XXXIII. Predator

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The hunt is on. A predator knows that within the herd, there are weaker prey. In order to catch, devour and leave the remnants for the scavengers, the predator must first discover the weak points in the herd that lead to said prey and then utilise skill, stealth and every discernable advantage to maximise the chances of a kill. The predator must also know when to simply view all the delicious prey and yet walk on by as today is not the day to take a risk because the odds are unfavourable.

Although all managers in the game follow trends, knowing when to alight then subsequently disembark, is individually specific to the squad you manage. The unique combination of your 15 man squad, aligned with your style of management are the key ingredients which dictate whether you hunt (attack the gameweek), find a good vantage point to maybe plan a hunt (review both short/long term plans), simply chill on a branch and wait (roll the transfer), or relocate your position entirely (take hits 💉, play chips)! Points are prey! 😈

Belief Bias: the tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly they support that conclusion.

Bandwagon Effect: the tendency of an individual to acquire a particular style, behaviour or attitude because everyone else is doing it. It is a phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas, fads and trends increases with respect to the proportion of others who have already done so.

Exploitation. There are many tools to be used to gain an advantage, and as in any game, the more tools you simultaneously employ, aka “strategic layers“, the greater your probability of plump, juicy point hauls become. The phenomena of group think inexorably combined with belief bias, leading to bandwagon effect, can allow you to exploit trends when they develop by either avoiding or joining them! Let’s take DGW25 as an example, firstly understanding, that any outcome is likely (😁 one for the Hangouts/Gulag Discord regulars there 😆). If any outcome is likely, you’ll either fly or crash and burn if you, for instance, had triple SOU and/or LEE assets for their DGW. However, we know that the lure of DGWs will induce the aforementioned phenomena. So, the terrain for potentially favourable hunting is within your horizon. As a second point of understanding, acceptance of unconTROLLable variables must be made peace with, this will abate emotional attachment.

My style of management lead me to not overly indulge in DGW25, with a view to looking ahead, as more than one Leeds asset was not appealing to me in the immediate future. Therefore continuing with the plan of mainly concentrating on the weak links in my team was affirmative. While Raphinha was an obvious purchase, returning 12pts over his 2 matches, where sticking with the premium cap rule would’ve seen Bruno return the same points in a single match 👀, the further additions of what I was convinced were targeted hits 💉💉 Digne 🔄 Dunk (cheaper asset with better form, playing in BGW29) & Antonio 🔄 Kane (about to enter a good fixture run, who alongside Bruno & Salah creates a 4.5% overall differential*)… Both of these assets blanked. 🤡🤣😈🤣

Dunk blanks after 7 consecutive returns, vs Crystal Palace who’ve been in dire form! Kane, despite having 6 shots in his match, only managed to trouble Flappianski, once! I relocated to a place of briars & brambles, which wouldn’t have mattered, IF, I had followed my instinctual #busteam selection! Lesson learnt.

XX!X. Probable Evolution. “…the guesses we make are not completely blind. Consciously or not, our probability management is mostly weighted by known knowns.” The trick is not second guessing yourself and sticking with your first instinct.

Those that tripled up on Leeds assets had a stormer!!! Raphina 12pts, Bamford 8pts, Dallas 17pts!! Well played! 👏🏿 Southampton asset owners, particularly Ings owners… #InTheMud!! 😈🤣 The uncontrollable variable being Ings who started his 2nd match of the double-gameweek, ON THE BENCH! 🤣🤣 But, when you think about it, hasn’t Ings’s fitness always been an issue? Is his minutes being managed all that surprising?!

I really wanted to capitalise on the previous gameweek’s points haul. Losing the next match after a good win, kinda negates that good win. It was a frustration. One which I and the team do not want to sit through the aftermath of again! The average of the last 2 gameweeks is over 80pts, this does not reconcile a 1st red arrow in 8, especially when it could’ve been avoided. The lads did what they always do, I simply employed the wrong tactics. The team is good!

