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 two of this Best Picks article will focus on midfielders, forwards, and our inevitable prayer for no bore draws to fill the tail end of Match of the Day.
Budget Option: Pascal Groß (5.8m)
The Brighton midfielder has more fantasy points this season than Kevin De Bruyne. Let that sink in, because with two goals and five assists so far Groß is a genuine fantasy stud for just £5.8m. The Seagulls play Swansea this weekend; a side who are very much in the middle of the pack in terms of goals conceded this campaign. Of course with players like Groß and teams like Brighton there is bound to be some inconsistency, but while the German is on form you may as well stay in the flames – there’s very little to lose at that price.
Budget Option: Richarlison (6.4m)
There is a definite theme of budget midfielders outperforming studs this season, and while Richarlison hasn’t quite climbed above KDB just yet he does have more points than Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Last week’s defeat against Stoke was the first time in five games that the Brazilian failed to record a goal or assist, but he is a good bounce back candidate as the Hornets play Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Merseyside club are shipping two goals per game on average and five of Richarlison’s seven goal contributions have come away from home.
Premium Option: Mohamed Salah (9.2m)
Forget walking like them, try scoring like an Egyptian. Salah has been in scintillating form this season with five goals and three assists in ten Premier League games. Of all Liverpool’s talented attacking players Salah is the one to own, simply due to his consistency, and this week he faces West Ham at the London Stadium. The Hammers have conceded six times in four games at home, while the Reds have netted eight times in five away games and looks set to add to that tally this weekend.
Premium Option to AVOID: Eden Hazard (10.6m)
In truth the whole Chelsea attack is best left alone this week, and to his credit Hazard has been the one bright spark for the Blues so far, but a home game against Manchester United is sure to neutralise any threat he may hold. Not only does Jose Mourinho tend to set up incredibly defensively in games of this magnitude, but he also found a method of removing Hazard from the game last season. It was a simple as getting Ander Herrera to man-mark the Belgian, who thus became irrelevant and incredibly frustrated, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that happen again in this game.
Budget Option: Mame Biram Diouf (5.5m)
Historically Stoke have been more useful in fantasy football for cheap defensive options, but this season that has gone out the window and Diouf has emerged as the Potters’ surprise bargain pick. The Senegalese forward has three goals and two assists so far, and this week lines up at home against a Leicester side that has conceded 14 times this campaign. Diouf has returned fantasy value in three of his last four games and is certainly worth taking a flyer on.
Budget Option: Jamie Vardy (8.6m)
Vardy is admittedly at the upper end of the budget options, but with prices climbing as high as £12.7m this year he looks comparatively cheap. The England international plays in the same game as Diouf this weekend, and it is definitely one to target as it should be high scoring. Stoke have conceded 20 goals in 10 games, which is downright appalling, and you can be sure that if Leicester score in this game then Vardy will be involved. Apparently teams still let the Foxes play over the top through balls to him, so you can keep on watching him score, as he has done six times this season, and rake in the fantasy points.
Premium Option: Harry Kane (12.7m)
It seems stupid to suggest starting Harry Kane this week, but the world-class striker is only owned by 32.6% of FPL managers. To me that is unacceptable, mostly because of how little he is rotated compared to the Manchester City forwards, as well as his ability to score a hat-trick almost every week. And if there was ever a week for that to happen, this is it. A home game against a Crystal Palace side that has conceded 21 times this season provides almost guaranteed points for Kane, and he is the obvious captain choice for this gameweek.
Premium Option to AVOID: Alexandre Lacazette (10.4m)
On the face of it Lacazette is having a decent season. Five goals in ten games isn’t bad for a striker who has just joined a new team, but the Frenchman is frustratingly inconsistent. It is almost impossible to predict which weeks will bring goals, and Arsenal have had a fairly easy run of fixtures. That ends this week however as the Gunners take on league leaders Manchester City. The Citizens have only conceded six times this season, which has perhaps gone under the radar slightly given that they have also scored 35 league goals in ten games. If City wasn’t bad enough, Arsenal also have a North London derby next weekend, so it may be time to drop Lacazette for a better option.
Harry Kane at home to Crystal Palace looks like triple captain material if I’ve ever seen it. However, while he could score five and you could be laughing your way to fantasy glory, it is always better to wait for the double gameweeks later in the season to use this valuable pin. Don’t be tempted by the HurriKane just yet.
Look at home and road splits. Some teams are much better at home, simply because of the crowd and the pitch. Newcastle are a perfect example – the Magpies have lost just one of their five home games, but have only won once away from St James’ Park. Luckily they host Bournemouth this weekend, so you can roll out the likes of Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu. Maybe stay clear of the forwards though…
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