It’s great to have Jerome back with the reviews! If anyone is still around, that’s loyalty! We run this site out of our love for FPL and it’s all voluntary, so of course when life comes knocking things can get difficult. Personally I haven’t had the drive or passion for FPL lately. Whether that’s because Optus ruined my PL experience or my team just sucks, either way I’m not going to force articles out for the sake of it. Having said that I’m still actively following my team and I’m sure a time will come when I get back to penning some thoughts! For now, enjoy Jerome’s review turned preview…
Firstly, big thanks to Rob for covering ‘The Review’ over these last few gameweeks while I’ve been unable to do so. I had my university exams and also had surgery on a bung left ankle, and now that’s all over, I’m back to business.
Now onto the stuff that you actually care about: the FPL review. A few of the lesser owned ‘big guns’ got it done for those that owned them over this past weekend all the while reminding non-owners why they should be owners.
Chelsea vs Newcastle; 3-1
Almost the perfect all-round game for Fantasy coaches – Hazard twice found the back of the net, while Morata chimed in with yet another headed goal and another Chelsea defender found attacking returns for the 11th gameweek this season, this time it was Victor Moses’ turn in the rotation as he collected two assists to go with his singular bonus point.
However, as it always is in FPL, nothing is perfect and in the 12th minute of the game after several half-hearted defensive efforts from the Chelsea defenders, Dwight Gayle scored an opportunists goal, ruining our all FPL hopes and dreams and robbing us of those sweet clean sheet points. This was about the only reasonable chance Newcastle and Dwight Gayle had all game, as Chelsea dominated for the entirety of the fixture after the opening 15 or so minutes.
After those opening 15 minutes and until the end of the first half, Chelsea looked like scoring every time they entered the final third, had a player had an extra metre here or a little more control there, the men in blue could have doubled their first half tally of two goals, but it was not to be.
Morata’s head found itself on the end of another cross, this time a lightning ball from Moses’ right wing, bringing Morata’s season tally up to nine goals and making him the highest scoring forward of the season with 83 points. The Spaniard currently seems to be the best forward option when taking into account fixtures, price and job-security.
On his way to his fourth maximum BP game in the last six gameweeks, Hazard scored two goals from nine shots (six on target), while playing OOP (in terms of fantasy) as a striker, alongside Morata. If this role is to continue for Hazard, then we can expect his returns to continue over the next six weeks, especially, as he faces six sides in the bottom 11 placed teams, with his toughest test looming as Everton (A) in GW19.
This run of fixtures also suggests investment in the Chelsea back line would not be a bad idea and for the first time in recent memory, we seem to have a way in to the Chelsea defence for 5.5m, Andreas Christensen. However, I must warn you, Christensen hasn’t registered any attacking returns all season and is one of only three Chelsea defenders to be in this category. Something also to consider, Christensen does have the second highest BPS per 90min of any Chelsea defender, so theoretically he should begin to accumulate some beloved bonus points sooner rather than later. With all this in mind, Christensen’s ppg compared to both Azpilicueta and Alonso is pretty grim viewing. I’ve gone stingy and invested in Christensen when he was at 5.4m a few weeks ago, but the temptation of attacking returns is there with the aforementioned Spanish duo, your choice.
I’ll touch lightly on Newcastle. Simply put, they were highly outclassed and unfortunately, they have looked so for the majority of the past month. One thing to note is that Chancel Mbemba is back in the starting team after Benitez switched to a three-at-the-back system and our 4.0m-man Mbemba finds himself at the right-side of the three. I don’t know how long this system will last, but for now, we have a playing 4.0m defender!
Brighton vs Liverpool; 1-5
For the first time this season, Brighton conceded more than two goals in a game and what a way to do it. As the saying goes, ‘Go hard, or go home’, and the Brighton defence might as well have gone home this game, they let Liverpool do as they pleased on the counter and in set pieces. Coutinho and Firmino both notched double figure hauls, while Mo Salah’s five points was his lowest gameweek tally since gameweek 10, incredible.
To be fair to Brighton, they did form some form of resistance for the opening 30 minutes, holding strong, while keeping the key Liverpool attackers quiet, but after ‘Pool scored the first one, Brighton barely stood a chance. However, as it goes in FPL, we didn’t get our perfect fantasy game as this time it was Glenn Murray, another Crystal Palace reject (I wouldn’t mind either of them back right now – Murray or Gayle), who robbed us of more clean sheet points, which were seemingly absent amongst the popular fantasy defenders this week. Murray could have had another, but saw his close-range, mid-air volley well-saved by Simon Mignolet.
