We’re in the final straight now! With just under a third of the season left it’s no time to be taking it easy. Now’s the time to take advantage of others who have fallen by the wayside and blast past those ghost ships. You probably won’t be in contention for the top prize, but you need to give yourself a target. A realistic target… Whether it’s top 100, 1000, 10,000 or to win your league the minimum should be to beat last seasons score to prove to yourself you’re on the right track. And hopefully we’ve been of some use here at FPLaddicts!
Liverpool’s defence. 5 clean sheets in 6 games! Plus, 5 clean sheets away from home in a row!! Who would’ve thunk it!?! Now… I’m not one to speculate on bizarre and stupid conspiracy theories BUT bear with me… Stevie Gerrard announced he was leaving Liverpool after the 2-2 draw at home to Leicester (harder opposition than we first thought eh?) on New Years day, and when did this amazing run start? That’s right, the very next game. Coincidence? Nah. It has resulted in a massive downgrade in Stevie G’s presence in the first team which has impacted on their general play and in turn their tightness at the back. Whether that downgrade in squad status would’ve happened anyway is conjecture, it may well have been on the cards and been the catalyst for him announcing it… That’ll be in an autobiography in a few months no doubt. Let’s be honest, Stevie is still a massively talented player who will always be an icon of one of the biggest clubs in the world. Not easy for me to say that, never mind write it in a blog article I’m ultimately responsible for… But I digress. His latter career role as the defensive midfielder gave Liverpool a lot of benefits. His passing range is still impressive enough and he did bring that passion that only a Scouser playing for his club can. He was composed and his defensive side of the game was ok. But, he also brought a few negatives. Whenever he played it felt like the team was giving him the ball all the time, and he took that as he was running the show. It felt like he was playing the role of quarterback in a team run by a manager that has very specific footballing principles against that. It felt like the quick passing, team football that succeeded so well last season, and is the basis of Rodgers’ relative success thus far, was being sacrificed to help find a spot in the team for “the icon”. Rodgers’ probably felt like he had to play him. I mean come on, the splashback from the faithful would’ve been fierce without any sort of well understood phased retirement plan. The announcement of him leaving must’ve felt like a weight of the gaffers’ shoulders. Now he has a reason not to have to play him week in and week out without the possibility of negative feedback from the fan base. He has to plan for the future surely?!? It has meant that the quarterback, slightly disjointed, often slow style of play has made way for the likes of Henderson, Lucas, Allen to take more responsibility and play the style Rodgers’ wants and knows will succeed. And you know what, they’ve flourished… I don’t intend this to be a slight on LFC or Stevie G. I’m going for the opposite. Liverpool will keep growing better from this and if the footballing gods see fit, they’ll beat United and/or Southampton to European football next term. From an FPL perspective… City, United and Arsenal in the next 5 is a tough gig but the former 2 are at home so could be fruitful. Their run home though is delightful, particularly with their defensive record away from home. I would suggest holding fire no matter how successful they’ve been, there are better gambles to be had right now with a plunge happening on their last part of the season. With an increasingly fit Sturridge, anything is possible.
Honourable mentions. LDS (Little Davey Silva). Perma-captain Aguero doing a job again for a lot of us. Well City as a whole for turning it on at home… Team mates putting the boot into Barton. Coutinho.
Everton’s defence. 13 defensive errors leading directly to goals… Highest in the top 5 European leagues… Seriously it’s hard enough keeping it tight at the back in the EPL without giving goals away for free. If any positive spin can come out of this, it’s that there is huge scope for improvement. Whether we see that this season is a big question mark! Going forward… I’m finding it harder and harder to believe Tim Howard will be at the club next season. He’s not the only problem but we did feel a little better, safer when Robles was between the sticks, particularly after he’d played a few and was more settled. We did go 3 in a row without conceding until Howard came back… Whether Robles is the one to take over full time I highly doubt, at this stage, but we need to give him the chance. Jags and Stones could make a great partnership for a few seasons and we’ve got one of the best full back partnerships going around. But they aren’t performing regularly enough. Coleman seems to be having the post-breakout season blues and needs to get back up to his own lofty standards and Bainesy still seems off. Jags and Stones need time to marry as a defensive partnership, for want of a better term! McCarthy has been a huge loss this season. His workrate is vital and his composure under pressure is up there. If he was able to play more with Besic then we’d be a lot better placed than currently. Barry is cooked. Once those 7 positions are bedded down and stable there will be improvement, unfortunately it may not happen this season… Whilst we’re still in the Europa League our EPL form will suffer. Especially the game after a European adventure! We’re yet to win a game this season after one of them… I traded in Stones last week, and am starting to regret it. The run home is pretty good, but it doesn’t seem to matter who the opposition is when i comes to leaking goals.
Honourable mentions. Chelsea supporters’ train etiquette. LVG’s blinkers. The extent of Sherwood’s job… Not having the balls to put a fiver on the obvious nil-niller between Sunderland and West Brom.
Ryan Bennett Award – Danny Rose. Crackin little player I must admit, but should’ve been scoring a heap more attacking points than he does… If FPL was based on potential output then he’d be on the radar but unfortunately it’s actual output, and he actually doesn’t score enough. Maybe next season…
Jonjo Shelvey Award – Esteban Cambiasso. Not playing a fantasy relevant position and can’t, nay shouldn’t be relied upon to score you attacking points.
Jamie Vardy Award – Steven Naismith. Was a huge player at the start of the season but expectedly his scoring dropped off. He’ll still bob up with the odd goal but his role is more of a defensive forward now rather than an out and out goal scorer like others in his price range. Important team player, but that doesn’t help us.
That’s all for another week… So what’s your target for the run home? After a fairly average first half I’m clawing back some respectability and am on target to beat my score from last season. And my boys are holding ground at 33rd in the A League official comp!!!