FPL: Rotation, rotation, rotation

Rotation

In an ideal world, each and every Premier League manager would love to field the exact same eleven players every week, in every competition, for 90 minutes. However, despite what Dave – proper football man from down the pub – says, footballers do require rest. This has an impact on FPL managers.

Rotation doesn’t happen to players because they’re “overpaid prima donnas”. Yes Dave, we know that you “used to play on a Saturday for the seconds and then on Sunday for the first team too” but you aren’t a professional athlete, Dave. That’s why you’re in the pub at 9:30 on a Thursday morning, Dave. No I won’t help you with your FPL team, DAVE.

Why?

Footballers (for now) aren’t robots, they’re flesh, bone, “headphones” (according to Chris Waddle) and as such they need recovery time. The effect of recovery time is beyond the scope of this piece. The general consensus, however, is that players need at least three days off to be at their very best. Reduced recovery time also increases the chances of injury. Premier League squads are built with this in mind, and FPL squads should be too. At the very highest level clubs are able to fill their bench with players most clubs couldn’t afford even if everyone else played for free.

Gabriel Jesus and John Stones warm the Man City bench
Gabriel Jesus has started just TWO Premier League matches so far this season. To his left, a £50m defender in John Stones.

This presents FPL managers with a problem. Less time on the pitch = less time to score points. So what can be done? And what do we need to bear in mind?

Sometimes you need to take rotation on the chin

You want good players that are important to their team, obviously. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword. The more a team relies on a player, the more important matches they will want to involve them in, the more chances they’ll need to rest at times. If your player is rested because of upcoming important games, you’ve probably got a very good player in your team. Likewise, if your player is subbed off because they’re 4-0 up at half time, there’s a good chance they outscore a player that plays 90 minutes for a team that wins 1-0. A player missing one match isn’t a disaster, stay calm. That’s why…

Your bench is important

You don’t need 15 players that you’re happy to field every week, but you do need to make sure they’re at least playing. Invest a little extra in a minimum of one bench player that has a chance of getting you points when called upon if one of your stars is rotated. Even two points for an appearance is better than none – they quickly add up. Even if you rely on a bench player to come in just twice, then having one that gets two points each time rather than 0 is the equivalent of a goal for a striker.

Wan Bissaka has already been immortalized in FPL folklore for some managers. They have needed the young fullback to come off their bench after recent big name casualties such as Mendy, Silva, etc.

FPL autosub success
A very welcome sight for some managers in gameweek 5 this season

Take advantage of players that aren’t in Europe

The top players generally play for teams that compete on multiple fronts, including the European competitions. Top teams that don’t qualify for Europe, or exit competitions early, make their players very appealing to us. Chelsea, after finishing 10th the previous season, didn’t qualify for Europe in the 2015/16 season. This then meant they could field their strongest eleven every week in the league. Likewise Liverpool in the 2013/14 season. Both teams provided multiple players with huge FPL points tallies.

With the ever growing importance of qualifying for the Champions League, teams competing in the Europa League will often field a weaker side until the latter stages. This will mean that some of the top players will end u being saved for the league. Hazard is a great example this season, who appears to be exempt from Europa league travels, for now. I bet he’s gutted to be missing a trip to a club whose owner literally walked onto the pitch with a loaded gun last season.

Look for ‘star’ players

Some players are so important to their teams, and their competition so much lower in quality, that they cannot afford to be rested or rotated. This means that sometimes you’re better off going for a slightly worse player, in a lower table team, than a better player who’s unlikely to get the minutes needed to deliver points. Examples include: Arnautovic, Mitrovic, Wilson, Vardy.

Arnautovic celebrates another goal
Arnautovic has been directly invovled in 5 of West Ham’s 8 goals this season (4 goals, 1 assist)

The League takes priority over Cup competitions

This is a touchy subject for some ‘Proper football men’ but the evidence is overwhelming. In the early rounds of domestic cups (the League Cup in particular), first choice players are regularly rested in preparation for other competitions. If a player features heavily in midweek cup games, it’s likely because they’re not first choice for the league.

End of season chaos

The end of the season is notoriously chaotic – postponed fixtures mean double gameweeks, and cup competitions reach their latter stages. These can all play a part in squad selection so it’s vital to monitor them and finish the season strong. Check the period in between games including European and domestic cup matches – if it’s less than three days there’s going to be rotation. There’s no point planning your perfect double gameweek team if half the players only feature in one match.

In the early part of the season you might see players rested for European group stage games against lesser opposition. Once they get to the knockouts though, it might be a Premier League match that players see less game time in.

Teams are stronger in some areas than others

Self-explanatory, but picking players competing for their place in the team is a bit of a lottery. Harry Kane probably isn’t worried that he loses his place to Llorente for example, but Spurs have four fullbacks that are largely interchangeable and Man City have a plethora of attacking players.

Keep an eye on press conference news

Always important in FPL anyway, but when they’re feeling particularly generous managers might give us specific information about certain players. Last season Pep said that once Mendy was injured, Sane became even more important to the side as they needed a left footed player to provide width. This meant his chances of rotation lessened, and we could be more confident in his game time.

Injury updates also provide an opportunity to pick a player that would normally be a rotation risk. Aurier’s recent injury meant that we could be fairly certain Trippier would play every minute of the coming matches – until Aurier returns at least.

Aurier and Trippier warm up together
Aurier and Trippier both regularly rotate for the right back spot for Spurs – unless one of them is injured

How do you handle rotation in FPL? Do you have any good or bad rotation stories? Let us know in the comments.

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