As I write this towards the end of July and see the template teams around, I find myself in an alternate dimension. I call it an alternate dimension because my draft doesn’t include more than 40% owned template players like Erling Haaland (£11.5m), Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m), Trent Alexander Arnold (£7.5m) Rece James (£6.0m). The only template players I have are Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) Joao Cancelo (£7.0m).
The purpose of this article is to point toward this thought process of not owning template players which is not being talked about much in the community. (Trigger warning – You may find these thoughts very different to yours, and hence it may seem that these are emanating from an alternate dimension)
Why no Trent Alexander Arnold?
The common school of thought at this stage is that Alexander-Arnold is underpriced at £7.5m. We have also seen Official FPL being ridiculed for not factoring in the consistent returns provided by attacking defenders and pricing them higher. I’d say, Official FPL have been smart. While they have not priced Alexander-Arnold any higher, they have priced every other goalkeeper and defender barring Andy Robertson (£7.5m) and Cancelo half a million lower to where they would have been as per last season’s pricing. Therefore, the relative price of defenders like Alexander-Arnold Robertson and Cancelo has indeed increased over the other defenders. If we are calling Alexander-Arnold and Cancelo as sure shot locks in our drafts, we are letting go of some excellent value available elsewhere in defense.
Why no Erling Haaland?
Pep Guardiola has a history of slowly getting the players used to his system, often taking as long as the entire season to make players consistent starters. He already has a champion team at his disposal that won without Haaland, so I don’t think he will be in a rush to give every game to Haaland. Even if he hits the ground running soon, the Norwegian will definitely be a bigger rotation risk as compared to other premiums like Salah, Harry Kane (£11.5m), Son Heung-min (£12.0m) Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m). Now, in a two-premium structure, do you really want one of your premiums and hence a potential captain option to be a rotation risk? Do remember that Salah felt like a near-perma-captain only during the last season but not so much for the two campaigns prior to the last one. Every season is different, and we can choose to start with two nailed premiums and not corner ourselves into a Salah perma-captain situation.
Why no Rece James?
With the departures of seasoned center-halves from Chelsea, I feel Reece James will occasionally find himself in the center-back position, both to fill the void left by others and also to manage the injuries he was prone to last season. Ben Chilwell (£6.0m_, who is defensively more susceptible, is likely to be used more in the attack and hence may offer more bang for buck when match-fit. I am also very ok with no Chelsea defense to begin with, as their initial fixtures don’t really scream clean sheets. I would rather go with the value of a £5.0m defender who might otherwise have been at £5.5m in the previous season.
Why no Gabriel Jesus?
I agree that Jesus provides excellent value but he would still be turning up for a new club this season. At Man City, he always knew in his head that every role he performed was as a back-up, so the pressure was not really there. At Arsenal, he is the main man. I’d wait to see how he bears this responsibility of being the talisman. Some people thrive under pressure, some crumble under it. I don’t know which way Jesus is going to turn out and I’d rather wait to see the outcome.
Bonus Thought from the alternate dimension
I also notice extremely thin benches in the people’s drafts. Don’t forget that Covid-19 is still here, and you may need your benches. I’d place the onus of having a strong first sub, followed by playable second and third subs who are priced at the bottom end.
I hope you enjoyed reading this different perspective!