‘Stick or twist?’ A few tips on making sensible substitutions!

So, you started the season full of optimism- this was going to be ‘your year’- you could see the headlines on the fantasy websites already: ‘(Insert your name here)’ blows the opposition away as he/she storms to the top of the Fantasy Football League…’

One week (yes, just ONE week) in, and your dreams lie shattered. That ‘star midfielder’ who was going to create a boatload of chances for his strikers, has clearly flattered to deceive in pre-season, substituted by his manager after an hour of lacklustre toil and sweat. That expensive centre-back, talked off as the ‘next John Terry’, clearly couldn’t tackle a bag of cement!

So, what to do? ‘Stick’ with him, and hope he was just having a nervous debut in English football, or ‘twist’, cash in on him now before everyone realises what a bad pick he is, and swap him for Andre Schurrle or James Chester, two players who certainly lit up Week 1.

Well, let’s consider a few players who have made a less than expected showing in Week 1, and gauge if they are worth ‘sticking’ with or ‘twisting’ out…

1. Roberto Soldado (Tottenham)… a player who had a quiet debut season in the EPL last year, but looked more like the striker we knew him as in Valencia during Spurs’ pre-season. He didn’t make it onto the pitch at West Ham last Saturday, and the quesion is: does Pochettino really rate him as a starter in this Tottenham team? His competition for the striking berth is Adebayor, who himself can be a little ‘hit and miss’, and on the basis of little other direct competition, I would be inclined to ‘STICK’ with Soldado unless you can afford to bring in a better (more expensive) striker in his place;

2. Ander Herrera (Manchester United)… again, a player who looked very accomplished in pre-season, but was a mere shadow against Swansea City on Saturday, ultimately pulled from the action by Louis van Gaal mid-way through the second-half. The fact that he has picked up a ‘knock’ during the week and is rated as doubtful for the trip to Sunderland in Week 2 certainly adds to a feeling that Herrera might be one to let go, certainly in the short-term. Throw in the fact that similar players such as Tadic (Southampton) & Schurrle (Chelsea) made impressive performances last weekend, and players like Mirallas (Everton) have a greater potential to score points in the coming weeks, and I would ‘TWIST’ and sub Herrera out;

3. Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)… Sakho was the one to lose out last Sunday as Brendan Rodgers opted for a central defensive partnership of ‘debut boy’ Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel against a Southampton side which gave the Merseyside outfit a much stiffer examination than many predicted at Anfield. With a visit to Champions Manchester City on the horizon for Liverpool this week, it may be a good time to trade Sakho in for a similar player from a side facing less daunting opposition, since even if he makes the Reds’ starting XI, the chances of the visitors stiffling City’s lively attacking line-up are slim. I would ‘TWIST’ Sakho out and look at a player such as Jose Fonte (Southampton) or Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City) as a suitable replacement this weekend, both facing lesser sides in West Brom and Hull City respectively.

So, there it is. As a general rule throughout the season, look to substitute out players who are generally under-performing (even if they play for teams doing well in the Premier League), frequently injured, or likely to fall in & out of favour and suffer ‘rotation’ under their manager. Keep a close eye on the fixture list, and if, for example, Arsenal are hosting Burnley, that is unlikely to be a good week to bring in a couple of Burnley defenders; by contrast, it may be a good week to finally ‘take a punt’ on Olivier Giroud as your preferred striker!

Good luck!

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