Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 16 Preview
We are back with our weekly preview of Fantasy Premier League where we discuss who the players to be chosen are and who are to be dumped from your Fantasy team for this gameweek. Last week we got it horribly wrong – as our picks turned out to be duds. Suarez had an off-day, Bale and Walcott picked up an injury and Mancini had his brain tickled by the worm of squad rotation as he inexplicably left out Matija Nastasi? from the starting lineup. Elsewhere, Rooney suddenly woke up from his goalscoring slumber, Tevez and Mata got starts and duly hit the back of the net – thus our dumps turned out to be real point scorers. But hey, isn’t that what Fantasy Premier League is all about? – you make logical and calculated guesses – sometimes you are spot on and sometimes you are way off the mark. And given the competitiveness and unpredictability of EPL – you cannot take any player for granted. In the middle of this credibility crisis we find ourselves in – before you roll in the free transfers for this gameweek, let us give you our piece of mind for this gameweek.
With 9 goals and 4 assists in the Premier League so far, the English international is certainly one of the in-form forwards in the league. The chief goalscoring threat for the Lilywhites, he made sure that Emmanuel Adebayor was not missed by Spurs while he was serving his 3-match ban for a silly lunge on Cazorla in the North London derby. Even with Adebayor now available for selection, Defoe has certainly staked his claim to the starting line-up and is firmly established in Andre Vilas Boas’ plan. An away trip to the Goodison Park in this gameweek is no easy prospect but the decent run of fixtures after that means you should be thinking of drafting him into your side.
Now this is certainly one bold pick and is only for the people who want a differential for their team. Giroud started from the bench in the last fixture but is a certainty to start in this gameweek, having been rested in the midweek exertions in Greece. The injury to Podolski and Walcott means that he will certainly be leading the line for the Gunners. The Gunners have one of the easiest run of fixtures in the Christmas period with 3 home games in their next five punctuated by trips to Wigan and Reading.
Upcoming Fixtures: WBA, Reading (A), Wigan (A), WHU, Newcastle
Now this is certainly a no-brainer and I think is a useless pick – for I guess all of you have already jumped aboard the Miguel Perez Cuesta bandwagon. The ex-Rayo Vallecano star, who was bought by the Wales outfit for a paltry sum of £2 million, is certainly the best buy of the summer. Predominantly playing in the hole behind the striker, he has made the place vacated by Gylfi Sigurdsson last season his own. Fantasy owners were quick to recognise his potential as his price has sky-rocketed from £6.5m to £7.8m and is now owned by 41% of all managers.
Statutory Warning – At 4 yellows, he is walking the suspension tightrope and is in line to suffer the same fate as Suarez.
Upcoming Fixtures: Norwich, Tottenham (A), Man United, Reading (A), Fulham (A), Aston Villa
Brendan Rodgers has shown a propensity towards throwing young untested players into the deep end of the pool. Suso, Sterling and Wisdom are notable examples. Of them, Sterling has grabbed his opportunities with both hands. So much so that the 17-year-old got a callup to the English national side and even got some minutes on the pitch. From a Fantasy perspective, it makes sense to have a point-scoring budget midfielder in your side. And at £5.7m, Sterling just fits that kind of a profile. So far he has combined brilliantly with Suarez and with a good run of fixtures round the Christmas period – he would certainly be picking up Fantasy points.
Upcoming Fixtures: West Ham (A), Aston Villa, Fulham, Stoke (A), QPR (A), Sunderland
A good attacking full-back is a dream for any Fantasy Manager. Riise is just your man for the job. He just loves to bomb down the left flank. Additionally he is also a threat from direct free-kicks (remember his memorable rocket in a Liverpool shirt against a hapless Barthez) and his corner-taking responsibilities. Admittedly there are cheaper options in the Fulham backline, but they are not as probable for attacking returns as Riise. With the skipper Hangeland returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines and a run of good home fixtures on the horizon (3 of the 4 clean sheets for Fulham have come at home), investment in the Norwegian international looks a good gamble.
Upcoming Fixtures: Newcastle, QPR (A), Liverpool (A), Southampton, Swansea, West Brom (A), Wigan
Now this pick is only on the basis of the Double Gameweek for Sunderland. Both the matches are home fixtures. However it is advised that you dump him immediately after this gameweek, for the Black Cats face a stiff run of fixtures after that – Man City, Man Utd and Spurs in three of the next four weeks.
Upcoming Fixtures: Chelsea+ Reading, Man United (A), Soton (A), Man City
When Hugo Lloris was bought in from Lyon, there was confusion as to who will be AVB’s first choice between the sticks. After sitting out for a few weeks, Lloris finally has confirmed his place in the starting lineup. He has started the last four matches and looks set to continue. Home fixtures against Swansea, Stoke, Reading and away trips to Sunderland and Villa – you would expect a few clean sheets from the French skipper. Owned by only 0.3% of managers, he would offer a real differential. At £5.9m he is not cheap, but with Caulker, Dawson and Gallas not immune to rotation, you will not find a cheaper pick in the Spurs backline.
Upcoming Fixtures: Everton (A), Swansea, Stoke, Aston Villa (A), Sunderland (A), Reading
Five goals in his first four appearances in Sunderland colours made him a hit with Fantasy Managers who made a bee-line to pick him up in their sides. However, the law of averages finally seems to have caught up with him and his goals have dried up lately. Despite the double gameweek knocking on the club’s door, it looks unlikely that Fletcher will play a major part with a hamstring injury picked up in the last match.
The £32 million summer acquisition from Lille had lit up the first few weeks of the Premier League and had picked up 6 assists in the first 3 fixtures. Of late, with only a solitary goal in his last 8 fixtures, his appeal seems to be dying down. That is also reflected in his price which has dropped from £10.3 to £9.8. With a blank coming up in gameweek 17, his price is likely to dip further.
Once a potent points scorer with his marauding runs down the right, off late Rafael has gone off the boil. With the United backline looking porous like never before and the Manchester derby coming up – his demand will certainly diminish. Taken off at the Madjeski after a horrendous half-hour in which they allowed three goals and Rafael managed a yellow card – his managers will be extremely frustrated with him for a negative points haul. With Smalling and Jones in the reckoning, Rafael might well find himself warming the bench in the upcoming gameweeks.
This is again a consideration we are making on the basis of the impending Double Gameweek for the Black Cats. The cut-price midfielder priced at £4.9 has scored two goals in his last three appearances. He provides an additional threat with his set-piece responsibilities. With Fletcher possibly sidelined, we are likely to see more of Gardner in an attacking role. As you are allowed two bites of the cherry on this occasion, you may well choose to hand him the Captain’s armband for your Fantasy team.