Five Fantasy Premier League mistakes you’ll make in January

Quick Reads

With a fresh Wildcard and January transfer window incoming, the new decade is about to wreak havoc on your FPL team.

2020. The year of clarity, of sharpness, of remembering to set your FPL team ahead of a midweek deadline.

With plenty of games to come in January, the time has come to really focus on boring stuff like Double Gameweeks, 50-50 injuries and anything else that could give you a competitive advantage in your mini leagues.

But although you’ll probably make some FPL resolutions as the clock strikes midnight — 12 hours and 30 minutes before Brighton host Chelsea — not everything will go to plan.

In fact, January can be a deadly time of year for your Fantasy prospects.

Yes, the newly unlocked Wildcard promises greener grass, while a host of new faces could arrive at Manchester United, Spurs and even Chelsea, whose ‘set and forget’ squad just remembered its login details.

But these gifts can do more harm than good.

Remember how tempting Gonzalo Higuain was at £9.5m?

And that’s to say nothing of the fixtures, wedged disgustingly into the calendar like stuffing up a raw turkey. Managers will rotate the big players; Diego Rico will come off your bench for 1 point.

Here are seven FPL mistakes you’re bound to make in January.

1. You’ll get a shiny new toy — then immediately want to return it

Higuain. Sanchez. Torres. January arrivals can seem like the best late Christmas present, but they’re often coal in the stocking for your Fantasy side.

You can see it now: Erling Braut Haaland (£9.0m) signed by half the FPL community, only to be comprehensively outscored by Teemu Pukki.

I can say from experience — selling a history-making Mohamed Salah to sign Sanchez in January 2018, to be specific — that it pays to wait a few games.

2. You’ll fall for Bournemouth again

Or, to put it another way, you’ll pay too much attention to those ‘green’ fixtures.

Eddie Howe’s famously reliable Bournemouth opened the 2019–20 campaign with fixtures against two promoted sides: the doomed-looking Sheffield United and hastily reassembled Aston Villa.

Those easy games sparked huge interest in Bournemouth attackers.

Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser were all owned by more than a million FPL bosses — roughly one in seven of us.

Over those two games, only King found the net, and that was from a penalty.

Compare those ownership figures to those of Pukki, whose Norwich side started against Liverpool. Just 150,000 bosses had faith in the Finn.

The lesson here is that focusing on fixture difficulty can make you forget that Bournemouth are crap.

And yet you’re on the brink of doing exactly the same thing again, with the Cherries facing West Ham, Watford, Norwich and Brighton in January.

Don’t do it.

3. You’ll sell a Liverpool asset and regret it

Following a weekend of cup fixtures, GW22 throws up a big selection dilemma.

Liverpool must travel to Tottenham before hosting Manchester United the following weekend. During that period, Manchester City face infinitely easier opponents in Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

With the Wildcard burning a hole in your pocket, it could be massively tempting to lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or whichever Liverpool representatives you have in your team.

But Salah has already scored against the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and City this year, and Mane is arguably the league’s best player.

They’re just too good to lose.

4. You’ll spend too much time thinking about goalkeepers

Keepers get no more glory in FPL than they do in real life.

The difference between the ‘best’ (Schmeichel/Ramsdale) and ‘worst’ (Kepa) this season is less than 30 points, while first-choice striker Jamie Vardy has nearly 100 points more than first-choice striker Joelinton.

Look at Ederson, for example, who has six clean sheets and 58 points. David de Gea has two clean sheets but is only marginally behind on 53 points.

The first name on your team sheet really doesn’t matter.

5. You’ll miss the New Year’s Day deadline

While you might not classify celebrating New Year as a ‘mistake’, there’s a good chance you’ll forget to wake up early the next day ahead of Brighton vs. Chelsea.

A similar problem applies over the immediate post-Christmas fixtures, with the first matches of GW20 taking place just a day after the last fixture of GW19.

But with real managers doing tinkering of their own, maybe sleeping through the entire month is your best option.

By Benedict O’Neill

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