A Merseyside Derby and a Manchester Derby on the same day? Clear your schedules, dear readers, because you are not going out on Sunday. And, what’s more, the only thing more exciting than being able to watch two of England’s best derbies is the ability to scream ‘shoot’ at your TV whenever your fantasy players have the ball. However, hold your horses, because part one of the Best Picks series is concerned with goalkeepers and defenders. Feel free to shout shoot when they have the ball too, though.
Budget Option: Lukasz Fabianski (4.6m)
Despite finding themselves rock bottom of the Premier League table, Swansea have actually only conceded 18 times this season, making them the seventh best defensive team in the league on paper. This has also made Fabianski the fourth highest scoring FPL keeper, thanks in part to his impressive save totals. The Swans have struggled to score this season, but so have West Brom, who happen to be their opponents this weekend at the Liberty Stadium. The Polish shot stopper has a decent shot an grabbing a sixth clean sheet on Saturday.
Budget Option: Matthew Ryan (4.5m)
Fresh from a defeat to the Minnesota Vikings, Matt Ryan returns to the Premier League to hopefully guide Brighton to a clean sheet away at Huddersfield. He certainly has a good chance of doing that as the Terriers have lost their last four in a row, and scored just once in the process. The Seagulls meanwhile have been able to hold a lot of the lesser sides to low coring affairs or shutouts, and this trend should continue this weekend. After a 1-5 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool last gameweek, Brighton should get back on track defensively against a Huddersfield side that has netted just nine goals all season.
Premium Option: Petr Cech (5.4m)
Aside from a 1-3 loss at home to Manchester United, which mainly came as a result of the superhuman efforts of David De Gea, Arsenal have been in good form recently. The Gunners recorded three consecutive wins with clean sheets before last weekend, and now they face a Southampton side that puts most people to sleep in possession. The Saints have scored 15 times this season, a total that is skewed somewhat by a 4-1 win over an Everton side that was in turmoil. Meanwhile Arsene Wenger’s side have shored up their back line recently, and should keep out a toothless Southampton offence.
Premium Option to AVOID: David De Gea (5.8m)
The supremely talented Spanish shot stopper is as close to an auto start every week as you can get, but this Manchester City side is something else. We all know that Mourinho likes to kill games like this, but it’s at Old Trafford and the Red Devils need a win here to stand any chance of catching their eternal rivals. That will give the Citizens a chance to score, and that is all they need. With a staggering 46 goals scored on the season, Pep Guardiola’s side are threatening to run away with the league. It’s hard to seen even De Gea’s magic preventing City from scoring at least once.
Budget Option: Ben Mee (4.8m)
Burnley are a great team for FPL, because their players are cheap but they seem to outperform a lot of other teams with much larger budgets. It is the Clarets’ defence that is so impressive, especially at home, and this weekend they face Watford. The Hornets have been scoring a lot of goals this season, but they have tripped up in several games this season. Marco Silva’s men failed to score against Brighton, Manchester City and Stoke, which at least gives Burnley some hope. Sean Dyche’s men are experts at shutting opposing teams down, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Watford stumble at Turf Moor.
Premium Option: Cesar Azpilicueta (6.9m)
Dave has been leapfrogged by Antonio Valencia and now occupies the second spot in the FPL defender rankings, but he has an excellent matchup this week. Chelsea travel across London to West Ham, who really have been atrocious this season. The Hammers have scored just 13 times, and are without a win in their last eight games. The Blues meanwhile have seven clean sheets in this campaign, and should add to that tally on Saturday. Azpilicueta has a goal and five assists, and is a weekly threat to grab a few more of each with Chelsea playing so high up the pitch.
Premium Option to AVOID: Nicolas Otamendi (5.8m)
The Argentine defender has three goals this season, which would be surprising but this is Manchester City we are talking about. He could well grab a few more to add to his tally, and will doubtless add some more clean sheets, but perhaps not this weekend. The Citizens face the prospect of a Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, and while I’m not hugely concerned for Pep Guardiola’s attackers, I do worry about their defence. With John Stones still injured, the City back line is looking slightly shaky. United will exploit that, and it’s unlikely that Otamendi will be able to rescue his fantasy day with a goal again.
This week sees a lot of matches between mid to lower table sides. Matches like Newcastle v Leicester and Crystal Palace v Bournemouth can be fantasy goldmines, but are often ignored by many players. Have a look at some Cherries and Foxes defenders that like to get forward.
Derbies are notoriously hard to predict, which means that fantasy points are not guaranteed regardless of which players you have. Think about captain choices carefully this week, and perhaps avoid the two late games on Sunday.
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