Game week 26 was a weird one, wasn’t it? Most of the popular picks blanked: Theo Walcott was unconvincing, widely-captained Callum Wilson missed a handful of goal-scoring chances, and Jordan Ayew couldn’t keep his scoring spree. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were demoted to Manchester United’s bench as Jose Mourinho showed the squad and public that anyone can be. Finally, FPL favourite Marcos Alonso was rested, suddenly ill or... we will never know. The stat is that he blanked.
It was a week when the top five defenders returned seven points combined, with only one of them lasting a full 90 minutes.
Last but not least, it was a week when ALL Manchester City assets blanked. Raheem Sterling produced the miss of the season, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero couldn’t convert their chances, and the only Citizen goal was Danilo’s fierce strike from Bernardo Silva’s assist.
Ok, enough talking about the past! We have such an inviting upcoming program. GW-27 will be followed by the first knock-out stage of the Champions’ and Europa Leagues. This applies some extra pressure and rotation risk to the League’s favourites and shouldn’t be overlooked: Man City, Tottenham and Liverpool will all travel (to Switzerland, Italy and Portugal respectively). Jurgen Klopp can’t be happy with the calendar, as his team has to play in an evening slot on Sunday, February 11, and then FC Porto just 75 hours later.
As the GW-27 calendar is well-known, I will just highlight the games that are the most attractive for the FPL investment:
- I expect a lot of fun (and points) from the early Saturday London derby of Tottenham hosting Arsenal
- Huddersfield’s game against Bournemouth is a relegation six-pointer, especially for the hosts, who MUST take at least a point to have any chance of retaining their top flight status. There will be goals in this game.
- Both away games of Manchester United and Liverpool at Newcastle and Southampton respectively are winnable for the Champions League contenders
Based on the calendar, below are my player picks:
Jack Butland (5.0£)
Stoke has tightened its defense lately: Two clean sheets for the English international keeper in his last three games speak for themselves. Stoke will be hosting a low-scoring Brighton side, who have scored exactly one goal in their last seven away games.
Jordan Pickford (4.9£)
Arsenal humiliated the young Englishman at the Emirates. Sam Allardyce keeps questioning the attitude of his players, but Jordan is the last person who deserves it. I expect a strong reaction from the Toffees, who have an expensive and talented squad but can’t figure out how to play with each other. Visiting Crystal Palace will be missing their key creative duo: both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Wilfried Zaha are most probably out.
David de Gea (5.9£)
The Spaniard travels to Newcastle, who scored abysmal two goals in the last five home games. Enough said.
Nacho Monreal (5.7£)
Someone should make him pass a drugs test. But really, the Spaniard has become unstoppable. He should have scored against a sorry Everton before he again was unfortunately hurt and withdrawn early. He should recover and pose a deadly threat against any opposition. I’m terrified.
Seamus Coleman (6.4£)
He was bitterly missed and made a stellar return in GW 25 from a long-term leg break, helping Theo Walcott score a brace. He missed the Arsenal game as Big Sam is apparently easing the Irish man into the starting squad. Seamus should be recalled for this one and, as mentioned above, I expect a clean sheet and a consolation win for the Toffees.
Moritz Bauer (4.5£)
What an impressive debut run of games after joining Stoke from Rubin Kazan! He is both solid defensively and lively going forward. The Austrian should find success in both areas in the upcoming game against Brighton, and at his price looks like a bargain.
Alfie Mawson (5.0£)
Alfie was my favorite contender to challenge Phil Jones facial expressions, but he is now a backbone of what is turning out to be a tough Welsh defense. He finally enjoys going forward, managing two attacking returns in the last three games.
Any starting Manchester United defender
Newcastle are shy in front of goal, and winter signing Islam Slimani remains sidelined. Manchester has a wealth of options in the back, but will most probably end up with a predictable Valencia, Jones, Smalling and Young/Shaw. I don’t particularly like any of them, but I will suggest Antonio Valencia (6.8£) this week, having in mind his attacking threat.
