FPL Community Questions: Gameweek 3

I’m joined by Dru and Ali, or FPL Gaffer as he’s known on Twitter, from FPL Academica to answer the community’s hottest FPL questions with regard to the upcoming Gameweek 3

Welcome back to our ‘Community Questions’ series where I (Simon), usually have my say on the communities conundrums in an attempt to provide a different perspective, or perhaps some statistical information or insight some of you may not have thought about.

Each week, I’m going to set up a thread and ask the community what questions they have and I’ll pick the interesting ones, or the questions that apply to a wider majority, to feature on this article where myself and a guest/guests from the FPL Twitter community will join me in providing you with our own answers.

This week, I’m joined by two members of the FPL Academica crew….

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Ali, or FPL Gaffer as he is known on Twitter, is a co-founder of FPL Academica, a WordPress blog like ours that also offers fantastic, high quality content. He also works as the Saints writer for Planet Podcast. He’s an active member of the FPL Twitter community has been playing for 3 seasons. You can find him personally here >> https://twitter.com/FPL_gaffer

Dru is the FPL Academica & Fantasy Football Academy Content Co-Ordinator. He joined the FPL Twitter Community in November and off the back of a top 5% finish in his first season playing FPL, he aims to push on and nail a top 100k finish this time out. Like Ali and all the other members of the FPL Academica crew, Dru is an active member of the community and you can find him personally here >> https://twitter.com/DynamicDru

If you want to sample the content they produce, you can find that here >> https://fplacademica.wordpress.com

The Silva conundrum: Now that David is back, does it diminish the prospects of Bernado?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

Pep has talked about how he would protect David and use him more sparingly throughout the season, so if anything, Bernado’s responsibility, especially with KDB out for a while, is greater. So of the two Silva’s, David is going to be the one who will be more subject to rotation and limited minutes. As we saw in the game, he went off on 64 minutes and Bernado played 90.

Of course, his blank was disappointing considering City bagged 6, but he was playing virtually as a wing back, so it’s difficult to judge him on this performance alone. He did however miss a very good chance. Whilst the appeal, naturally, because of the blank and David coming back has diminished somewhat, I still think Bernado’s a great FPL asset that will provide value. 

Dru (FPL Academica): 

Personally I’ve shyed away from Bilva so far this season. Even with KDB’s unfortunate injury making him more nailed, he’s prone to not playing in the optimal positions. As a CM or potentially even a RWB with the Pep Roulette getting even wavier on Sunday, he simply won’t get the goal involvement ratio you want from him.

He came into the season with average xG and xA stats last season and although City score a lot of goals, the 6-1 vs Huddersfield within which he neither assisted nor scored showed this big flaw. I’d look to a number of £6.5s such as Richarlison or Maddison before looking at Bilva moving forward. Dilvas return will limit his starts and further reduce his appeal.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

B.Silva did appear to be a really cheap way into the Man City midfield. He also appeared to be the only one assured of a start, following Pep’s comments about how well he played preseason. He has started both, and importantly, he’s finished both games as well. This suggests that Pep trusts him in his starting XI.

I was really confused about the City line up going into the Huddersfield game, until the game began and it appeared that B.Silva had been moved to right wing back and subsequently, he didn’t provide any returns. However, that is Walkers position and I fully expect him to get it back ahead of the Wolves game, moving B.Silva more central again with either D.Silva or Gundogan. If you can stretch your budget, take David, but Bernardo will continue to offer great value throughout the season.

Best approach for those looking to wildcard soon with regard to Liverpool player ownership and their tougher upcoming fixtures?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

I would advise not trying to be too clever with this. Liverpool have shown that they can compete with the big boys, beating Man City the last 3 times they’ve played them scoring 9 goals in the process. So from an attacking perspective, I wouldn’t be worrying about owning both Mané and Salah, for example, whatsoever.

From a defensive perspective, it is a little different. They kept 3 clean sheets in the 10 fixtures last season against the other ‘big 6’ teams. A 0-0 with United at Anfield, a 3-0 drubbing of Man City at Anfield and a 4-0 demolishing of Arsenal at Anfield. So given that all 3 of those came at Anfield and 2 of the 3 difficult fixtures coming up are away from Anfield, with the one at home being against the current Champions, who will want revenge, I’d say it’s unlikely they keep any clean sheets HOWEVER, remember why you paid premium for the likes of Robertson or Van Dijk.

