With Harry Kane approaching a price drop, FPL owners must decide whether to stick or twist on the game’s most expensive asset as heavy-hitting midfielders demand transfer attention ahead of three gameweeks in the space of 10 days.
Saturday 9th December
West Ham vs Chelsea (12:30)
Burnley vs Watford (15:00)
Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth (15:00)
Huddersfield vs Brighton (15:00)
Spurs vs Stoke (15:00)
Swansea vs West Brom (15:00)
Newcastle vs Leicester (17:30)
Sunday 10th December
Southampton vs Arsenal (12:00)
Liverpool vs Everton (14:15)
Man Utd vs Man City (16:30)
Tottenham’s recent malaise is portrayed the club’s absence from the team points table top five. Having been fifth going into GW13, just ahead of Liverpool, the north London outfit now sit 73 points off the Reds.
The Kane (£12.8m) conundrum is further clouded by the confirmation of a double gameweek for Spurs in GW22, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side travel to Swansea on January 2nd before playing West Ham at home 48 hours later.
The England striker has scored two goals in three gameweeks but a blank away to Watford was the final straw for some owners. Roughhouse treatment from the Hornets saw Kane manage just two shots in GW15, neither of which hit the target.
However, the 37.4%-owned forward fired 14 efforts between GW13 and GW14, four of which hit the target. With Brighton visiting Wembley on Wednesday after a porous Stoke City side roll up on Saturday, owners may well regret axing the striker who was handed a rest from Champions League duties this week.
Whether or not those holding Kane are brave enough to trust him with the captain’s armband is another matter. West Brom are the only side outside the top six that the striker has scored against at home.
Stoke, however, have conceded half of their 30 goals on the road. Mark Hughes’ side, without a clean sheet since GW10, have the second-worst defensive record in the league after West Ham.
Spurs are playing poorly, though Kane has the ability and fixtures to come up with FPL hauls regardless. The striker is still shooting once every 15 minutes in the league; when Kane’s patented shot accuracy returns, the goals should flow.
With a blank GW21 approaching, owners can reassess Kane’s value ahead of a GW18 trip to Manchester City. Sellers will want to keep cash in reserve ahead of the imminent double, however. Overspreading your funds would mean taking several hits to get the Spurs man back in for DGW22, where giving him the armband is the easiest choice we’ll make this season.
For the 72,000+ managers who have parted ways with Kane, the funds freed up are being pumped into Chelsea assets. Eden Hazard (£10.8m) is just behind Philippe Coutinho (£8.9m) in the transfers-in column with over 175,000 new owners, while Alvaro Morata (£10.8m) is about 20,000 behind.
The Spaniard, the only premium striker that stands out as Kane replacement, is sitting on four yellow cards; though last season a certain Diego Costa was in the same boat but miraculously avoided the fifth booking as potential investors stayed clear. Morata owners will be hoping the striker channels his inner-Costa with regards to both bookings and goals.
Hazard’s brace against Newcastle in GW15 sparked a transfer surge, with the Belgian sure to be a popular captain choice away to West Ham. The Hammers put on a much-improved defensive showing at the Etihad last weekend but have conceded nine goals in David Moyes’ four games in charge. Still only found in 12.5% of teams, the Chelsea star was rested in GW14 after Antonio Conte signalled rotation was coming ahead of the midweek fixtures.
With GW17* arriving hot on the heels of GW16, the Chelsea manager’s comments this week will be required reading for fantasy bosses (luckily, TSZ is covering all of Friday’s press conferences in a live FPL blog).
An eight-point haul, without a clean sheet, is a mark of David de Gea’s incredible performance against Arsenal. The £5.8m-rated stopper is the safest route into a Man Utd defence that faces an extended run of favourable fixtures following the Manchester derby this Sunday. Phil Jones (£5.3m) will become hot FPL property over the festive period should the defender return in GW16.
Arsenal play just one of the top six sides, Liverpool at home, over the next six gameweeks. Both Sead Kolasinac (£6.2m) and Nacho Monreal (£5.7m) could continue to return good value in the upper reaches of the defender bracket. Popular transfer target Aaron Ramsey (£7.2m) is managing almost 11 points per million (PPM), having provided attacking returns in six out of the last seven gameweeks. The Welshman is currently the go-to option in the Arsenal midfield, with the more explosive pair of Mesut Ozil (£9.3m) and Alexis Sanchez (£11.8m) currently being overlooked.
