Welcome back to “Dave talks nonsense about FPL” or whatever we call this column nowadays. Even when I think things have gone reasonably well it turns out they really haven’t, as my score of 61 just edged the average of 58 which saw a drop to 217,947th in the overall rankings. I was about 30,000th after week one. I miss those days. Anyway, time to dust myself (and yourselves) off and prepare for another week of disappointment.
It’s one of those really open weeks where none of the big teams are facing each other, as this round of games is actually a re-run of the Boxing Day fixture list… but in reverse, obviously. Chelsea open the weekend with a trip to Brighton, a match that has added intrigue following Wednesday night’s FA Cup antics. Chelsea played 120 minutes and lost Morata and Pedro to suspension for this match, though Eden Hazard only played 25 minutes of extra time so he’ll be fine. FPL favourites Alonso, Fabregas and Rudiger were rested completely, whilst Christensen arrived from the bench. As usual you’d expect Chelsea to win but their games are coming thick and fast, with a League Cup semi-final second leg coming up on Wednesday to give Conte more headaches than a referee who doesn’t use VAR.
Into the Saturday 3pm’s and we’ll find Man Utd facing the trip to Turf Moor, which won’t be easy but is perhaps not the same proposition it was a month ago. Lukaku, Martial and Pogba looked very good on Monday night against Stoke and Burnley will need to be back to their best to get anything here. Crisis club Arsenal, if we can call them that, are at home to Crystal Palace, a game you’d expect them to win but when you take Ozil and Sanchez out and add in a heap of uncertainty and a striker who looks shot for confidence multiplied by a Palace team who are very hard to beat under Roy Hodgson and this looks like one to avoid from an FPL angle.
Manchester City however should be right at the top of your watch list for this week. They host Newcastle who suffered a 6-1 defeat here under Steve McClaren, a certain Sergio Aguero scoring 5. City may have lost their unbeaten record last Sunday but they still scored three goals in the process, and I expect this to be a heavy defeat for Rafa Benitez’s men. The proposed takeover was the one ray of light up in the North East and now that has been shut out, I fear a performance here will match the mood. Aguero and Sterling are of course the prime picks based on form this season, whilst David Silva’s involvement remains up in the air due to his ongoing personal issues.
Sunday has just the one Premier League game but it’s where you’ll find Harry Kane and friends on their trip to Southampton. Kane netted a hat trick against Southampton on Boxing Day and whilst I don’t think he’ll do the same here, he’s always got a chance of netting. Although he has had some Wembley woes this season he’s still delivered more often than not, which brings us on to Liverpool. Mo Salah has basically reached Ronaldo 07/08 levels of having to be in your FPL team. He plays, he scores. Almost without fail. Liverpool are off to Swansea on Monday night and I fully expect he will score again.
Everton have back to back home games against WBA and Leicester. New striker Cenk Tosun is available for £7.5m and former Arsenal man Theo Walcott is a midfielder priced at £7.1m – keep an eye on where Sam Allardyce fields him as he could be well priced if playing far enough forward. Paul Lambert is now in charge at Stoke, an appointment I didn’t see coming but if you believe in new manager bounce and a lovely fixture list then now is the time to buy Stoke players. They have the worst defence in the league though, which probably explains why Kevin Wimmer is only £4.2m but new man Moritz Bauer looked like an attacking full back and is just £4.5m. If Stoke play the wing back system he could be a bit of a steal. Going forwards, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is just £5.4m and classified as a midfielder, whilst comeback kid Stephen Ireland practically played up front on Monday but is priced as a £4.5m midfielder. Food for thought.
January transfers are in full swing so have a think about how any new signings could effect others. For example, you wouldn’t expect Calvert-Lewin to get as much game time at Everton now that Cenk Tosun is on the scene, whilst it’ll be interesting to see where Alex Pritchard fits in at Huddersfield. The deadline for this week is 11.30am on Saturday.
My personal pick will be Aguero, due to the fact that I expect Man City to win comfortably, he will play and he always scores against Newcastle. There’s an argument for Harry Kane based on his form and recent hat-trick against the same defence and also Mo Salah because he always scores and is playing bottom of the league. In reality I think you can pick any of these three players and be justified in doing so. Whether they deliver or not is in the hands of the FPL gods.
So, I transferred out Arnautovic (16 points) for Lingard (2 points) so obviously I am delighted with how that went. The transfer was premeditated so that I could do Alli to Salah this week, which I have done, but yes, I could have waited and just done 2 transfers this week. I am my own worst enemy sometimes.
De Gea, Vertonghen, Ogbonna, Wimmer, Lingard, Salah, Sterling, Atsu, Vardy, Kane, Aguero (c). Subs: Elliot, Mee, T Carroll, Dummett
Wimmer was dropped by Stoke on Monday so hopefully Paul Lambert takes a shine to him or it’s Ben Mee time. Atsu is on a hiding to nothing away to Man City but it’s him or Tom Carroll, I’m not enthused by either.
Another week in the preview bank then and the good news for you is that it’s FA Cup next week so there’ll be no FFU. Although there are midweek games the week after, so not that much of a break. Ah well. Whatever you do with your team, I wish you good luck and may all your arrows be green.