That was the last international break until the middle of March 2019. That’s right, no more week-long Premier League interruptions for four months. Instead, the festive period is now almost upon us, which means that between tomorrow’s first match and gameweek 21’s final match on January 3rd, 2019, there are just 34 days. That’s a gameweek every 4 days on average. This football fiesta is kicked off in Brighton on Saturday, where the local FC are hosting Leicester City in a gameweek that sees four of the traditional top six playing away (Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal). As if the Gods were messing around with our FPL planning, the two top-six teams with a home game are also the two most unreliable big names so far this FPL season (Man United and Spurs). It’s going to be an interesting return to Premier League action and might be worth the gamble of doing something different with your captain.
Some observations ahead of gameweek 13
For a team in 13th place, a point away from home in the Premier League will generally be considered a decent result, but this wasn’t the case for West Ham United on Saturday. Their opponents for the occasion, Huddersfield, are a hard-working outfit, but also one that seems destined to bid farewell to the Premier League after this season. The Terries, up until gameweek 12, had scored just once at home, while the Hammers just came off a comprehensive 4-2 win over Burnley. Manuel Pellegrini’s men had something of an off-day against Huddersfield and a point was more than they deserved, which confirms a worrying trend for FPL managers. The Hammers offer lots of potential in terms of FPL assets (Anderson, Fabianski and, of course, Arnautovic, for example), but they can’t seem to keep their team’s form from fluctuating considerably on a weekly basis.
Twelve games into the season and suffering a seventh consecutive defeat in gameweek 12, that was the result of Fulham‘s away loss to Liverpool in gameweek 12. Despite the game not ending up being the massacre many people expected and a fine Mitrovic goal being disallowed just before the opening goal from Salah, manager Jokanovic was dismissed and replaced by none other than Claudio Ranieri. With 31 conceded goals from just 12 games, Fulham has been this year’s defensive joke of the league, but expect these numbers to start improving soon. Ranieri has had the international break to ponder his tactics and while he might not be able to turn the Fulham shambles into a solid unit right away, you can assume that he’ll be making some considerable changes in the coming gameweeks.
We’re sticking with the same game for a moment, because Liverpool have become a bit of an FPL issue for many managers. They obviously offer enormous potential all over the pitch as they tend to score lots of goals and keep regular clean sheets, but the Reds seem to have lost some of their mojo over the past weeks. Of course, the 2-0 away loss to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League can be considered an incidental collective failure, but the following game against Fulham at home wasn’t great either. Sure, it brought them a 2-0 victory, in part thanks to an opener from talisman Momo Salah, but are they showing enough to warrant the premium price tags of some of their players at the moment? Liverpool’s first game after the international break, away versus Watford, will likely shed more light on this topic.
Speaking of form, further up north Newcastle seem to have found their groove just in time. After a narrow loss at Old Trafford in gameweek 8 and the subsequent unnecessary home loss versus Brighton, the Magpies recorded an away draw (Southampton 0-0) and two impressive home wins, against Watford and Bournemouth (1-0 and 2-1). As a result, Rafa Benitez now finds his team in 14th place, though just 1 point above the drop zone. With games against Burnley, West Ham, Wolves, Huddersfield and Fulham coming up over the coming 6 gameweeks, things could be looking up even more as Christmas approaches.
As mentioned earlier, gameweek 13 sees Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal all playing away games, which will certainly have an impact on FPL manager decisions. When it comes to premium players in the official game, now is the time to prove their expensive price tags. That’s why our first pick is also the FPL’s most expensive player, Momo Salah (£13.0m). With 6 goals and 4 assists in 12 Premier League games, the Egyptian winger has had a good start to the 2018-19 campaign, though possibly a bit overshadowed by the ghosts of last season’s extra-terrestrial performances. Watford are hosting the Reds this weekend and Salah scored (and provided an assist) in this same fixture last year. Of course, the home encounter with the Hornets that year saw him score 5 and bring home 29 FPL points. It’s also interesting to know that Egypt’s friendly game versus the United Arab Emirates was cancelled, which gave Salah an unexpected eight extra days of rest in the run-up to this weekend’s game.
