With gameweek 15 behind us, we have now officially entered the Premier League’s action-packed festive period, with six gameweeks taking place over the coming three weeks. The general fear of rotation among FPL managers proved to be grounded, as several coaches mixed it up for gameweek 15. Popular (captain) picks such as Raheem Sterling, Mo Salah and Sadio Mané, just to name a few, were all either starting on the bench or out of the matchday squad completely. Thanks to some in-form differentials (Mahrez, Snodgrass) and strong performances from a few of the big FPL names (Kane, Wilson), gameweek’s average score still stood at 45 points.
Rotation risk is still a big risk for FPL managers because, as well as the crowded December programme, the final Champions League group matches take place on Tuesday and Wednesday 11 and 12 December. Spurs have to win at the Nou Camp in Barcelona and Liverpool have to beat Napoli at home. One of the big Champions League matches on Wednesday is between two of the favourites who have already qualified, Ajax at home to Bayern Munich. The champions league winner odds will give you an insight into which team might be the ultimate winner. The game between Ajax and Bayern could go either way according to the betting odds. Bayern Munich last won the Champions League in 2012/13.
Our picks for gameweek 15
PICK – PLAYER – PERFORMANCE
Premium pick – Christian Eriksen (Spurs) 6
Premium pick – Marko Arnautovic (West Ham) 0 (injury after 39min)
Premium pick – Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 0 (Injury, as warned)
Differential – Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) 2
Differential – Glenn Murray (Brighton) 7
Captain – Harry Kane (Spurs) 12
Captain – Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 12
Some observations ahead of gameweek 16
Gameweek 15’s average score of 45 was relatively high considering not just the amount of popular players that were left out of the starting line-ups or the matchday squads altogether, but the fact that it was the first round this season in which no clean sheets were recorded. As a result, premium defenders such as Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and City’s Kyle Walker ended up with disappointing hauls for their owners. Though no reason to start downgrading your defensive assets, the defensive organisation and stability of some teams might be affected as the fixtures pile up and Premier League managers keep mixing up their starting eleven selections these weeks.
With 12 points each, Bournemouth duo Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser both reserved a place in gameweek 15’s Team of the Week. As a matter of fact, this was the second time both were among the eleven best-performing players in the same round. While the English forward and the Scottish winger are having a great season so far, the Cherries are also boasting exceptional quality and form on other parts of the pitch. Asmir Begovic is a more-than-decent goalie, Nathan Aké is one of the most complete and promising young centre backs in the league, and new man Lerma is proving to be the much-needed lock on the door for the Bournemouth defence. Despite their tough upcoming fixtures (Liverpool home, Wolves away, Spurs away and United away over the next five), Bournemouth’s in-form assets remain interesting (budget-enabling) options.
Marko Arnautovic wasn’t just a popular transfer target in the run-up to gameweek 15, but a popular candidate for the captaincy as well. The striker’s night ended with an anti-climax though, as he picked up a hamstring injury and was replaced just before the half-time whistle. The Austrian forward is expected to miss about a month of football as a result, which means it will be up to another West Ham striker to fill the sizeable gap up front. Lucas Perez did great against Cardiff by scoring two goals, while Chicharito scored a brace a week earlier. On top of that, Andy Carroll has been declared fit again. It’s probably wise to keep an eye on developments surrounding the replacement of Arnautovic, because each of the three options mentioned earlier could represent great value over West Ham’s coming favourable run of fixtures.
Two gameweeks ago, Chelsea‘s Maurizio Sarri became the first manager in Premier League history without a defeat in his first fourteen games and Chelsea looked like they were capable of challenging Man City for the title. Then Spurs came along and handed the Blues their first defeat of the season, which was followed by this season’s second defeat in gameweek 15, versus a Wolverhampton side that had been struggling themselves of late (although arguably perform better as a side against the top sides). As a result, Chelsea now suddenly find themselves in fourth place, ten points behind leaders City and eight points behind number two Liverpool. Star man Eden Hazard has failed to make his mark for several gameweeks in row now, and other players such as Marcos Alonso and Willian have been performing below par. Add to that the ongoing striker discussion and it’s clear Sarri has some work to do if he wishes to fight for the title until the very end.
After starting on the bench versus Man United, replacing Iwobi in the 65th minute, and rather luckily putting Arsenal in the lead just three minutes later, Alexandre Lacazette (£9.6m) is expected to start when the Gunners host Huddersfield on Saturday. The Frenchman has been dealing with an ongoing injury issue since gameweek 13, which explains the 70 minutes of game time he’s had over the past three gameweeks. He still managed to bag one goal in that period, bringing his season totals to 6 goals and 5 assists in 965 minutes of Premier League football. With the Gunners attack in good shape at home (16 goals in 8 games) and the Huddersfield defence pretty porous on the road (16 goals conceded in 7 games), it looks like Lacazette is a prime candidate for attacking returns this weekend.
