I dislike international breaks in the domestic Premier League principally because of the loss of momentum and excitement in the FPL game.
However, the break also introduces the unwelcome possibility of injuries and this break has been no exception.
Rüdiger, Varane, Jota and perhaps most significantly of all Lukaku have picked up injuries in the first round of internationals.
Those FPL players playing their wildcards are relatively unaffected as they can swap out these players without taking a hit.
However, many players will have gone against the usual wisdom to leave transfers as late as possible in order to bring in Rüdiger (102,536) and Lukaku (128,571) early to beat their price rises.
We’ve also got the added jeopardy attaching to our South American assets of a delayed return from the break making them unavailable for GW8 matches.
So, as a Leeds United fan, I have been delighted with the amazing form that Raphinha has shown in his first two matches in a Brazil shirt. I am less delighted as an FPLer, however, that he will be squeezing in a third match of the break on Friday morning, 01:30hrs UK time.
This means that Raphinha has 36 hours to get from Brazil to Southampton for the 3pm kickoff. The only silver lining is that Raphina has only been used as a substitute so far, playing 45 minutes against Venezuela and 39 mins against Colombia.
However, Raphinha’s outstanding form may result in a start for him against Uruguay on Friday and consequently, Raphinha may only appear as a substitute for Leeds Utd. on Saturday at St Mary’s. Even that chance is slim. Similarly affected by the South American debacle are Fabinho, Alisson, Ederson, Jesus, Cavani, Fred, Martinez, Douglas Luiz and Thiago Silva. A number of Spurs and Everton players are also in doubt but as they play on Sunday, their players may make the match. The managers of Argentina and Brasil have now made it clear that no Premier League players are going home early and so the problems deepen for FPL managers.
The ownership levels of Raphinha (20.4%), Rüdiger (21.1%), Jota (17.2%) and Lukaku (36.8%) will mean many FPL players will be facing a hard decision on Saturday morning. By the deadline, it is unlikely Raphinha’s playing status will be clear, and as many players follow the expert’s advice to max out the budget on players on the pitch they will have at best only one playing substitute.
The injury to Bissouma (BHA) will also be causing anxiety as he’s a go-to bench player for 13.2% of FPL players.
Over a fifth of FPL players have remained faithful to Trent Alexander-Arnold (22.0%). This is understandable as he has had the two-week international break to recover, but with all these other injuries to key players, they may regret their loyalty as he is not guaranteed to play against Watford, (although he is reportedly back in training). His £7.5m price tag would enable players to have a deeper more comprehensive playing bench during these times of need. Also if he’s not going to play against Watford his next match is the unappetising prospect of Manchester United, away! He’s missed three matches already this season, just how long are you going to sideline £7.5m on the bench?
So many of us will be taking a hit on Saturday merely to put eleven players on the pitch! If you can do so without taking a hit, even though you have no one on the bench, you may not suffer badly as a majority of players in the game will be without one or more key players for GW8.
Looks very much like I’ll be relying on Salah, as usual, to bring home the captain’s bonus. If you’re looking for an alternative to the injured Lukaku then Vardy is on a roll and plays against Ronaldo’s Manchester Utd on Saturday! Are you brave enough? Or maybe Son is of interest as a premium purchase?
Ironically, I brought in Rüdiger and Lukaku and I chose them over Son as he was injured on international duty last time when I’d transferred him in and didn’t want to risk lightning striking twice! D’oh!
When this nightmare break is over it’ll be less than 3 weeks to the next ridiculous international break. It must be so frustrating for FIFA to have these annoying domestic leagues screwing with their international schedule.
So back to my team of absentees and walking wounded. I have used 3 transfers this GW but find I have 6 players unlikely to take the field. Deep joy.