You paid it not just because they are likely to get a good number of clean sheets, but because they should get decent attacking returns also. So I personally wouldn’t worry about owning 2/3 Liverpool players if you’re on wildcard or planning to use it soon.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

Liverpool proved last season that they can score big against the big boys. 4-3 and 3-0 wins against the Champions City showcased this. Even with a run of fixtures like that, expect Mané and Salah to notch plenty of returns. Robertson becomes less valuable in this period and opting for another premium defender be it Alonso, Davies or Mendy could be the way to go.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Liverpool beat Man City (arguably the best team in Europe at the time) 3 times last season (albeit two were in the CL) showing that they can score against anyone on their day. They’ve made some big signings that give them a more solid core and have kept two clean sheets in their opening two games, giving value in their defence that hasn’t been there previously.

They’ve improved their squad with the intention to win the league and those are three games that they’ll be going to try and take 6/9 points from. I’d probably avoid their defenders around that spell, because the opposition strikers are just as likely to score as Liverpool are, but certainly invest in their two big midfielders, as we have been already.

Does Salah need reconsideration at his huge price given the form of Mané and seemingly no penalties? 

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

We don’t know for sure that just because Milner took that penalty and Mané took a couple in pre-season that Salah is completely off them. Salah wanted to take the penalty but was overruled by Milner, suggesting to me that Klopp is happy to let the players on the pitch decide. Irrespective of that, last season Salah scored 303pts and how many pts of that total came from scored penalties? Just 5 – he only scored 1 penalty for Liverpool in the Premier League last season.

Salah also averaged 8.42pts a game last season and is currently on 8.5pts a game from his first 2 games, so despite, according to many, having an ‘off night’, he’s still on target to hit his score last season. He’s also posting similar underlying stats to last season, suggesting his role in the team hasn’t changed at all.

So for me this is easy; is Salah worth keeping? Hell yes.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

The first point to consider is that Salah scored just two penalties last season. It’s not news that he has to give way to Milner for penalty duties and pre-season showed even Mané may take priority in terms of penalties in absence of Milner.

There is some talk that with teams doubling up on Salah, he’s swapped roles with Mané and there could be a big points swing. That being said, we’re only two weeks in and the sample size is too small to judge. Salah has had chances in both games and on another day would’ve outscored Mané. For me the risk-reward balance was and is poor for ditching Salah, so I wouldn’t advise it.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Salah only took two penalties for Liverpool in the 17/18 season, so don’t let that steer you away from his ability to get you FPL points. He missed one of them and still finished above 300 FPL points. He has returned in both of his opening games, and he’s yet to hit form. When he does, he’ll be a must own.

Due to his price tag, it would be difficult to transfer him in without taking hits. Therefore, I’d say you’re better to own him and sell him should he not perform after five or six games, than for him to hit form and you need to re-jig your whole team to accommodate him.

Is Mané the real deal? and Pedro or Mkhitaryan? 

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

Mané: I think the scramble to get Mané in is justified, given that he’s not only beating Salah on points currently, but is posting similar underlying stats to him for a much cheaper price. As I said previously, Liverpool’s attack is fixture proof, so I don’t think, from an attacking perspective, the fixtures toughening makes much of a difference to Mané or Salah.

Pedro or Mkhi?: I’ve spoken to a few Chelsea fans about Pedro and they think he suits the system better than Willian and that Sarri prefers him because of this. But I can’t help but think that when Hazard is back and playing, that Pedro will face inevitable rotation with Willian. Willian is simply too good a player to simply sit there and only come on from the bench now and again.

Mkhitaryan on the other hand, I think is nailed on. Emery has shown us where he prefers Lacazette to play. When Lacazette plays, he plays as the striker and Aubameyang shifts out to the left, leaving Mkhitaryan’s only real competition for a spot on the right as Iwobi. I think Mkhi is going to flourish under Emery in this system and not only has brilliant fixtures, but is passing the eye-test AND posting great underlying stats (most chances created). So it’s Mkhitaryan for me.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

Mané: As I alluded to in my earlier answer, yes. Liverpool will score goals against the big boys and by the time their fixtures pick up you might’ve lost a big chunk of cash on not buying Mane.

Pedro or Mkhi?:

I’m personally not a big fan of either. Unless Willian/Hazard & Ramsey/Lacazette continue to be benched then they both provide a significant rotation risk. However, if they prove nailed on Mkhi is the stronger option. He had plenty of chances vs Chelsea and on another day gets a mega haul. He showed glimpses of form at United last season and his link up with Auba should only get stronger. Sarri might look to keep his winning squad but I can’t see Hazard settling for a spot on the bench anytime soon.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Mané: Personally, I don’t own Mané and haven’t brought him in because I’m not sure his incredible start is sustainable. While he’s still only £9.8m, he is only a single transfer (or -4) away from your squad. I’d wait, and assess again after Liverpool’s fixtures turn bright again.

