FPL Gameweek 12 First Look – five things we learned at the weekend

1. LEICESTER CITY ASSETS CONTINUE TO DELIVER

Following the 0-9 win against Southampton in GW10, the importance of owning Leicester City players was highlighted in Gameweek 11’s first look article. The Foxes travelled to Crystal Palace last weekend, a club in which they hadn’t won against in their previous four matches, and proceeded to secure an efficient 2-0 victory.

Jamie Vardy (£9.4m) delivered again, scoring his seventh goal in his last four matches. The forward’s ownership now sits at 27.8% (at the time of writing) and will continue to rise over the next week and subsequent international break. So will his price, which has already risen £0.1m since the weekend. At this time in the season, Vardy is bordering on must-have.

Leicester’s other goal was scored by popular budget defender Caglar Soyuncu (£4.8m), while the highly selected James Maddison (£7.4m) provided the assist. Having conceded just eight goals in the opening 11 matches, the Foxes now boast the league's joint best defence (with Sheffield Utd), while the clean sheet was Leicester's fourth of the season and third in their last five matches. In short, there are a host of Leicester’s FPL assets in each position and at various prices that are consistently delivering points for their FPL managers.

The short, medium and long-term fixtures for Leicester all look excellent on paper. Four of their next six fixtures are at the King Power Stadium during which time they play four teams who currently reside in the bottom five spots of the table. Up next is a home match against Arsenal, who haven’t kept an away clean sheet since the first game of the season and are conceding an average of 17.8 shots per game on their travels – the third worst in the league.

2. IT’S WORTH A DOUBLE-UP ON SHEFFIELD UTD’S DEFENCE

This entire section could be dedicated to FPL cult hero John Lundstram (£4.8m), but instead it’s the rest of Sheffield Utd’s defence that is set to get some love. Sure Lundstram is rightly the poster boy for Sheffield Utd defensive assets, but it is the back five and keeper who really allow Lundstram’s points to flourish. After all, Lundstram’s appeal is rooted in the fact he is a defender who doesn’t play in defence and as such, those four points he keeps collecting are a by-product of the six men behind him.

After recording their fourth clean sheet of the season against Burnley in GW11, with just eight goals conceded the Blades, along with Leicester, now boast the joint best defensive record in the league. The back six, Dean Henderson (£4.7m), Chris Basham (£4.5m), John Egan (£4.5m) and Jack O’Connell (£4.5m), George Baldock (£4.5m) and Enda Stevens (£5.1m) have started every game in the league this season.

Their defensive proficiency have meant that Sheffield Utd currently boast six of the top 15 defensive point-scorers, while Henderson is presently the joint top goalkeeper. As it stands, only one of these players – Enda Stevens – costs £5.0m or more, meaning a double or even triple-up of Sheffield Utd defensive players would have offered premium point hauls at a budget price. After matches against Spurs and Man Utd, the side play Wolves (a), Newcastle (H), Norwich (a), Aston Villa (H), Brighton (a) and Watford (H). It is not unreasonable to think multiple clean sheets will be recorded in that time period.

3. TIME TO BRING BACK RAUL JIMENEZ

At the start of the season, Raul Jimenez (£7.2m) was one of the most sought-after FPL assets. The Mexican was owned by just below 1.3 million FPL managers at the time but a return of two goals in the opening eight gameweeks saw his ownership plummet to less than 575,000. His lack of form coincided with Wolves’ participation in the Europa League and their difficulty in adjusting to playing Thursday-Sunday.

Now over two months into the season, the club appear to have adjusted and Jimenez’s form has subsequently improved. He is looking much more like the forward who scored 181 points in his debut FPL season and as such, is back on the radar of FPL managers. Over the last four gameweeks, the Mexican international has scored and assisted twice while picking up 28 points at an average of 7.00 points per game. When comparing forwards, only Vardy has scored more points over the same period. Priced at £7.2m, he provides an intriguing option to FPL managers still searching for their Teemu Pukki (£6.8m) replacement.

4. SALAH CONDITION A CONCERN

With 64 minutes gone in their GW11 match against Aston Villa, Jurgen Klopp found his team 1-0 down and facing not only the prospect of defeat but also Man City closing to within three points. Given the gravity of the situation, it is alarming that this was also the moment in which the Liverpool manager decided it was the time to remove Mo Salah (£12.3m) from the field of play.

Although the Egyptian had not been at his best in the match, with his side losing there is no doubt a fully-fit Salah would have remained on the pitch. And that is where the concern for his two million owners will lie – that Salah’s ankle injury is actually much worse than Klopp is letting on. As of writing, there has been no update from Klopp on Salah’s fitness but how the Reds line up for their midweek Champions League match should give some insight.

For FPL managers still owning the Egyptian though, the short-term choice does seem fairly apparent. While the debate of who is the better option between Salah and teammate Sadio Mane (£12.0m) will rage on over the course of the campaign, there can be no doubting at present who the better selection is.

5. MOVE ON FROM WEST HAM ASSETS

Gameweek 11 saw West Ham fall to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Newcastle. The result makes the game sound close whilst in reality Newcastle could, and perhaps should, have been 5-0 up by half-time with Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m) in particular guilty of spurning two excellent chances. The defeat means the Hammers have now not tasted victory since the September 22nd, during which time they have collected two points from a possible 15 in the league and also crashed out of the League Cup at the hands of Oxford United.

From an FPL perspective, there is little reason to bring any Hammers players into your FPL squad. The side have failed to record a clean sheet since that victory on the 22nd, while at the other end Sebastien Haller (£7.3m), Manuel Lanzini (£6.3m), Felipe Anderson (£6.8m) and Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.0m) have registered one goal, three assists and 42 points between them over the last four gameweeks. Set to play Spurs and Chelsea over the next three gameweeks, the only transfers involving West Ham players should be those leaving your FPL team.

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