With plenty of new variables introduced into the equation for Round 3 of EPL fantasy football, it’s an understatement to say my head is scrambled. Before I share my plans for GW 3, here’s a look at how I fared in GW 2.
Note: All expected stats used in this article are from understat.
FPL- GW 2
Salah & Bruno fire blanks
The opener of GW 2, Liverpool vs Burnley, was a nervy watch from a fantasy perspective. Having captained Mohamed Salah despite the “Early Kick-off Curse”, it’s safe to say I wasn’t very confident after the deadline passed.
After going on a walk to clear my head, I grew more optimistic for a Salah haul, but we all know how that ended. The Egyptian was unlucky not to score as his goal was ruled out after he treaded offside by a whisker.
Worse, logging into Twitter after the Salah blank wasn’t a great idea. The managers who captained Bruno were waxing lyrical about how they knew Salah was going to blank all week long because of the “Early Kick-off Curse”. And they just knew their messiah, Bruno Fernandes, was now going to score another hat trick.
Funnily enough, after the Southampton game, the Bruno captainers pulled off a Houdini disappearing act and were nowhere to be found. The Egyptian somehow ended up outscoring the Portuguese and the Salah captainers were proven right (well, somewhat right).
Trent and Tsimikas- The Legendary duo.
Although Salah blanked, his teammates Trent Alexander Arnold and Konstantinos Tsimikas didn’t let me down. The pair got a clean sheet and an assist each and ended up with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Shaw- Bonus Points?
Luke Shaw surprisingly got bonus points despite not keeping a clean sheet- A rare occurrence for defenders. The Englishman made a lot of key passes and was a constant threat from the left-hand side, which earned him the bonus points.
Bentonio- The New Son and Kane
Saïd Benrahma and Michail Antonio (aka Bentonio) are the new FPL power couple in town, wrestling the baton from Son and Kane. The pair have already amassed 53 FPL points in 2 game weeks, scoring a combined 5 goals and providing 5 assists in the process. These numbers are similar to the ones posted by Son and Kane at the start of last season, and blessed with an easy early fixture list, the West Ham star men look set to keep the run going.
Mason Greenwood- The Prodigy
Generational talent!— Mark Goldbridge (@markgoldbridge) August 22, 2021
Mason Greenwood, or “Generational talent” as Mark Goldbridge often refers to him, is living up to his high reputation this season. The Man United academy graduate has already netted twice from 2 starts with an xG of a measly 0.35 — a testament to his clinical finishing ability. In fact, Ole has said that Greenwood is the best finisher on the team.
Mahrez -Late elation; Sanchez-Solid
As a Riyadh Mahrez owner, the Man City vs Norwich match was a game of two halves. The infamous Pep Roulette struck again with the unexpected benching of Mahrez. But I wasn’t surprised as I was always aware of this risk and hoped for the best.
And after he was introduced as a substitute in the 75th minute, I would have been ecstatic even with an assist. I was therefore over the moon to see Mahrez clinically finishing the chance created by Ruben Dias to cap off a fantastic day for Man City and my FPL team.
Elsewhere, goalkeeper Robert Sanchez was relatively untroubled and held onto a solid clean sheet in Brighton’s 2-0 win over Watford.
Fantrax- GW 2 Review
As a rookie Fantrax player, I decided to have a bit of fun and picked mostly players I didn’t own in my FPL team. My most notable Fantrax pick in NMA 11 this week was Sadio Mane, who scored a goal and more importantly outperformed the costlier Mohamed Salah.
In the NMA 17 league, my differential pick Dele Alli worked out well as the Englishman scored the only goal in the Spurs vs Wolves game courtesy of a penalty.
FPL - GW 3 Transfer thoughts
Transfers so far
In: Tino Livramento (£4.0,DEF,Southampton)
Out: Konstantinos Tsimikas (£4.1,DEF,Liverpool)
Free Transfers left: 1
Livramento in Tsimikas Out
For GW 3, my team remains fairly similar to my lineup in GW 2. As mentioned above, I have already transferred out Tsimikas for Livramento earlier as the Southampton right back looked promising against Manchester United and is due a price-rise. And with Andy Robertson’s return from injury, Tsimikas looks set to take his place on the Liverpool bench. To cash in the extra £0.1M gained by owning Tsimkas during his price rises, I was forced to make the transfer in advance.
