#FPL OCD – Gameweek 11: The pantheon of great double acts?
Give John a follow on twitter at @JohnOC1991
Let’s start with a flashback to last week’s article: “While the loss of 3 points will not define a season, that is 11 points lost from toss a coin decisions, and I am now around the 35k mark, when the right calls would have left me firmly in the top 20k”. That was the 50/50 hole in which I was stuck 7 days ago, and I mentioned that I faced another coin toss decision – Kane vs Lukaku. At 21:50 on Monday night, I was staring down the barrel at another 24 points lost by these bloody coins, and then…a moment of jubilation. One of those moments that FPL, for all of the heartache and frustration, will suddenly provide from nowhere. It often comes from the unlikeliest of places, and a meaningless goal in the final minute of Tottenham vs Aston Villa would, without FPL, barely even register on my mind.
Yet, there I was, an Evertonian, clenching his fist and yelling as Harry Kane swept the ball into the top corner. It was as good as the Aguero 5 goal haul, because Kane (C) was a real differential, and it came at a moment of despair, when my big Monday night captain looked to have failed. This is the joy of the Monday night captain – right up until 10pm on the Monday, you have hope.
In the cold light of day, I still got my 50/50 wrong. Kane’s goal has taken me up to 16k, my highest rank of the season, yet if I had got the last three 50/50s that I have mentioned on here right, then I would be sat at 3k. These are the fine margins with which we work: had Kane not scored with a minute to go, I’d still be in the 30-40k region. However, despite Lukaku outscoring him, the late moment of sheer joy for Kane’s goal was a thrill that FPL will throw up. Had I gone for Lukaku, my feeling on Monday night/Tuesday morning would be disappointment, having seen Kane owners/captainers rocket up from nowhere. It’s a funny old game this FPL.
The other side of the coin is that, unquestionably, FPL can tarnish football. I watched my side score 6 goals, and I was 99.9% delighted. However, it was there. I can’t deny it, it was there. I knew I was close to buying, and captaining, Lukaku, and there he was, assist following goal following assist. I know that I celebrated the Lukaku goal ever so slightly less than I did the others, I know I did. Had I had Lukaku captain, I’d probably have flown through the ceiling. I must not complain though. 79 points, 6 goals for Everton, and another defeat/meltdown for Mourinho – that is a good football weekend by any measure.
One of the most satisfying things was that my FPL team produced in most areas. This was not a score reliant on one player, this was a Spain-esque “team effort”. Van Dijk and Kane settled into my team nicely with 6 and 16 respectively, ably assisted by Butland (11), Bellerin (6), De Bruyne (5), Pelle (6) and, surprise surprise, the seemingly unstoppable Leicester duo. The ever reliable Jamie Vardy chipped in with 7, but it was Riyad Mahrez who stole the show with a wonderful 15 point haul. Batman & Robin, Laurel & Hardy, Lennon & McCartney, Brent & Finchy, Morrissey & Marr, Bergkamp & Henry, Campbell & Jeffers…Mahrez & Vardy. There they sit on the pantheon of great double acts, both providing a mix of high scoring and consistency, completely relentless in their points accumulation. You think they must stop at some point, but on they charge, defying all pre-season expectations.
For that reason, they both have to be considered captaincy options this week. They have proven week in, week out that they are serious armband material – we must ignore price and preconceptions about teams. We must look at form, and this season, Leicester are big hitters (at least in an attacking sense), whereas teams like Chelsea and Manchester United (again, at least in an attacking sense) are not. Mahrez and Vardy are the 2 highest points scorers this season, it would be folly to dismiss them. I am yet to trust either with the captaincy, and it has proved costly.
That said, I am undecided on whether they are the best options this week. I have learned from experience, particularly with Nyom’s clean sheet sat on my bench, that Watford are no pushovers. 5 clean sheets in 11 games is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, and they have only conceded 2 or more goals on three occasions, against Arsenal, Manchester City, and Everton – undoubtedly the three best teams in the league. Therefore, it is not the no-brainer that it may at first appear.
I have options again this week. As it stands, my armband is loosely attached to the bicep of Graziano Pelle. As much as I would like to say Everton were an unstoppable force on Sunday, Sunderland were woefully poor defensively. It is hard to look past the tactic of “captain whichever attacker they are against” (making Mane another option), as they really are appalling at the back. Alexis Sanchez also makes a strong claim. While his form is not the best over the last couple, we all know that he can suddenly spring into life. The North London derby has not been overflowing with goals in the last 2 years, but I vividly recall the 2010-12 halcyon days, a period which saw a 2-3, a 3-3, and two 5-2 results. It is possibly my heart leading my head, but I cannot detach myself from the derby lure.
It is not so much a coin toss as a dice roll. Pelle, Mane, Mahrez, Vardy, Sanchez and De Bruyne. De Bruyne’s stats don’t scream “captaincy”, and despite Aston Villa being dreadful, I’m not sure I have enough faith in him to deliver from a wide position, while Vardy has been outscored by Mahrez 7 out of 8 times the pair have both played more than 60 minutes, but both must be considered. Aston Villa’s weaknesses could make up for De Bruyne’s statistical shortcomings, and it’s impossible to ignore the league’s top scorer, but these 2 are behind the rest of the captaincy pack. From the others, it promises be another late decision.
As far as transfers are concerned, I will either save, or make another defensive switch, potentially Dawson to Smalling. As good as WBA defenders have been, they have difficult upcoming fixtures, and this could be the time to ditch. The problem is that they are up against a toothless Manchester United, a Manchester United that have not scored for 3 games and have had fewer attempts on goal than any other side. It could be a 0-0, so switching from one defence to the other may be risky.
After a couple of mediocre weeks, I have kicked on from the game week 8 extravaganza. Now, I am in the top 20k, poised in the position that I had hoped, lurking like Mo Farah after 800m, just behind the pack, knowing that they are tiring, knowing that they have gone too early, knowing that I have the experience and nous, knowing that I can make my charge.
I will probably fall over shortly.
Written by @JohnOC1991
John went to University, finished his degree, and got a good job in the City of London. He is now in the process of throwing it all away in favour of FPL, a game with no notable rewards for success. He firmly believes this to be the correct decision.