Last updated on December 15th, 2023
Who should be your priority players for the next Gameweek, position by position
Written by Keiran Trotter (@fpl_del)
We’re well into the Christmas fixtures now and the games are coming thick and fast. This week there is an 18:30 Friday deadline and no doubt the vast majority of us are waiting for news today about Haaland. For what it is worth, I have gone early and moved him to Watkins for this week. Watkins was due to rise in price (and did) so whilst it doesn’t matter this week, it would have made things tricky with the move I want to make next week (Archer to a decent option, probably Raul) for when Alvarez is benched due to CWC. That will then enable a straight move from Alvarez to Haaland after the CWC, assuming everything is ok with the big man by then. Complicated stuff, but I feel this is the time of year where you can really gain an edge if you have a plan in place.
It might backfire if we get news that Haaland is fit for this weekend but I think either way, he’ll be managed so 45-60 mins max, if they feel they need him.
Week 16 Review
Another shocker for me last week in what wasn’t a particularly high scoring week. I had to laugh when Ederson conceded against Luton, that is just the way it seems to go this year. There were 6 clean sheets to be had and 2 double digit hauls (Pickford against Chelse and Martinez against Arsenal) but it feels almost impossible predicting where these are going to come from at the minute.
At least Trent got an attacking return for 4 points, but again, against Palace we might have hoped for more at both ends. 4 defenders got on the scoresheet and Tosin at Fulham and Senesi at Bournemouth added the clean sheet and bonus for 14 and 15 points respectively. Not one of the top 18 defenders last week cost more than £4.8m, so looking on the brightside, at least there is plenty of value out there, even if it is hard to predict where it is coming from!
There were 13 midfielders on target in gameweek 16 with Richarlison the pick of the bunch with 2 goals and 2 bonus points for a 15 point haul. Unfortunately my pick of Foden wasn’t one of them and he managed a solitary 2 points as City beat Luton 2-1 without Haaland.
There were slim pickings from the forwards with only 5 players managing more than 5 points. Raul Jiminez and Matheus Cunha were the pick with 9 points each. My pick Joao Pedro only managed 2 points for a total of 10 points from my 4 picks. Hopefully much better to come in gameweek 17.
Manchester City will no doubt be favourites again for a clean sheet this weekend but can we honestly trust anyone to deliver clean sheets?
Palace at home is a decent fixture and maybe we just have to keep playing the odds without expecting too much? Chelsea at home to Sheffield United is also a great fixture but Chelsea can be frankly awful and Sheffield United looked revived under Chris Wilder last week. Everton have been very good lately but are we ready to trust them yet? Especially on the road? Bournemouth at home to Luton and West Ham at home to Wolves are also good fixtures but form and fixture seem to have little to do with it at the minute.
Chelsea actually just tip City to be favourites with the bookies with those 2 far and away ahead of others (57% chance and 56% compared to Newcastle in 3rd with 38%). So it’s definitely from those 2 for me. I am going to go with Robert Sanchez (£4.7m) this week. He’s 13 points ahead of Ederson this season and as improved as Sheffield United are they are still the least potent team in the League
Clean sheets seem to be few and far between at the so as usual we’ll be focussing on where our attacking returns might come from.
The top 5 defenders for expected goal involvement over the last 6 weeks are as follows:
- Pedro Porro (£5.4m) – 2.84
- Trent Alexander- Arnold (£8.0m) – 2.46
- Kieran Trippier (£7.0m) – 2.0
- Harry Toffolo (£4.4m) – 1.52
- Luca Digne (4.7m) – 1.44
Of these players, Porro, Trent and Toffolo are trending up from last week. Porro away to a Forest side, containing Toffolo, who are in poor form overall explains his rise in ownership this week, that and multiple Twitter bandwagons.
It’s a massive game at Anfield so whilst I expect Trent to continue to be an attacking force there are others that have better defensive fixtures this week. Trippier faces Fulham at home after a tough week. With only domestic football to concentrate on now, I’d expect a return to form for him and Newcastle and Villa face a tricky away trip to Brentford, so it’s easy to see why there’s plenty of love for Porro, given lots will already own Trippier.
There are 6 defenders who have had 2 big chances over the last 6 gameweek:
- Jamaal Lacelles (£4.2m)
- Paul Torres (£4.6m)
- WIlliam Saliba (£5.5m)
- Joachim Anderson (£5.0m)
- Destiny Udogie (£4.8m)
- Virgil Van Dijk (£6.2m)
Only Anderson hasn’t converted at least one of those chances. Manuel Akanji, Vitaliy Mykolenko and Marcos Sensei all have 2 goals from their last 6 gameweeks along with Trent.
