The Fantasy Football transfer window for game week 18 is now closed. Join me in our virtual Fantasy Football world while we watch the games and hope our points rack up. Sit back, relax, enjoy the football and hang-out here with your fellow Fantasy Football managers and chat in real time as the action unfolds. Perhaps everyone else is experiencing the same “Aggghhhh” player difficulties you are, or the same “Yeahhhh” moment as your captain puts the ball into the back of the net? Talking Points is simply a chat area for us Fantasy Football First managers. Tell us about your highs and lows, and get into the match day atmosphere. Get involved.
To help you with your early transfer, these are the expected talking points for this weekend.
Arsenal squandered a lead, to end up losing for the second successive game. The Gunners have now slipped down to fourth place in the table but have every chance of making up for it in the upcoming games against West Brom (H), Palace (H), Bournemouth (A), Swansea (A) and Burnley (H).
Just like in the Everton game, Arsenal were overpowered in the second half after playing very well in the first. Cech has gone eight Premier League games without a clean sheet for the first time in his career, which shows the Arsenal defence is not as solid as previous years. This kind run of games however offers potential for both defensive and offensive returns, and we expect the likes of Bellerin and Koscielny to get into some teams.
In midfield Theo Walcott continues to perform after he slotted the ball away after a fine Alexis Sanchez pass. This has been a familiar combination this season. Both players are integral to The Gunners’ attack and offer good options at different prices. Consider doubling up but definitely get Alexis at all costs. Since joining Arsenal, Sanchez has had a hand in 59 Premier League goals (41 goals, 18 assists). Only Sergio Aguero (60 goals, 10 assists) has been involved in more within that time.
Don´t consider Mesut Ozil as is extremely inconsistent and doesn´t seem as sharp as last year. Re-assess when his ongoing contract negotiation saga has been finalised.
Manchester United eased to victory West Brom and are now unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions. The next five fixtures give them every opportunity to keep climbing the table, as the Red Devils face Sunderland (H), Middlesbrough (H), West Ham (A), Liverpool (H) and Stoke (A).
The United defence perfectly contained the West Brom attack and limited Tony Pulis’ side to one shot on target all match. Over the season United have kept six clean sheets, with two of those coming in the last three games. The partnership between Rojo and Jones has been coming off well, and with Smalling supposedly falling out of favour with Mourinho and Bailly away to AFCON next month, as well as his injury problems, Jones and Rojo both have a good chance of keeping their starting spot. Jones stands out for his price and is an excellent option, while Valencia offers a more attacking alternative.
In midfield Paul Pogba’s influence was strong throughout the game. The United midfielder had the most shots (3), made the most passes (89) and had the most touches (109) overall. If he continues to perform like this then the FPL points will surely follow but for now we recommend to hold off and monitor. Up front it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic who grabbed the headlines again after he scored his tenth goal in nine matches. Ibrahimovic’s double at the Hawthorns brings the striker to 16 goals for the season – 11 more than any of his team-mates. Get him while he´s in such a rich vein of form, especially considering that many people had Costa who is suspended.
Spurs made their lives difficult but eventually got a hard-fought victory over Burnley which left them in fifth place. The next five games are deceivingly unpredictable, with away games to Southampton, Watford and City, and home games against Chelsea and West Brom.
Despite falling behind, Mauricio Pochettino’s side dominated a match in which they had 30 shots at goal, forcing Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton into seven saves. Tottenham pressurised their opponents down the flanks, and it was the home side’s two full-backs who proved to be the difference. Both Kyle Walker and Danny Rose were pushing forward so much they were in the Burnley half for a lot of the match. Walker got forward to provide the assist for Alli’s equaliser, while Rose – who put in more crosses than any other player on the pitch – found himself in the opposition area for the second goal. Both are good options long term.
The usual suspects Eriksen and Kane had a surprisingly quiet game which disappointed all managers who trusted them with the armband. Keep them for the next two games but sell before the Chelsea game if they don´t deliver the goods.