The return match for Brendan Saunders V Dread FPL was the sweet taste of revenge. My lads, probably a bit cocky 😜 sitting top of the table, were handed an 80pts – 52pts thrashing!! 💪🏿 WE GO AGAIN!! 💪🏿 Out of sheer fortune, I still have a 3 point buffer. This group is far from decided!

It will go down in the annuls of history! The time when the PL trolled the FPL Community! Friday 19th February 2021 @ 18:31hrs – 1 minute after the DGW25 deadline!! EPIC!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

The final BIG DGW is here. As has become a trait of mine, there will be no hits going into it. I prefer to position in advance, in order to fully maximise the points return. In my head, I play the players, as it seems the general consensus is to take the hits in the same GW. Does it really make any difference? 🤔 What I love about this DGW26… the captain choice isn’t obvious…

Or is it?! 🤔😁

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*courtesy of Fantasy Football Fix

XXXII. Fortune

fortune (noun) 1.chance or luck as an arbitrary force affecting human affairs.

This thing about making your own luck. It implies preparation. Forethought. Aside from this, I had to remember the underlying reasons as to why employed strategies were defined. It’s funny how you can devise a plan and then somehow lose sight of it. One of the strategic layers added to The Plan was to have a strong bench. The baseline security being the ability to ride injuries, rests, CV19 positive tests, etc.., and still field a strong 11. I figured the humour 😂 of benched assets outscoring on-field assets would be an acceptable down-side to maintaining those above average gameweek scores, thus limiting the need to use FTs reactively, as using them proactively is always best! So, I gathered my thoughts and banished all concepts of hits. 💉 I arranged the squad into what I deduced to be the optimised formation, sticking to the strategy, having faith that the hours of thought accrued in its development would reap rewards. For context, before the raft of flags due to last week’s FA Cup matches, my team looked like this…

Gündogan was always going to get the armband – this is a newly applied strategic layer incorporated for the first time this gameweek! – with AVL assets all benched. Considering BHAs form, I didn’t expect much from them, nor Maddo v Liverpool. I tend to always set my team up the day before deadline, but with the state of things, I needed to wait for more data to become available and leave the finalised team sheet as late as possible. Carlo confirming DCL out of the FUL fixture, combined with all other flags being of little to no consequence, the final evolution of the teamsheet was…

Now beyond this… everything is in the fate of the FPL Gods! All anyone can do, is make their best guesses and then hope for the best! If your guesses are more weighted by sound analytical data than raw data, then your chances of good result sets will be greater. You also, increase your chances of “lucking out”!

Barnes 🔄 Salah. A transfer made in a gameweek where “The 🇪🇬👑” dropped in price?!🤯 It feels good to be going against the trend. This was a strategic purchase. I noticed in the last GW how any return from Salah drastically affected the gains made to my rank as the fluctuating points are tallied whilst the games are live. If I want to maintain momentum, Salah is a requirement (this may only apply to my current tier, so I’ll keep tabs on this). He also broadens my captaincy options. Surely, he’s had his barren run for the season now, right?! 🤔😁 There may yet be one or two more strategic purchases on the horizon… 👀

😂 Thanks Bhuna, you fucker!! 😂

So, Luck. Captaincy. “…the resolute practice of always capping a premium…” XXX. Unorthodox. I gleaned this from the current World No.1, a strategy I’d adapt for the rest of the season, in an experiment to see if my captaincy returns improve against the 1st half of my season where they were nothing short of abysmal! Naturally, I always add my own twist to anything that I adopt. As far as I’m concerned, if an asset returns FPL points like a “Premium”, then that asset is a premium, irrespective of their actual price. Thus, it simply now boils down to picking the best premium option in the squad. Gündogan – on form, City are the best team this season, plus, they have a DGW. It’s literally an ABC pick, no need to get smart about it, cap him and move on.😈

This game will draw you into long in-depth machinations, so when the Gift Horse 🐎 is blatantly neighing at you, don’t look it in the mouth! #taketheeasywins

This, my own personal brand of analysis, 😂 bought me into the luck of a Gündogan haul!! Thank You Universe!!! Prior to this “always cap a premium” strategy, I could have punted on Cancelo or Pope. I honestly toyed with TC Pope, no lie!! This was before the Ola Hovde deep dive however. 😁

#DGW24: Matchday 1 – I have never amassed such a score after just 4 matches!! 😳 10 yet to play!!

