There has been snow all across Britain this week that has been wreaking havoc with travel plans and midweek football games from the lower leagues. Shrewsbury vs Yeovil was on my agenda, but the pitch was frozen, so I have instead turned my attention to providing the very best FPL advice to you, my dear readers. Part one of this Best Picks article will focus on the goalkeepers and defenders who will brave the weather to bring you glory.
Budget Option: Nick Pope (4.9m)
I was one of those people who was quite excited about the new-look Everton side that includes Theo Walcott, but the Toffees don’t really seem to be gelling at the moment, and they have scored just eight times in their last nine league games. That’s good news for Burnley however, who face the Merseyside club this week, and goalkeeper Nick Pope is an excellent pick. The Clarets have kept 10 clean sheets this season and are the fourth best in the entire top flight. This should be the game in which Sean Dyche’s men get back on track.
Premium Option: Hugo Lloris (5.4m)
With 13 clean sheets during this campaign Tottenham are amongst the premium defensive sides in the Premier League, and Hugo Lloris is having another good statistical season, even if a few of his performances haven’t been particularly convincing. Spurs are the third best defensive team in the league, and they get a game against struggling Huddersfield this weekend. The Terriers have netted just 25 goals in their 28 games so far, and it is difficult to see them adding to that tally against a strong Tottenham side.
Premium Option to AVOID: Ederson (5.6m)
Don’t get me wrong, I think Ederson is a brilliant keeper, and his distribution is really something to behold. This weekend however Manchester City get an intriguing and potentially tricky clash with Chelsea. While the Cityzens have been utterly dominant this season, and not just in an attacking sense, this game could provide a potential bump in the road. The Blues have scored nine times in their last four matches across all competitions, and Antonio Conte’s tactical prowess should allow the London club to pick at least one hole in the back line of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Budget Option: Cedric Soares (4.7m)
It’s actually been fairly difficult to pick a cheap defender this week as it’s so tight at the bottom, and no team is really standing out as a good budget option at this stage, other than high-flying Burnley. Southampton however are a decent bet, and Cedric has been an FPL favourite for a while now. The Saints face Stoke, which is what suggests to me that they might be able to grab a clean sheet this weekend, mainly as the Potters have scored just five times in their last eight top-flight games. Both teams need a win from this game to avoid getting dragged further into a relegation scrap, so this could be a cagey affair.
Premium Option: Eric Bailly (6.0m)
Despite being the joint best defensive team in the Premier League, Manchester United have actually had a fairly unsettled centre back partnership, and Jose Mourinho will be glad to have Eric Bailly returning from injury. The Ivorian will be an instant first-choice defender, and should slot back in nicely to face Crystal Palace on Monday night. The Eagles have been struggling all season, and haven’t improved massively under Roy Hodgson. They have scored just four times in their last five league games, and United’s sturdy back line should be able to withstand the Palace attacks.
Premium Option to AVOID: Marcos Alonso (7.2m)
I’m sticking with the biggest game of the weekend for the players to avoid, and I really just don’t advise starting defenders from Manchester City or Chelsea this weekend. Alonso really is a premium option at £7.2m, and unless he scores a free-kick I struggle to see the fullback racking up many points. Chelsea are in the middle of a patch of fairly inconsistent form and have registered just three clean sheets in their last eight games across all competitions. As effective as their back line has been at times under Antonio Conte, I don’t trust them to keep out a frighteningly good Manchester City attack.
Manchester City vs Chelsea is the only tricky game on paper for the top six clubs this weekend, which means there could be a lot of high-scoring players. Whenever that is the case it’s important to have a good look at the fixtures and try to guess which games are going to feature the most, or least, in the case of this article, goals.
Premium players are expensive by definition, but there are also some good fixtures for some of the mid-table teams. While everyone else is trying to crowbar another expensive option into their team, why not try and find a bargain with a good matchup.
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