An “advantage” of key players being rotated from time to time is that the player in question is at least fairly certain to return in the starting line-up the next game. Though “certainty” in this context is pretty much non-existent when it comes to Man City, winger/forward Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) is a player to whom the previously-described situation applies. The young Englishman is currently FPL’s highest-scoring player (104 points) and with reason, because he’s been outstanding throughout the first months of the 2018-19 campaign. In a star-studded squad, Sterling played 1,021 minutes out of a possible 1,350 minutes so far, bagging 8 goals and providing 7 assists in the process. He spent 90 minutes on the bench versus Watford on Tuesday and is expected to slot right into the starting eleven against Chelsea on Saturday. Visiting Stamford Bridge is never easy, but both Sterling and Man City as a whole are more than capable of delivering big against top-shelf opposition.
Our final premium pick for this gameweek is Arsenal’s starting right-back Hector Bellerin (£5.4m). Despite just two clean sheets so far this season and the fact that the Spanish defender hasn’t provided an attacking return for his owners since his two assists versus Leicester in week 9, a home encounter with a Huddersfield team that has scored just 7 goals in 7 away games is hard to ignore. Especially considering Arsenal’s fixture calendar after that, which includes away games against Southampton and Brighton as well as home games versus Burnley and Fulham between gameweeks 17 and 21. The pacey wing-back seems pretty much a nailed-on starter for Unai Emery, even during the festive period, although wing-backs do generally get rested more than centre-backs so we do recommend to follow the Arsenal team news in the build-up to gameweek 16’s deadline.
A differential or two
Our first differential pick of the week is somewhat of a punt, albeit one inspired by some strong points in favour. With Marko Arnautovic out for about a month, West Ham will have to get through the month of December without their most important offensive player and the question is who will be replacing him. Considering Andy Carroll has only just returned from a long-term injury and Lucas Perez (£6.2m) scored a brace after replacing Arnautovic on Tuesday, the diminutive Spaniard might be lining up from the start this weekend to form the Hammers attack with Chicharito. His two goals in mid-week represent his only attacking returns of the season, but his total of 157 Premier League minutes played so far put that output somewhat in perspective. With a home game against Palace this weekend and an away game versus Fulham after that, Lucas might well be adding to both his minutes on the pitch and his goal tally. Of course, Chicharito is available at the same price and he’s been called upon much more often by Hammers coach Pellegrini, so the choice is yours.
After recommending Hector Bellerin as a premium pick for this weekend’s home encounter with Huddersfield, we’re recommending his counterpart on the left as this week’s second differential pick. Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m) was given a chance after starting left-back Nacho Monreal got injured in the build-up to gameweek 9. Kolasinac played five full Premier League games since then, providing two assists in the process, in gameweek 13 versus Bournemouth. The Gunners defence is definitely not the tightest in the league, so we wouldn’t recommend doubling up on Bellerin and Kolasinac, but if you can’t afford Bellerin or want to take a punt on a real differential (1.1% ownership), the Bosnian is your man.
For further ideas have a look at the FISO forum FPL gameweek 16 transfers topic.
An away game against Leicester is rarely a walk in the park, but when a player like Harry Kane (£12.5m) is in form, anything can happen. The Spurs striker has brought his FPL owners attacking returns every week since gameweek 11, racking up 4 goals and 2 assists in the process, as well as 36 FPL points. In gameweek 15, Kane scored a goal and provided an assist for Son as Spurs beat the Saints 3-1, a welcome result after the disappointing London derby loss against Arsenal the round before. Overall, the prolific forward has already netted 9 times this season, while he has also set up a teammate on three occasions, with 85 FPL points as a result after 15 games. Leicester have conceded just 6 goals in 7 home games so far this season, but Kane’s visit to the King Power will be making them nervous nonetheless.
Every now and then, it happens that we are more or less obliged to repeat an earlier suggestion in the captaincy candidate section, and this is one of those times. The reason we’re recommending Alexandre Lacazette (£9.6m) again is three-fold: Arsenal are playing Huddersfield at home, Lacazette is very likely to start considering his 70 minutes of playing time over the past 3 weeks and Aubameyang playing every Premier League minute since gameweek 11 plus the Gunners are in fine (goalscoring) form. The Frenchman already has 6 goals and 5 assists to his name this season, from 14 games, and with Huddersfield (home), Southampton (away) and Burnley (home) up next, you can rely on him providing more attacking returns in the coming weeks.
Looking at the FISO forum GW16 FPL Captain topic, the votes are currently 44% for Aubameyang, 24% for Harry Kane and 18% for Salah with 14% for other players.