With the Premier League season racing towards its conclusion, the battle for relegation is hotting up. But with six teams well and truly in the dogfight, which teams contain FPL gems that might just keep them up, and give you an FPL boost? This article will go through each of the bottom six one at a time, looking at their form and fixtures and picking out any possible FPL targets from each side.
The players who I most endorse are obvious ones: Defoe, Llorente, Sigurdsson and Gibson. However, there are certainly some others who may well be worth a gamble, such as Vardy, Niasse and Patrick Van Aanholt.
With just one win in their last ten games, and three straight defeats under their belt, Sunderland are in serious trouble. Only one team has scored less, only three teams conceded more, and their last three games have an aggregate score of 0-8.
Burnley (H), Watford (A), Leicester (A), Man United (H), West Ham (H)
This set of fixtures is one of the nicest of the bottom six. With Burnley’s away form so poor, and Watford and West Ham settled in mid-table, the only game that Sunderland will be looking at as unwinnable is their home game against Man United. Leicester at the King Power will be a tough game, but the sort of six-pointer that Sunderland need to start winning.
This list begins and ends with Jermain Defoe really. Of Sunderland’s 24 league goals, Defoe has scored 14 and assisted 2. In terms of FPL points scorers, that puts him fifth of all the strikers in the Prem with 142 points, which is a staggering 83 higher than anyone else in a Sunderland shirt; Jordan Pickford scoring 59.
— Sunderland Echo SAFC (@sunechosafc) March 16, 2017
In terms of hidden gems, there really aren’t any. Nobody else is scoring goals for this team and defensively they are a wreck. They have four clean sheets all season, and there are no signs that they’re going to shore up at the back enough to be worth a punt on a defender or keeper.
Yikes. Ten games without a win led to them sacking Aitor Karanka. One point in their last four games, zero goals scored and defeat in crucial games against Palace and Stoke. Cannot score goals at all, three goals in ten games, 19 all season. Disaster.
Middlesbrough have announced Aitor Karanka has left the club. Surely there's only man for the job.. pic.twitter.com/r4KtL9gzJz
— TheFootballRepublic (@TheFootballRep) March 16, 2017
Man United (H), Swansea (A), Hull City (A), Burnley (H), Arsenal (H)
The definition of a mixed bag. Man United and Arsenal are going to be extremely tough games to say the least, but those other three games are going to be real crunch matches. Swansea and Hull are in good form but both are there for the taking, whilst Burnley’s away problems have been mentioned already. Real opportunity for Boro to make some inroads.
The overwhelming favourite pick from this team is defender Ben Gibson, as Boro have 8 clean sheets this season and at 30 goals conceded they have the joint 5th best defence in the league, better than Liverpool and Arsenal. Gibson himself has 90 points, the second most in this Boro squad, and 13th overall for defenders, making him the highest scoring defender that costs less than £5m.
The only player in the Boro squad with more points is Alvaro Negredo who has 92, but cannot be recommended. With only 6 goals this season, just one in Boro’s last ten games, Negredo simply isn’t reliable. And with just 19 goals all season, there isn’t anyone else to pick out in an attacking sense either. If you’re struggling for a keeper then consider Valdes, but other than that stay well clear of Boro.
Hull are unbeaten at home under Marco Silva, despite playing Liverpool and Man United at the KCOM. Nevertheless with just two wins in five and three wins in eight, their form is patchy, with a brutal 3-1 defeat to Leicester at the King Power derailing their survival hopes.
Everton (A), West Ham (H), Boro (H), Man City (A), Stoke (A)
Those away games look bleak. Trips to Goodison and the Etihad will probably return nothing for Hull, which means that they need to double down on those home games. Boro at home looks like a must-win and even West Ham looks like a game Hull can’t afford to lose. Nevertheless, it doesn’t bode well for FPL.
This is a tough one, as no Hull players immediately jump out. There certainly aren’t any obvious defensive options, with Hull’s only two clean sheets in 2017 coming against Liverpool and Man United, but perhaps goalkeeper Jakupovic is a good backup option at only £4.1m with a solid points per game ratio for someone of his price. In terms of attacking options, Hull’s top scorers are Abel Hernandez and Oumar Niasse, each with three goals. Hernandez really isn’t worth investing in since he’s so patchy, but Niasse might be worth a punt if you only have £6.0 to spend on a striker. He’s scored three goals from the bench, but has only started three games and looks like he might be crucial for Hull in their last few games, although he’s ineligible to face Everton.
