The run up to New Years celebrations is almost as hectic as Christmas for the Premier League, and the same is of course true for Fantasy Premier League. There is wall-to-wall football for six days, starting on Saturday, and this guide is here to help you navigate the beautiful chaos.
Budget Option: Nick Pope (4.8m)
Burnley still have the fourth best defensive record in the Premier League, with just 17 goals conceded this season, despite shipping five in their last two games. In fairness those goals were scored by Tottenham and Manchester United, who present slightly more of a challenge than Huddersfield, who the Clarets will face this weekend. The Terriers are scoring less than a goal per game, and with Heaton still out injured, Pope is a great fantasy option this week and beyond.
Premium Option: Petr Cech (5.4m)
The Gunners haven’t been their usual defensively solid selves this season, but they have been able to grind out wins and clean sheets when needed. There are few games that require more of a grind than West Brom away, but the Baggies have scored a disappointing 14 goals in 20 league games during this campaign. Arsenal certainly aren’t bad at the back, and with most of their first choice defenders fit they should be able to return a clean sheet in this game. Cech is a safe option, especially as he is not at risk of rotation.
Budget Option: Cuco Martina (4.3m)
Martina might not be a quality defender in real life, but in fantasy terms he could be a great cheap option for a while. While Leighton Baines is out, Martina appears to be the first choice replacement, and the Toffees have been looking great under new manager Sam Allardyce. With two goals conceded in their last six games, and four clean sheets on top of that, Everton look like a top tier defence. A clash with struggling Bournemouth looks like another great opportunity to add to their clean sheet tally, and Martina is a great choice at £4.3m.
Premium Option: Kyle Walker (6.6m)
It is perhaps testament to Pep Guardiola and his players that Manchester City have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest, with 61 for and just 12 against in 20 league games. As a result, City players are worth their weight in fantasy gold, and Kyle Walker gets a juicy matchup against Crystal Palace this weekend. The Eagles have turned their form around recently, but they have still managed to net just 18 goals in this campaign. With Walker also presenting a weekly assist threat, he can be rolled out with a lot of confidence.
Budget Option: Abdoulaye Doucoure (5.3m)
Watford have seen their early season form disappear in recent games, but they still haven’t had any issues scoring goals. The Hornets have 29 in 20 games, and their midfielders have been big contributors. Brazilian winger Richarlison is a good pick this week, but for a cheaper option you could opt for Doucoure. The Frenchman has six goals and an assist so far, and has been slightly more reliable than Richarlison in the past few weeks. A home clash with bottom of the table Swansea also presents a juicy chance to bag another goal contribution or two.
Premium Option: Eden Hazard (10.8m)
Since bagging a brace against Newcastle, Hazard has been somewhat disappointing, registering just a single assist in five games. Some of that poor form came as a result of Alvaro Morata’s absence from the Chelsea starting XI, but with the Spaniard now back fit and firing, Hazard should bounce back too. A home game against Stoke, who represent the worst defence in the league, should allow the Belgian to regain some confidence. The Potters have leaked a remarkable 41 goals this season, so the Blues should have no issues finding the back of the net.
Budget Option: Ashley Barnes (5.2m)
With Chris Wood looking likely to miss Burnley’s clash with Huddersfield, the go to man seems to be Ashley Barnes, rather than Sam Vokes. Barnes has two goals in his last four appearances, many of which have been from the bench, but he should get the nod to start this weekend. The Clarets’ opponents have conceded 32 times, and have just one clean sheet in their last nine league games. Barnes is a risky pick, and is highly unlikely to bag more than a single goal, but sometimes that’s all you need.
Premium Option: Romelu Lukaku (11.4m)
The big Belgian striker is becoming an incredibly frustrating player for FPL managers, and it is seemingly impossible to predict when he will score. He has blanked in his last two games, having grabbed two goals in his previous two, but this week he gets a matchup with Southampton’s struggling back line. The Saints have leaked 11 goals in their last four games, and Manchester United certainly have the quality to open up their defence. Lukaku is still the fourth best FPL striker, with 98 points, and he should show you why this weekend.
Neither Tottenham nor West Ham have a game during this gameweek, so don’t be caught out and captain Harry Kane or start Arnautovic, they will be guaranteed duds.
The fixture schedule isn’t about to get any easier, so the points about rotation remain the same. Keep an eye on team news, and make sure you have backup plans.
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