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Player Picks Game week 18

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Festive fantasy football fun to come.

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
I just like this photo
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Game week 18 launches us into the festive period where rest, rotation and fixture priority will be a big feature. We can expect to see the bulk of this in game weeks 19 and 20 but there may be no such thing as a sure starter over the period.

Tom Heaton

Burnley may have lost 5 of their last 6 and conceded 2 or more in 6 of their last 7 but this is nice matchup for Heaton and your FPL side (way too expensive in Fantrax). Boro have won none of their last 7 always and their more predictable ABC style of attack should suit a Burnley side needing result.

Simon Mignolet

Liverpool are unbeaten in 15 homes games. Stoke are improving but may be shaken by throwing a 2-0 lead in week 17. Mignolet has won the starting spot for now in the red goals and pool can win again here. Do I think he can provide a third clean sheet a row? Maybe!

Heurelho Gomes

Watford have won 4 of their last 5 homes and lost just once in 6. Meanwhile Palace have lost 8 of their last 10 and Alan Pardew is under growing pressure.

David Luiz

It’s now three 1-0 wins in a row and 9 clean sheets out of 11 games. As I have said a number of times before I just couldn’t see a side with Luiz and Gary Cahill in defence providing those type of returns in the Premier League. I may have to stand corrected on them I guess but I still lack confidence.

Kante is missing for the home game against Bournemouth which will reduce much of the central defenders protection. Bournemouth have enough about them to score at the Bridge despite the stats backing the home clean sheet.

It’s not backing the stats that has seen me lose out on defensive fantasy points so I have to tip a Chelsea defender. If Luiz does concede then that overdue bullet free kick can still get the points for us in this one.

Phil Jones/ Marcus Rojo and Antonio Valencia

Maybe just maybe we are seeing the hours of working on the training ground coming through in United defending. While none of the starting players scream top quality they are perhaps playing at the best they have in the United shirt.

Sunderland have provided a blank in 5 of the last 6 league games and bar Jermain Defoe have little to offer coming forward.

I have left out the left back position as I’m not quite sure who will take the spot. After a clean sheet at WBA it will likely be Darmian but he has competition.

While Jones/Rojo are super cheap for the home tie with Sunderland its Valencia who I like the most. For such a powerhouse of a man he lacked confidence in himself previously. He has looked a far more driven and frankly a meaner player under Jose and it’s to his benefit. The current united side lack width in attack with the fullbacks asked to push on and help. I can see the right back dominating his side of the field and he offers double figure scores in Fantrax with or without a clean sheet.

Robert Snodgrass

Just because he is playing City and City just cannot defend. If you have him in your FPL squad you must play him.

Riyad Mahrez

We can all agree the champions have been poor this season so why pick a Foxes player in week 18? Well what If I told you they have lost just once in their last 23 home games and that Everton have lost 4 in a row away from home.

Angered by a questionable decision Leicester’s stirring comeback with 10 men, away from home and down 2-0 to pinch a point at in form Stoke was eye-catching. If the champs have that fire back they have the fixtures to clear themselves of a relegation dogfight before Europe returns in February.

As for Mahrez at home there have been over 2.5 goals in 6 of Leicester’s last 7 and with Jamie Vardy suspended it’s Mahrez who is needed to step up. He has penalties and has the pace and trickery to cause an aging Leighton Baines a few issues if he is on his game.

Siggy

While Swansea are terrible, Siggy has been excellent. West Ham have kept 2no clean sheets in a row so confidence is on the up and I can see the away side winning this one. However, I don’t see a third clean sheet on the spin and Siggy surely will be involved at least in any Swans goal. In 8 homes games he has 3 goals, 4 assists and averages 3.5 shots per game. He is possibly too expensive in Fantrax to fit in a side you may be happy with but remains value in FPL.

Dimtri Payet

As I see the Hammers winning I have to go with Payet as the man to select. Very frustratingly no assist or goal in the two home games against Hull City and Burnley he may have even less marking on his in this one. 14, 15 and 20 are his last 3 Fantrax scores meaning while there are better matchups for your money out there Payet is hard to sell.

Payet has reputation in his career of being petulant and there are rumours floating of him wanting a move on from West Ham. Ultimately he may not end up at the likes of the EPL big boys but at approaching 30 years of age, to fulfill his aspirations he needs to deliver on the pitch. Swansea will likely leave him the room to do so.

KDB/Raheem Sterling/Yaya Toure

City have scored at least twice in 7 of their last 8 road games. They have scored 13 goals in their last 6 away games. Hull have lost 6 in a row and have conceded over 2 goals per game in their last 6 home ties. All that should mean Peps boys enjoy a match where their attacking stars can get in the fantasy points.

