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12 Dec 2018 by Marc Jobling

FPL Gameweek 17 – Projections

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Continuing on from the dramas of Gameweek 15, last weekend brought even more excruciating pain for much of the FPL community. Harry Kane (£12.5m) was benched alongside Christian Eriksen (£9.3m), as was Raul Jimenez (£6.1m) for Wolves, whilst Callum Wilson’s (£7.0m) unmentioned knock ruled him of Saturday lunchtime’s meeting with Liverpool.

It was there where Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) caused havoc by scoring a hat-trick and finally landing some bonus points – whilst only his second double-figure return of the season, 886,904 faithful managers put their captain’s armband on the Egyptian and were rewarded with an incredible 42 points. At Arsenal, the expected humbling of Huddersfield failed to materialise. Alexandre Lacazette (£9.6m) selectors were left fuming by his half-time removal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m) only returned a late assist for his new owners – an unprecedented rise from 903,000 to 2.1 million teams in one week.

Additionally, there was success for Felipe Anderson (£7.3m), Andrew Robertson (£6.4m), Son Heung-Min (£8.5m), Marcus Rashford (£6.9m) and David Luiz (£5.6m), who scored the second goal as Man City lost their unbeaten Premier League record at Stamford Bridge. Pep Guardiola’s wounded team have a chance to recover on Saturday by punishing an Everton side who can’t be too thrilled to be in such a position . It’s a weekend sandwiched by the two cities, as Sunday sees Liverpool take on Man United at Anfield.

(writer sidenote) Gameweek 16 also acted as a qualifying round for this season’s FPL Cup, which is particularly frustrating when your team started Saturday in the world’s top 5,000 but somehow found a way to not make the week’s top 4,194,304! Not like I'm bitter, though. Thanks to Mo, Unai, Mauricio and DeAndre for that. Anyway, maybe it’s best to concentrate on the league this year….

OPTIMUM SQUAD

Mixed fortunes for the algorithm line-up, with an impressive score of 73 heavily-led by Salah’s captaincy. Despite Crystal Palace’s defeat at West Ham punishing their defensive trifecta, the optimum midfield was right to pick Callum Paterson (£5.3m) and Richarlison (£7.1m). Lacazette wasn’t the only player affected by the half-time substitution craze, with Leroy Sane leaving the action early and collecting just one point. Aubameyang’s five points disappointed many.

Newcastle controversially lost to Wolves on Sunday, with a dramatic late Matt Doherty (£5.0m) header making it five games without a clean sheet for Rafa Benitez’s team. Their form on the road is much more encouraging, however, with three clean sheets contributing to them having the league’s fourth best away record – conceding just seven goals. Despite DeAndre Yedlin’s (£4.5m) suspension, the Magpies will be confident of keeping out a Huddersfield side without star man Aaron Mooy (£5.1m), whose medial knee ligament is damaged for the rest of 2018.

Therefore, the algorithm has gone with Martin Dubravka (£5.0m), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.7m) and the returning Paul Dummett (£4.4m). Lascelles should come with caution, as his poor form was extended by an error-ridden performance on Sunday. Benitez could easily partner Federico Fernandez (£4.4m) with Fabian Schar (£4.6m). Completing the defence is Jose Holebas (£4.7m), whose attacking play has contributed two goals and four assists. They face Cardiff, who only have one point from seven away games.

Team-mate Roberto Pereyra (£6.2m) assisted both Watford goals on Monday night – his only this season. The Argentine is unpredictable when it comes to FPL but his four home goals hint at a solid pick for Vicarage Road action. Over 1.3 million managers ditched Salah between Gameweeks 4 and 9 and the recent form of better-value options like Leroy Sane (£9.5m), Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) and Anthony Martial (£7.4m) seemed to justify this. Many re-structured their sides around these and used their extra money on a Kane or an Aubameyang. Yet Salah’s Bournemouth massacre may lead to another re-think, after he scored the winner in Liverpool’s vital Champions League clash with Napoli.

Spurs also had mid-week success, grabbing a draw in Barcelona. Son started the match and this, combined with the number of options available to manager Mauricio Pochettino, makes him a risky pick for their hosting of Burnley. Indeed, the shocking rotation of Harry Kane proves that nobody is safe from a rest, with Pochettino adding: “Everyone needs to rest in this busy period, it’s impossible for every player to play every three days without risk. Harry is not a machine and needs rest too.”

Son is in great form, with three goals, two assists and 35 FPL points from the last four games so he may be worth the punt, with Burnley conceding at least four goals in three of their eight away matches. Captain of the optimum squad is the usually explosive Sterling, who was unsuccessfully deployed as a false nine at Chelsea before moving to the left once Sane was taken off. City are likely to still be without Sergio Aguero (£11.2m).

Despite the damp squib of Aubameyang vs Huddersfield, the Gabon international still has a promising set of fixtures starting with Southampton’s first home game under Ralph Hasenhuttl. Their next two home games are against Burnley and Fulham, so his phenomenal 0.7m price rise could soon surpass 1.0m. Wilson’s 39% ownership is the game’s second-highest and, of all the games he had to miss, perhaps the imperious Liverpool defence wasn’t a particularly lost opportunity. He faces a Wolves side who have conceded in every game since 6th October’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Another victim of half-time removal was Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m), although the Cottagers were already 3-0 down. Perhaps Claudio Ranieri didn’t want to risk Mitrovic getting his fifth yellow card ahead of such a winnable game at home to West Ham. Those looking to buy a cheap striker may be put off by the Serbian’s inevitable one-match suspension but he’s a strong choice for Gameweek 16.

THE REST – GOALKEEPERS/DEFENDERS

Joe Hart (£4.5m) and Lukasz Fabianski (£4.6m) are FPL’s save maestros, with Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) facing Man City’s array of superstar attackers. Bernd Leno (£4.8m) overtook Petr Cech (£4.9m) as Arsenal’s #1 during Gameweek 7’s win over Watford and has played every minute since, finally keeping a clean sheet last week versus Huddersfield. He’ll look to replicate that at Southampton.

Fernandez keeps up the Newcastle love-in and Steve Cook (£4.6m) owners will hope the centre back responds to his own goal by scoring at the right end against Wolves.

THE REST – MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS

Sadio Mane (£9.7m) has only scored in one of his last ten league games but faces a Jose Mourinho defence which is leaking goals. Kane and Dele Alli (£8.9m) seem low on the list, considering they host Burnley, but they played all 90 minutes at the Nou Camp. Jimenez and Lacazette owners may be wary after recent events but both should start. Finally, West Ham have scored nine goals in three games, thanks to the wonderful Felipe Anderson and Chicharito (£6.4m). The latter has stepped up in Marko Arnautovic’s (£7.0m) absence with three goals and one assist, whilst the Brazilian is FPL’s eighth highest-scoring midfielder and the week’s most transferred-in player.

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