Theo Walcott (7.3£)
Up and down, up and down. That’s the trajectory of Theo’s career to date. He suffered against Arsenal — he will return to the score sheet at home against Crystal Palace.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7.8£)
Just how good is this guy, hmm? I tortured myself to buy him even before Everton’s humiliation, but I ended up acquiring Mesut Ozil. While the German was a spectator on a rampant squad, the Armenian captain orchestrated his game with clever passing. He should have scored too, which would have made his fantasy impact even more terrific. At his price, he deserves a recall into your roster. Will he become yet another high profile must-have, like De Bruyne and Salah, who excelled after being spurned by Jose Mourinho?
Alexis Sanchez (11.8£) / Paul Pogba (8.0£)
The Chilean magician produced an all-around performance in a labored win against stubborn Huddersfield. He is the third-most expensive player in the game, so you should weigh up all the pros and cons. Newcastle are poor, while Alexis is hungry for more. It doesn’t seem that Mourinho will limit Alexis’ creativity, so I expect some explosive results from him.
The Frenchman Pogba found himself on the bench against Huddersfield, but he should be safely back to the starting line-up this weekend. His intent should be pulsating, asking for revenge. I don’t expect anything less that that.
Mo Salah (priceless)
You should stop reading this article and stop playing FPL, if you still don’t have him. Period.
Richarlison (6.2£) / Gerard Deulofeu (6.0£)
The young Brazilian can’t score since GW 12 now, while only registering four assists since then. He was in tears when subbed without scoring in the Chelsea game. That’s a rare commitment to the cause these days, and I feel that his reward is just around the corner. He has chances in every game, but West Ham have been frustrating both in attack and in defense after losing leading attacking players to long-term injuries.
Deulofeu endured a simply horrific spell with Catalan giants Barcelona, so he mainly warmed the bench. He returned to form, fitness and game time ahead of the World Cup, proving his point yet again against sorry Chelsea. He was a man of the match in my eyes and should be heavily considered with Watford’s favourable run of fixtures.
James Ward-Prowse (5.1£)
JWP is on fire while Liverpool’s defense is making fun of itself. He costs you a penny and can return solid points once more.
Raheem Sterling (9.0£)
I believe it is Sergio Aguero who gets a rest or early exit against the Foxes. Raheem isn’t mentally weak and can only improve after his personal humiliation in Burnley game.
Jordan Ibe (4.9£) / Junior Stanislas (5.9£)
This duo is just enjoying being fit and able to play. Both find and create chances every week, while Bournemouth are an entertaining side to watch in general. They travel to a struggling Huddersfield whom they demolished 4-0 at home earlier this season. There will be goals in this game, as the clock is ticking for the promoted side.
Harry Kane (12.8£)
Rested on Wednesday, Harry will be starting against Arsenal, and I expect something special from him. Every London derby is unique, but he has been dreaming of scoring against the Gunners since he was a kid. Harry is making his dreams come true and can go well beyond the 100 goal mark set Saturday. He will be my captain most probably.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10.5£)
He was well offside when he scored against Everton, but you can’t deny that his finish was exquisite. He squandered one more one-on-one situation, but let’s not forget that he was apparently playing with some infection. He will get his minutes, chances and goals; it’s just a matter of time until he makes it into your squad. The question is simple: How long shall you wait (and how high will you watch his price rise) before bring him in? My answer is bring him now, especially if chasing.
Romelu Lukaku (11.3£)
With the opposition’s attention now on Alexis’s trickery, Big Rom has finally scored again and looked lively, getting some extra space and time to pull the trigger. A trip to Newcastle looks like a winnable game and the big Belgian should get his chances.
Olivier Giroud (8.2£)
I’m very negative about Chelsea these days, but I have a hunch about the Frenchman. He can score against anyone, but this is a home fixture against the shaky Baggies. Do you like risk?
I kept all Chelsea players out of my picks, as I can’t see anything good happening in and around the club. The atmosphere is toxic and maybe only Olivier Giroud deserves a note about himself, trying to get a ticket to board a French plane heading to the World Cup.
Those were my thoughts on the upcoming game week from an FPL perspective.
Are you jumping on Arsenal’s assets? Is now the time to ignore Chelsea players, until Antonio Conte receives his marching orders? Do you fancy a Watford or Swansea renaissance?
Thank you for reading us and let’s chat!