Riyadh Mahrez- Stick or Twist?
The main decision I have to make this week is whether to keep or sell Mahrez. If a Man City insider could tell me with 100% confidence that Mahrez starts against Arsenal — the worst team in the league for expected goals conceded (5.53) — I would be more than happy to stick with Mahrez for another game week. Since nobody but Pep knows about the Man City lineup, I have to play the notorious Pep Roulette if I decide to stick with Mahrez. My prime Mahrez replacement will be Raphinha who faces Burnley — the 3rd worst team in the league for expected goals conceded (4.32).
Mason Greenwood- A potential rotation risk?
If I do end up sticking with Mahrez, that’ll mean I can go into the upcoming international break with 2 free transfers and address the Mason Greenwood situation in GW 4. Although Mason Greenwood has gotten off to a flier this season, the imminent returns of Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani will see his minutes reduced. So I’m confident about Greenwood’s minutes for the GW 3, but am not too sure if he’ll start after the International break (GW 4) as more first-team Man United players will be up to speed and raring to go.
My current plan
The planner I use for my FPL team is from livefpl- a free-to-use FPL site that displays live ranks and points, provides a transfer planner, and many more useful Fpl tools.
By sticking with Mahrez and risking Pep Roulette, I’ll be able to go into the international break with 2 free transfers. With the uncertainty around players going on international duty to red-listed countries, it could be a safe decision to stick with the Algerian and wait for more information before making the transfers.
Premier League clubs and European Club Association members are set to restrict players from going to 'red-list' countries during September's international break unless quarantine exemptions can be made.— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 23, 2021
FIFA has stepped in after the Premier League confirmed that clubs will not be releasing some of their players for the upcoming international break. #SLInt— Soccer Laduma (@Soccer_Laduma) August 26, 2021
MORE: https://t.co/vE7b8qFN6x pic.twitter.com/nxfdbVUUMY
If I do make the above-mentioned transfer of Mahrez to Raphinha this week, and if Raphinha flies out for international duty, the Brazilian will likely miss out on GW 4 and 5 due to the UK government’s quarantine rules (Brazil is on the red-list), which will leave me in a bit of a pickle. I’m leaning towards sticking with Mahrez at the moment. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
FPL-GW 3 Wildcard draft team
This is the team I would go for if I played a wildcard this week.
With Harry Kane(FWD, £12.3m, Spurs) deciding to stay at Tottenham Hotspur this summer, the striker could be a huge differential if captained this week as most managers wouldn’t look at him as an option, simply because he is quite hard to fit in courtesy of his hefty £12.3m price tag. A wildcard could be the best way to get to the England captain.
One notable absentee from the draft is Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese magnifico is omitted from this draft as Man United’s fixtures get tricky soon and the money could be more valuable when spent elsewhere.
Fantrax- GW 3 plans
As I mentioned earlier, for my Fantrax teams I’ll be looking to shoehorn all the players I’d like to have in my FPL team but can’t fit in. Sticking to this theme, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Patrick Bamford, and Raphinha make the cut for my Fantrax NMA 11 team.
Some notable picks in my NMA 17 team include Reece James (attacking threat down the right-hand side with an xG of 0.48 and xA of 0.98 in 112 minutes), Virgil Van Dijk (a threat from set-pieces with an xG of 0.23 in 4 shots from 2 games), and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (scored a hattrick in Arsenal’s recent 6-0 win over West Brom in the EFL Cup).
What are your transfer plans for the upcoming GW? Is Mahrez a twist or stick? Is Greenwood a rotation risk from GW 4? Has Harry Kane gone under the radar with only 7% ownership? Will Son and Kane pick up where they left off last season? What are your thoughts on transferring to Raphinha? Do you have questions of your own? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.