Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 12
Welcome to Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 12. Before we proceed I must warn you that I’m in a foul mood. What’s new? Well I’ve got a good reason this time. As I write this Ireland are currently playing Denmark in a crucial World Cup play-off and the score is 3-1 to Denmark. Yet the score-line isn’t actually the issue! The problem is that I’m not watching it. Instead I’m listening to it on the radio. Why? I’m in Wales! The hotel I’m staying in does not have Sky and their internet is terrible, meaning I can’t even watch it online. So, as you can see I’ve got good reason to be in a mood.
Bank to FPL. Hmmm… this is unlikely to improve my mood. I’ll be honest, I love FPL but this season is really testing my patience so I desperately need a good score this week but looking at my team that’s unlikely. It’s a vicious cycle. There is some good news and that is that The Ashes are set to begin in a little over a week. For those of you not familiar with The Ashes I’ll keep it simple. It involves the poms (England) playing the convicts (Australia) in five five-day tests. It’s the greatest cricketing contest in the world and I can’t wait for it. Oh and there will be fantasy Ashes!!
Now I’m not here to chat about cricket so I’d best come up with some FPL Tips. The good news is that the majority of players who are on my list to write about are not currently in my squad so they should do quite well in the weeks ahead! You’ll probably notice that I’ve not included any City players below. I fully expect them to perform well over the coming weeks but I feel as though Mito covered them perfectly in his article last week.
There’s a damn good reason that David de Gea is both the most expensive (£5.7m) and popular (40.5%) keeper in FPL. United have the best defence in the league having conceded just five goals in their opening 11 games and this has resulted in the Spaniard claiming eight clean sheets. To put this into context the next best keeper has five clean sheets. This form has seen him pick up 9pts more than any other keeper in the league. There is an argument to be made that there is better value for money available in other keepers such as Huddersfield’s Jonas Lossl. The Dane is the 2nd highest scoring keeper and is £1.1m cheaper than de Gea. While this is a valid argument the great thing about owning de Gea is that he’s fixture proof, you pick him and no longer need to worry about your keeper. This was best highlighted in recent weeks when United held both Liverpool & Spurs scoreless. While he might be fixture proof a run of easy fixtures is always welcome and aside from game-weeks 15 & 16 United have a great run of fixtures through to the end of January.
For those of you unwilling to spend £5.7m on a keeper, how about spending £8.2m on two keepers? Two sub £4.5m playing keepers must be the equivalent of an FPL wet dream! It’s just unfortunate that one of said keepers plays for Crystal Palace but you can’t have everything. Newcastle’s Rob Elliothas proved to be popular since GW1 and now features in 26.7% of teams. Palace’s Julian Speroni on the other hand features in just 3.2% of teams. Having failed to keep a clean sheet in their opening 11 games and conceding a total of 22 goals to date it’s difficult if not impossible to make a case for any of Palace’s defensive assets, but I’ll give it a go. Since Speroni has taken over between the sticks Palace have conceded just five goals in four games. Over the course of the season Palace’s opposition have had a total of 56 shots on target which is essentially 5 per game. Over the last four games this average has dropped to 3 per game. Obviously this cannot be attributed to Speroni but it is perhaps a sign that Woy is slowly but surely starting to get their defence in shape. I’ve had a quick look at the fixtures for these two and they actually rotate reasonably well until the end of the year. Admittedly the fixtures dictate that you are likely to play Speroni more often than Elliot but at a combined £8.2m you will have freed up funds to be invested elsewhere.
So that’s the most expensive and cheapest keepers covered, what of those in between? The fixtures over the next five game-weeks would suggest we consider Bournemouth’s Asmir Begovic and Burnley’s Nick Pope. Bournemouth have struggled for form over the opening 11 game-weeks and sit just a solitary point above the relegation zone. They’ve conceded 14 goals and Begovic has kept just two clean sheets. They did however keep a clean sheet last time out against Newcastle and in the process Begovic claimed 9pts. Their next five games suggest that should they match the performance which they turned in against Newcastle that Begovic could very well pick up a number of clean sheets. When Tom Heaton dislocated his shoulder back in GW4 many wondered how Burnley would cope without him. They needn’t have worried as Pope has proven to be a more than adequate replacement. He’s picked up four clean sheets, all of which have come in the last six game-weeks. He has picked up more bonus points than any other keeper despite only starting his first game in GW5. Alarmingly only two keepers have made more saves than Pope which clearly indicates he’s been busy but he has certainly been up to the challenge. Aside from a trip to Arsenal in GW13 Burnley have a great run of fixtures until mid-December, at which stage they embark on quite a testing run.
