Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 18
Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 18. Hi everyone and welcome to your Tips article for Game-week 18, which falls on Boxing Day (if like me you lose track of which exact day it is at this time of year).
I’d like to start by recapping the FF247 Christmas Party, if I may;
It was a beauty which is more than can be said for any of the ‘gentlemen’ who were in attendance. Cookie was asleep amongst the coats, Kop was found in a cupboard, with himself muttering to himself, about his rank and how he was better when he was younger and everything these days is just ‘noise’. Mito was on the phone screaming loudly in to the receiver something about the quality of his latest cut, whilst a crimson and crying Guy Sanchez sheepishly placed down his glass and left quickly without saying a word to anyone whilst Chins moved on to his latest ‘victim’, munching buffalo wings (which were dross compared to what he gets ‘back home’) with his interesting fact about flip flops and a story of how he once had his life saved by a pair. Rich couldn’t make it to the party as it was too far down his To-Do-List. I made a pass at Mrs Inittowinit. It was a 25-yard beauty straight to her feet which she controlled exquisitely. A far better player than her husband.
Same time next year lads?
Finally, whoever got me the “50 Ways to Serve Your Deep Fried Haggis – Part Two” recipe book in the Secret Santa, well, all I can say is that is just childish, stereotypical xenophobia and frankly hurtful and disappointing. Please be more mindful when selecting your presents. It’s Part One I need.
So here it is (Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun) . . . Tips.
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[/three_fifth]So it has seemed to me that each time I come to write this, I consider the same four of Hugo Lloris, Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea when the premium keepers are examined. This week I can confidently tip Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea ahead of the other two. I know many of you will think I’ve failed to look at Arsenal’s fixtures and I haven’t, but I would point you backwards to Arsenal’s clean sheet record in the last eight game-weeks – they haven’t had one! They have lost goals to the likes of Sunderland, Bournemouth, Stoke City and West Ham amongst others and although they may outshoot their opponents, exposure to their defence is best avoided. The best defence in the league is underpinned by Thibaut Courtois and the second best, Tottenham, likewise by the brilliant Hugo Lloris. However the Spurs captain has only two clean sheets in his last six and in fairness so does David de Gea but it is the Manchester United stopper who is preferred due to a run of games ahead which, with the exception of Liverpool at home, sees huge clean sheet potential until the end of February. As United are ever-improving as well, this could be the time to dip your toe in the Reds’ backline and the rotation-free Spaniard may be the call. But if you want a keeper to stick in and leave until the season’s end, then Courtois is THE best call – he has ten clean sheets, three more than his nearest challenger.
As with the premiums, the budget choices do appear to be a bit samey every week but if it ain’t broken you don’t fix it so I again will mention the three-time double-digit-scoring Tom Heaton of Burnley. The England goalkeeper is still available at a very reasonable £4.8m and scored some penalty save points the week before last. He also has 10 bonus points to his name thanks to the many saves he has been making. One wonders where Burnley would be without him. Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford scored 8 points this past week and who could begrudge the youngster that? Like Heaton at the Clarets, young Jordan has kept Sunderland almost single-handedly in with a shout of Premier League survival. Last time out, in what was only his second clean sheet of the season he demonstrated perfectly what he has been doing in most of his games this season – collecting one extra point for saves and one bonus point.
Finally here, I’ll mix it up as it’s Christmas and give you a name that isn’t mentioned as often as those above. Victor Valdes and Middlesbrough are plodding along nicely this season with only Chelsea, Tottenham and Southampton having better defensive records. They reside at fourteenth in the league but apart from a trip to Manchester United in two weeks, which they’ll try to keep tight anyway, ‘Boro could well be among more clean sheets in the coming weeks. The ex-Barcelona goalkeeper is only £4.5m to purchase, owned by just 5.4% of FPL managers and hasn’t missed a minute since game-week four.
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[/three_fifth]Cesar Azpilicueta, affectionately known as “Dave” by the seemingly intellectually-challenged Blues fans has always been greatly replied upon by the West Londoners. He is a very solid defender who seems to collect bonus points with stunning regularity. The Spaniard has FIFTEEN bonus points this season and the ball to Diego Costa against Crystal Palace was his second assist of the season. Those who note the attacking play of Marcos Alonso and prefer it to the dependability of Azpilicueta, like myself, may now see the merits of doubling up. Can you imagine having two clean sheets, an assist, a goal and five bonus points from two defenders? If it could happen, it’ll be these guys! I would tip both in this instance due to the fact that Alonso was once again very much a winger in the Palace match and also muscled David Luiz off a set-play which he was very unlucky to see come back off the crossbar.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose were both amongst the points last time out versus Burnley and I won’t be lazy and say you should get both of these as well as both Chelsea boys (hold on, that would be some defence, maybe I am tipping a back four of Walker, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Rose – someone try it and thank me later) so I’ll fall down on the side of Danny Rose. The left back has played fewer minutes (over four games fewer) and is yet only 18 points behind Walker. Rose is also owned by 6% compared to a huge 38% behind Walker so represents a sizeable differential.