Pedro or Mkhi?: Mkhitaryan. I’ve just brought him in to replace Alexis. I think Hazard is knocking on their door for a start and it’s a coin flip (as it has been for several seasons) as to whether Pedro or Willian starts as well. Whichever does start, you can guarantee they’ll be subbed for the other too.

He’s had a great start to the season but I can’t see him playing 90 minutes every week. Mkhitaryan on the other hand, played a great game vs Chelsea and has a run of dream fixtures coming up. He links well with Aubameyang and can play centrally or on the right side. If Arsenal want top four, they’ll be looking to go on a winning streak now and he’s a key factor in that.

Keep or get rid of Eriksen and which bargain midfielder is best? 

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

I’d say no to keeping Eriksen. He looks to be operating a little deeper currently, with Alli and Lucas the supporting cast for Kane and with Trippier taking some of his set-pieces, his assist potential diminishes somewhat.

Anyone of Mkhitaryan, Richarlison, Pedro, Maddison I believe are good options to downgrade Eriksen to raise the funds for Alonso. If you want get even more funds, Kanté in his new role under Sarri should be prove great value this season (we’ll talk more about him in a later question).

Dru (FPL Academica): 

The fears that Sarri-ball may limit Alonso’s attacking contributions are well beyond us now. He’s got a good run of fixtures coming up and is the same Goalonso we all know and love.

Eriksen and a £4.5m is cumulatively far worse than Alonso and a £6.5/7.0. It’s tough to make picks around that range though. Richarlison is the best by far but assuming there’s a good chance you already own him, so I’d point you to the likes of Mkhi or Maddison. Mkhi the best option by far if nailed but Maddison not a bad shout regardless.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Spurs have a couple of tricky fixtures before a patch of brilliant ones, if you’re downgrading him then you need to commit to that, as it’ll be challenging to bring him in ahead of Brighton, Huddersfield and Cardiff in GW 6-8. I do feel Alonso is a must own again, so would probably take the hit and downgrade to Richarlison. If you own him, then Mkhitaryan and if you own him, I’d consider another Arsenal midfielder.

Time to say goodbye to David de Gea and Man United defence?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

Even as a United fan, I can’t sugarcoat it. We were absolutely terrible against Brighton, offensively and more importantly, defensively. I think we were unlucky to concede vs Leicester, so perhaps if that goal doesn’t goes in, this question doesn’t get asked, but more than anything, I think it was the way we lost against Brighton that was a big worry.

Having said that, it doesn’t look like the approach from Mourinho has changed. We’re still playing in a defensive way and this, over a long term period, will pay dividends from a defensive perspective, as we saw last season. After the Spurs game this weekend, the fixtures look good for the next 5, and even against Spurs, a clean sheet isn’t impossible (beat them 1-0 at OT last season).

I wasn’t however, an advocator of spending £6.0m on DDG to begin with, as I didn’t feel he would replicate the total points tally he managed last season. So, given that Ederson and Allison are £0.5 cheaper and playing in a team that are looking much more solid at the back, if you want a set and forget keeper, I’d advise going with one of those over DDG.

Shaw and Bailly at their prices, are worth holding on to for the time being in my opinion. Of course, with Shaw’s injury and Valencia looking to make a return at the end of this month, an eye must be kept on him, but those who bought him already knew that.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

There’s two sides to this. Yes I would look to ditch my United defence but I wouldn’t prioritise the removal of a goalkeeper. Unless you have no other fires to put out, then DDG out has a very low ceiling in terms of points gain and isn’t worth it in my opinion.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Sadly, yes. They host Spurs then are away from home twice, one of which to Watford who are in great form. United don’t look like keeping a clean sheet, so I’d be jumping ship. As you suggest, Chelsea do have some great fixtures and Alonso is the one to own. If you’ve got him and want a double up then the keeper holds good value and started with a clean sheet in his tenure. He wasn’t bad against Arsenal, he made four saves and the goals were both good goals that he conceded.

Another team to consider are Arsenal. Though they have looked shaky, their centre backs attack corners well and they do play with attacking wing backs.