A few weeks ago, I talked about Murray and highlighted his past, brief yet fruitful exploits in the Premier League where he once went at 7.9 points per 90 minutes (2014/15 season), I also mentioned how Tammy Abraham sat ahead of him in the ‘cheap’ striker pool. Since then we have seen the rise of Oumar Niasse and his teammate Dominic Calvert-Lewin. When assessing all options this week (as I needed a cheap third forward), I couldn’t go past Glenn Murray, simply because I can see him as more of a long-term option than the other options in that bracket. Murray can be a 15-goal striker whereas I can’t see any of the others nearing that feat this season. Beware however, he has already accumulated four yellow cards, so a one-week suspension is imminent.
Enough of him, more on our Brazillian friends – Firmino and Coutinho. Coutinho is an unreal player and if he played a full season, he could well and truly close in on an extremely rare 20-10 season (20 goals – 10 assists). He is that good. The fact of the matter is that he hasn’t managed a full season in the Premier League for his entire time in the competition (currently his sixth season), he played just over two thirds of it last season and that is the closest he has come. This season he has almost missed half of it so far, playing in just 8 of the 15 possible gameweeks, whether it be due to rotation or injury, he lacks durability, badly. With that in mind, he is still an incredible fantasy scorer.
Despite consistently missing games throughout the season thus far, Coutinho has still managed to score at a rate of a tick under 8ppg when he has managed to get on the pitch, going at 7.9ppg, that is the highest of any player in the entire league throughout the whole season (bar the GOAT Gazzaniga who is going at 9ppg after his sole appearance this season). The dilemma now is, do you take the plunge and transfer Coutinho in and ride his absences and risk copping a two from the bench, or do you settle for someone such as Sane or Salah at similar prices, but for marginally less benefit?
Onto his buddy, Firmino. After being the talk of the town for the first three weeks of the season, he then went onto blank for six consecutive gameweeks before finding the back of the net against Huddersfield in GW10. Since GW10 (inclusive) he has regained some sort of form and has resembled a real false-9 again, firing shots that actually come within five metres of the posts and making runs that he was in the first few gameweeks. However, as it stands, even if this is the start of a run of form for the Brazillian, I believe there’s more value in the midfield. Also however, most of us would have two premium strikers leading our lines and he does present more value, but less security than those two. The reasonable thing to do would be to hold steady and keep those two premium strikers, but with Kane faltering and Aguero and Jesus not setting the world alight recently it could be a good idea. However, you’ll be worse off if you ride Firmino’s wave over someone like Aguero or Kane or Jesus.
A little fun fact to finish, Lewis Dunk has become the first person to score for City, United and Liverpool in the same season and probably overall as well. Couldn’t help but laugh as a Palace fan.
Everton vs Huddersfield; 2-0
The appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager has shot Everton straight up the relevance rankings. Last season when Allardyce took charge of Crystal Palace, Benteke, Zaha and the Palace defenders all benefited and improved their outputs greatly, presenting themselves as cheap, value options. With Everton, Allardyce has the chance to do the same. With a player of Wayne Rooney’s calibre up front and with the ability of Jordan Pickford in goal, we could be gifted with some valuable options yet again from Allardyce’s work.
In a game barren of highlights, it was Everton who came out 2-0 winners with Rooney, Siggurdsson and Calvert-Lewin all getting involved with the defenders all collecting clean sheet points – a perfect day for Everton.
There wasn’t really much else to note from this game. One thing there is to note is Jonjo Kenny’s involvement. Kenny has started at right-back for the past seven gameweeks and with Seamus Coleman’s return date still unknown, he presents some real value at 4.3m. With games against Newcastle (A), Swansea (H), West Brom (A) and Bournemouth (A) to come in the next six weeks, it would be a good move to jump on Kenny while his price remains so. Rooney could be one to watch as well, to go with his hat-trick last week, he collected an assist against Huddersfield. His role is purely attacking, and he has no defensive responsibilities.
Huddersfield on the other hand are currently terrible. Avoid.
Leicester vs Burnley; 1-0
Leicester scored, Burnley didn’t. I can’t give you much more than that.
It was all Pope’s fault to be honest, his parry of Mahrez’s cross was not up to standard and Demarai Gray pounced on the opportunity.
One thing to note with Gray is that he started in-behind Jamie Vardy in a 4-4-1-1 formation and he is listed as a midfielder, something to look for in the coming weeks when Leicester line up. Monitor him for now.
Stoke vs Swansea; 2-1
This was much like the previous game, one team scored more than the other and that’s that.