Patrick van Aanholt for me is never taken seriously but every time he scores, I roll my eyes, tut, and say “that’s PVA at it again”. Maybe it’s time to take this guy seriously I thought, so I reasoned I should investigate and stick him in here so that when he does score again, I look good, well intelligent, slightly intelligent, OK, lucky. So Sunderland may not have turned the corner yet, they may have Manchester United and Liverpool in the next three, but the Dutchman has his third goal this season in time for Santa Claus coming and that’s fairly impressive. You could do far worse with a spare £5.0m and a spot in your defence than to give it to the sharp-shooting left back.
Phil Jones has been mentioned on the boards a lot this past week due to the appearances he has been making recently (seven full games in the last seven) so you would have to take that information and believe that Jose will back the gurning England international. £4.9m for exposure to a United defence which faces a favourable run of fixtures as mentioned above – Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, West Ham, Stoke, Hull, Leicester, Watford across the next eight – seems a punt we all could take and it’s money where your mouth is time here, because I have moved early to bring the former Blackburn defender in to my squad but don’t worry I have some beautiful players as well to balance it out.
Nathan Ake was tipped by me, Kop backed me up and I’m tipping him again because that’s how it works around here (did you notice Kop tipped Phil Jones first?), I can’t believe how long we have been getting away with it eh, Kop? Foolproof. Uh-oh, forget what you just read there . . .
Getting back to Ake, his second goal of the season came against Southampton, his maiden goal being the winner against Liverpool four weeks ago, which could point to him becoming one of those players in the ilk of van Dijk, McAuley etc. that being the central defender with that ‘knack’ of getting on the scoresheet. ‘Buyer beware’ as our own Guy Sanchez would yell, Ake can’t play this week against his employers Chelsea as he is bound by the terms of his loan to Bournemouth. Swansea, Hull, Watford and Crystal Palace count four of their next six opponents so parting with just £4.4m could be a shrewd one.
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[/three_fifth]Eden Hazard, who has just been declared fit, played very well against Crystal Palace on Saturday and although the numbers haven’t been there in the past three games (one of which he missed through injury), his form and performances definitely have been. If you are willing to stick with him then you could be rewarded with some big points from home matches against Bournemouth and Stoke across the Christmas period. With Diego Costa out there is also the possibility, although slight, that Hazard may play in the forward’s role with Pedro coming back in allowing Willian and he to support the Belgian. Of course even if Conte decides to go with the conventional Michy Batshuayi in place of Costa, Hazard if fit should still play a prominent role in the Chelsea machine. I suppose, if you have Hazard you should keep him and if you don’t have either him or Costa, maybe get Eden now.
Kevin De Bruyne is without doubt the best attacking player in this current City team (the one with Aguero being suspended) and the Belgian has taken the mantle of the main man in this team recently with scores of six and seven in his last two matches. The flame-haired Flem is a corner taker, a passer (his ball to Sterling on Sunday?!), a finisher and a big FPL point scorer. He has three scores of 10 and over which came consecutively in game-weeks 4 to 6. So the man is clearly a player who can score consistently and it would be a brave man to say that Hull won’t be next to be put to the sword before a probable open shooting session (for both teams) on New Year’s Eve when they met Liverpool in a top of the table clash.
Alexis Sanchez is in one of his streaks. If I told you the last three scores were 5, 7 and 5 and they were paltry then that might actually tell you where your captaincy could well go this week. Scores of TWENTY THREE and FOURTEEN in the previous two games would be the very characterisation of this ‘explosiveness’ factor we often hear spoken about. West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Watford appear at the Lighbury in the next four home games. Pray for each of them. I would like to offer an apology to Theo Walcott who I dropped, and also to those who I advised he had gone ‘off’ again (after the United game) and they should sell. He went and scored three in five! With the same fixtures ahead as Sanchez (obviously) then doubling up on Arsenal in the midfield could see you steal a huge march across your mini-league rivals in the festive period.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has just been voted the Armenian Footballer of the Year for 2016 which was his sixth consecutive winning of the award and his seventh overall. Even though it might have been a little embarrassing for him to collect it again (he was up against his mum and dad for it), it may have cheered him up a little during his current recuperation from his knee injury suffered in the recent victory against Tottenham, in which he scored earlier in that same game. The word was that an appearance on Boxing Day wasn’t out of the question and it’s one to keep an eye on once Jose speaks. Miki was only just beginning to show his star potential to the league when this injury struck and although it wasn’t as bad as Ilkay Gundogan’s injury (God rest his soul), it was still a shame and cost me a transfer. Using another to bring him back in soon with the good run United have ahead, may be a very savvy move for you.