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The second-leg matches kick-off, with me currently occupying the 2nd of the two qualifying places in the table, hosting Ben Dinnery. The Gods smiled on me, having thoroughly won the cheers of the Colesseum crowd!🏛🥁🎺 The dust settles… I’m in top spot, recording home & away wins against the vanquished! ⚔💪🏿 I even have breathing room to make tactical manoeuvres!😈 I sit 3pts clear of the rest! 🔝

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Typically, #DGW24: Matchday 2 – was a bit of a comedown from the euphoria of the previous day, even if I only had 2 assets to play. Bruno did Bruno things with 9pts! Digne?!! 1pt!!! Well, I fucked him off quicker than a door to door chamois salesman! 😈 You’ll have to wait for the next release to find out who for, I did refer to “under the radar” assets. 😉 Also, I’ve begun to notice that ROI 📈 is a very weighty factor in my deliberation process, 🤓 I must expand on this in a future entry and how I believe it affects the squad as a whole. Bruno returning (again) is also noted, in fact, all 3 “premiums” in my squad have returned this GW. The obvious added security of capping a Premium is, they can pull moments of quality out of their locker, even if they or their team are having an under par performance. 👌🏿 Quality… I knew this subconsciously, but completely failed to appreciate the weight it should hold in my probability management. 😏 Lesson learnt.

#DGW24: Matchday 3 ❤ “You know I said it’s true…”🔊 😂😈 IN THE MUD ANTONIO OWNERS!!!😈😂 🙌🏿“I can feel the love, ❤ can you feel it too?…”🔊 Which doesn’t really matter when MaddoLad comes off the bench with 8pts!!! Also, Cresswell baggged all 3 bonus to deliver 12pts!!! 🔊“…I can feel it, ooo-ooah!!”🙌🏿❤🔊😁 Was it jammy?!🤔 💌 Was it a Valentine’s Gift?!🥰 Or the sign of a strong squad?🏋🏿‍♂️

It’s been 5 gameweeks since the WC, which I must say, has served me very well. That said, on my GW20 WC, I invested in Everton assets. Outside of DCL, my punts on Richarlison & Digne have been the very worst decisions of the whole 15 man squad! Do what you will with this info! The latest strategic development – and pretty much a pattern that I’ve noticed – every 4 – 6 gameweeks, repositioning 👀 is required – however this transition needs to be more seamless. 🚫💉🙇🏿‍♂️💡 I’ll utilise the terrain this coming gameweek, to camouflage behind the limited DGW fixtures and potentially the captaincy to further reduce my exposure. 😈 #opportunemoments 😈

#DGW24: Matchday 4 – The final day of this gameweek. A new PB #nochipsnohits😊 GW score! Plus the record for consecutive green arrows continues! An unbelievable 111pts collated by my lads this gameweek, despite Stones & Gündogan no-shows, and no CS for either of Cancelo or Pope in the second games of their DGW fixtures! But, Digne, yes, Digne popped up with a #gtfo leaving present of an assist!😂

😇#7thHeaven😇

💯😁 #BabygotBack #BigAtTheBack #100Club 😁💯

They all get a day or so off! 🍾 1st 💯 Club this season! 🍾 Go on lads, enjoy yourselves!! 🍻😁

The real fun in this game are the challenges you set for yourself!

