Merry Christmas to everyone reading this that celebrates it, and happy holidays to everyone else. Hopefully you enjoy the day, but don’t forget that Boxing Day brings with it a whole fixture list of Premier League football. So many people forget to sort out their teams over this period, so make sure you leapfrog the slackers with this handy Best Picks guide for the midweek games.
Budget Option: Jordan Pickford (4.8m)
Sam Allardyce has not disappointed when it comes to turning Everton’s defensive fortune around, and a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Chelsea at the weekend proved how solid they can be. Toffees defenders are now nearing the level of every week starters, and a clash with struggling West Brom should provide the perfect opportunity to grab another clean sheet. The Baggies have scored just 14 times this season, and with Pickford’s ability to make some cracking saves, this should be a high-scoring week for the English shot stopper.
Premium Option: Hugo Lloris (5.5m)
After some pretty dire away performances, Tottenham finally managed to pick up a road win, and it came in the emphatic form of a 0-3 win over high-flying Burnley. The clean sheet coincided with the return of Davinson Sanchez, who has made the Spurs back line look calmer and more trustworthy. The North London side get a home clash with Southampton, who are scoring less than a goal a game this season, so Lloris should be in line for another clean sheet here. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been much better at home than on the road, and a similar score line to their previous game is not unlikely.
Budget Option: Winston Reid (4.8m)
The Hammers were a huge disappointment against Newcastle; somehow letting the struggling Magpies put three past them. That won’t go down well with manager David Moyes however, and I fully expect them to bounce back instantly against Bournemouth. The Cherries have scored even fewer goals than Newcastle, and haven’t netted in their last three league games. Away from the pressure of the London Stadium, West Ham should be more confortable, and they should be able to handle a Bournemouth attack than has been decimated by injuries. Reid is a relatively cheap option, and is a reliable starter, but Ogbonna is good value too at £4.4m.
Premium Option: Marcos Alonso (7.0m)
While the Blues have looked awful going forward in the absence of Alvaro Morata, they have retained their defensive ability from last season. With nine clean sheets this season Chelsea are an elite defence, and they host a Brighton side that has netted just 15 times all season. Alonso is one of the best FPL options in defence due simply to the fact that he basically plays as a winger. The Spaniard spends a ludicrous amount of time in the opposing box for a fullback, and it is little surprise that he has bagged four goals and an assist in this campaign.
Budget Option: Aaron Mooy (5.4m)
Huddersfield might not be the most elite attacking side, having scored just 17 times this season, but they face a Stoke team that has leaked a ludicrous 40 goals already in this campaign. The Potters can make any attack look competent, and when the Terriers do score it is often Mooy who is involved. The Australian international has netted four times, and added an assist, making him Huddersfield’s highest scoring outfield FPL player. He bagged a brace two weeks ago against Watford, and a repeat of that feat is certainly possible against this atrocious Stoke back line.
Premium Option: Kevin De Bruyne (10.3m)
The Belgian maestro let everybody, including regular readers of this series, down at the weekend. Manchester City dispatched Bournemouth 4-0, but somehow De Bruyne was not involved in any of those goals. Interestingly David Silva also contributed nothing in FPL terms, but they should both bounce back this week. KdB is less of a rotation risk, and with six goals and eight assists this season he is a top tier talent. A trip to Newcastle ought to get the midfielder back on track, especially given that the Magpies have conceded 29 times so far.
Budget Option: Wayne Rooney (7.6m)
Seeing England’s all-time leading goal scorer left out of the squad due to illness was frustrating for many FPL owners, but Rooney should be back in time for Everton’s clash with West Brom. The Baggies have let in 27 goals this season, and the Toffees have got their mojo back with Allardyce at the helm. Rooney has been in great form recently, with six goals in his last five starts, and 10 for the season. His return to the starting XI should allow Everton to bag a goal or two in this game, and with penalty duty guaranteed he is a weekly threat.
Premium Option: Harry Kane (12.8m)
Ah, Harry Kane, perhaps the joint best FPL captain choice with Sergio Aguero every week. The pair are explosive scorers, which means that they can single-handedly catapult you up your leagues in any given week. Aguero however is rotated a lot, but Kane is so vital to Spurs’ success that he rarely misses out. That makes him like gold dust at this time of year, and he gets a game against Southampton on Boxing Day. With a hat-trick against defensively solid Burnley blessing his owners at the weekend, the England forward will be looking to replicate that against a Saints team that has conceded 10 more goals than the Clarets. He should bag at least one, and that could be all you need with all the rotation elsewhere in the league.
This is yet another midweek set of fixtures, so make sure you set your line-up by 11:30 on Boxing Day morning.
Rotation is a killer over this week, and certain teams are worse for it than others. Liverpool and Manchester City are prime candidates to ruin your week by resting their stars, so keep and eye on team news and look at who played the previous game and who tends to be rested.
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