For those looking for a midfield downgrade to accommodate ‘certain others’, I have three names depending on how much money you need to save. Michail Antonio is the man of many positions who basically has played everywhere for the Londoners this season including in true OOP style, as striker. Listed as a midfielder and with a decent 77 points so far, the England international has a favourable list of games ahead with Swansea, Leicester, Palace and Middlesbrough ahead. Interestingly, his goal against Liverpool in game-week 15 was his seventh of the season but his first which wasn’t a header! Not that you care, a goal is a goal and there could be more to come even if he is back played at right back for periods! It hasn’t stopped him before.
Jay Rodriguez is another, he could be priming himself perfectly to fill the void left by Charlie Austin and he sounded his intentions with a double in the South Coast derby on Sunday. With a possible striking role and a cost of just £6.3m, a fit again J-Rod could be a lovely little differential (0.4%) for you to get ahead of the game with. Saints have Spurs at home next and between that one and Arsenal at home at the end of February they will play West Brom, Everton, Burnley, Leicester City, Swansea City, West Ham United and Sunderland.
Finally Marten de Roon of Middlesbrough is just £4.3m and is normally a 2 or 3 pointer but has two goals so it is not like he can’t score and when you need him, you might get lucky and let’s face it, for that price, what more can you really ask for?
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[/three_fifth]I’ll make a bold but not so bold statement here: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the most transferred in player this week. I haven’t even checked and I’m not planning to. The interest in the statuesque (pun very much intended) Swede is phenomenal this week, assisted no doubt with the suspension to Diego Costa being the perfect excuse for many managers to snap up the United forward. The man is in some great form, as our own Raziel said all along he would come in to. Unfortunately many of us gave him a number of chances but eventually looked elsewhere, well it’s time to look back and fall back in to his arms and apologise profusely to ZlatiGod for us being silly. The fixtures as mentioned all the way through this article (yawn) are looking very decent for Manchester United and looking back on the recent form it is a thing of beauty, much as the man himself (in his own words); seven goals in seven games and scores of twelve (twice) and eleven once. A huge captain alternative with Sunderland next up at home. What are you waiting for?
Romelu Lukaku is the marmite option but say what you like about him and most already have, he is someone who can easily score two or three in any given week. He has four double-digit scores this season so far (one 17 and a hat-trick of 12 point hauls) and a rather attractive fixture list awaiting him. Of their next nine games, facing City at home on the 15th January is their most difficult. Even then the Belgian marksman did indeed score in the return fixture at the Emptihad so don’t let that put you off. He is being a little overlooked as a potential replacement for Kane/Costa etc. but you may just be willing to consider once you clap eyes on a bunch of games which includes Leicester, Hull, Palace (poor Palace!), Stoke, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
Being honest, the fixtures ahead for Jermain Defoe of Sunderland would not exactly be classed as ‘handpicked’ as they meet Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs and a hard trip to West Brom before the end of January. What cannot be disputed is the goal scoring ability of Defoe who seems to be dismissed by many simply because of the club he plies his trade for. If you delve in to the facts though the veteran striker is on 91 points before Christmas for a team who are in a relegation place. That is remarkable. He could have a century of points before the end of the calendar year and is currently only bettered in the forward department by Costa and Ibrahimovic whilst leaving the likes of Aguero, Kane and Vardy in his wake. He has goals against Manchester City, Arsenal and Southampton amongst others so it’s clear a goal is a goal to JD. Oh, how many if he was still at Toronto? He may have helped them keep the Sounders’ grubby mits off the cup, eh Guy?
Alvaro Negredo is off the back of a double in his last game out and faces Burnley next. Although he is in a team that doesn’t score a lot of goals, he could be a temporary sideways switch for those who aren’t giving Iheanacho any more time in their squads or are seeking some sort of a pre-wildcard flutter. After the visit to the Theatre of Dreams on NYE, Middlesbrough may enjoy some more home comfort as three of their next four are on Teesside against Leicester, West Ham and West Brom (and a trip to Watford) so there could be scope to see if he can bag more amongst those games. His price is £6.3m and the pickings are slim and you might need someone like him. He is on penalties and usually plays 90 minutes as well if that helps.
In the same vein as above Burnley’s Andre Gray could be considered for the short-term (OK so it’s a shorter term). The Middlesbrough game may be as good for the Lancashire side as it is the visitors. After that it’s Sunderland, also at home. I won’t dress this one up for you – it’s a two-week punt as Manchester City, Southampton and Arsenal lie in wait for Sean Dyche’s side after this. Some people look for players based on looking no further than the next two and that is the case here. Gray has obviously suffered this season due to his ban but he has played the full 90 minutes in the last two matches and should also return to penalty duties if required.
To end, I wish you all a peaceful Christmas if you celebrate it or if you don’t, simply a relaxing time holidaying or enjoying the company of friends and family. Stay safe and enjoy all your football – it’s the best time of year for it.
Here’s to 2017 being the year of the Green Arrow.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 18. This article was written by The Gallant Pioneer