Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Best Picks for FPL Gameweek 18

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Premier League 14 Dec 2017

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We are in the midst of an incredibly busy fixture schedule, which will only get more hectic as we head into the Christmas period. Who’s complaining though, because Premier League football is what the holidays are all about, as is winning your fantasy football leagues. With Manchester City and Tottenham locked in a crucial clash, the other top six sides face some tantalising fixtures this weekend.

Goalkeepers 

Budget Option: Jordan Pickford (4.8m)

Everton look like a completely different side under new manager Sam Allardyce, and the Merseyside club have now gone unbeaten in their last four games, registering three clean sheets. That tally looks set to increase as they head into a home clash with bottom of the table Swansea, who happen to also be the lowest scoring side in the Premier League. The Toffees’ defensive solidity will only improve as the season continues, and they now look like one of the better weekly options for FPL. Pickford can be a bonus point magnet as Everton still remain a relatively low scoring team, and his save totals are impressive too.

Premium Option: David De Gea (5.8m) 

Now arguably the best goalkeeper in world football, the Manchester United shot stopper remains part of the joint best defensive unit in the league. With 10 clean sheets already this season, De Gea have justified his elevated price tag, and this weekend he faces a favourable matchup against West Brom. The Baggies have scored just 12 times this season, and will likely struggle to break down Mourinho’s well drilled back line. United are a near certainty to bag a clean sheet in this one.

Defenders 

Budget Option: James Tarkowski (4.7m)

Burnley are having a phenomenal season, and they currently sit sixth in the league table after 17 games. The Clarets have ground out some impressive results, including wins over Chelsea and Everton, and draws against Tottenham and Liverpool. They are a weekly threat to return big points amongst the defenders, thanks mainly to their ability to earn clean sheets against any opposition, and this week they get low-scoring Brighton. The Seagulls have netted just 14 times so far, and Sean Dyche’s side should easily neutralise their toothless attacking line. Tarkowski is making a brilliant case for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, and he is a great FPL option at this stage.

Premium Option: Sead Kolasinac (6.8m)

The big wingback was rested for Arsenal’s midweek draw with West Ham, and they seemed to miss his marauding presence down the left flank. He should be back for the Gunner’s home tie with Newcastle, who are scoring less than a goal per game on average. His constant presence high up the pitch gives Kolasinac excellent opportunities to add to his current tallies of one goal and four assists. With eight clean sheets so far this season, Arsene Wenger’s men do offer a decent return on a weekly basis, and Kolasinac should grab another one this week.

Midfielders

Budget Option: Xherdan Shaqiri (6.2m)

Everyone’s favourite Alpine Messi, Xherdan Shaqiri is having another decent season for Stoke. With four goals and five assists so far, the Swiss international has been returning good value on his relatively low price tag. The Potters have been having a defensive nightmare in this campaign, but they have scored 19 times, and this week they face a West Ham side that has leaked 32 goals. This could be a high scoring affair between two diabolically bad defensive sides, and Shaqiri could take advantage with a goal or two.

Premium Option: Eden Hazard (10.9m)

The winger has failed to return a goal contribution in his last two games, incidentally right after everyone declared him world class again. However now that hype has died down again, Hazard will likely bag another brace against Southampton on Saturday. The Saints were a great defensive unit last season, but they have been struggling so far in this campaign, having allowed 23 goals against them. Hazard is capable of tearing apart most teams on his day, but predicting that day is strangely difficult. Hopefully against a shaky Southampton defence he will feast.

Forwards

Budget Option: Wayne Rooney (7.4m) 

He was my budget option in midweek, and he remains in that spot for this weekend. Rooney faces another great matchup, this time against rock bottom Swansea, and he has another brilliant opportunity to grab a goal or two. The Swans have conceded 22 goals this season, and the veteran goal scorer has netted nine times, despite his side’s struggles to start the campaign. With the Toffees constantly improving, Rooney should only get better as the season progresses. You can roll him out this week with a lot of confidence.

Premium Option: Alexandre Lacazette (10.3m)

Another Arsenal man who was rested in midweek, Lacazette played just eight minutes of the Gunners’ 0-0 draw with West Ham, and he will almost certainly return to the starting line-up for the clash with Newcastle. The French international has netted eight times in his debut Premier League season, and with the Magpies struggling in all areas of the pitch, this should be a game that Wenger’s men dominate. The striker should get back on the score sheet in this one, and his side should get back to winning ways.

Bonus Tips

After a horror show of rotation from most of the Premier League’s managers in midweek, the starts should all return to action this weekend. Don’t panic and drop someone like Kolasinac just because he missed a game, just make sure you stay on top of team news.

In a similar vein, some of those players who started in midweek might not be given any long-term opportunities. Someone like Scott McTominay, who started for Manchester United against Bournemouth, is unlikely to retain his place once Paul Pogba returns.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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