With a trip to follow at Anfield 6 days later we can be sure City will look to play at least KDB and Sterling in both games. Logically and playing logic against Pep is high risk It’s the final game of the festive games that they may get a break. Yaya would seem the one most under threat and more so against Liverpool where City will need more energy in midfield. He then is the best bargain of the trio while the others have the style and skill to exploit a slow Hull defensive line.

Firmino/Sadio Mane

Pool have scored at least twice in 7 of their last 7 home games and continue to be a great attacking force under Klopp. Stoke look to have a little more steel about them with Ryan Shawcross back but you cannot ignore those stats.

I though Firmino looked sharper in the second half against Everton and that may well be as he took up the central position far more often. He simply is a better player in that area of the pitch and I think it’s his turn to be Liverpool goal scorer against Stoke.

Mane meanwhile looks sharp and hungry in front of goal. The drive to be first to the ball against Everton shows you his form.

Nordin Armbat

I tipped him last week where he returned 9 points in Fantrax. While he doesn’t shoot enough to match his talent he does face Crystal Palace this time and they always do their best to help attacking players. He won’t be in many teams but with Watford home strengths I think he can be a good pick in game week 18.

Eden Hazard/Cesc Faberas

With Diego Costa missing after finally getting that 5th yellow all eyes will be on Hazard to be the match winner against Bournemouth. It certainly looks a plumb fixture on paper with the blues 11 straight wins and the Cherries have conceded 16 goals in 8 away games. Chelsea’s free scoring ways seemed to have cooled since the weather has. They have won by the odd goal in 5 of the last 6 so perhaps there may be no dominate home win. Then again Hazard has penalties and Bournemouth are not set up to stop the opposition playing.

Cesc has found himself a squad player but with Kante out he seems likely to start. A nice price, alternative to Hazard and value pick this week.

Paul Pogba/Ander Herrera

Steadily the world most expensive player is settling into his role back at Manchester United. He is fantasy temptation with his consistent desire to shoot and play through balls. A fantastic price in Fantrax, less so in FPL.

Herrera continues to rack up the Fantrax points without the goals. 7, 15, 12 and 7 in his last 4 with 3 of those games being away from home.

Yohan Cabaye

One of my favorite fantasy players. Cabaye just rolls out the points in the Fantrax system. 16 points in the two games against Utd and Chelsea where Palace were under the cos,h you can expect to see a more expansive Cabaye against Watford. At 11.54m he may be tight on budget but if you are chasing or just fancy something different then Cabaye can be your man.

Troy Deeney

The big man is 1 goal away from 100 Watford goals. I have it on good authority he asked Father Christmas for that 100th goal in his letter and we all know the big fella in the red suit doesn’t let people down. Want some hard stats to back up the pick? Well Palace have conceded 3 or more in their last 4 away games.

At just a little over 7m in Fantrax and £6.8m in FPL he scores on Boxing Day and who knows, maybe a brace for those of you who like a gamble (well Ken and Yewy then).

Alexis Sanchez/Giroud

WBA have conceded just 7 goals in their last 6 away games including a narrow 1-0 defeat against bang in form Chelsea. With that stat and the Baggies sat in lines of 4 and 5 on the edge of their penalty area it is a game screaming for Oliver Giroud to me. As he seemingly can do nothing to convince his manager to start him Arsenal need a match winner in a game they must win and the clubs best winner is Mr Sanchez.

Sure we need a careful watch in that ankle of his plus his hamstring and his groin but Sanchez is old school tough and certain to play at 75% fit.

Michy Batshuayi

Super cheap and playing for the current run away league leaders. At 4m he is low cost and has to tempt many of you. Hard not to go with him for a one week special.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Wayne Rooney

Zlatan is bang in form with 7 goals in his last 6 Premier League games. He averages 6 shots per game in home ties. He is the obvious pick and will be in most Fantrax sides and could be bought by quite a few in FPL.

Rooney has had the look of a player fading a little too quickly but he has had a long career. But thanks to injury to Mkhitaryan, Rooney has played a run of games. His last two EPL games have seen him rack up 28 points in Fantrax with just the one assist. Wayne is just one goal away from equally the legendary Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals. This is just the fixture to achieve his goal and he surely at least gets the chances. While Zlatan is a much better player at their respective career stages Rooney offers you a much cheaper way into the United attack opening up other choices for the bold fantasy player.

Christian Benteke

Tekkers found Palaces negative approach in the Utd/Chelsea games tough. The forward thrives on supply and Pardew changed his side to one who sat deeper looking to limit time and space to the opposition. Against Watford he surely is likely to go back to a positive style. Benteke has 6 goals in 7 away games firing in over twice as many shot on goal as any other Palace player. Indeed he averages 3.6 shot per game away from home compared to 2.4 at home. An away day specialist it seems, holding penalty duties and facing a Watford who have kept just one home clean sheet at home all season and that was against Hull.

Who are you on for week 18?

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