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 ended a run of two Premier League defeats with victory over a stubborn and resolute West Brom side and climbed back to third in the table. It´s hard to imagine a better run of fixtures for the Gunners as they face Palace (H), Bournemouth (A), Swansea (A), Burnley (H) and Watford (H) in the next five.
The Gunners kept their first clean sheet in nine Premier League games, since the 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough in October. The upcoming games offer more opportunities for defensive returns and we expect Bellerin and Koscielny to rack up the points. The Spaniard pushes forward and is very much involved in attacks while the Frenchman is an aerial threat on set pieces as well as a bonus magnet. Those short on cash can consider Gabriel for the short term but he will make way as soon as Mustafi recovers from his hamstring injury.
With Walcott injured, Giroud got a rare starting spot and scored the only goal in the game. He has scored seven goals in his past five starts for Arsenal in all competitions and could become an option if he can cement his position in the first eleven. The main man was yet again Alexis Sanchez, despite being shunned back out wide and not returning any FPL points. The Chilean had nine shots in the game, including one which hit the post, so there´s no reason to doubt his potential in the upcoming games.
Mesut Ozil made his 100th Premier League appearance, and provided his 36th assist in the competition – only Eric Cantona had provided more after 100 games. The German played much better than the previous two games, in which he looked lacklustre and sloppy. If Arsenal hit top form then he usually does the same but for now both Sanchez and Walcott, if his injury is minor, are better bets.
Manchester United beat a struggling Sunderland to record their fourth successive Premier League win. The next five games look favourable with the most difficult one coming at Old Trafford against Liverpool. In the other four, the Mancunians host Middlesbrough and Hull City and travel to West Ham and Stoke.
Since Jones and Rojo were paired together for the first time in the 3-1 win against Swansea on the 6th November, United are unbeaten for 11 games, one short of equalling their best run since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. Jones and Rojo have been in central defence together for nine of those matches, when they have conceded only seven goals. Mourinho has been so impressed by the pair, that it seems he has abandoned the plans to get another central defender in January so getting either one for your FPL team now is a good investment.
In midfield Paul Pogba is picking up some form as he had a total of eight shots and assisted Ibrahimovic for the all-important second strike. All three of Paul Pogba’s assists in the Premier League this season have been for Ibrahimovic goals as the Swede looks unstoppable right now. He has been involved in 14 Premier League goals this season (12 goals, 2 assists) – at least eight more than any other Manchester United player. Get him and consider doubling up with Pogba or Mkhitaryan if the Armenian can nail a starting spot.
West Brom struggled through a difficult patch of games that included playing Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal but the fixtures now take a turn for the better. In the next five games the Baggies face Southampton (A), Hull City (H), Spurs (A), Sunderland (H) and Middlesbrough (A). This run even stretches further all the way up until mid-March when the return fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United are scheduled.
Ben Foster had an excellent game against Arsenal as he pulled off a number of key stops, and was only beaten by a late Olivier Giroud header. With Jordan Pickford now injured for two months, getting Foster as a replacement could pay off immediately. Other options in defence include Brunt, McAuley and Nyom, who pulled out of Cameroon´s AFCON selection.
The Arsenal game saw very little attacking threat from the Baggies but we expect the likes of Rondon, Chadli and Phillips to get decent returns against lesser opposition. Especially Phillips looks a fantastic option for his price as he´s on set pieces and very involved in the West Brom attack.
Swansea’s 4-1 Boxing Day home defeat against West Ham was Swansea’s seventh in 11 games since Bradley took over and leaves them on 12 points, above bottom side Hull on goal difference. It doesn´t get any better for the Swans as their fixtures are about to take a bad turn. The next games against Bournemouth at the Liberty and away against fellow strugglers Palace still offer some hope but after that they face Arsenal (H), Liverpool (A) and Southampton (H). Looking a bit further, the three games following the Saints, are against Man City (A), Leicester (H) and Chelsea (A) meaning that it´s best to stay away from Swansea until March. Offload everybody in the next two games, including Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente.
Hull played well in patches against Manchester City but their return of one win in 16 matches is a damning statistic that points to only one outcome at the end of the season: Relegation. Similar to Swansea, the fixtures are about to turn ugly as the Tigers face Everton (H), West Brom (A), Bournemouth (H), Chelsea (A) and Manchester United (A) in the next five. With games against Liverpool (H) and Arsenal (A) after that, there really isn´t much hope of any returns before the end of February. Our recommendation is to get rid of any Hull players and look to captain penalty takers against them, as Hull have now conceded nine penalties so far in the league this season – four more than any other side.
Other Talking Points
- Wilfried Zaha threatened from the outset for Palace as Allardyce looked to use width with his new side. The winger will be available for the GW20 meeting with Swansea before joining up with the Ivory Coast squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. Sell Zaha and monitor who steps up to take his place and provide support for Benteke.
- Jordan Pickford may face up to three months on the sidelines and possible surgery. Sell him and replace with Grant (similar price tag), Foster (great run of fixtures), Heaton (save points) or Courtois (title-winning form).
- Kelechi Iheanacho has netted 12 Premier League goals from just 19 shots on target. With Aguero back from suspension, we expect the talented Nigerian to drop back to the bench so sell him now and get Aguero instead.
- Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku produced a classic back-to-goal display, which was exactly what Ronald Koeman required at King Power Stadium. He held the ball up well, chased lost causes and his late goal was rich reward for his tireless efforts. He now has 10 league goals for the season and is back in the frame to be included in our FPL teams.
- Eden Hazard had a fine game against Bournemouth as he made 87 touches, more than any other player, and won and converted a penalty. Get him or Costa together with a Chelsea defender after they kept another clean sheet, their tenth in the last twelve games.
- Bournemouth have lost three of their past four Premier League games, conceding three goals in each defeat. Look to captain against them in away games.
- Burnley continues to rely on home form, with 95% of their points haul so far having come at Turf Moor. Heaton provides excellent value as he racks up save points and the occasional clean sheet.
- Deeney converted a penalty to end a 10-game goalless run and score his 100th Watford goal. Monitor him now the weight is off his shoulders.
- Adam Lallana has been directly involved in eight league goals in seven games at Anfield this season (four goals and four assists) and provides excellent value for money.
- Stoke are winless in four league games and have conceded seven goals in their past two away games in the Premier League, just one fewer than they conceded in their first seven away trips of the season (8). Monitor if they can turn it around or not.
- Dele Alli scored twice from three efforts – that is now three goals in two games for the attacking midfielder. Eriksen also continues to produce as he got two assists, including one that ended Harry Kane´s run of three league games without a goal. The striker later missed a penalty so the Spurs midfield options offer better value right now.