Firstly, let’s look back at last week’s picks. Scott Sinclair was worryingly ineffective against Manchester United and just to rub it in, Tim Sherwood went to Troll Level 1000 by subbing him off on exactly 59 minutes. It raises some concerns about his job security going forward but I’d hold firm for now with some decent fixtures coming up for Villa. Ashley Young was a surprise omission from the United line-up, especially as he lost his place to the forgotten boy-wonder Adnan Januzai. One diving bastard for another I suppose. Young was only supposed to be a short-term punt but now he has to be quickly discarded. The bright light was Seamus Coleman– registering an assist, a clean sheet and 2 bonus points for a handy 11-point haul. Well done if you got on board.
Onto this week’s picks…
So last week I was required to provide a post-vasectomy semen sample. No problem I thought, if there’s one job I can successfully accomplish it’s this. So as soon as my wife went to the shops, I knuckled down to business and quickly completed the task at hand (see what I did there?). Just after finishing I looked down, and to my horror I realized that in my absent-mindedness I had deposited my specimen into a handful of Kleenex. Disaster. Like a goalkeeper going up for a last minute corner, I desperately tried to salvage this situation, but my tragic attempts at producing a second helping proved that there are things you can do in your teens that you can’t do in your thirties.
The moral of the story is this… old habits die hard. There are things we do so routinely and for so long that we don’t even question whether we should or not. One thing I believe we should start to question is the use of 3-4-3 as our default formation in FPL. It is so commonly accepted as the optimal way to play the game that a lot of players never even consider deviating from it. I feel that the attacking options this year are fairly slim compared to years gone by and that we might want to consider investing more in defence than we usually would. Aguero, Sanchez, Hazard and Silva are the only real standouts as far as attacking players go- the supporting cast of Rooney, Kane, Ozil, Sterling et al don’t inspire too much confidence and I feel the money saved on these guys could be better spent on some premium defenders. I am actually playing 5-4-1 for the whole season as an experiment and while this is probably a bit extreme, I think a well-designed 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 could be a legitimate option for this season. So with that in mind I will be looking at some defensive options this week for us to consider.
Alexsander Kolarov is a man on a mission. For 3 or 4 years now the Serbian left-back has been desperately trying to dethrone Theo Walcott as FPL’s biggest tease. Just like Arsenal’s real-life Lego figure, Kolarov’s enormous scoring potential sucks us in before we’re brought thudding back to Earth when he is rotated like a roast duck in a Chinese restaurant. This year however, things may be about to change.
Firstly, Kolarov looks to have finally ousted Gael Clichy as City’s first choice left back- nailing down a spot at the end of last season and keeping the fit-again Frenchman on the bench for the full 90 minutes this week. Now don’t get me wrong, no matter how well Kolarov plays, he WILL get rotated and he WILL be subbed on and off in many games- that’s just something we have to accept for many players at big clubs these days. But it does look like Kolarov will start more games than not, meaning he should finally be able to realize his full FPL potential.
City have made a blistering start to the season and Kolarov has been one of their standout players. When your team scores 6 goals in two games and you rack up 4 bonus points without getting a goal or assist, you must be playing well. The adventurous Serb seems to have finally worked out how to operate as part of a solid back-4 without compromising his considerable attacking instincts.
If you have already been burned by Walcott this year then you may not fancy the thought of seeing Kolarov’s name omitted from the teamsheet just when you need him. However, if you fancy a very high reward punt and can back up his occasional absences with a strong bench then Kolarov could be a brilliant option for your side. Be quick though, one more 6+ score and he will not remain unique for very long.
There is no doubt about it- Tottenham’s defence is shit. They were shit last year and they look just as shit so far this year. As a result, ownership of their defenders is fairly low, with only Alderweireld attracting any sort of significant ownership due to his reasonable price. However, I have reason to believe that their defensive fortunes might be about to change.
One thing that football managers often talk about is ‘the triangle’. This refers to the trio of goalkeeper and two centre-backs and how they perform together. I believe the triangle is the key to defensive success in any side and should not be underestimated. Manchester City suffered with having an unstable triangle last year, Arsenal are suffering with it so far this year as Cech struggles to bed in. Spurs have been suffering with it ever since Pochettino took over last summer. Fazio, Kaboul, Vertonghen and co were fairly pathetic last year and Spurs’ paltry 9 clean sheets is a fair reflection of that.
But this year they have huge potential to improve their resilience. The signing of highly talented Belgian Toby Alderweireld should benefit everyone around him, especially his out-of-form countryman Jan Vertonghen. The two of them could form a genuinely strong defensive partnership and their excellent stopper Hugo Lloris would complete a seriously impressive ‘triangle’. Don’t get me wrong, Spurs have a lot of improving to do but based on what Pochettino eventually achieved with Southampton’s back line, I don’t see any reason why Spurs cannot follow suit and increase their clean-sheet count. They also have fairly well balanced fixtures throughout the season meaning that you could easily put a set-and-forget Spurs defender in your side and not have to worry about him again.
My pick from the players on show is a strange one- Erik Dier. The young Englishman (I could have sworn he was Scandinavian, the things you learn writing articles for this site) is classed as a defender but has been playing out of position as a defensive midfielder so far this year. While he will still struggle to create significant attacking returns from open play, we all know how good he is from set pieces. Heck, he has already scored more goals this year than Rooney, Hazard and Sterling combined. He will be a bit of a card-magnet and he doesn’t have 100% job security, especially with the world’s worst competition looming over Spurs like the grim reaper. However, an easy sideways switch to Alderweireld could rectify things if he gets dropped or injured. He’s another very risky pick, but out of position defenders in top-6 teams with 2% ownership are fairly hard to come by and it might well be worth a shot.