#FPL OCD – Gameweek 21 Review: “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”
One thing that has maintained the hope of seasoned FPL managers this season, even at the lowest ebb, has been that, generally, we have saved those chips, those precious, exciting new chips, believing that they can be used to incredible effect at some point in the second half of the season. While those with weaker, or non-existent, histories have stormed to the top of the table, we have been patient, with the hope that experience will prevail, that our FPL nous will tell when push comes to shove. Many occupying the highest slots have already used their chips, and that is where we could make up ground. For me, floating between 10k and 50k for the most part of the season, this was where I could make my move, and storm into the top 1-5k. Looking at my team this week, ahead of the midweek fixtures, I plotted my first attack. I have been benching huge points recently and, unable to make a benching decision, with all of my front 8 looking primed for points, I pulled the trigger on All Out Attack.
Probably my favourite song of all time, Radiohead’s ‘How to Disappear Completely’ (listen to it, it’s beautiful), repeats the line “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”, a mantra given to Thom Yorke by R.E.M’s Michael Stipe, as Yorke struggled with the pressures of fame and touring. It is the line that will occupy my mind for the rest of the week. Just write this article, cry in a dark room for a few hours, then forget that Wednesday night ever happened. I am somewhere else, not an FPL player, enjoying life away from this soul-destroying game. My big moment, my All Out Attack, my team looking certain to bring in huge scores. Ozil, De Bruyne, Alli, Mahrez, Arnautovic, Lukaku, Kane (C), and, alongside them, pulling on the prestigious Liquid Football jersey for the first time, new signing Odion Ighalo. Ighalo, the man who has punished me all season (along with a certain West Ham midfielder, but more on that later). Ighalo, the man who has scored goal after goal, the man who has defied the fixtures to continue racking up points, the man who has brutally prevented my climb up the rankings as I was too stubborn to bring him in. Come in Odion, make yourself at home, and continue what you have done all season. The man making way? Well, it has to be the man who has not scored a brace all season, the man who has a tough away fixture, the man who may be a rotation risk once the squad is at full strength, the man who is occupying a key slot in a top team, one that I may want to use on a certain returning Chilean, the man who must be a makeweight if I want to afford Aguero. Yes, it was the only option. Goodbye Olivier Giroud. I’m not here, this isn’t happening.
Tuesday night was tough – I mentioned in my article last week that Dimitri Payet was firmly on my radar, but I felt that, with Arnautovic at home to Norwich, this was a week to soon. I pulled the trigger immediately after the West Ham match, with Payet due to rise, but the damage had been done. I have not owned Payet all season, and it has been extremely punishing. Both of my tormentors, Ighalo and Payet, are now in my team – I hope I have not missed the boat. Anyway, though Tuesday was tough, I did not have a single player in the matches. Every single man in my team was featuring on Wednesday night, and though I dropped 5,000 places down to 40,000, I was certain to make that up the next day. All 11 players, a dynamite front 8 – 5,000 was nothing. I would be up close to the top 20k in no time.
The Wednesday football began slowly, but that was ok, still plenty of time. Firmino scores – Bellerin clean sheet gone. That’s ok, that was always a risk. Oh, Giroud has scored. That’s irritating, but it’s always a risk when you ditch a quality striker, and Ighalo still has plenty of time. Nothing yet in City vs Everton, but with those two defences it’s only a matter of time. Goal fest guaranteed, and De Bruyne and Lukaku must be involved. Stoke goal, Arnautovic assist! Here we go, the floodgates are open – the points are going to roll in now. Butland clean sheet gone? Again, irritating, but he’s highly owned – it’s not a disaster. I still have Alderweireld, one clean sheet in three isn’t too bad. Very quiet still from my attacking players, but there’s still over half an hour to go. Spurs will surely score, and I have Alli and Kane (C), City vs Everton is guaranteed goals, Liverpool vs Arsenal is so open and Ozil is always involved – the points are coming. 3rd goal for Arsenal, from a corner! Ozil assist surely? What? No? Who got the final touch?
That sinking feeling, that awful sinking feeling. Hello old friend. A brace for Giroud. Remember the wonderful moment in The Simpsons, when Bart pinpoints the exact moment that Ralph’s heart breaks, having been humiliated by Lisa? That was the moment. Giroud’s 2nd goal, that was the moment it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, this was all going terribly. It got to the final minute, and I had…sod all. Well, not quite, I had a couple of tiny rays of light. The Arnautovic assist, his final act in my team, and that lovely Alderweireld clean sheet, cemented at the back. No time left, final whistles blowing around the country. Then, with an almost laughable inevitability, in the news rolled. Leicester goal. At this point, I was resigned to the fact that Mahrez would have no involvement. Robert Huth, a mainstay of my team in the early part of the season, popped up with the unlikeliest of goals. I closed the FPL link, stopped following the football, and began my Google search for high strength painkillers.
My big night, the excitement of having 11 players at the same time, and 8 attacking stars, culminated with 28 points. Those 11 players, destined to propel me up the rankings, conspired to take me to 42,782. I have managed 59 points over the last 2 weeks, gameweek ranks of 2.96m and 2.66m – my worst 2 weeks of the season. There I was, on the cusp of the top 20k, my team looking perfectly settled after a good Christmas spell, and I have sunk like a stone. My squad has, on paper, been excellent, and the FPL Gods have conspired against me (yes, that’s right, I’m going full Jose Mourinho and claiming conspiracy). It is one of those weeks when you wonder why you play this game. The last few days have seen two 3-3 thrillers, a couple of upsets, some great football, and I am left only with disappointment and frustration.
Let’s look at the positives. Come on, it’s not all bad. Having Payet leaves me with a sensational front 8 (on paper anyway), and I still have money left over for Kane to Aguero after Kane’s Sunderland fixture (which suddenly doesn’t look so easy). I have another massive benching headache this week, so we could see a return to bench point woe. However, this week I had nothing on the bench – that’s a positive…right? Also, my biggest concern – going without Aguero – did no damage whatsoever.
The other positives? Well…erm…you know…there were no minus points in the team? Mahrez clean sheet point? No, that’s it, that’s all I have. I’m not here, this isn’t happening. If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the wardrobe.
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.