Midfield and Forward rankings

Just four more sleeps until Liverpool destroy Norwich and all is right with the Premier League world. Two of my RealFF drafts have been concluded, one I’m very happy with and the other not so much!

One of the most challenging (brilliant) things about the draft format is you have to make decisions there and then. In FPL you plan your team out hours, days, even weeks in advance, analysing your transfer or formation to the Nth degree to ensure the right decision is made. As does everyone else, and you largely end up all making the same player choices.

In draft you’re making live decisions on draft day along with nine or so other people, every decision you make impacts them and vice versa. You can have your heart set on a player, say Shane Duffy, watch him remain available as your pick nears, and then see him snatched away by the person picking just one spot ahead of you. Then what do you do? You’ve 60 seconds to decide. Do you go for Dunk as a similarly skilled alternative from the same club, or opt for Tarkowski as he has more goal threat? But wait, looking at the rankings Deulofeu is still available. You swore you wouldn’t take your 3rd striker until the 13th round, but surely you can’t take Dunk over Deulofeu. You ‘panic pick’ the mercurial Spaniard (times this internal monologue by fifteen and it’ll tell you how my ‘Bags league’ draft went).

In draft you’re making live decisions on draft day along with nine or so other people, every decision you make impacts them and vice versa

Only then do you remember there’s another 10 similarly skilled strikers left, most of whom will still be available in the 13th round, and you’d sworn to get a Brighton centre back. Oh well, there’s always next pick! In a ten man draft there are 150 such decisions made, every one of them impacts you. It’s exhausting, it’s thrilling, it’s infinitely more skilled than picking an FPL team.

I’ll write more about my drafts and how I think the Gaffer’s season is shaping up over the next couple of weeks, but for now let’s rank the top midfield and forward options available to RealFF managers.

On a side note it was good to see Alisson vindicating my view from the previous article, and I quote:

He made several calamitous errors last season in a similar manner to Karius and Mignolet in seasons past, but they were largely forgotten due to the situational insignificance.

I wonder whether his howler in the Community Shield (and ineffective efforts in the shootout) will resonate more with the fans than last year’s errors, simply don’t think there’s been a more overrated keeper since Joe Hart made a career of tunnel rants and big game errors.

Ok, on to the ranks:

Midfield:

1. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton): RealFF have made things extra tricky this year by ensuring wingers and ‘number tens’ are positioned as forwards. Siggy is the best of what remains, truly the standout man at Everton. He’ll offer you virtually all set pieces and, crucially with the onset of VAR, penalties. Very consistent form and not many injuries over the last few seasons push him right to the top of my list.

2. James Maddison (Leicester): Maddo had an excellent first season in the league, and as with Siggy above he dominates Leicester’s dead balls. I expect Leicester to be very attacking under Rodgers this season and they’ve made some superb signings, which will only improve Maddison’s output.

3. Diogo Jota (Wolves): One of the most attacking players left in the midfield ranks. I expect Jota to take another step forward this season after a fantastic 2019 so far. He would have been second were it not for the additional strain of Europa League duty this season. Hugely talented and one I expect to shine in the coming months.

4. Paul Pogba (Man Utd): There’s a caveat here, he could be at Real Madrid. If he stays Pogba is golden with VAR being implemented. United got 10 penalties last season, Pogba converted 7 of them, and I could see this replicated at least this season. For all the criticism he’s one of the league’s best players, and deserves his high ranking.

5. Christian Eriksen (Spurs): Bit of a down year in 18/19, but having had the summer off I expect Eriksen to rack up the points once more. The loss of Trippier should enhance his set piece dominance too.

Forward:

1. Mo Salah (Liverpool): For me Salah and Sterling are by far the best two fantasy options this year despite their reclassification as forwards. Salah gets the top spot due to his penalty duties. Looked lively in the Community Shield and I’d expect him to start firing straight away on Friday against the unlucky Canaries.

2. Raheem Sterling (Man City): As per Salah, but without penalties. By far the best Man City asset. Worth noting if you’re playing with captains then Salah and Sterling gain even more value as the two standout options.

3. Aubameyang (Arsenal): Just sneaks ahead of Kane into third spot due to less injury worries. I expect Arsenal to be strong offensively again, let’s not talk about the defence, and PEA will score the most of their exciting front three. He’s scored everywhere he’s been and did so with great aplomb last season. Also on penalties. What’s not to like?

4. Kane (Spurs): Take all of the above written about PEA. Apply it here, but then take off 10% due to ankles made of glass. That’s Harry Kane. He could well win the golden boot if he stays injury free.

5. Firmino (Liverpool): Maybe a surprise pick here slightly ahead of Premier League legends like Mane and Aguero. I just feel Firmino is as safe as they get, something you want for your early round picks. I’d expect Mane to regress a little whilst Firmino just continues to do what he always does – rack up points. Maybe a bit of a gut play but I love him this season.

Cheers,
Gaffer

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