Firstly, I probably should apologise… I assumed that the game last night was going to throw up a heap of goals and that one of our regulars like Ozil, Ramsey or a Hazard might actually do something. I apologise because I put off this Dream Team a day because I was nearly certain that was going to happen! Jinxed. Secondly, Merry Christmas!
Mannone (4.2m), Bardsley (4.4m) and O’Shea (4.9m) – Sunderland’s defence has really tightened up in recent weeks. Gone are the early season games where they were basically a goal sieve. They’ve collected 4 cleanies in the past 7 games and what I like about 3 of those is that we can see some trends. They are conceding goals against teams they should be, and not against teams they shouldn’t be… West Ham, Aston Villa and Norwich are all teams that have struggled for goals during parts of this season and a professional defensive performance by any team will see a clean sheet against them. The other cleanie was against Man City, which won’t happen very often! If we follow that trend then they could get a couple more over the next handful of games. Everton away will be tough but games against Cardiff, Villa and Fulham are good opportunities for some defensive points. They’re all pretty well priced too so if your 5th defender is struggling and you’ve got a free transfer to use then it could be a wise, albeit risky, choice. All 3 of the Dream Team nominees picked up points for the clean sheet and BPs while Mannone got an extra points for a few saves.
Debuchy (5.0m) – Rounding out the Dream Team defence is Newcastle’s Debuchy. Newcastle’s defence has been really frustrating from an FPL point of view and virtually impossible to pick. They started the season on fire with 2 clean sheets from the first 3 games but it’s been much more sporadic since then. This week they kept out Palace and Debuchy picked up an assist and full BPs to score 12 points. 2 of the 3 Christmas / New Years games are at home which is a bonus for Newcastle but one of them is against Arsenal which is going to be a test. It is too hard to recommend any of them.
Lallana (6.9m) – Lallana has really struggled recently with no attacking returns in the previous 5 GWs and his minutes being all over the place. He was at the heart of many attacking plays against Spurs however and really showed what he is capable of when on song. Tottenham did put out a team that wasn’t going to pay much attention to defence though so I’m taking this as a very good creative player filling his boots in a shoot out. He scored a great little goal, an assist and a couple of BPs for 12 points. Southampton do have some awkward games coming up with Cardiff and Everton (both away) and then Chelsea (at home) so I don’t like his chances in the short term.
McCarthy (4.9m) – McCarthy has grown into his new surroundings gradually as each game he’s played and is playing some really good football. He fills a non-FPL related role for Everton however so isn’t on the radar. He assisted both goals as well as getting full BPs for 11 points.
Cabaye (6.5m) – If you’re looking for a mid-priced midfielder then this is your man. His last 2 games have been 10, and this week 11, with a suspension in between. He scored another goal to make it 4 for the season and picked up full BPs. The problem long term is whether or not he sticks around at Newcastle. If you recall, he basically had his bags packed before the transfer deadline and hasn’t done anything recently to hose down the speculation of him leaving in the upcoming transfer window. If you are looking short term then he’s ideal as he’ll be putting himself in the shop window, coupled with Newcastle’s attacking style he has points in him.
Livermore (4.5m) – There’s one every week, here is your Jonjo Shelvey Award winner! 10 points from a goal and full BPs, but won’t happen enough to warrant more than 2 sentences on him.
Suarez (13.2m) – You have to feel sorry for the teams Liverpool have played in the past month… Suarez has been in rare form during this time with everything he touches turning to gold, especially his bumper new contract! Scores of 24, 15, 22 and 16 this week are crazy BUT they do have some seriously tough games coming up. Man City and Chelsea away are going to be a test to the team currently sitting at the top of the table, and for Suarez’s form. He scored 2 more goals and gave away another, as well as picking up full BPs for the 4th game in a row for his 16 points. Can he keep it going?
Adebayor (7.7m) – I can hear a collective “hmmmmm”… What do we do with this? We’ve either got a hungry striker looking for redemption, or a historically temperamental striker who put in one of those performances he’ll will do every now and again. At his best Adebayor is unplayable and he has it in him to score a heap of goals, but there’s a reason why the likes of Wenger, Mancini and AVB didn’t want a bar of him. With Sherwood signing on for 18 months and Spurs riding the wave of post-AVB attacking emotion he could be a good shout. This week he scored 13 points from 2 goals and full BPs.
Crouch (5.5m) – If you’re in the market for a 5.5m striker you’ve gone for a completely different strategy then the rest of us and I’d be interested to see if you’re doing any good! Crouch really struggled for minutes during the first quarter of the season but I guess you could say he’s picked up his act in recent months. Stoke have been looking better going forward recently so Crouch will be provided better service but we can do better than him. He scored a goal, an assist and full BPs for 12 points.
Who else have we got to look at? Welbeck has been filling RVP’s boots very adequately and again scored double figure points. Henderson gave us another good impersonation of Gerrard with another haul of points, this week just the 10. Silva dominated again with 10 along with Yaya Toure! The Arsenal defence all got amongst it based on their cleanie last night…
So there we have it… There’s a GW coming up on Boxing Day so make sure you’ve got your trades done and captain picked. For the record I don’t think Suarez is a sure thing, but am eagerly awaiting Matt’s verdict on that!