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Week 17 FPL Player Picks: Emptiness

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In a game-week nestled between two long weeks of inactivity, tinkering with our squads is the only comfort managers have in the emptiness.

Raul Jimenez - Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Raul Jimenez tracks down the ball versus Newcastle.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

After a cavalcade of game-week deadlines in short order, week seventeen hangs in a relatively vast expanse of emptiness (otherwise known as “business as usual”). For, following this week, we get another week-long break to suffer through before the schedule puts the “fest” back into the festive period. The time has come to clear away that thin layer of frost gathering on our dormant teams, and put them into order to capitalize on the match-ups in game-week seventeen.

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Goalkeepers

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea (£5.5m)

Coming off a stunning shutout victory against Manchester City, the upcoming run of games could not be any sweeter for the Londoner. This weekend’s tilt with Brighton should see Chelsea as immense favorites. If they can carry over the Sarri-ball tactics from a week ago, Kepa should see minimal action, only helping his clean sheet prospects.

Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester (£5.0m)

This pick is strictly chosen because of the deficiencies of this weekend’s opponent. Crystal Palace will come into this match without their attacking focal point, Wilfried Zaha. The Palace depth chart does not provide any other threatening names in Zaha’s stead. If Leicester can contain Andros Townsend, it is hard to imagine the Eagles’ already meager attack taking flight with clipped wings.

Bernd Leno, Arsenal (£4.8m)

Leno was able to secure his first Premier League clean sheet as the starting goalkeeper last weekend, a nervy contest that saw Arsenal secure all three points in the dying moments of the match. Southampton will continue to tweak and retool their game plan under their new manager, which can only be considered favorable for the gunners. The rash of injuries to the Arsenal back line is a bit worrying, but the defense has solidified over the past few weeks. And, the emergence of their many defensive midfielders should help Leno’s cause.

Ben Foster, Watford (£4.5m)

The penalty save hero from game-week sixteen should be fancied against Cardiff. The bluebirds’ attack is still a work in progress, despite the stability provided by Callum Paterson. The Hornets’ defense was able to keep Everton in check for most of the game Monday, especially in the second half. With this game at home, Watford should be up to the task of a clean sheet.

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Defenders

Marcos Alonso, Chelsea (£7.0m)

This is the original incarnation of Matt Doherty, remember? The notion, suggested by others, to sell Alonso is LUDACRIS! He is the highest scoring defender in the game, and one of only two defenders to have over 90 points. Sure, there are other places to save money in the Chelsea back line, but when prospecting for attacking returns, Alonso has the best chance of netting a double-digit point haul .

Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal (£5.0m)

Under Unai Emery’s new system, Kolasinac is emerging as a new defensive option. Since his move into the starting lineup, he has totaled 13 attempted assists according to Fantasy Football Fix, earning two. With little to no production from Arsenal midfielders, the gunner wingbacks will be asked to provide in the attack, which should see his contributions continue. The same can be said for his teammate on the other side of the pitch, Hector Bellerin. The questions about Arsenal will continue to swirl around defensive rigidity. As I said above, I think they’re showing improvement in that area, despite the rash of injuries.

Jose Holebas, Watford FC (£4.7m)

As in most weeks, the defender picks reflect some similarities to the goalkeeper selections, as I believe the clean sheet is the backbone in the defensive part of your team. Holebas is the all-around contributor on a team with a juicy match this weekend. His opportunities on set pieces and continued efforts of swinging in crosses appeal to those looking for big returns, when the matchup is right.

Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle (£4.7m)

Surprisingly, Newcastle have played better on the road than at home this season,. All three of their clean sheets have come in games that they were not hosting. With that in mind, the upcoming Huddersfield game should fit the script for another clean sheet. With the Terriers’ motor man Aaron Mooy being sidelined due to a knee injury, the remaining players offer little in terms of goal threat. And, the one player you might expect to step up in Mooy’s absence, Steve Mounie is still serving his suspension from a recent red card. Lascelles is not a sexy attacking pick, but the clean sheet chance is very tempting for a resurgent Newcastle team.

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Midfielders

Mo Salah, Liverpool (£13.0m)

On the heels of a hattrick, Salah has taken over as the leading scorer in FPL. Manchester United have their own defensive crisis to deal with, which only helps Salah’s case. The Egyptian is the most likely of all Liverpool players to score, and he has gone scoreless at Anfield only twice this season.

Raheem Sterling, Manchester City (£11.6m)

After the drubbing from Chelsea, I would expect City to come out firing on all cylinders. Sterling gets special mention this week as he gets to play on the side of the field that Watford exposed against Everton on Monday. The inability of Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes to handle their flanks against Watford gives managers plenty of hope for the City midfielder.

Felipe Anderson, West Ham (£7.3m)

The great run of fixtures continues for the Hammers who now face the leaky Fulham defense. With their key man in attack, Marko Arnautovic, out for the remainder of the year, I would expect Anderson to shoulder more of the load. His contributions could be critical as the starting strikers continue to rotate around him. This is a nice place to jump for owners of the prominent Everton midfielders, as they have a tough two game stretch.

Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth (£6.3m)

With the toughest stretch of games behind the Cherries, it is time to get back on the wagon. He is the best value in the game, and the Bournemouth attack has shown very little sign of slowing down. Get him in.

Abdoulaye Doucoure, Watford (£5.9m)

Watford face a Cardiff side that has allowed eight goals in its last three road games. Watford perform better at home, as we noted above. With little contribution from the strikeforce, the best chance for goals come from its midfielders. Doucoure has two in two, and looks as dangerous as any.

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Forwards

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur (£12.5)

The possible rotation in the Tottenham midfield concerns me a little. For that reason, Kane becomes the player I would most like to own from spurs. He is the most likely to put one into the back of the net, against Burnley.

Olivier Giroud, Chelsea (£7.7m)

Giroud is a late addition to the column this week. He did not start in the Europa League today. I would expect him to get the nod versus Brighton. With Shane Duffy still out via suspension, the Seagulls’ defense takes a considerable hit in strength. His aerial ability should be allowed to prosper as Chelsea should have license to swing in crosses at will. His insertion into the lineup would be a great boon for Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso owners, as well.

Raul Jimenez, Wolves (£6.1m)

After resting last game week, Jimenez should return fresh against a Bournemouth side coming off a four-goal shellacking. The lack of resistance from the Cherry defense has been widely noted, and Jimenez could be the latest to take advantage of it. If Bournemouth manage to get the goals you would expect from them, this game could turn into a back-and-forth affair with both sides chasing goals. Jimenez plays the largest part in the Wolves attack, which should see him play an instrumental role in any, or all, their goals.

Salomon Rondon, Newcastle (£5.8m)

With three goals, Rondon has taken hold of the goalscoring lead for Newcastle. Since his return from injury, he has been a menace in the box. With eight shots on target in his last five games, courtesy Fantasy Football Fix, there is little reason to see that form halting against Huddersfield. There should be ample opportunity for him to turn one in.

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This week’s schedule looks chock full of goals. The big-six sides not facing one another look to be the key areas to search, for those looking for clean sheets. Nevertheless, goals mean points, and we are all in search of them. Good luck in game-week seventeen.

Whom have you been tinkering with over this week-long break? Whom have you finally settled on to bring into your squad? Who is the last player on your team at risk of being sold? Is there snow creeping into the forecast? Let us know in the comments below!

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