Our second pick is also up there among the most expensive assets in the official game. Sergio Aguero (£11.4m) is the current Premier League top scorer, with 8 goals, while also co-leading the assist ranking, with 6 assists. Add to that the incredible goal production of his team as a whole (15 goals in the last 4 games alone, 36 goals in total) and the fact that Saturday’s opponents West Ham have conceded seven in six, and Kun’s appeal is clear, we believe. The only possible worry about this match-up is that Aguero has scored just once away from home this season, without any assists to his name. It’s a transfer decision many FPL managers will be pondering in the build-up to the gameweek 13 deadline.
We’re staying in the segment of the premium prices, though pointing at a slightly lower-priced attacking asset this time: Manchester United’s Anthony Martial (£7.6m). We were sure that Martial had to be included in this week’s preview article, but we were doubting whether to list him among the premium picks, the differentials, or the captaincy options. Price-wise he could still be considered a differential, even based on his ownership he could be categorised somewhat of a differential, but when looking at his recent performances, it’s clear he needs to be listed among the premium picks. The Frenchman notched 6 goals and a single assist in the past 5 gameweeks, as part of a Manchester United team that currently finds itself in 8th position in the league. As a matter of fact, Martial doesn’t only have the form, but the fixture as well, as one of the few star players this weekend. A home game against Palace, who have conceded 9 goals in 6 away games so far and who haven’t kept a clean sheet since gameweek 6, will have Martial looking to keep his purple patch intact.
A differential or two
It could be a sign of overeagerness to join a new bandwagon in the very initial stages, but we feel Newcastle’s Salomon Rondón (£5.7m) could become a real differential over the coming weeks. Of course, the Venezuelan striker won’t be scoring braces like he did against Bournemouth every weekend, but he showed potential. With a winnable run of fixtures on the horizon, including encounters with Burnley, West Ham, Wolves, Huddersfield and Fulham over the next six gameweeks, the Magpies will be looking to Rondón to supply them with goals. He is a differential both in terms of price (just £5.7m for a starting striker with good fixtures) and ownership (just 1% of FPL teams contain Rondón), and he could be big for you as a third striker option.
Funnily enough, our other differential pick this week is just about the only other forward in Rondón’s price bracket under £6m that is truly worth considering for your team, namely Wolves striker Raul Jimenez (£5.8m). He’s much less of a differential in terms of ownership than Rondón is (11.8% vs 1%), but the Mexican’s track record this season has been much better as well: 3 goals, 5 assists, and a total of 56 FPL points. In the past two games versus Spurs (home) and Arsenal (away), the versatile forward produced 2 goals and an assist, which means he’ll be in outstanding form when welcoming Huddersfield to the Molineux on Sunday. The Terriers have conceded 14 goals in just 5 away games so far and Jimenez will be looking to add to that worrying total.
Also keep your eye on the FISO Forum Gameweek 13 transfers topic for more ideas.
We mentioned him before, but if you have Anthony Martial (£7.6m) in your team already, or if you can bring him without too much team surgery and a points hit, then you should probably captain him this weekend. The Frenchman left the French national team at the start of the international break due to injury, but he’s expected to slot right back into United’s starting eleven on Saturday. The Red Devils are playing Crystal Palace, who are expected to lean back and count on the speed of their front men at Old Trafford, haven’t kept a clean sheet since gameweek 6 and it seems like a good punt to assume Martial is getting on the score sheet. He has scored an impressive 6 goals in his last 5 domestic league games, he didn’t play for France over the break, and his expected direct opponent on the pitch (Wan-Bissaka) is currently still nurturing an injury. In other words, captain material.
The other stand-out captaincy option for us this week is Everton’s Richarlison (£6.9m). Yes, there have been some lingering injury doubts surrounding the Brazilian star, but his goal for Brazil against Cameroon a few days ago (the game’s only goal) should put those worries to rest. He recorded 15 points in gameweek 11, courtesy of 2 goals and maximum bonus points, followed by a more or less expected blank at Stamford Bridge. As we all know by now, manager Marco Silva deploys Richarlison as a striker, which only further increases his appeal as the home game against Cardiff approaches. The Bluebirds’ away record this season is abysmal, with just 1 point taken from 5 games. They conceded 11 goals in that period, while Everton are placed fifth in the table for home results (4 victories, 13 points, and 12 goals scored in 6 games so far). On paper, Richarlison should be running riot at Goodison Park this weekend.
The FISO Forum Gameweek 13 Captain Poll currently has Salah and Aguero leading the way with 38% and 35% of the vote, followed by Richarlison (13%), Sterling (8%) and Martial (3%).