming along, and gaining the 80-100 points required to catch up with them. But if there was someone, Matt Reid (3rd) certainly has both the position and the potential to do so….
Matt is my fantasy buddha, and that’s not to say that I fantasise about him, as a buddha, but just that from a fantasy football perspective, he is my buddha. I’m sure that makes sense. Matt cemented 3rd place in the most recent gameweek with an excellent score of 94 points. For those that haven’t been watching Matt with little binoculars, did you know, Matt has actually played the AOA chip successfully. Unbelievable yes, while we all thought the chip was unplayable, Matt actually profited from this chip back in GW21, with a total of -3 points from the 3 defenders left on his bench. He deserves an award for that alone, but another fact about Matt’s team is that he owns the highest value team in the entire league, a whopping 107.7m value. It’s a very simple thing, money, and although money doesn’t necessarily translate to success, as you can see from the league positions of both Matt Reid and the Top 2 as well (Nick Johns 106.7m, Sean Colohan 104.9m), there is much more opportunity for those with cash than those without.
Or so I thought. Among the lowest team values in the Top 50 are Neil Freeland (5th) at 100.4m and David Pegg (7th) at 101.0m, and they seem to be doing pretty bloody well. The way I look at it, the difference between Matt Reid’s team and Neil Freeland’s team is 7.3m, and that’s the equivalent of Neil owning Diomande and Matt owning Sanchez, assuming the rest of their teams are the same. Fair play to the likes of Neil and Peggy. Neil is among the lowest in the Top 50 when it comes to number of transfers made, he’s been holding Hull’s Tymon since GW6 and he put Diomande in his original team, playing them for the odd 1 point every so often. This is a seriously impressive example of the different strategies at play, and I’m loving Neil’s stoic FPL style. And Peggy’s story is very similar, these two are two bargain basement hunters, and they stick to their squads. Peggy has owned Johnny Evans for the whole season, since day one, and that was a decent pick. What’s slightly more unusual is that Peggy loves a solid midfield, and in the course of the season has owned FPL oddities such as Matic, Barry, Drinkwater, and Cleverley? David Pegg has been in the top spots since December, his current rank is 34,309 in the world. In our league, out of 198 people, David Pegg is 7th, and in GW14, when he scored 92 points, Matic, Barry and Drinkwater were all in his squad (and they scored 1 point between them). Sorry, just to confirm, in GW14, Peggy’s midfield was Sanchez, Mane, Matic, Barry, Drinkwater. When Peggy wildcarded in GW26, he took out Barry, and who did he bring in, you ask? Capoue. Gangster. And I still take hits for my bench players.
Of the remaining players, only Andy Jackson (8th) is a mainstay in the Top 10, entering way back in GW4. That’s serious, and best of luck to Andy to hold his position for the run in. Phil Smith (4th) joined in the fun in GW24, and is looking solid, while Toby Jones (10th) stuck his toe in GW29. Paul Austin (9th) has been a member of the elite for three gameweeks while Sean Griffin (8th) arrived at the party in GW23. It’s also worth mentioning Jim Wheat (11th) who has suffered a recent fallout, largely due to going against the grain with Captain Barkley last gameweek. For these guys, it’s been all about navigating the blank gameweeks and the City/Stoke double fixture.
12 points currently separates 7th and 10 place, a small margin exemplifying the competition for those top places. A further 27 points, from Toby Jones on 1608, to Richard Green in 20th on 1581 points shows how fiercely the hunting pack are coming behind them, snatching at their feet, they can smell that meat, their teeth are snapping, and their mouths are dripping.
Where was I? Finally, a quick chip count for the Top 10. For those chasing, the chips are an advantage for sure, and plenty of chips have already been played at the top.
CHIPS AVAILABLE TO THE FFUK TOP 10:
Bench Boost: 8
Triple Captain: 3
Total available: 18
Total spent: 22
That’s not a lot of chips left, which may provide some encouragement to the rest of us. We know that a load of players burned their Triple Captains on Aguero in the dgw and I have even heard speculation that this was the best time to play it, for Aguero’s 9 points. I simply don’t agree with that, and expect to see some wilder profits from that chip before the season is out, particularly if any of the remaining doubles produce a big hitter big score. The other factor that offers further encouragement is that although there are plenty of BB’s still to play, very few can capitalise on a wildcard/bench boost combo, meaning that if the bench boost is to be used to greatest effect, transfers and hits will have to balance out the squads.
The prize fund for the Top 10 places in the FFUK League totals £1175.
Yep. The prize fund for the Top 10 places in the FFUK League totals £1175.
That’s a lot of cash, on top of the kudos to those who finish in the top places.
In Part 2, I’ll remind everyone of the prize funds for the remaining prizes, mention some front runners in those competitions, and hopefully, provide some optimism. There are 9 weeks left in the season, and a lot is going to happen between now and then.