Once again the Premier League has to take a break so some cup magic might or might not occur, but luckily it returns in midweek, making Tuesday and Wednesday that little bit easier for all you hard workers. Gameweek 25 throws up some interesting fixtures, and the Best Picks series is back to help you navigate the goalkeeper and defender minefield.
Budget Option: Nick Pope (4.8m)
Burnley really are doing a stellar job of providing cheap and reliable FPL defenders and goalkeepers, and the Clarets still represent the fourth best defensive side in the Premier League, which is simply remarkable. Sean Dyche’s men have registered 10 clean sheets this season, and should be on track for an 11th when they take on Newcastle on Wednesday. The Magpies are scoring less than a goal per game on average, and their lack of transfer activity means there’s little chance of that average improving any time soon.
Budget Option: Fraser Forster (4.8m)
As one of the better defensive options from the last FPL season, Southampton have been slightly less reliable during this campaign. They can however once again call on first choice fullbacks Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand after the pair recovered from injury, and that should make them a more appealing prospect. The Saints get a clash with infrequent scorers Brighton, who have netted the second fewest goals in the league this season, so Forster should pick up a clean sheet here.
Premium Option: Ederson (5.6m)
Surprisingly Manchester City haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last three league games, but that should change in this gameweek. The Cityzens host struggling West Brom, who have scored a measly 19 goals this season, and they should continue their trend of tearing teams apart. Only Manchester United and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals than Pep Guardiola’s side, and Ederson has proved himself to be a top shot stopper this season. You can roll him and the City defenders out with confidence this week.
Budget Option: Angelo Ogbonna (4.5m)
At just £4.5m Ogbonna is a fantasy gem, even if West Ham’s defensive performances have been a bit hit and miss. The Hammers have looked better under David Moyes, and their clash with Crystal Palace could be the perfect way to instil some confidence into their back line. The Eagles have scored just five times in their last five games across all competitions, and are missing a number of players due to injury. The Irons are well positioned for a clean sheet here, and Ogbonna represents good value for money.
Premium Option: Marcos Alonso (7.3m)
While Chelsea have had their troubles in front of goal recently, their defensive solidity is certainly reminiscent of last season’s title win, and they are the joint best defensive side in the league at present. With four clean sheets in their last six games across all competitions, the Blues represent an elite FPL option at the back, and Marcos Alonso is a top tier FPL talent. The Spaniard has an incredible six goals and an assist so far this season, and he gets a clash with underwhelming Bournemouth this gameweek.
Premium Option to AVOID: Antonio Valencia (6.7m)
At £6.7m Valencia is already an expensive option as a way into the Manchester United FPL defence, but given that they have an away clash with Tottenham he looks even less appealing. United have the joint best defensive record in the league with Chelsea, but Tottenham, and Harry Kane in particular, represent a dangerous attacking threat. I’d steer clear of this game altogether from a defensive standpoint, especially as there’s better value to be had elsewhere this week, and some better matchups for premium defenders.
Gameweek 25 begins on a Tuesday with a 18:45 deadline, so make sure you get your team sorted out before then and avoid being caught out. You never know, the person above you in your league might just forget.
With cup games at the weekend followed by Premier League games in midweek and next weekend, rotation is inevitable. Keep on top of team news and, as always, have backup plans in place.
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