With the start of gameweek 14 just a few days away, we’re about to enter one of the Premier League season’s busiest periods. Within a span of little over a month, the English elite division is offering us no less than eight rounds, with gameweeks 14 to 21 all taking place between November 30th (kick-off for gameweek 14) and January 2nd 2020 (when the final game of gameweek 21 takes place). For FPL managers looking to navigate the Christmas period with as few problems as possible, squad depth will be essential, which is why we have taken a look at some of most promising budget midfield options. When we say budget, we really mean budget, so in order for a player to be considered as such, he can’t be priced higher than £5.0m in the official Fantasy Premier League game
Declan Rice (£4.8m), West Ham United
It’s important for a budget asset, first of all, that he is a nailed-on starter for his team. After all, in case he needs to step up for your squad, you want to be able to count on at least 2 or 3 FPL points. In this sense, West Ham’s Declan Rice is an excellent example. The young English defensive midfielder is enjoying life at West Ham (even when Betway arranged a car clamp prank on him in London) and has not yet missed a minute of Premier League football this season (he currently stands on 27 FPL points). He hasn’t scored or assisted yet this season, but the Hammers did record three clean sheets between gameweeks 4 and 6. His displays have not remained unnoticed though, as Man United are rumoured to be interested in his signature. West Ham themselves have been in awful form of late, a trend that runs parallel it seems to the injury of first-choice goalkeeper Fabianski. The Polish shot stopper is expected to be back for the gameweek 17 encounter with Southampton at Saint Mary’s on December 14th, which should lead to some more defensive solidity and hopefully the occasional clean sheet point for Rice as well. Last season, Rice played 3003 minutes of Premier League football in which he scored 2 goals and recorded 6 clean sheets for an FPL points total of 92. Should the Hammers man replicate this performance, he would be offering an impressive 19.16 points per million of his price. As a fifth midfielder, a budget enabler and a secure starter, that’s not bad at all. Do keep in mind that West Ham, like Liverpool, have a blank in gameweek 18.
Todd Cantwell (£4.6m), Norwich City
Teemu Pukki took up most of the spotlight when the Canaries made a blistering start to their 2019-20 Premier League campaign, but he wasn’t the only stand-out performer amongst the Norwich ranks. Young English midfielder Todd Cantwell revealed himself as a potential bargain of exceptional value right at the start of the season after getting 26 FPL points from the first five gameweeks, courtesy of 2 goals, 2 assists and 2 bonus points. As a result, his price had risen from £4.5m to £5.0m by gameweek 7. To say he was adapting well to the Premier League would be an understatement at the time. Cantwell has been part of Norwich Football Club since age 10 so has come all the way through the ranks at just the one club and most be proud that his home club are currently in the Premier League allowing him to compete against some of Europe’s best. Maybe though it was his loan move to a second tier Dutch club that provided the spark for his exploits this season? In sync with Norwich’ decreasing performances, Cantwell’s points dried up after GW5, with a meagre 12 FPL points over seven gameweeks (6 to 12). He even had to deal with some injury and rotation issues, but he returned onto the scene in style by scoring the opening goal at Goodison Park last weekend. According to FPL, the Norwich creator is currently carrying a slight niggle, but considering the positive manner in which he influenced last weekend’s game (as well as several games earlier this season), we’d say he’s back in Daniel Farke’s starting eleven. His 3 goals and 2 assists in 13 Premier League games (in two of which he played less than 28 minutes) are an excellent return for a true budget midfielder. As a matter of fact, he is the highest-scoring midfielder priced under £5.9m in the entire game, ranked above the likes of Yarmolenko, Moutinho and El Ghazi. Admittedly, investing in the Canaries is a hard sale at the moment, but the gameweek 13 victory over Everton gives cause for some optimism, as does their upcoming set of fixtures. Over the coming six gameweeks, Norwich are playing Arsenal (home), Southampton (away), Wolves (home) and Villa (away), as well as Sheffield and Leicester in gameweeks 16 and 17.
John Fleck (£4.8m), Sheffield United
Sheffield United are probably the surprise package of the 2020-2019 Premier League season, considering their current fifth position in the table. Their impressive performances have also made their roster a rich source of budget assets, including in midfield. The number one name amongst the Blades is John Lundstram, of course, who is listed as a defender in the official game, but they have more to offer. Central midfielder John Fleck has been in red-hot form lately, scoring 2 goals and providing 1 assist over the last three gameweeks (against Burnley at home, Spurs away and United at home, no less) for 24 FPL points. Fleck started his career with Rangers and has had to adjust to the move from Scotland when transferred to Coventry in 2012 before moving on to Sheffield. His total of 39 points makes him the sixth-most valuable player in the category for midfielders up to £5.2m and the eight-most valuable player in the category for midfielders with a maximum price of £5.7m. He probably could not have wished for a better debut amongst the English footballing elite. As far as immediate potential goes, Sheffield United are facing a kind run of fixtures up to the new year that includes home games against Newcastle, Villa and Watford, and away games versus Wolves, Norwich and Brighton. Fleck did not score or assist prior to gameweek 11, so don’t expect weekly hauls from him (also keep the price tag in mind), but we can see him returning a few times in December.