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Tuchel’s Squid Game

By James Dowdeswell

We thought Pep Roulette was tough, but Tuchel plays a Squid Game.

GW9 was an incredible, unpredictable, awe-inspiring, devastating and despairing weekend of football. It showed us the true highs and lows of FPL in a single gameweek.

Havertz felt like a recommended left field wine from a trusted waiter, which turned out to be corked, vinegary, and sent back. Of course, this German Havertztraminer was back on the menu and firing in midweek, when we didn’t need him. But does anyone dare crack it open again, on what you hope to be a celebratory weekend?

Meanwhile on the next table, some FPL players were smugly guzzling magnum bottles of Mount Foden & Salah, Chilled Well by Tuchel. Others even slurped King Cornets and gunned shots of ESR.

GW9 was unusual in that both the Mavericks and Dullards did well. The Mavericks captained Mount, Foden or ESR and the Dullards kept faith in Salah.

I captained Salah and brought in Chilwell, Havertz and Vardy for a -8 point hit. I believed the Havertz hype on Twitter and thought he might fly in a false nine. It was believable and achievable. Only afterwards we realised that Tuchel’s Chelsea likes to play off the number nine and the players arriving late into the box are the ones to target.

No one expected that haul from Mount. Not even the man himself, who admitted, “I’ve never scored more than one in a game!”

Some folk say bringing Mount in now is chasing shadows. However, he does have a great fixture run, on set pieces, capable of assists, and seems in favour, so worth having him to tick over.

For me, Havertz was a last minute punt. I was more concerned about the upside of a marauding Chelsea wing back. Owning both left backs, I played Alonso and had Chilwell as first sub. I even toyed with putting them as captain and vice respectively. Fortunately, I saw sense!

Essentially GW9 rested on how many of Salah, Mount, Foden, ESR and Chilwell you had. And if you had Cornet or Josh King, you were a high roller, who hit a very high and unlikely jackpot.

The success of your gameweek is ultimately decided by narrow margins and on which side the coin falls: Saka or ESR, Grealish or Foden, Havertz or Mount.

There is a downside to upside chasing and not all punts work out. When an outside bet comes in it’s brilliant, but sometimes you can’t beat the bank. In this case, the bank picked by the herd was Salah.

In the aftermath, the FPL Twitter timeline was incendiary. One individual DMed some horrific abuse to a poor teenage content creator for putting him off captaining Salah. This was disgusting and totally unacceptable.

Content creators by their very nature need to create content, so will sometimes say things that are controversial, or exciting, or different in order to provoke opinion and drive traffic their way.

It’s fun to read Twitter threads, articles and listen to podcasts to help inform our own strategy, but we should never just follow these opinions blindly.

The beauty of FPL is you decide how to set up your team. You have sole control of a game that is often frustratingly just out of our grasp.

Ultimately FPL is a game of chance, in which we are all trying to maximise our chances.

And that, my friends, is what makes it such a good game.

To put things in perspective, one Havertz captainer, our very own @fplmerch, brought life into the world this week. Congrats Ross on becoming a father.

Good luck everyone, have fun and remember, it’s just a game, a Squid Game.

James Dowdeswell is a comedian and author of

“The Pub Manifesto: A Comedian Stands Up For Pubs.”

Twitter @jamesdowdeswell

Instagram @dowdeswell_drinks_well

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