Wilfried Bony finally opened his second account for Swansea, scoring for the first time since he scored for Stoke in the same fixture last season, amazingly coincidental. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Stoke came back within the half and led 2-1 by half-time. However, it may be enough to start his Swansea reincarnation.
Just a few seasons ago, Bony was an absolute bargain in our FPL sides, scoring 17 goals and assisting a further four more on his way to a highly respectable and valuable 5.8 point per 90 minutes. If he can get anywhere near that at 5.7m, he becomes emphatic value. Since his return from injury against Burnley in GW12, Bony has looked much fitter and more capable than he did in his first patch of games this season. The Ivorian is definitely one to watch, however Swansea’s fixtures do present somewhat of an obstacle, with that in mind, if you look back to his 2013/14 season, he managed to score against Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal albeit in a very different and much more capable Swansea side. Monitor him.
On the other side of the pitch, Peter Crouch was awarded his second consecutive start and I have to say he is still looking the part despite his age, don’t go near him though, his durability isn’t amazing, and neither is his fantasy potential, very lightly monitor him just because he’s a solid bloke.
Crouch’s mate Xherdan Shaqiri is one man that does deserve some attention, in the last six gameweeks he has shown a high level of consistency, scoring three and assisting three more. Shaqiri’s previous best season for goal participation was his first season in the Premier League where he managed three goals and six assists, participating in nine goals for the season, Xherdan has equalled that already this season and we’ve only just started December. Historically, the tiny Swiss has been an inconsistent beast, popping up for a month or six weeks before going into hibernation over the next few months, this season he has managed to keep himself in the conversation for the majority of the season. The next two weeks will be testing for him and his friends at Stoke City as they travel to Spurs and then Burnley in the space of three days. If Xherdan can come out of these two games with a goal or even an assist he will go a long way to convincing his doubters (including me) that he isn’t messing around this season.
Watford vs Spurs; 1-1
We had a few near-perfect fantasy games over the weekend, this one was far from it. Richarlison blanked, Spurs defence blanked, Alli blanked and Eriksen managed just an assist. Does anyone even own Son or Kabasele? Oh yeah, then there was that 12.8m forward that blanked…
Time for a not so fun fact: in 8 out of 14 games this season, England’s current number one has blanked. Meaning that 57% of this season time Kane has given us ≤2 points. The big-chinned Englishman has delivered attacking returns in just two more games than Coutinho and in one more than Hazard despite playing 549 and 492 more minutes, respectively, than both of them. That’s not very nice Harry. Fear not however, I sense that the tide is turning. 14 goals and 3 assists. 16 and 2. 21 and 6. Those are Harry Kane’s goal and assist tallies in the second halves of each season in the Premier League since his ‘one-season wonder’ breakout season in the 2014/15 season. That’s already got me loving him again, but when you put it up as an overall figure in contrast to his overall tallies for the first halves of the seasons over the same time period it gets even better.
The combined tallies for Kane’s first half of each of the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons are: 24 goals and 6 assists. Combined tallies for Kane’s second half of each of the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons: 51 and 11. That is no coincidence. He has more than doubled his goals tally and almost doubled his assist tally in the second half of the season, on average. Now, there’s still three gameweeks until the first half of the season is officially over, so what do we do with Kane until then you ask? Kane and his minions at Spurs face Stoke (H), Brighton (H) and Man City (A) for the next three gameweeks. Those first two fixtures are quite enticing while Man City away doesn’t look so pleasant. There are no stats that will make you hold Harold over the next three gameweeks, so I won’t bore you with anymore, but something you should consider is how you’ll get him in once gameweek 19 comes upon us? Harry Kane leaves nothing to coincidence. If he doesn’t want to score in August, he won’t score in August. If he wants to aggravate us and tease us and make us want to fix his colossal-sized chin with our fists throughout the entirety of the first half of the season, then he’ll do that too. When Kane is on, he is on. He’ll let you know in a big way and make you rue the day you confirmed the trade that traded him out of your team. If you want to trade him out now and then back in as soon as you get the slightest inkling that the tides are turning, then be my guest, but personally, Spurs’ and England’s number one is going to remain my number one as well.
That went on longer than I thought it would, so I won’t write for too much longer regarding this game. If you take a peak at Watford’s fixtures until GW30, it is pleasant reading. So, if you’ve got Richarlison, hold and prosper, if you don’t have a Watford defender, then it would be best advised if you looked to bring one in, Zeegelar is dirt cheap at 4.4m and has already shown he has a knack to attack.