Racked up two wins in their last two games and three in five. However, they’d lost four on the bounce before that, just ten points from their last ten games. Hard to gauge whether or not this is revival, but Palace have shored up at the back with Mamadou Sakho.
Watford (H), Chelsea (A), Saints (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (H)
Abysmal. It gets worse for Palace, as they have eleven games left and six of those are against the top six. Leicester and Watford at home are must-win games, and they’ll fancy themselves to make something happen in both.
The obvious names that jump out are Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha. But Benteke hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in 2017, and Zaha has been patchy all season, with two goals and no assists in his last ten league games. In lieu of an attacking option to select, defensively Palace have looked a lot more secure since Mamadou Sakho came in, and have goalscoring defenders in Scott Dann and Patrick Van Aanholt. If you were to pick one Palace player, then Van Aanholt would be my pick, as they might well keep four home clean sheets between now and the end of the season, plus Van Aanholt has an excellent record of goals at left back.
— CPFC Report (@CPFC_Fanly) March 16, 2017
Swansea are in good form, with five wins in nine games, which isn’t bad considering that that includes playing four of the top six. Three straight home wins has lifted them reasonably clear of the drop zone, for now, but they’re still shipping goals at an alarming rate: 61 so far this season.
Bournemouth (A), Boro (H), Spurs (H), West Ham (A), Watford (A)
This is a very decent set of fixtures. Boro at home is as close to a slam dunk as Swansea could have asked for, and their three away fixtures against Bournemouth, West Ham and Watford are all very winnable. Their other home game may be against Spurs, but given how bad Spurs are away from home, especially without Harry Kane, that game may well be there for the taking.
The Swans’ star player is Gylfi Sigurdsson and if he isn’t already in your fantasy team then get him in ASAP. Seven goals, eleven assists, the 6th highest FPL scoring midfielder and 10th highest player in the system, all at just £7.7m. Away from Sigurdsson, it’s getting increasingly hard to ignore the noise behind Fernando Llorente. Although his 11 goals this season have mostly been braces, he has three goals in his last three games, more FPL points than Sergio Aguero and only costs £6.5m. Bargain.
In terms of defensively, or other attacking options, there isn’t much to shout about. Defensively Swansea still look ragged at times, with one clean sheet in 2017 and shipping two goals in six of their last eight games. Alfie Mawson may be scoring goals from the back, but Swansea are simply too leaky at the back to be relied on.
Back to back wins following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri and five defeats in a row before then. They still haven’t won a single game away from home all season. They’ve struggled both with goals and defensively, but have been better than most in the bottom six at both.
West Ham (A), Stoke (H), Sunderland (H), Everton (A), Palace (A)
That’s a very nice set of fixtures. You’d still back them to struggle them at West Ham on current form, but two very winnable home games followed by a trip to struggling Palace gives Leicester plenty of opportunity to scramble 40 points onto the board. Everton away will be a tough game though.
Given that Leicester have only been playing well for two games, it’s hard to draw any reasonable conclusions, but you can wager that if they’re going to keep up their good form, then they’re going to need goals from Jamie Vardy. Whilst I wouldn’t say that Vardy is worth a punt, given the amount of good strikers I’ve already recommended, and the fact that he’s still obscenely expensive at £9.7 (only £0.6m less than Lukaku), he’s the best choice from Leicester. The other player worth a shout is Riyad Mahrez, but he has the same problems: lack of consistency and a massive price-tag (£8.9m, £1.2m more than Sigurdsson). Defensively, Leicester have conceded in both league games under Shakespeare and haven’t kept a clean sheet since their 0-0 draw with Boro at the very start of January, so I wouldn’t recommend gambling on a defender either.
Whilst there’s nothing groundbreaking in the obvious picks from this article: Sigurdsson, Llorente, Defoe and Gibson are obvious picks for a reason, there are several potential players that are worth a gamble on. One of those is Hull’s Oumar Niasse, who may well be the man who keeps them in the Premier League. Another is Crystal Palace’s Patrick Van Aanholt, but Palace have ridiculously bad fixtures so that really is a gamble. And whilst Leicester have plenty of reasons to be positive, their main goalscorer is nearly £10m on FPL, making Jamie Vardy an absolutely massive gamble.