I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me
There’s no hankeying around this time, instead relying on the king to send warm holiday greetings to all of you mad Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers out there. The world would be a blue, blue place without you. Enough of this soft sentimental stuff you say? All right, we say, as we dive into All Things FPL’s (ATFPL) Gameweek 18 preview and its captain picks, heavy hitters, clean sheets, punts, and the big ol’ rumbling gut
The three captain picks come straight out of the Captain Foresight article, with Alexis Sánchez being the stand-out player this Gameweek. Not only does he have the highest goal attempts and key passes in the home vs. away comparison, he is also facing QPR, the team with the second most goal attempts conceded in the penalty box in the last four Gameweeks. If you have Sánchez, you captain him.
David Silva remains a speculative pick despite last Gameweek’s heroics, mainly due to Manchester City’s lack of strikers. Silva’s role has largely been one of attacking orchestrator, weaving beautiful passing and movement into opportunities for others to finish, but City’s injuries have forced Manuel Pellegrini to adapt Silva into a more direct role. It could be a goldmine for Fantasy Managers, should he continue to be pushed further forward allowing him to both create and finish. The risks are the injuries and the new system, the effect of holiday rotation, and Silva’s annoying tendency to be the best man on the pitch but leave the Fantasy scoring to others.
Despite only four shots on target in his last four appearances, Diego Costa’s exploits this season have earned him the right to feature in the captain picks, at least for this Gameweek. Chelsea play at home against West Ham who, despite a string of fine results, have been defensively poor away from home numbers wise, with 33 goal attempts conceded in the box. He’s still one of the best striker in the league, playing for the team with the highest average goals scored at home (2.5 per game), and one that has scored in every one of their league game at Stamford Bridge.
Olivier Giroud not only has scored three goals in his last two fixtures, he also tops ATFPL’s Forwards Watchlist due to a combination of fixtures and form. Priced at only 8.3 million, he’s a fine value purchase up front and is likely to deliver this Gameweek against Harry Redknapp’s QPR side who are dreadful in away fixtures.
Ángel Di María is back for Manchester United against Newcastle who were awful in their last away fixture at the Emirates. Louis van Gaal (and his Fantasy owners) will be hoping he returns to the form that saw him score three times and supply six assists in 10 games for United before being injured.
Wilfried Bony played only 15 minutes in Swansea’s win against Hull , coming on as a substitute, and should be raring to go for Swansea’s home tie against Aston Villa. Despite Villa’s new found defensive resolve, Bony will get chances—he’s ranked third in goal attempts (59) for the season, behind only Sergio Agüero and Graziano Pellè.
Cesc Fàbregas gets the nod from a Chelsea midfield packed with Fantasy options. Normally, Eden Hazard direct nature would make him ATFPL’s pick but the Belgian midfielder’s ankle knock makes him a doubt going into Gameweek 18. That’s not to say that Fàbregas isn’t a fantastic pick in his own right—he’s arguably been the league’s best midfielder this season with two goals and 12 assists already delivered.
Radamel Falcao’s predatory instinct was on display in Manchester United’s draw at Villa Park, where he rose to meet Ashley Young’s cross to head in his first goal for United. It was apparent in his celebrations that the goal meant a lot to him and, with his proven quality, this goal could be only the first of many to come this season.
Adam Lallana and Santi Cazorla are both featured in this Gameweek’s Differentials. As noted in the piece, both have fine underlying numbers but only Cazorla has been delivering Fantasy points to accompany them. Cazorla is also the better bet this Gameweek, but Lallana could be a fine purchase for those unwilling to invest in yet another Arsenal player.
The ATFPL Clean Sheet Consortium likes the look of …
…Chelsea’s César Azpilicueta. When Chelsea play at home, they are almost a default clean sheet pick.
…Mathieu Debuchy for Arsenal against a QPR side that have been awful away from home all season long.
…Santiago Vergini for a Sunderland team that has conceded one goal in the last three league games.
Big ol’ Rumbling Gut Pick
We’ll add one more scoop of Sunderland as Steven Fletcher gets the nod for the the out-of-the-blue-pick for this Gameweek. Hull being the Black Cats’ opponents has a big impact and so ATFPL’s gut rumbles for the Scotsman.