West Brom vs Palace; 0-0
Palace are off the bottom of the table, so that’s good news. West Brom have appointed a new manager – Alan Pardew – I also believe that news is much welcomed. Alan Pardew’s appointment should mean two things, one: West Brom’s defensive dexterity will most likely be no more and, two: when you filter all available players on the FPL site, you can actually scroll all the way down to the ‘Forwards’ and ‘Midfielders’ sections now. Once fantasy relevant players such as Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez may become relevant once again as Alan Pardew’s renowned focus on offense could see these two players especially, flourish, it is a wait and see situation.
Jay Rodriguez looked especially threatening on the weekend, constantly breaking the lines and creating problems for the recently sturdy Crystal Palace defence. He came close on two occasions, but was denied both times by an experienced Julian Speroni. West Brom have some tough fixtures on the horizon which means we have an opportunity to wait and see and monitor how the West Brom players adapt to a completely different style of play.
Another to watch from the West Brom attack is Salomon Rondon, an unfamiliar name in FPL conversations, but he looked particularly menacing to the Palace defence on the weekend and his strength and unselfishness could remind you of a once buoyant Emile Heskey. Monitor Rondon’s progress, as with the other two, as if West Brom are to be successful, Rondon will have to play a part in their success.
As for Crystal Palace, this was their second consecutive result on the road following as they continue to build from their putrid start to the season.
Benteke made his first start since returning from injury three weeks ago and he had an inspiring first half. During the first half we saw flashes of the old Benteke, making his presence known by being a handful for the centre backs and we even saw him taking some players on his way to a shot at goal. He came close on a couple occasions in the first half and really should have scored from a corner in what was almost a ‘gimme’, but his header was directed straight at Ben Foster. During the second half however, Benteke reminded us of the ‘new’ Benteke. The big Belgian didn’t look too threatening and wasn’t moving around as much as he was in the first half and didn’t have any meaningful impact at all in that second half, to be honest, none of the Palace attackers did. Crystal Palace’s offence died in the second half a West Brom controlled the game, but they also failed to surmount to anything.
This result marks the second consecutive 0-0 draw for Palace, meaning their second clean sheet this season. Their defence has considerably improved since Hodgson’s appointment, but if it wasn’t for Speroni in goal, the result would have been much different as Palace were opened up on more than one occasion. The temptation is there, but when you consider the availability of other cheap defensive options, I believe it is best to invest elsewhere. Watford, Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea and Everton all present safer and cheaper options as well as the only two defenders locked on for Palace are Joel Ward (4.8m) and Mama Sakho (4.9m). In saying that, if your mind is set and you want to take the plunge, spend the 0.1m extra and go for Sakho, he is a bonus points magnet with eight in the last three games.
Arsenal vs United; 1-3
What a game this was. The action never stopped, but in the end, United had David De Gea and Arsenal did not. De Gea was absolutely immense, save after save, double save after double save, he and his pony tail made a total of 14 saves for the game, 24 if you count all the United players’ backsides that De Gea saved in the process. When the dust settles at the end of De Gea’s career, I’m fairly sure he’ll go down as one of the greatest shot stoppers there has ever been, the fact is, he does this all the time and on a regular basis without fault.
Onto the game. If I see a single ‘Wenger out’ sign at the game next week, I’ll probably do nothing because I don’t care, but I’ll be pretty baffled in all honesty. We’ve all heard of the whispers of Sanchez and Ozil both wanting out because of a lack of success, but if you have 33 shots in one game compared to your oppositions’ 8, then you have to win the game, simply put. 16 shots on target to 4, yet Arsenal have lost 3-1, go figure. That’s some FIFA type situation right there, you can’t help but feel sorry for Arsene Wenger because I’m sure we’ve all been in his position before. When your 85 (Laca), 88 (Ozil) and 89 (Sanchez) rated players have 15 shots between them (8 on target) yet they score just one goal between them and you lose the game, it hurts, it hurts bad. Not only that, but your 86-rated goal keeper concedes two goals to Jesse Lingard from just his three shots on target, it hurts even worse. #RaiseyourFIFAdiscsforArseneWenger.
Being serious now, the Arsenal attack has actually been quite successful over the past four gameweeks, all of the main players have delivered over that period. Sanchez (3 goals), Ramsey (4 assists), Lacazette (2 goals & 1 assist) and Ozil (1 goal & 3 assists) have all delivered consistently over this period of time and if you’ve managed to own one or even two, then hats off to you. Just a small rant while we’re at it, since I traded Ramsey out in GW8, he has gone on to average 7.4ppg since, heart-breaking.