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XXXI. Tribulations

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Double-Double, Triple Doubles?!! Injury selection troubles! 🚑🏥 I’ll need the gift of a Seer 🧙🏿‍♂️ to cement my eleven for DGW24, as the FPL Gods are drunk, striking thunderbolts of yellow ⚡⚡ all over the shop! 🤕👨🏽‍⚕️ I have no FTs – early Barnes 🔄 Salah move – and I’m pretty sure I’ll not get a fix – 💉 #takethehit – to get me through it! I’m rehabilitated. 😇

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I must confess, I went off on tilt as the beacons were lit in my team. Half of my double-gameweek assets! In one fell swoop my starting frontline put on notice! The automated, second-nature, default, habitual neuro-pathways did their thing and off I was on a myriad of potentials and hypotheticals, on the merry-go-round of lining up possible hits & options… teetering as none of the combinations give me peace… incomplete data… Hold on, that’s it! Incomplete data! Step out of the River Chaos, sit on the bank, resume the role of Voyeur. Wait for the path to be illuminated. Check yo’self! Patience my friend. “…transfers for nothing, and your points for free!” I’ll let the herd offer me points while they’re hitting 💉💉 it up! “…I want my, I want my, I want my free points please…”

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I unlocked a new level in GW23, achieving my 1st ever 6th consecutive green arrow! 🌟😊. This streak has coincided with the plan of attack 😈 commenced in BGW18 and bolstered by the impromptu WC in GW20. The FPL Gods, obviously challenged by my recent fortitude, have seen fit to throw down a gauntlet! So this weekend in the Colosseum 🏛 I will battle ⚔ to defy their tyranny and reach the 7th Heaven! This 38 gameweek battle is but a series of little victories.

To be fair, once I realised my demons and blocked the path of least resistance… I looked at my team from a more blasé perspective… both Antonio & Pope will be fine, with Digne, not so far behind. Worst case scenario, I reckon, is that DCL misses the plum FUL fixture. Meh. So, I’m watching and waiting for a sign. I feel there are going to be form changes in these immediate gameweeks. A fine balance between popular picks and under the radar assets are what I need for the next few, stepping away slightly from the very differential overall team rating I’ve possessed of late. There is no set plan of when I’ll play my two remaining chips, BB & TC, but when the heavens align, I’ll know. Patience. Stalking and pouncing at the opportune moments 😈, my strategy, during this next mad rush of fixtures.

I simply need to be ready. 😈

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XXX. Unorthodox

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Gameweeks 21 & 22 flipped the bird🖕🏿 to the best laid plans of many managers. Pep, VAR, offsides, referees, squad rotation, red cards, penalties, injuries and an over-eager “noob” all combining to initiate a cascade of knock-on effects which produced big points hauls for some, whilst others brought in Bednarek’s -7 from the bench, to which the only response is… 😈😂🤣😈

…I feel freer than ever from group-think. XXIX. Probable Evolution

This freedom has me questioning. Not second-guessing, but more, “What do I do with it? Where do I go?!“. I guess once you lose a previous conditioning of the mind – the “safety” of the herd – endeavouring to forge your own path brings slight apprehension. It’s normal, right?! 😁 This freedom – or fearlessness – to make mistakes, is fundamental to learning and improvement, it’s the fear that keeps us dumb! Going back a year to an interview where Klopp answered questions about management ethos, he made the correlation between not always getting it right and overall improvement in decision making…

“We have made a lot of decisions and will make much more in future and not all of them may work out at the end… You have to accept that you need luck in these situations as well, so it means you can fail. But you have to try and you don’t have to change things just for changing sake; it is so you can improve, and improvement means if you have the same person doing the same job for another year, he becomes better at it with the time and experiences.”

Jurgen Klopp

So, you either have to be bold (no fear) or just not give a shit (also, no fear). 😈😆 Really though, in my head, it’s acceptance. Acknowledgment that you’ll not always get it right and that this fact is just the nature of things! Draw a line under it, you know it’s going to happen, analyse it when it does, then move on! This is the road to fearlessness. Where the focus should be, is how you move on from a bad decision, this is where the opportunity for growth resides. Therefore, failure is actually fertiliser, you’ll either grow, or get bogged down in the stench! 🤭 Which? Well, that is the decision one will have to make, innit! 🤣

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The Utd Demolition of Southampton afforded my Matchday 4 opponent a 45pt launch start to GW22. He had Bruno capped for 34pts, with De Gea & Maguire combining for a further 11pts! At least I also had Bruno, to soften the blow, slightly. In the end though, I capitulated to my 1st loss in the group stage 9076 away to Jim Parry. There was never much chance of clawing back on that Bruno captaincy. We’ll see what happens in the home leg… 💪🏿

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MatchDay 5 saw me up against the only opposition I’ve not yet met in the 1st leg of group stage matches – Jack O – with us both on 9pts! It remained a close affair from the 1st whistle to the last. Once the dust had settled, 1pt decided it in my favour, 7069!