Chelsea haven’t been as solid at the back as many of us would have expected this season. At the same time, it’s not like they’ve been terrible either, they’ve conceded 10 goals in 11 games which gives them the 5th best defence in the league. They’ve kept five clean sheets to date, a figure only bettered by three teams. On a positive note two of the clean sheets have come in their last two games so perhaps Conte has found the magic formula. For much of last season and the early part of this season Marcos Alonso had been the go to guy for Chelsea defenders but it now appears as though Cesar Azpilicueta is that guy. It’s easy to understand why this change has taken place as Azpi is the highest scoring defender with 67pts. This is largely thanks to five assists and an equally impressive 10 bonus points, only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane have amassed more bonus points. Typically, in this situation I will put forward some underlying stats in support of a player but when it comes to Azpi I can’t! When it comes to the likes of touches in the opposition area and shots on target the Spaniard is way down the list. He’s also way down when it comes to chances created as he’s only created eight in total, but five of these have been converted into goals, all by Alvaro Morata. At £6.7m he’s one of the most expensive defenders in FPL but he is turning these pounds into points. Chelsea have a great run of fixtures until the end of 2017 and there’s every chance Azpi will continue to pick up clean sheets & assists along the way. Before we move on it might be worth keeping an eye on Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen. The Dane started against United in GW11 following a falling out between Conte and David Luiz and if this falling out isn’t resolved Christensen could prove to be a cheap route into the Chelsea defence.
Every season there’s one player who starts the season well but FPL managers are reluctant to pick him because ‘his form can’t continue!’. In previous seasons it’s been the likes of Yaya Toure and Aaron Ramsey. For a time, this season it was Phil Jones. However slowly but surely people have cottoned on to the fact that he’s in the United defence to stay. This has resulted in his price increasing to £5.5m from a starting point of £5.0m and he now features in 15.8% of teams. Those who picked him up early doors have been rewarded with eight clean sheets and a total of 59pts. He hasn’t offered much by way of attacking threat to date, in fact he’s only had two touches in the opposition area and has no attempts on target. However, his defensive stats are quite impressive and this is reflected by the fact that he’s picked up eight bonus points. As we’ve seen in recent weeks United are capable of picking up clean sheets against all teams meaning Jones is almost fixture proof. Expect Jones to continue accumulating the clean sheets over the coming weeks.
Kieran Trippier and to a greater extent Ben Davies were fantasy gold in the early part of the season as both were playing as wing backs for one of the most defensively sound teams in the league. However, Spurs now have four top quality full backs and as we’ve seen in recent weeks rotation is inevitable. Therefore, it’s perhaps time we turn our attentions towards their centre backs. In terms of points Jan Vertonghen has a clear lead over both Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez. The stats also point to Vertonghen who has more penalty area touches and attempts than the other two. His defensive stats are also far superior than the other two and he leads the way in terms of recoveries, blocked shots and interceptions. I’m quite sure each of the four full-backs will pick up attacking returns over the coming game-weeks but with their game-time anything but assured Vertonghen appears to be the best option and Spurs are likely to pick up enough points over the coming game-weeks to make him a viable pick.
The inclusion of Alberto Moreno is likely to raise a few eyebrows but his inclusion this week is in my opinion merited. Liverpool have conceded 17 goals to date but this figure doesn’t tell the whole story. 16 of these goals have been conceded away from home meaning they’ve kept five clean sheets at home. Only United have a better home defensive record. In five away games they’ve conceded 44 attempts from within side their area while the opposition have had 32 efforts on target. Compare this to six home games where they’ve conceded just 14 attempts from within side their area while the opposition has had just five attempts on target. Moreno started just two league games last season and following the arrival of Andy Robertson during the summer many assumed it would be a similar story this season but he has proven his doubters wrong and has started nine of the 11 league games to date. While Moreno, just like his defensive colleagues, remains prone to making the odd mistake he has improved this season and with four of Liverpool’s next six games to be played at Anfield he could very well claim another few clean sheets. Just be sure to bench him for the away games!
If you’re on the hunt for a cheap defender with decent fixtures you might want to consider a Bournemouth defender whose next five games are all against teams who are struggling to find the back of the net. The problem is that, as noted above, Bournemouth have kept just two clean sheets this season. The way I see it you’ve got two choices. Charlie Daniels or Simon Francis. Of all Bournemouth’s defenders Daniels has the best stats while Francis is the cheapest at £4.4m.
