This is the problem solver article, the first of its kind where we try to solve an issue facing FPL managers. Our first edition needed to be big which automatically meant trying to decipher a way to squash the very expensive trio of Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah into one team.
Warning: Doing this may force you to use your wildcard and/or create a new team, ignore the old one completely even after it crawls back begging and pleading you to take it back. Then again after the start, the average FPL manager has had, who needs the old team? Also, this method may not allow you to pick any other premium players, defenders or midfielders, other than the aforementioned trio.
We’ve already picked Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Romelu Lukaku (£11.6m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.6m), so the team shall naturally be built around them. This effectively means that the budget is not £100m but £63.3m which only adds to the problems we’ll face. Ah well, this is what we live for after all, so let’s get into it then.
Goalkeepers: Vicente Guaita (£4.5m) and Robert Sanchez (£4.5m)
Now it may seem tough to do, but there aren’t too many options especially since the team has already been picked and we’ve got £1.2m left in the bank. That is a boost but it’s mainly because of how budget-friendly the team is, which is very very budget-friendly. Yet, given the defensive form of a few teams so far this season, bringing in a budget keeper might be an issue for a few managers.
Even then, if you stretch the funds there is enough space for a £5.0m keeper like Jordan Pickford, Kasper Schmeichel, Illan Meslier, Lukas Fabianski and a few others. Options like Alphonse Areola, Bernd Leno, and even Kepa are also on the list at £4.9m but that would force your second goalkeeper to be someone within the £4.0m bracket. The extra £1.2m is still available but even then, it would be a waste especially when there is the option of signing two £4.5m keepers.
That’s the Robert Sanchez and Vicente Guaita bracket, which is what we’ve done here, although you’ve also got the option of having Martin Dubravka, Freddie Woodman and even Aaron Ramsdale. The only problem is the fact that all three men haven’t exactly had the best defensive records this season while Sanchez and Guaita have combined for a total of 34 points in four games. But then again, the decision does indeed lie with you, so make your choice but do so wisely.
Defenders: Shane Duffy (£4.2m), Pontus Jansson (£4.6m), Takeiro Tomyaisu (£4.5m), Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) and Marcal (£4.6m)
Moving on, having picked the three big dudes (Salah, Ronaldo and Lukaku) plus the two goalkeepers, it did mean that our budget took a serious body blow. I’m talking internal bleeding, more than a few broken ribs, and maybe even a punctured lung although that last bit is questionable. Still, with £45.7m down the drain and about an entire team still left to be picked, the problems arrived.
But still, after a few coffees and a couple of mild bouts of procrastination, Shane Duffy came to mind even if that would mean doubling up on Brighton players. Hear me out though, while Duffy has only managed 22 points this season, including a 14 point haul, the defender has been a consistent presence for Brighton. His aerial threat is obvious and the Seagulls do have the joint third-best defensive record this season, tied with Wolves and Manchester United.
Plus Duffy’s price tag is a meagre £4.2m which allows us to splurge slightly on the next three options which are Pontus Jansson, Takeiro Tomyaisu and Marc Cucurella. Now the Tomyaisu shout is a biased one as an Arsenal fan but Tino Livramento, Joel Veltman, Joe Rodon, and Kristopher Ajer would mean tripling up on Brighton or doubling up on Brentford. However, even then Rodon is an excellent shout especially with Tottenham’s defensive problems but I’d keep an eye on Livramento.
That is given his £4.1m price-tag and the fact that both the young defender and Southampton seem to be improving. Moving on, both Jansson and Cucurella are trouble as well, which is bound to happen because they’re budget defenders, but Brentford have the second-best defensive record. They’ve conceded only two goals and Jansson has 24 points with a 6, 7 and 9 point hauls this season. Cucurella is one to watch out for because he has the potential to become Brighton’s first choice option.
Although if you don’t want to triple up on the Seagulls then you’ve got plenty of options in the 5.0m bracket. From Tyrone Mings, Matty Cash, and Ashley Young all the way to Joel Matip, Matt Ritchie, and Vlad Coufal but personally speaking either Matip or Coufal would be the perfect alternatives. But the reason Cucurella made the cut was because of his tendency to be far more offensive, which could help in the long-run given that he is marked as a defender.