So, this full squad of starters. I’m liking the flexibility it affords, the starting 11 retains it’s freshness. Bringing in strong assets from the bench feels just like making a FT, psychologically preventing me from feeling that my squad is missing out on some new shiny asset that I don’t yet own, making me less anxious about thinking that my team is going stale. I have shiny things on the bench instead, taming my hit tendencies! 💉 😁 #transfersfromthebench 😈 The complication is however, getting the majority of points on the pitch! 8pts of Michail Antonio as 1st sub (GW22) is not best when both Barnes & CHO blank. Beyond this, I entertained the variable of extensive Southampton injuries either too late, or simply not enough, to benefit from the over-eagerness of Alexandre Jankewitz who endeavoured to receive a red card in the 2nd minute of his PL debut start away to Man Utd! Poor kid! Although this sending off could never have been anticipated, there was always a chance that Utd would simply overpower a Southampton side littered with relatively inexperienced players. Captaining Bruno would have brought me into the luck of Utd playing against 9 from the 86th minute when Leno took flight of his senses and handled outside the box! After which, Bruno helped himself to a ⚽️ and an additional 👟 to wrap up all 3 bonus points. This, combined with having Michail in my starting 11, would’ve been enough to have emerged with a Matchday 4 – Super Cup win! It’s good to know that at least I have the assets, I just need to use them better. 🤓😊 I spied that Andy LTFPL also has a very strong bench, maybe I’m on to something?! 🤔

This benched points issue will become a thing of my future. The current unorthodox strategy of a bench filled with “starters”, makes it inevitable… GW23, I rotate my keepers and bench Emi for Pope. Emi gets 9pts, Pope, 2!! Also, after benching Antonio’s 8pts (GW22), I cap him this week, and he blanks! What did I say about using my assets better again?! 🤔 Maybe there is a thing in Ola Hovde’s habit of always capping a premium?!

This week in The Elite Discussion (our very own version of TED talks – I’ve rebranded it from BlondeDread Talk 😁) we took a deep dive into this season’s history of the current World No.1 (@OlaPeder on twitter – who featured in a show for #ThatLamaLounge just a few days ago, so #checkitout!!). Amongst many take-aways, the resolute practice of always capping a premium – Salah, Kane, Bruno, KDB – stood out to me. Imagine if I had capped the only premium in my squad this past two gameweeks?! 🤔 This is the part of my game that still needs its socks pulled up!!! TED also lead to the initiation of an intriguiging experiment which may well be covered in Blonde‘s blog. 👀😉 #checkherout!!

EliteFPL

…he doesn’t even wear colourful jumpers!” Vince waxing lyrical on the ineptitude of The Special One, in Hangouts this week! 🤣😂🤣😂 (obviously prior to The Return of Kane 😂)

EliteFPL “Hangouts” on Discord – you just have to be there, to get it! 🤣😂🤣😂🤣 #wherethemagichappens 😳😂🤣😂🤣

EliteFPL

To all the JLingZ bandwagoners who got him in & capped him… IN THE MUD 💉 YOU FUCKERS!!! 😈😂😈🤣😈

Do you know… my decision to not cap Watkins boiled down to some misplaced adoption of a superstition associated with 12:30pm kick-offs. My 1st instinct was to cap Watkins, over-thinking, switched it to Antonio… incomplete deliberations & superstition resulted in losing a combined 14pts this gameweek, on captaincy & goal-keeper rotation… 🤦🏿‍♂️

84 points would’ve been huge! Lesson learnt.

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XXIX. Probable Evolution

There has been much laughter and chat in Hangouts of late, but one thing has stuck in my brain. It was something that came to me prior to Jason mentioning it and although I’d thought the same thing earlier, it wasn’t until I heard the thought spoken back to me, that it really registered.