Kanté a bargain?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

Yes he is. This article highlights everything you need to know about Kanté’s new role under Sarri >> http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11668/11477417/n8217golo-kante8217s-new-role-at-chelsea-has-positives-and-negatives 

From an FPL perspective, Kanté could be gold at his price.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

Yes! If Kanté continues to make plenty of forward runs then he provides a great enabler. I wouldn’t rush to get him in, but rather wait to see how he plays once Hazard and Kovacic begin to make the starting XI. They might limit his runs forward but nonetheless he’s a solid option. I back him to start every game, get 15+ clean sheets and 5-6 goal contributions this season. That would see him earn in excess of 100 points and provide great value for money.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

Not for me. Even though he seems to have had a new set of instructions, I’m not sure how long it will last. He is getting forward but his first instinct is to turn back and feed the ball wide, rather than playing a pass to Morata or go for goal himself. I think he’ll be a consistent assister for the assister, before he’s pulled back to sit in the gap again. In that price range, there are more offensive options that also take free kicks for their clubs.

Who will play in the front 3 for Chelsea with Hazard expected back?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

As I stated in the ‘Pedro or Mkhi’ section, I’ve spoken with Chelsea fans who have told me that Pedro is more favoured when it comes to him and Willian. So based on that, I’d think that when Hazard comes back, Pedro would keep his place based on Sarri preferring him from a tactical point of view, but also because Pedro has been fantastic in pre-season and in the first 2 games of the new season.

There’s still a slight niggle in the back of my mind that Willian is simply too good a player to be left consistently on the bench and therefore Pedro, will be subject to inevitable rotation, but perhaps, at £6.6m, he’ll do enough with his time to justify the cheaper price anyway and take that variable out of the equation.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

It’s almost impossible to call but if forced to take a stab at it I’d say Hazard-Giroud-Pedro. It’s Morata’s place to lose and despite scoring vs Arsenal I expect him to lose it with time.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

I think it’ll be the same as it’s been for a few seasons. Hazard will control the left side, being subbed around 70 mins when Chelsea are winning (as he works damn hard when he plays), Morata will lead the line (for now – if he plays how he played towards the end of last season then Giroud will definitely come in, Sarri won’t be scared to ditch Alvaro) and Willian and Pedro will share starts and be subbed for the other very frequently.

Bernado Silva for Mkhitaryan a good move? 

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

Based on the current stats, Mkhitaryan is beating Bernado for expected assists and expected goals and is cheaper than him. He has amazing fixtures and Arsenal as a team, looked good from an attacking perspective last time out against Chelsea, so it’s a move that makes sense.

The only reservation I have about Mkhitaryan, is his consistency. Can he keep this up? Based on the information we have of him in the Premier League, it would suggest not. He had a good spell at the start of last season for Man United, then went completely off the boil. Some may argue that was Mourinho’s fault, but even under Wenger, a manager that was said to suit him much more, he struggled to maintain consistency.

I still think, as I said earlier, that Bernado is a fantastic option and that perhaps, owners may be frustrated with him for not getting a return in a 6-1 game, which is frustrating of course, but if you’re acting out of frustration, then it’s emotion rather than logic and there’s no room for emotion in FPL.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

At this point Mkhi, is by far the better prospect. Bilva showed on Sunday that his goal involvement ratio isn’t the best and he’s never had insane xG or xA for City. Both face a rotation risk and have good fixtures but for the extra funds and better goal involvement ratio I’d go Mkhi.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

I own them both because I’m not ready to give up on Bernardo yet. I’m unsure why he played at right wing back but I’m not sure he’ll take that spot away from Kyle Walker, and I expect him to move central again. He scored six goals and provided four assists from a wide right, substitute role last season and is already off the mark in this. Wait to see how Pep uses him now D.Silva is back, and try to bring Mkhitaryan in through another channel.

Mkhitaryan or David Silva?

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Simon (FPL Connect): 

As I mentioned in the first question, Pep has already spoken about using David Silva sparingly this season, so as good as he looks, I wouldn’t be too keen owning him if he’s going to be protected a lot throughout the season. So Mkhitaryan would by my advocation.

Dru (FPL Academica): 

Dilva and Mkhi alike both appear prone to rotation, so I’d take the cheaper option in Mkhi. Arsenal might have good fixtures but that goodness doesn’t translate to their defensive prowess. They lack pace in central defence with a shaky goalkeeper in Cech.

Ali (FPL Academica): 

I’d go for Mkhitaryan out of the two because Silva has only started once so far, and he was withdrawn early in that game too. Pep suggested he would fade Silva out, so you’d want to monitor his playing time.

Mkhitaryan is almost a certain starter for Arsenal, their fixtures are great and he’s over a million cheaper. Mkhi gets my vote after providing six attacking returns in 11 games for Arsenal last season. We wouldn’t expect returns every single game because of his price tag, but he does offer good value. If D.Silva is started 4/5 games and providing frequent returns, then reassess.

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