First and foremost, congratulations to the top 8,388,603 managers who qualified for the first round of the Overall FPL Cup! Since there are only 8,754,822 teams in the entire game, the bar for cup qualification was obviously pretty low (like draft an initial team). I hope that literally every manager following our weekly FPL player picks made it.
But the first round of head-to-head competition will see half of the field eliminated. My opponent posted a GW-15 score of 26 points, so I’m hopeful that I’ll face a similarly modest score again this week!
To advance to the second round you’ll need the right players, so let’s take a look at some of the names that can help you clear the first hurdle.
Despite going two games without a clean sheet, Ramsdale has done enough to warrant a place in our player-picks for this week. Although he made a couple of smart saves to help Arsenal hold a temporary lead over Everton, in the end he was helpless against the two he conceded. A clean sheet looks much more likely this time, when the Gunners welcome Southampton to the Emirates.
Hugo Lloris (£5.4m Brighton vs Tottenham)
While Antonio Conte has struggled to get Spurs’ strikers firing on all cylinders, he has overseen a massive improvement in the team’s defense. The North London side is currently on a run of three clean sheets from four, with only one goal conceded in the other. Tottenham’s captain has been pivotal in helping to keep the team’s backs on their toes.
Caveat: Eight Spurs players (and five staff) just tested positive for Covid-19, but the names have not yet been published. Down to just ten fit players, Tottenham’s Europa League match has already been cancelled, and this weekend’s fixture could be postponed also, so watch late news before committing.
For the second time this season Chelsea conceded in three games in a row, and doubts are beginning to emerge about the Blues’ defense. James however once again makes our Player Picks due to his admirable attacking stats and because Leeds struggles to score goals. Leeds fans were ecstatic to see Bamford back and scoring against Brentford, but a new hamstring injury now means he will likely miss the Chelsea fixture.
Joao Cancelo (£6.8m Man City vs Wolves)
Just one goal scored in their last five games won’t give Wolves fans much confidence about their team’s prospects when they square off against Man City at the Etihad this weekend. This statistic combined with Cancelo’s impressive attacking threat makes the FPL’s second-best FPL defender a shoo-in for our player-picks this week. The Citizens will be eager to end their run of three games without a clean sheet this weekend while also getting the job done at the other end of the pitch. Cancelo could provide returns both ways.
FPL’s best defender (2nd overall), Alexander-Arnold is expected to deliver the goods when the Reds welcome Aston Villa to Anfield on Saturday. Arnold’s 47 points over his last five games is more than any other player in that time frame. And his tendency to pick up bonus points even when he doesn’t score or assist also increases his appeal.
Diogo Dalot (£4.4m Norwich vs Man United)
Dalot was gifted a rare opportunity to impress last Sunday, and he didn’t disappoint. Ralf Rangnick has opened the door for Dalot to supplant Aaron Wan Bissaka at right-back, and the Portuguese looks well primed to claim that place due to his superior attacking ability. Despite not scoring or assisting in Red Devils’ win over Crystal Palace, Dalot was awarded two bonus points for his efforts.
Bernardo Silva (£7.5m Man City vs Wolves)
The best midfielder in the Premier League? The fact that many won’t argue with this statement is a huge testament to how good Silva has been this season. The left-footed midfielder has stepped up in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne to lead the Citizens’ title challenge. Five goals in his last five matches clearly shows the kind of form he is in right now.
Maddison has provided two goals plus two assists over the last three league games. The Leicester midfielder has stepped up in the absence of the injured Youri Tielemans to provide goals from midfield. And this week the Foxes face a Magpie defense that has conceded thirty goals in just fifteen games.
Note: Like Tottenham, Leicester is also experiencing a COVID outbreak. Tread cautiously and come back to NMA for late news in our Pre-Deadline Chat.
Mason Mount (£7.5m Chelsea vs Leeds)
Mount’s return to the Blues’ starting line-up has brought goals and assists from the England midfielder. In the absence of goal-scorers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Mount took over those responsibilities for his side. Two goals plus two assists in Chelsea’s last two league games means he has had a hand in four of the last five league goals scored by the Blues. He did put in a full shift during Chelsea’s UCL match against Zenit (in which Werner netted twice and Lukaku once), but after losing to West Ham and drawing with the Russian club, Thomas Tuchel needs a win this weekend. That almost certainly means that Mount will start.
Diogo Jota (£8.0m Liverpool vs Aston Villa)
Despite missing a glorious chance and failing to get on the scoresheet against Wolves last weekend, Jota still makes the team this week due to the expected continued absence of Roberto Firmino. Jota has scored four goals for Liverpool in the last four game-weeks.
Mo Salah (£13.1m Liverpool vs Aston Villa)
Need I reiterate the value of having Salah in your FPL teams? The fact that I no longer even consider other players as captain is a huge testament to how dominant Salah is this season. The Liverpool talisman has failed to deliver an attacking return only once in fifteen game-weeks. His current haul of 152 points in just fifteen game-weeks has never been achieved before. Salah is on a trajectory to break his own record of most FPL points (303) gathered in a season, which he achieved in 2017-18.
Heung-Min Son (£10.4m Brighton vs Tottenham)
While Harry Kane keeps searching for form, Son has been Spurs’ major source of optimism this season. The South Korean forward has been Tottenham’s go-to man, contributing seven goals plus three assists to the club’s fight for Champions League qualification.
See the warning regarding the COVID outbreak in the paragraph on Hugo Lloris.
Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.3m Norwich vs Man United)
A fully rested Cristiano Ronaldo playing against the league’s poorest defense... Yes please! The United striker scored his 800th and 801st goals against Arsenal last week, and after riding pine in United’s midweek UCL victory, he will be eager to add to the six goals and two assists he has garnered in 12 Premier League matches this season. Despite Dean Smith’s improvement of Norwich’s defense, it would be unwise to bet against Ronaldo in this fixture.
Emmanuel Dennis (£5.6m Brentford vs Watford)
“It seems like everything Dennis touches turns to goals.” Those were the words of Watford left-back Danny Rose after his teammate’s impressive performance against Chelsea. The Super Eagles striker has been a revelation for the Hornets this season. The former Club Brugge striker has taken on more responsibility since the loss of Ismaila Sarr to injury, and he looks well primed to add to his six goals plus five assists when the Hornets travel to Brentford this weekend.
Note: Dennis is likely to be one of the players who will disappear to the Africa Cup of Nations later this month, so he is at most a three-week play. Indeed, all of us should probably read the list and run a comb through our rosters so we’re not caught out on Dec 27th!
What do you make of our FPL picks this game-week? How many of them are in your squad? Which players do think will surprise us this weekend? Will you spend a chip? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!