Elsewhere five bonus points in his last two games have put Ben Mee back on our radars. The stats continue to favour Mee’s colleague Stephen Ward but the Irishman is now £0.4m more expensive than Mee and I’m not quite sure he’s worth the extra money. Burnley could very well pick up a number of clean sheets over the coming weeks and this could see Mee claim more bonus points.
With City’s midfield being overlooked this week the top billing goes to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Eyebrows were raised last summer when Liverpool shelled out a club record fee for the Egyptian with much of the scepticism surrounding him coming from his time at Chelsea. However, as we’ve seen in recent times, not making it at Chelsea is not necessarily a good barometer of one’s talent and Salah is certainly proving his doubters wrong. With seven goals to his name only Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero have scored more while he’s also chipped in with three assists for good measure. Some will argue that he could be more clinical in front of goal and while there might be an element of truth to this his stats make impressive reading. He’s had 72 touches in the opposition penalty area which puts him 2nd on the midfield list. He’s had 37 goal attempts with Richarlison the only midfielder to better this. When it comes to attempts on target he’s out on his own with 24, the next best midfielder is Christian Eriksen with 13. In fact, no striker can better his 24 attempts on target. Now as we’ve seen in the past an easy fixture list on paper does not always translate into easy games for Liverpool! Despite this it is worth noting that Liverpool have some excellent fixtures over the coming weeks and this in theory should see Salah remain amongst the points. It’s also worth noting that following Egypt’s qualification for the World Cup back in October they decided to omit Salah from their final qualifier this week. So while others will have played in World Cup play-offs or meaningless friendlies Salah has been back in Liverpool with his feet up.
Things haven’t quite clicked for Eden Hazard or Chelsea this season. I think I’ve said something similar about Chelsea in every Tips article I’ve written this season. It’s as though they’re always just about to hit form and then something stops them in their tracks. For what seems like the first time this season Conte would appear to have a squad which is bereft of injuries. The return on N’Golo Kante had an extremely positive impact on the team in the win over United. His mere presence appears to instil confidence in his teammates as they know he’s there to pick up the pieces if and when mistakes are made. With a fully fit squad you would expect Chelsea to take advantage of a great run of fixtures over the coming weeks. Against United in GW11 Conte switched to what appeared to be a 3-1-4-1-1 formation and this saw Hazard deployed as a #10 in support of Alvaro Morata. Hazard may not have gotten on the scoresheet but his stats were impressive. He registered 6 touches in the United area and also had three efforts on target. The result against United is likely to have given Chelsea a much needed confidence boost and I expect them and Hazard to kick on from here. One player worth keeping an eye on is Tiemoue Bakayoko. The return of Kante saw Bakayoko moved higher up the pitch and if he continues in such a roll he might be an interesting prospect at £5.1m. he’s never really been noted for his attacking exploits but he has picked up a goal and two assists to date, and he missed an absolute sitter against United.
Jamie Vardy may not be having a party at present but Riyad Mahrez is certainly doing his best to get one started. Leicester endured a tough start to the season and took just four points from their first six games but they are now unbeaten in five. Mahrez has been key to this upturn in fortunes picking up two goals and three assists in his last four games. Unfortunately Leicester host City this weekend and it would take a brave man to purchase him this week and they also host Spurs in GW14. However, sandwiched in between these games is a trip to London to play a West Ham side now managed by Moyesie! Mahrez could have a field day against them. The one concern surrounding Mahrez is price. There are currently a number of similarly priced players and also cheaper players currently racking up similar scores. However, with an ownership of just 5.1% he does represent an excellent differential.
Having already included one Crystal Palace player I’m now going to throw caution to the wind and include a 2nd, Wilfried Zaha. Palace have managed just four goals this season, the lowest in the league. Encouragingly however these goals have all come in their last four games. It’s unlikely to be a coincidence that an upturn in Palace’s attacking play has coincided with Zaha’s return following his injury on the opening day of the season. If we take a look at some stats from the last four game-weeks, we’ll see that he’s had 34 touches in the opposition area only bettered by Sane and Richarlison. He’s had 12 goal attempts, bettered by just Salah and Richarlison. Five of his attempts have hit the target and two have led to goals. If, and it’s a big if, Palace are to stay up this season they will need to take advantage of their fixtures over the next eight game-weeks. If they are to pick up some meaningful points over the coming weeks Zaha will play a key role and I feel that he’s worth a punt at £6.7m.