The final pick was Marcal but in truth, it could have been any of the five Wolves defenders because they have been superb. Conor Coday, Max Kilman, and Roman Saiss have been a delight, defensively, to watch but Nelson Semedo has been the true standout. He also offers you the chance to double up – picking him instead of Cucurella because they have the same price-tag – but Marcal is the one we’ve picked.
He represents good value for his £4.6m price even if Semedo has been superb offensively but since we’re on a budget, Marcal brings us bang for buck.
Midfielders: Conor Gallagher (5.6m), Demarai Gray (5.7m), Pablo Fornals (6.0m) and Said Benrahama (6.4m)
Having spent a further £22.9m, the budget is slowly whittling down to nothing much like our options although given the budget midfielders this season, we’ve got a few choices. Demarai Gray is the obvious pick given his flying start to the season but consistency has always been his problem. Yet, at £5.7m he represents a budget option worth having especially if you’ve got choices on the bench.
Alongside Gray, either Said Benrahma or Pablo Fornals works but we’ve gone for both given the way David Moyes will switch things around this weekend. The Hammers are playing European football this season which will affect, at least, the first six months of their season. Yet, if doubling up on them isn’t your style then you’ve still got options in the form of John McGinn, Stuart Dallas, Francisco Trincao, Adama Traore, and even Andros Townsend.
But the fact that none of the aforementioned players have been consistently producing the goods this season is definitely a concern which brings us to the £1.2m in store. Since Said Benrahma (£6.4m) is the more expensive option, not picking him brings the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Hakim Ziyech, Ferran Torres, Jesse Lingard, Harvey Barnes, Raphinha, Emi Buendia, Bukayo Saka, and co all into play.
Talk about complicating the issue even more, so let’s cut them down to size.
Lingard isn’t going to get regular minutes which automatically removes him from contention, neither Ziyech nor Pepe have shown any kind of form so far which means they go on the watch-list, Emi Buendia and Aston Villa are yet to click which also means watch-list alongside Bukayo Saka. That leaves Torres, Barnes and Raphinha and this is one choice, I wouldn’t want to make. Because the Manchester City man has shown goal-threat and form plus he plays as a striker but the Pep roulette comes into play there.
Both Barnes (£6.8m) and Raphinha (£6.5m) have also shown form and goal-threat but they’ve been weighed down, until now, with terrible fixtures. Things can change over the next few weeks for them which does help the cause alongside the fact that they are far cheaper than Torres (£7.2m). Yet, consistency is always a concern and it also does mean that you’re also spending the extra £1.2m to bring in someone else which could affect the choices you move towards the forwards.
Forwards: Odsonne Edouard (£6.5m)
So, assuming you’ve picked the team we did – cause why won’t you? – it does mean that you’ll be left with only £7.7m with a massive £92.3m spent and now comes the real issue. Because you’re obviously going to play both Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku at the same time to get the best of both worlds and not risk missing out on points, it means that your third striker will do one of two things.
He will either add to your team by starting over a midfielder or defender, or he’s the guaranteed starter for his team and will compensate when one of Ronaldo or Lukaku doesn’t play. Callum Wilson (£7.4m) fits both roles perfectly but the Englishman’s fitness has always been a concern and it continues to be with him injured at the moment. Chris Wood (£6.9m) is another choice but once again, his consistency in front of goal isn’t great although you can always bank on him playing.
But it’s then, as you scroll through the options in the bracket, that you realise the name Raul Jimenez back at you.
A creepy feeling indeed but at £7.4m, it would mean that buying anyone else elsewhere with that extra £1.2m wouldn’t be possible and thus, it will force a few cuts. Either that, or you drop one off, or both, Cucurella or Benrahma for a cheaper player in order to help adjust the team. Confusing, isn’t it?
Or almost panic-inducing because while this may not be life or death, it definitely feels like it while you’re picking the team before the deadline. It’s a weird thing that quickly disappears once the deadline is over and doesn’t arrive until a day before the next deadline for most. Yet, as mentioned above, the third forward doesn’t really matter because having picked not one or two but three premium options, the points are more or less guaranteed.
It’s whether you want additional points to help move you up the ranks. Plus, once KDB, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Sadio Mane, Heung-Min Son, Jamie Vardy and co all hit their form, you can easily swap out the premiums. But since, given his incredible debut last time around and the way Patrick Vieira’s side played with Odsonne Edouard in it, we’ve gone with the former Celtic man. Cheap and at £6.5 million, he offers us the chance to spend an extra £1.2m elsewhere. Where? Now there’s the real question.