“…at the end of the day, it’s just a guessing game!”

This prompted me to take a brief look at how we manage probability. Firstly, let’s draw a line under the fact that simply guessing randomly is not the best way to achieve a favourable result. This is further compounded by the number of variables in the game. Would you ever just play an “Autopick” team?! 🙂 Inevitably, the guesses we make are not completely blind. Consciously or not, our probability management is mostly weighted by known knowns. Thus, our ability to guess right, more often than we guess wrong, is not just reliant on our knowledge of the subject at hand, but moreover, how we process and apply said knowledge. This is my current focus, how I interpret the data I consume! 🤔🤓

Noise is inevitable, the difference is what you listen to.

This GW21, due to recent injuries, form, or lack thereof – and Pep! 😆 (#chaos) – was always going to put the cat amongst the pigeons of captaincy options. The ensuing carnage of Saturday’s fixtures was, at least for me, comforting. 🤗 Captain pick after captain pick, blanked. The 12:30pm kick-off hoodoo stood true. #UNLUCKEEYY!!! 😁 Alongside DCL & Digne (WC20 purchases), and with Kane out injured, I decided to punt (guess) my FT on Richarlison. The weight of the fixture (their opponents being a poor Newcastle) combined with the return of nigh all the first team regulars who produced Everton’s blistering early season form, won out ahead of any other striker/fixture combination. It failed miserably! 😈😆 So, what is it that I voyuered, which determined my choice to go balls deep on Everton assets without care? Bravery, or Stupidity?! 🤣 This is something I’ll ruminate on until I find a satisfactory explanation! 😂 All I’ll take from it for now, is that I still believe it was a “Scientific Wild-Ass Guess” aka SWAG, mind you, I’m not an expert, maybe that’s the problem! 🤣

Scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG) is an American English slang term meaning a rough estimate made by an expert in the field, based on experience and intuition.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_wild-ass_guess

Information. I’m on a quest. There’s a lot of it, but so much of it doesn’t resonate. Is it me?!

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Matchday 2 (GW20) went well considering. 61pts from my WC team (42pt GW avg) despite blanking along with the other 2.7M (a new GW record!) Bruno cappers! 🤣 A 2nd consecutive win in the group stage. 6pts on the board as my opponent Brendan Saunders took a -8 for 43pts. Funnily enough, my Matchday 3 opponent JNO (FPL Today) also took a -8 for a net 43pts. This leaves me currently, top of the table! 💪🏿

😈 On Matchday 4, I’m up against Jim Parry. 😈

The carnage which was GW21 was highly entertaining! Maybe that’s easy for me to say with the small green arrow21k – I achieved, but, it really was exhilarating! The importance of a full playing bench was immense! My DF auto-subs from 2nd & 3rd bench, afforded me a combined 10pts (taking me above the 42pt GW average) preventing a certain red arrow! Captain Harvey Barnes returned 16pts! He was my highest outfield points returner as well!! That was such fun!! 😃 I met Chaos with my own brand of Chaos 😈, and endured! That said, the cap choice was based on stats. 🤓

Looking ahead to GW22, I really need my over-investment in Everton to come good! Richarlison will complete his two gameweek punt before being unceremoniously dumped, should he return or not. The plan to hold Digne & DCL is still a go. Traoré is the weak link in my squad, so he’s out already, for an asset who has impressed me in the last two gameweeks! He’s a fifth mid, so at his price, I’m happy to take a gamble… and also start him! (Sorry Jim, further information is classified on a need to know basis only! 😈😝😂) To think, my first instinct was to watch & roll this gameweek, but again, my impulses get the better of me!

I can definitely see that I’m thinking differently. Probable Evolution?! I like to think so, this is not a squad I would’ve assembled 10 gameweeks ago & I feel freer than ever from group-think. For the first time ever in my FPL career, I have no fear of playing my own game and although there will be inevitable stumbles, I’m eager to see where it takes me! 😃 I mean triple Everton & double Leicester midfield attackers?!! It’s utter madness, right?!

Doesn’t matter, if there’s method. 😉

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