The Premier League fixtures are coming thick and fast, and gameweek 26 comes straight off the back of the midweek gameweek 25. With fatigue and injury setting in at this stage of the season, keeping on top of your FPL team is more important than ever. The home stretch can be where it’s won or lost, so luckily for you the Best Picks series is back to help you navigate the wonderland of fantasy football.
Budget Option: Wayne Hennessey (4.3m)
There has been a season-long battle between Wayne Hennessey and Julian Speroni to secure the starting spot in goal for Crystal Palace this season, but the Welshman seems to have finally prevailed, starting the last five consecutive league games. While the Eagles have been far from the best defensive side during this campaign, they have improved under Roy Hodgson, and this is more a matchup play than anything. Palace get Newcastle at home this weekend, and the Magpies have scored just 23 times all season, so Hennessey and co should keep them at bay.
Premium Option: David De Gea (5.9m)
FPL’s leading shot stopper, De Gea is always a weekly must-start due to Manchester United’s status as the league’s joint best defensive team, but this weekend looks especially promising as the Red Devils take on Huddersfield at Old Trafford. After a shock defeat to Tottenham in midweek, Jose Mourinho’s side should bounce back emphatically in this game, and that should all start with a clean sheet. Their defending has largely been exceptional, and if there’s any manager that can grind out boring wins it’s Mourinho.
Budget Option: Lewis Dunk (4.5m)
Brighton are one of the many sides in this season’s Premier League that seem to be doing fairly well, but when you look at the table you realise that they’re actually only one point above the relegation zone, despite sitting in 15th. What they have done well however is defend, and they have the joint best defensive record of any team not in the top seven. A home clash with hot-and-cold West Ham should provide another decent opportunity for a clean sheet, which would be the Seagulls’ ninth of the season. Dunk is the cheapest guaranteed starter at £4.5m, and he’s well worth that measly figure.
Premium Option: Nicolas Otamendi (6.5m)
The defender-cum-goal machine is almost a microcosm for Manchester City as a whole, what with them being the highest scorers in the league as well as the joint best defensive side. Otamendi’s four goals this season have catapulted him to FPL stardom, and the Cityzens face infrequent goal-getters Burnley on Saturday. The clean sheet should be relatively safe, and it’s anyone’s bet when the Argentine centre half will score again, but it’s always good to have him when it happens.
Budget Option: Theo Walcott (7.2m)
Since being freed from the shackles of the Arsene Wenger’s training sessions and finally getting a chance to breathe after taking off his tight-fitting Arsenal shirt, Theo Walcott has been a revelation. Two goals and an assist in his first two games for Everton has brought the winger into the limelight, and he gets a tantalising clash with his former club this weekend as the Toffees travel down to North London. It seems almost written in the stars that he will grab the winner late on against the Gunners, especially given the form he’s in.
Premium Option: Alexis Sanchez (11.7m)
Another former Arsenal man, Sanchez didn’t fare quite so well on his Manchester United debut as Walcott has for Everton, but in truth the entire Red Devils team was awful against Tottenham. The Chilean should have more luck against Huddersfield, and he saw a lot of the ball against Spurs so the chance looks to be there for him to establish himself as Jose Mourinho’s main threat. There are opportunities aplenty for goals and assists, and this could be the game in which it all starts to click.
Budget Option: Callum Wilson (5.8m)
At one point one of FPL’s surprise packages, Callum Wilson faded into obscurity somewhat over the past year or so. He seemed to show a flash of his former self in midweek however, registering a goal and an assist during Bournemouth’s shock 0-3 win over Chelsea. The striker does have seven goals for the season, despite missing the first nine goals, and he gets a home tie against the league’s worst defensive side Stoke to see if he can put together a good run of form. At £5.8m he is certainly worth a punt, even if you end up dumping him next week.
Premium Option: Sergio Aguero (11.9m)
It needs reiterating that until Gabriel Jesus returns, which could be relatively soon, Sergio Aguero is one of the best FPL options out there. He is arguably the most explosive player in the league, and the focus of most Manchester City attacks. While his opponents Burnley have an imperious defensive record, there have been few teams capable of standing up to the firepower of Pep Guardiola’s side this season. I expect a comfortable City win here, and Aguero should be amongst the goals, as he has been 17 times in this campaign.
As mentioned in the introduction there is a high chance of fatigue and injury at this stage of the season, so make sure you stay up to date with team news and have backup plans.
The big sides have some good fixtures this week, but that doesn’t mean the likes of Crystal Palace and Brighton should be ignored. The smaller teams offer some great bargains, so take a look at those sorts of games.
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