In the budget standings, Mamadou Sakho (now £5.0m) warrants attention. The Crystal Palace defender’s penchant for picking up bonus points has seen him score an average of 9.6 points per gameweek over the last three rounds of fixtures. While some way off the top 20 in points per million terms, Sakho has returned a respectable 7.9 PPM despite only playing his first 90 minutes in GW6.
The Eagles’ schedule includes two home ties against Bournemouth and Watford before trips to Leicester and Swansea. From GW20, the fixtures turn sour in the short-term. Investors may want an exit strategy in place or a solid rotation option with the French centre-half.
In the budget forward standings, both Mame Biram Diouf (£5.6m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.2m) have returned 9.6 PPM. With over 109,000 new owners this week, the Everton striker’s GW15 double-figure haul has clearly turned heads. If the 20-year-old can keep his place ahead of Oumar Niasse (£5.0m) in a rejuvenated Toffees outfit, he could become the perfect 3-5-2 enabler. Calvert-Lewin’s stats are worth keeping an eye on, though:
Stoke forward Diouf operated as part of a front two in GW15, and could continue to provide good value should Mark Hughes stick with 4-4-2. An away day at Burnley on Tuesday follows the GW16 Spurs trip, though the Potters then face both West Ham and West Brom at the bet365 stadium before travelling to play Huddersfield. Diouf’s teammate Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.1m) sits just outside the top 20 in the above table with returns almost identical to those of Richarlison (£6.6m). If the Switzerland attacker can continue clocking up 90 minutes, he could be a strong fantasy asset for Stoke’s enticing three-game run from GW18.
Unsurprisingly, top FPL scorer Mohamed Salah (£9.9m) stands out on the above graph, with the midfielder’s 113 points almost split evenly between home and away ties. The Egyptian managed just an assist during Liverpool’s 5-1 hammering of Brighton in GW15, as Coutinho and Roberto Firmino (£8.5m) stole the show with 18 and 13-point hauls respectively.
Coutinho’s appeal is further heightened by his apparent new role as Liverpool penalty taker; the Brazilian magician netted from the spot as part of a hat-trick as the Reds demolished Spartak Moscow at Anfield. Those strikes sparked a transfer frenzy for the Brazilian, with Coutinho passing out Hazard as the top GW16 transfer target on Friday morning.
Sadio Mane (£9.4m) grabbed a brace, with Firmino and Salah also on the scoresheet, as Klopp’s ‘Fab Four’ ran riot. On the downside for FPL bosses, Alberto Moreno (£4.7m) is a doubt for the Merseyside derby after picking up an injury.
Everton have kept two clean sheets in the last two gameweeks, though whether a previously leaky backline can resist the Reds’ rampant attack is questionable. However, budget Toffees defenders are worth considering from GW17. Apart from a GW19 trip to the Emirates, Liverpool’s schedule is rosy from now until Man City visit Anfield in GW23.
Despite a blank at the weekend, Raheem Sterling (£8.3m) is the most-purchased asset in the Man City ranks. The winger stayed on the bench as the Citizens lost in Ukraine on Wednesday, while the soon-to-drop Leroy Sane (£8.8m) played 62 minutes. The temptation for owners of the explosive German winger to swap for Coutinho is clear.
Pep Guardiola’s side play Spurs at the Etihad in GW18, after travelling to Swansea midweek following the Manchester derby. For most teams, that might represent a slightly unfavourable schedule. However, Man Utd and Tottenham have amassed three clean sheets between them in the past six gameweeks.
City have netted 46 times in the league so far, while the schedule from GW19 - Bournemouth (h), Newcastle (a), Palace (a), Watford (h) - screams goals. The Citizens’ creation of big chances has fallen to 2.8 per game since GW12, down from 4.7 in the first 11 gameweeks, so the previously popular City triple-up lacks appeal. However, the presence of at least one Sky Blues attacker in squads is a no-brainer.
Right around the corner is GW17; the best advice for FPL managers is to be prepared for rotation. A well-stocked bench will be essential over the hectic festive period to supplement those high-scoring gems that could be rested. Happy tinkering!
Tuesday 12th December
Burnley vs Stoke (19:45)
Crystal Palace vs Watford (20:00)
Huddersfield vs Chelsea (20:00)
Wednesday 13th December
Newcastle vs Everton (19:45)
Southampton vs Leicester (19:45)
Swansea vs Man City (19:45)
Liverpool vs West Brom (20:00)
Man Utd vs Bournemouth (20:00)
Spurs vs Brighton (20:00)
West Ham vs Arsenal (20:00)