Last season Watford gave us Etienne Capoue and this season they’ve given us Richarlison. The Brazilian arrived on English shores from Brazil back in July to little fanfare but he has subsequently taken the Premier League by storm. He’s had more touches in the opposition penalty area than any other midfielder and has also had more goal attempts than any other midfielder. Unfortunately, he’s not as accurate as many of his contemporaries, he’s only hit the target seven times from 39 attempts. This has however led to four goals while he’s also picked up four assists for good measure. Whether he’ll go the same way as Capoue last season and disappear from the FPL radar remains to be seen but I’d recommend jumping on board before this train potentially runs out of steam.
A couple of cheaper midfielders who warrant a brief mention this week are Burnley’s Robbie Brady and Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman. I had originally earmarked Brady’s colleague Jeff Hendrick but then I spotted Brady’s stats and as a result I’m going with him. Of all midfielders priced at £5.5m and below Brady has created the most chances with 19. It’s unfortunate that Burnley have failed to capitalise on these chances and this has resulted in him picking up just one assist. He’s had 17 touches in the opposition and 15 goal attempts, four of which have been on target. These figures stack up reasonably well when compared to similarly priced midfielders. Given these stats he’s perhaps unlucky to have just picked two assists to date. At £5.5m you might feel the need to play Brady every week but with Surman priced at £4.7m you can happily bench him more often than not. His stats aren’t fantastic but he has started 10 of the 11 games to date and has weighed in with two goals and an assist.
More often than not when we look at a club’s fixtures we turn first to their home fixtures but that’s not the case at present with Spurs, instead we look to their away fixtures. Why? Well Harry Kane has scored eight goals this season and six of these have come away from home. He’s found a way to blank at home to the likes of Palace, Bournemouth and Swansea. The good news is that three of his next four fixtures are away to Arsenal, Leicester & Watford. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason for this but there is an argument to suggest that when these teams arrive at Wembley they choose to sit back and frustrate Spurs. Frustrated they may be but Kane’s stats don’t necessarily back up this argument. Granted he averages more penalty area touches away from home but his goal attempts, attempts from inside the box and minutes per attempt are all better at home while shots on target are equal. Perhaps he’s just been unlucky at home? I’ve had a quick look at some home stats for all forwards and Kane leads the way in terms of attempts on target so I’m going with the he’s been unlucky at home excuse! In future we not be as quick to hand him the armband for his home fixtures but I certainly wouldn’t consider omitting him from your squad.
Romelu Lukaku has come in for a certain amount of criticism in recent weeks as he’s failed to score in his last four games and when we pay a figure in the region of £11.5m for a forward we probably expect a better return. However, three of those four games were against Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea. Three games in which Jose was always going to try to keep things tight and adopt an approach would see them not lose the game. Such an approach has seen Lukaku register just nine touches in the opposition area over the last four games and just three attempts on target. What I’m trying to say here is that maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on Lukaku. Instead we should be looking at his next three fixtures against Newcastle, Brighton & Watford. These are the very type of teams he scored seven goals in seven games against in the earlier part of the season.
Alvaro Morata has been reasonably consistent this season. He’s produced returns in six of his 10 appearances while showing against Stoke back in GW6 he can also be explosive. He doesn’t top the charts on any stats but as I’ve already said, he’s consistent. For touches in the opposition area, goal attempts and attempts on target he’s 4th amongst all forwards. In terms of chances created he hasn’t performed as well but I suspect as the season progresses and he builds up a better understanding with Eden Hazard we’ll see an improvement. One concern some have about the Spaniard is his ability to complete the full 90mins but against United in GW11 he played the entire 90 for the first time since GW6. He got a useful 45-minute run out against Costa Rica scoring his 13th goal in 23 internationals. Given Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures I expect to see him on the scoresheet on a regular basis.
Outside of the above three and the City contingent there’s few forwards remaining whom we can get excited by. Glenn Murray is perhaps the exception. He’s scored four goals in his last three games and is priced at £5.8m. The problem is we don’t know if we can rely on him to continue with such form. The chances are that it’s unlikely. In saying that his stats over the last four games have been quite good and he’s on a par if not better than the leading lights. He’s played most of his football in the lower leagues where he’s got a decent scoring record and in fairness he’s scored a few goals in the PL over the years so maybe his current form shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. If at present you’re looking for a cheap 3rd striker Murray is probably your man.
Or is he? Everton’s Oumar Niasse is available for just £4.9m and played 90mins for the first time this season in GW11. It might have been his first full 90 but since appearing in GW6 he has featured in every game and now has four goals for the season. Whether he’s likely to remain in the side is probably down to who the club appoint as manager. If David Unsworth gets the gig there’s a good chance we’ll see a bit of him, perhaps less chance with a different gaffer.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 12
This article was written by Kop.
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW12-20