By Jason McKenna
As I write this article I would like to say I wish you all well. Above all else health is what matters, and I hope that my new planned rota for output brings some happiness to your day. It is a terrible situation to be in and after making sure my family members are okay and provided for I have been stumped with where to go with my output. I do have a planned set of articles and podcasts, but as always if you have any requests send them in. The fact I am continuing to put stuff out there is as much for me as it is for you; concentrating on the football data and trying to make sense of the beautiful game is a great distraction. It is also a great time filler as now both my jobs are now out of it for the time being and football is always a beautiful reason to look away from life’s problems.
I also write it as I believe that football will be back within the next month or so. I am informed by the opinions of one of our great guests Ted Knutson from Statsbomb. He put up a great post that I am linking about how a footballers lifestyle makes them naturally isolated. On top of this they are young men at the peak of fitness who should be able to naturally fight of the virus. Most of of all though football does need this. Teams are precariously placed as their fates are unknown; games and contracts need to be completed to get payments that will be vital for long term survival. Stadiums will not be able to be open to the public, for now the “behind closed doors” experience will have to do but it will be necessary for the economic continuation of many teams. As stated Ted goes into much better detail about this all and the realities of how it will be possible to continue soon. So I will move onto what I can provide insight on: what to do with your teams once the Premier League returns.
Also Community Questions are at the bottom of the article! If you have more, send them in. On top of this the article will be turned into a podcast, I am arranging with Big Ben Dinnery a recording time.
Keep an eye on who is coming back
A Mr Harold Kane is one of many players who may make a recovery in time for when the league does return. Some players who have had season ending injuries can now look positively to a possible comeback before the new, prolonged season has ended. Chelsea and Bournemouth are the sides who may be most happy with the extended break. Both teams have 8 players out according to premierleagueinjuries.com. Our friend Ben Dinnery will supply advice in the near future to us and I will write an article on a list of players that I think the FPL Community may want to keep an eye on when the season rolls back into life. But here are the initial names and I will get confirmation as to whether Ben thinks they will return.
- (AFC Bournemouth) David Brooks
- (Aston Villa) John McGinn
- (Burnley) Ashley Barnes
- (Chelsea) Kante
- (Chelsea) Abraham
- (Leicester) James Maddison
- (Liverpool) Alisson
- (Manchester City) Aymeric Laporte
- (Manchester City) Leroy Sane
- (Newcastle) Martin Dubravka
- (Manchester United) Paul Pogba
- (Manchester United) Anthony Martial
- (Manchester United) Marcus Rashford
- (Southampton) Nathan Redmond
- (Sheffield United) Edna Stevens
- (Tottenham Hotspur) Harry Kane
- (Tottenham Hotspur) Heung Min Son
Form goes out the window
The time off means some players will be rusty. They are not in proper training due to social distancing and it will be like a summer break. Teams are not able to train together and when they return back Ben DInnery haws warned that players may take a few games to come back into to full playing quality and then the season will be soon after that. Building upon this information then we might see more shock results on what has already been a very strange, inconsistent season (Apart from when we look at Liverpool). I think teams with a clear philosophy will be more safeguarded as the system will make sure that there are less errors. Teams like Sheffield United, Liverpool and Manchester CIty will hit the ground running whereas pragmatic, adaptable teams like Tottenham may be boosted by player returns but these types of teams will be slower out of the blocks.
When the season returns there will still be alot to play for. Although the title is a foregone conclusion the European spots are still to be decided and there is a fierce battle for who will stop the drop. Some teams will be annoyed by this break, like Watford and Manchester United. The Red Devils were on an 11 game unbeaten run and were truly buoyed by the arrival of Bruno and looked to be working as a unit once again. Watford made the headlines by stopping the Invincible title bid of Liverpool and Pearson seemed to have perfected the recipe for the Hornets which had seen them just get out of the relegation zone. Both of these sides will not want the disruption to interrupt their great runs but the psychology and the fitness of these players may be damaged by these break.
This “something to play for” effect will mean that matches are played wholeheartedly by temas, but when it will also be interesting to keep an eye on when they suddenly have their places confirmed. The Telegraph did an investigation into the effect that “having nothing to play for” has on a team. This means that their fate is already set, be that relegation, Champions League or winning the league. The investigation from 2014 found that teams without anything to play for won 4% less of the time, had 0.14 less points per game average and also conceded a lot more often than their competitive counterparts. But, most interestingly, the Telegraph found that “The interesting thing is that not only do teams concede more goals when they’re not so fussed about the result, but they score more too”. This can really be seen with last season’s grand finale game with Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace. Seb and I tipped this to be the firework fixture as both teams were safe and it did not disappoint. It must also be noted that teams in a secure position will also likely have rotation of players as they give younger players a chance to get proper top level competitive minutes. This could possibly see Liverpool giving their good youth prospects more playing time.
Chips Mega Strategy
There is a potential that we could have a few combined, mega gameweeks. These may have quite a few fixtures for each team, but we shall have to see how they are structured when it all returns. For now my advice is hold off on any chips you have. Some may think it is funny to play them now but they will count for the blank gameweeks. So a few hundred people played their triple captain this “gameweek” that was chalked off and that is their chip lost for the season. They may have had their reasons to captain Maguire for a no game this week, but their is no appeal process. It is why any transfers over this period must be measured and calculated factoring in the risk that some of these players may get injured or ruled out having caught the virus coming up to the start of the restart of the season. Trade at your own risk.
Ben Crellin and his fantastic twitter feed will be the best place to look for chip strategies once the fixtures have been rescheduled and announced. We will be following his advice closely here at the GMSPodcast so I cannot offer much else different from that. If you do miss what he says we will repeat it in an article and/ or a podcast at the time. But for now the best info we can advise is caution.
- CGuinessStout- With the remaining games left, who has the best attacking fixtures and defensive fixtures? Also can you do a set and forget IX using the data we have for the year so far?
At the moment, due to not knowing how the gameweeks will be structured, it is actually hard to say. Some teams may have a treble one week and then a free hit another to cover it all. Form will not be something to count on either so it is hard to say.
I will construct a set and forget team when I know the fixture layout and also finish my investigative work I was doing with my articles on why the season has panned out the way it has. If you haven’t read the first one I shall link the article. There’s a lot of good analysis and I will be making a podcast on it soon.
- BobbyRobbo: Let’s say the game returns mid May as is hoped. There will be a lot of players back from injury at that point who haven’t been available for selection for a long time. Can you give us an overview on these players as well as their remaining fixtures. Thank you!
I have covered a few in the article above but also I will be getting information from Ben Dinnery/ getting him on for another podcast about this. Rest assured this information will be sourced for you!