Luton, Sheffield United and Forest have been to least potent attacks over the last 6 gameweeks so that is another tick in the box for Porro. Chelsea are so inconsistent and with Reece James out I am reluctant to look at their defence despite a fixture against Sheffield United. Bournemouth have been red hot recently and with a home fixture versus Luton I am going to take this opportunity to go against the Porro train and select Marcos Sensei as my defensive pick of the week. He’s ranked 6 for xGI recently, has a great home fixture, has goal and assist potential and is a bargain at £4.4m.
The top 5 midfielders for xGI over the last 6 gameweeks are as follows:
Mo Salah (£13.2m) – 4.18
Heung-Min Son (£9.7m) – 3.42
Bukayo Saka (£9.0m) – 3.4
Bruno Fernandes (£8.3m) – 3.34
Willian (£5.3m) – 3.23
Salah and Willian lead the way with 3 goals, with 2 for Son and 1 each for Saka and Fernandes.
Salah leads the way for big chances with 7 in that period with Jarrod Bowen (£7.7m) 2 behind on 5. Enzo Fernandes (£4.8m) also has 5 ahead of a host of others including Willian on 4. Saka, Salah and Son are the leaders of big chances created so those are the names we need to be considering this week.
Of those, there is only Fernandes and Willian I am prepared to discount based on their fixture. Of the others, depending on the metrics you look at, it’s actually a toss up between Son definitely plays against the weaker defence recently. Forest have conceded 13 in their last 6 compared to United’s 5 (fewer than any other team). United have actually conceded more big chances but only concede 1 goal per 3 big chances compared to Forest who concede 1 goal per 1 big chance. I still think Salah has the potential to go big this week but I’m going to opt for Son as my midfield pick of the week this week. It’s Friday night, I’m a Spurs fan and I think he was so impressive off the left against Newcastle, I think he can do some serious damage again.
Forwards (minus Haaland)
I’m kinda hoping everyone will be minus Haaland this weekend since I took the punt and moved him to Ollie Watkins in my team. He was obviously going to be benched next week anyway and I’m backing 180 mins of Ollie Watkins to outscore 45-60 min of Haaland. I wanted to go early to ensure I had the funds to improve my other forward sufficiently in gameweek 18, whilst still being able to move straight back to Haaland for 19 if he is fit.
Excluding Haaland, the top 5 forward for expected goal involvement over the last 5 weeks are:
- Dom Solanke (£6.7m) – 5.05
- Nicolas Jackson (£6.9m) – 5.02
- Ollie Watkins (£8.5m) – 3.83
- Julian Alvarez (6.9m) – 3.58
- Dom Calvert-Lewin (5.8m) – 3.31
Given Chelsea face Sheffield United at home it would be easy to jump on Jackson here, but despite these stats he hasn’t scored in his last 4. The hat-trick vs Spurs is now 5 gameweeks ago and he’s going to drop off these charts next week.
Whilst I love Watkins’ consistency this season and expect him to pose a threat against a struggling Brentford this week, they have the capability to make it very hard for teams, especially at home.
It’s great to see DCL trending in the right direction. Away to Burnley is a good fixture for him, however I want to see something in the goal column before I jump on board with him. With Everton in good form, a firing DCL at £5.8m will be a serious 2nd / 3rd forward option in the 2nd half of the season. Alvarez will likely be leading the line for some, if not all of the City’s game versus Crystal Palace. Palace were much better against Liverpool last week but away at the Champions is still a daunting task. That said, City are not their usual free scoring selves at the minute and will have one eye on the trip to the Club World Cup.
So having given him the chance a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to hand this week’s forward pick of the week to Dom Solanke. He has 5 goals in his last 6 games and faces Luton at home. This looked like being a relegation battle a few weeks ago but Bournemouth are unbeaten in 5 winning against United and Newcastle in the process, dropping their only points in a 2-2 draw against an in form Villa.
Picks of the Week
Robert Sanchez (Chelsea GK £4.8m)
Marcos Sensei (Bournemouth DF £4.4m)
Heung-Min Son (Spurs MF £9.7m)
Dom Solanke (Bournemouth FW £6.7m)
Next will be a festive special with a look ahead to GW18, 19 and 20 over the festive period! Good luck for GW17 and I’ll see you on the other side.