We are still in the midst of that turbulent time when players aren’t sure whether they’ll still be at their current club by the end of January, and cases of ‘Transferitis’ pop up all over the league. Until the transfer window slams shut there will always be uncertainty, which makes management of your fantasy team even more important. Luckily the Best Picks series is here to make the difficult choices for you, starting with goalkeepers and defenders for gameweek 24.
Budget Option: Jordan Pickford (4.9m)
Sam Allardyce has always had a reputation for making his teams difficult to beat, which makes the fact that Everton have now lost three on the bounce slightly surprising. What you can be sure of though is that Big Sam won’t let this continue for much longer, and he looked to have sorted the Toffees defence out before this poor patch of form. Luckily the Merseyside club have a favourable matchup that should allow them to get back on track, and it comes at home to struggling West Brom. The Baggies have scored just 18 times this season, and the last meeting between these two sides ended 0-0. Pickford should be good for a clean sheet here, and with Everton’s new attacking signings they should manage a win too.
Budget Option: Adrian (4.4m)
West Ham haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five league games, which begs the question, why suggest starting Adrian? Well, dear reader, I had to sit through 210 minutes of the Hammers struggling agonisingly to beat Shrewsbury Town, and I have concluded that any team that can make football that boring is going to be decent defensively. A clash with Bournemouth ought to carry that defensive solidity back through into the league, especially as the Cherries aren’t exactly a free scoring side, with 24 for the season. Adrian seems to be the starter in the league now, so he’s worth a punt this week.
Premium Option: Thibaut Courtois (5.5m)
With seven clean sheets in their last 10 games in all competitions, Chelsea look to be an impressive defensive side, even if their attack has been utterly woeful. Thankfully FPL allows you to pick and choose which part of the field you’re interested in, and Courtois looks like a safe option this week. The Blues get a clash with Brighton, who have scored a measly 17 goals in this campaign. The previous meeting between these sides ended 2-0 to the reigning Premier League champions, and it shouldn’t be any different this weekend.
Budget Option: Christian Fuchs (4.8m)
Leicester have had a pretty torrid time defensively this season, but that looks to be turning around, especially with a seventh place finish up for grabs. The Foxes have now registered clean sheets in their last four games in all competitions, including against Chelsea in their last league game, despite Ben Chilwell’s red card. They face a Watford side that has had a lot of success in front of goal so far, but have been shutout by the likes of Brighton and even the calamitous Stoke. Fuchs should get the start in this game, and he is a decent threat for an assist too.
Premium Option: Nicolas Otamendi (6.5m)
The central defender has a remarkable four goals already this season, and he will no doubt be on the hunt for more in the coming weeks. Manchester City remain the second best defensive team in the league, despite their insane defeat to Liverpool, and they should bounce back pretty quickly against Newcastle this weekend. The Magpies have scored just 21 times in this campaign, and have failed to score in two of their last four league matches. With the Premier League title within their grasp, it is difficult to see Pep Guardiola’s well-drilled side giving up a goal here.
Premium Option to AVOID: Hector Bellerin (6.1m)
Bellerin is the fifth highest scoring defender in FPL, thanks mostly to his side’s nine clean sheets and his own tallies of two goals and two assists. Unfortunately the Gunners are in a state of disarray at the moment, especially with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez’s futures hanging in the balance. That seems to be affecting the team, who have are without a clean sheet in their last five league games, and have only won once in that same stretch. Arsene Wenger’s men face Crystal Palace this week, an opponent who they managed a nervy 2-3 away win over just a few weeks ago. Until everything settles at the end of the transfer window, Arsenal aren’t likely to be a reliable team.
The aforementioned January transfer window can cause all sorts of problems to your fantasy team, not least because your star players could leave or find themselves mysteriously injured. Keep an eye on the team news, and, as always, have backup plans.
In a similar vein this time of year is when people start using their second Wildcard, especially as injuries hit and players depart. I would advise you wait until the end of the month however, because the last thing you want is to plan the perfect team only for half of them to transfer to China.
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