As for United, well, they were saved big time, they owe their weekly wages to David De Gea, he saved them from a potentially huge embarrassment. De Gea is putting up a huge argument for expensive goal keepers in the fantasy world, no defender forward has more points than he (admittedly, Aguero and Jesus probably would if they played all season) and players like Erisken, Alli, David Silva and Mahrez, who have failed to start just three games between them for the whole season, have failed to score less points than De Gea so far, that is something I didn’t see coming. Something I and I think many others saw coming was Lukaku’s inevitable lack of goals verse the ‘big’ teams, he still has another chance against City next week, but after that he would have faced every other member of the big 6 teams for a total of just one assist (as it stands)… £75 million.
Bournemouth vs Southampton; 1-1
Well, this was disappointing. No clean sheets, Josh King, Calum Wilson and Junior Stanislas all failed to get amongst the goals for Bournemouth while the 0.3%-owned Ryan Fraser, did.
Charlie Austin was able to get on the board for Bournemouth’s opponents, Southampton, making it three goals in two starts (forgetting the seven minutes he played mid-week) for the forgotten Englishman, meaning Mauricio Pellegrino has finally swallowed his pride and played his best goal scorer. After starting the season at 6.5m, Austin’s price has now fallen to just 6.0m, just 0.1m less than his final price at the end of his 18-goal season just two years ago. Unfortunately for us, Southampton’s fixtures are absolutely disgusting and terribly unfavourable, so I advise you to avoid the temptation he presents, even for the two good fixtures he has in the next six gameweeks.
A few weeks ago, I hyped up both Josh King and Junior Stanislas due to their past, fruitful exploits in the Premier League and their increased potential for attacking returns that came with Bournemouth’s favourable fixtures. Josh King has been rather disappointing since the Cherries’ turn of fixtures while Junior Stanislas has failed to suit-up due to a groin problem, terrible inconvenience. Fortunately, Stanislas is due to return in the very near future (possibly this coming gameweek), but unfortunately for us, Bournemouth’s fixtures aren’t going to be too kind for him over the next four gameweeks. This means we can use this as a chance to monitor him while he regains fitness for the next run of favourable fixtures.
Man City vs West Ham; 2-1
I never thought the day would come this season that Man City would be almost struggling for goals after they scored 24 goals in 5 consecutive gameweeks earlier this season, but the time has come – Man City are as close as they’ll probably ever be this season to a goal-scoring crisis. Eight goals in the past four games has not been good reading for the many owners of the several fantasy relevant attackers contracted to Man City. Sane, Sterling, Jesus, Aguero, De Bruyne and David Silva have shared seven goals and eight assists between them over the past four gameweeks, definitely not enough to around, especially when considering how much us coaches have to fork out for them from our budget, the cheapest of the lot being Raheem Sterling who currently costs a respectable 8.3m for suitors. Despite this fact, I’d be keeping any City attackers you have, because after they face United (H) and Spurs (A) within the next three gameweeks, their fixtures will make each of their assets captain options. Hold and look to buy even more of them.
From West Ham and David Moyes’ point of view, this was an incredible result. Many predicted that the men in sky-blue would blow the Hammers out of the Etihad the tune of 3 or 4 or even more goals, but somehow former Man City full-back, 400 year-old Pablo Zabaleta, and his younger friends managed to concede just the two goals to the aforementioned, star-studded Man City attack.
It remains to be seen what Moyes-eh will be able to accomplish with this floundering, yet talented West Ham squad. A squad that boasts incredible talent, namely Javier Hernandez, Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio, talent that if coached adequately could boost West Ham’s stocks and rocket them up the ladder.
West Ham face two tough visits from Chelsea and Arsenal for their next two fixtures, and after that it begins to open up dramatically, with enticing fixtures all the way up to GW28 where they play Liverpool at Anfield. What’s even more enticing is that double gameweek (DGW) in GW22, they play West Brom at home before they travel to Wembley to play the other DGW member – Tottenham.
My focus is still primarily set on Lanzini in this talented West Ham squad, while Michail Anotnio presents himself as next in line.
Monitor their progress, noting especially how they line-up over their next two fixtures as some of their players could present some real value at their cut-prices.
That’s it from for this week, we now look towards GW16, the beginning of the festive period. Because of the intensity of the festive period, the reviews might lack in length, but hopefully the quality won’t suffer! No promises though.
As mentioned in the West Ham game section thing, the first DGW of the season has been announced and it’s Tottenham and West Ham who have the honour. GW22 is still a while away in terms of gameweeks so there’s still time to prepare, hopefully both Spurs and West Hame find some form over the next few weeks, so we can load up on both of them!
As for me this week, a paltry 37 points even with Morata as captain. How’d you go this past weekend? Let us know in the comments!