With a one-man advantage and a two-goal lead, the Potters looked to be coasting toward a third win in five games but somehow they let Leicester back in the game and finally had to settle for a draw. The upcoming games are reason for concern as Stoke face Liverpool (A), Chelsea (A), Watford (H), Sunderland (A) and Man Utd (H).
The Stoke backline has been performing well lately since the return of veteran hardman Ryan Shawcross, with three clean sheets in the last five games. Against Leicester however they dropped back deep in the second half and some sloppy play let the Foxes back in. With Butland suffering a further setback in his recovery (expected to be around 3 more months), Grant is expected to remain first choice between the sticks and you can safely hold him and any other Stoke defenders as part of a rotation.
In midfield we saw an impressive return to the side for Bojan after a month of being overlooked. He was Stoke’s danger man with clever passes and through balls, as well as converting the penalty. If he can cement his place in the starting eleven he becomes an interesting option but for now the main man is still Joe Allen. The Welshman has scored more Premier League goals in 2016-17 (five) than in his previous four seasons combined (four) and is worth holding onto despite the fixtures. If you´re looking to buy then do so after the Chelsea game.
Other Talking Points
- West Brom has kept just one clean sheet in their past 14 top-flight games, which is very surprising for a Tony Pulis side. Despite the lack of defensive returns, McAuley and Brunt have been doing well by scoring and assisting on the other end. Keep them as the fixtures get better from GW 22 onwards. Monitor Nyom as he might go to AFCON in January.
- West Ham laboured to a 1-0 win over Hull and despite this unconvincing performance, there are some interesting takeaways for FPL managers. The defence has kept two consecutive clean sheets, which puts Cresswell back on the radar. In midfield Payet remains a good differential as he created six goalscoring chances against Hull; three times as many as any other West Ham player.
- Watford has now gone six Premier League games without a clean sheet after keeping three in a row. Holebas is worth keeping because of his attacking returns but don´t consider others.
- Alvaro Negredo has been involved in five of Middlesbrough’s last eight Premier League goals (4 goals, 1 assist). Boro´s schedule is relatively kind so if you´re looking for a cheap striker then Negredo is a good choice.
- Crystal Palace replaced Pardew with Allardyce this week and Big Sam will have his work cut out as The Eagles have kept just one clean sheet in 22 top-flight matches (which came in the 3-0 victory over Southampton) and are only one point above the relegation zone. Allardyce has never been relegated from the top flight as a manager and is the right man to set up a solid defensive foundation from which attacking talents such as Zaha and Townsend will be asked to create. Allardyce had an instant impact when he arrived at Blackburn Rovers (2008-09) and Sunderland (2015-16), so monitor The Eagles closely for signs of improvement. The fixtures turn for the better in GW20 when The Swans come to town so that might be a perfect entry point to pick up a Crystal Palace player.
- De Bruyne made seven key passes – more than any other players on the pitch and provided a stunning assist for Raheem Sterling’s goal. Get him if you want City cover.
- A lack of goals had been a growing concern for Southampton, with just three in their previous seven league games. The introduction of Rodriguez will have delighted Claude Puel and Saints fans, as the striker rewarded his manager with his first top-flight brace since March 2014. Monitor his form over the Christmas period.
- Sadio Mane’s goal deep into injury time sank Everton and settled a scrappy Merseyside derby in Liverpool’s favour at Goodison Park. Keep the Senegalese until he leaves for AFCON.
- Chelsea’s defence have now kept three successive clean sheets and nine in their past 11 games. As well as providing the assist for Chelsea’s winner, Cesar Azpilicueta played a crucial part, making seven clearances and two interceptions. Marcos Alonso nearly scored as he hit the underside of the crossbar with a curling 25-yard free-kick. Get at least one of both and consider doubling up. Hazard and Costa remain obvious choices.
- No defender has scored more Premier League goals since the start of last season than Patrick van Aanholt (seven). He was key to Sunderland´s win as he combined well with Victor Anichebe on the flank. Consider him for GW21.