This weekend Tottenham play Crystal Palace at Wembley, a stadium in which they just happen to have dismantled back-to-back Champions League winners Real Madrid in midweek. If you’re an Eagles fan you’d better hide behind the sofa for this one. Regrettably however FPL rules deny us from having more than three Spurs players on our teams, so we must seek out diamonds in the rough from the rest of the league and rejoice in such tantalising fixtures as Southampton v Burnley. Part one of this Best Picks article will focus on goalkeepers, defenders, and our inevitable prayer for a few bore draws to fill the tail end of Match of the Day.
Budget Option: Nick Pope (4.5m)
Anyone who watches Burnley religiously will know that Pope is quite the goalkeeper, and even when he doesn’t return a clean sheet he is likely to have bagged a few save points to rescue his fantasy week. That said, the Clarets have kept three clean sheets in their last five Premier League games, including last weekend’s home win over Newcastle. This gameweek sees Pope line up against a Southampton side who have scored just nine times and allowed four clean sheets to opposing teams. All the signs are there to suggest that Pope will reward you for your faith this week. Thankfully that’s the end of the religious puns.
Budget Option: Rob Elliot (4.2m)
A goalkeeper who starts every game for £4.2m in FPL is remarkable, and what makes Elliot an even more attractive prospect is the fact that Newcastle’s defence has actually been quite good this season. The Magpies have registered three clean sheets and are tied for the fourth fewest goals conceded in this campaign. Their opponents Bournemouth have scored just six times this season, the second fewest in the league, and have failed to score in three of their five away games. The Cherries visit St James’ Park this weekend and should be ripe for this picking.
Premium Option: Hugo Lloris (5.5m)
On current form Lloris is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world right now and Tottenham are playing some incredible football. The Frenchman has five clean sheets so far and is almost guaranteed to register another one this week in a home clash with Crystal Palace, a side who have scored four goals all season. One thing to note is that Toby Alderweireld picked up an injury in midweek and, should he miss any time, the Spurs defence won’t quite be the brick wall that it usually is. Then again, they are playing Crystal Palace.
Premium Option to AVOID: Petr Cech (5.4m)
Arsenal have conceded almost double the number of goals that their North London rivals have shipped, and this week they travel to Manchester City. The Citizens have scored an insane 35 goals in 10 Premier League games this season, and that shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Petr Cech may get some save points this weekend, but he sure as hell isn’t keeping a clean sheet. At this point anything less than three goals is frankly disappointing for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Budget Option: Chris Lowe (4.5m)
A lot of people might be put off by the fact that Huddersfield have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games, but three of those fixtures were against Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. Remove those games and the Terriers have four clean sheets in seven, with a strong possibility of another one this weekend as they face West Brom at home. The Baggies are scoring less than a goal per game, and that average should stay low if you start Lowe.
Budget Option: Shane Duffy (4.5m)
Brighton have an impressive four clean sheets this season, three of which have come in their last five games. Their last away game resulted in a 0-3 win over West Ham, and this weekend they travel to Swansea. The Swans have scored just seven times this season and allowed five clean sheets to opposing teams, so Brighton certainly have a decent chance of shutting the home side out. Duffy has been the Seagulls’ most consistent defender and has bonus point potential if this is a low-scoring affair.
Premium Option: Ben Davies (5.8m)
This choice comes down to personal preference. Tottenham are playing Crystal Palace, so we double up on Spurs attackers or defenders? If you elect to go for the latter then Ben Davies is your best bet. The Welshman has five goal contributions in seven appearances, and three clean sheets on top of that, which actually gives him a higher FPL points total than Dele Alli. What that means is that if you have Harry Kane, it might be worth your while picking up Davies instead of a Spurs midfielder.
Premium Option to AVOID: Cesar Azpilicueta (6.7m)
Last time I told you to avoid Azpilicueta he scored and rescued what would otherwise have been a disastrous fantasy day. This week I shall have my revenge on ‘Dave’ as Chelsea host Manchester United. I’m well aware that this could be 0-0 – we all know that Jose Mourinho loves to ruin games – but Chelsea were absolutely torn apart by Roma in midweek. Without N’Golo Kante the Blues’ defence looks shambolic, and even a parked Manchester United bus could find away through to deny them of a clean sheet.
- Stoke have a home game against Leicester this weekend but don’t be tempted by what is usually a fairly reliable defence – the Potters have conceded 20 goals in 10 Premier League games this season. Only Crystal Palace have conceded more.
- Don’t be afraid to play Manchester United defenders or David De Gea this week. An away trip to Chelsea may look like a nightmare fixture but Mourinho loves to set up for 0-0 draws in these sorts of games.
- John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi can’t seem to stop scoring goals lately. I would advise staying in the flames with Manchester City’s defence for as long as you can this season. They are an unbelievable team.
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