The Premier League is a rollercoaster and as a result, so is the Fantasy Premier League. It’s that simple. Favourites Liverpool and Spurs were held to draws by respectively Fulham and Crystal Palace, the much anticipated Manchester derby was a dull affair and the expected goal bonanza for Everton versus Chelsea ended up being a 1-0 victory for the unfancied home side. There was also Arsenal’s 0-1 home defeat at the hands of Burnley and Villa taking all three points at Molineux, though those results could be considered a bit less surprising when looking at the home sides’ form. With a sound 3-0 victory over Brighton, Leicester were one of the weekend’s big winners.
As a result, gameweek 12 was another one for the differentials, though the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Justin and Emi Martinez performed well as popular picks. Other preferred assets such as Spurs duo Kane and Son, and Mo Salah returned minimally as well, but the big hauls were for the lesser-owned. In the FPL Team of the Week, for example, four players were owned by less than 1% of fantasy managers, while a total of seven players were owned by less than 4%. Performer of the week James Maddison, who scored 2 goals and took home 16 FPL points, currently sits in just 3.6% of all teams.
With the festive period upon us and fixtures piling up, all we can say is: don’t expect the Premier League rollercoaster to come to a halt anytime soon.
Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 13 transfers is set for 16h30 (UK time) on Tuesday, December 15th. Do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per December 14th, 2020)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Leno (ARS), Patricio (WOL), Schmeichel (LEI)||Martinez (AST), Meslier (LEE), McCarthy (SOU)|
|DEF||Bellerin (ARS), Kilman (WOL), Mitchell (CRY)||Vestergaard (SOU), James (CHE), Zouma (CHE)||Injury issues, Kilman’s benching, Southampton and Chelsea form.|
|MID||Jota (LIV), Rodriguez (EVE), Ziyech (CHE)||Zaha (CRY), Soucek (WHU), Ward-Prowse (SOU)||Injuries to previously popular mid-budget midfielders.|
|FOR||Werner (CHE), Vardy (LEI), Wilson (NEW)||Bamford (LEE), Kane (TOT), Vardy (LEI)||Steady returns for the purchased forwards.|
Like most things Manchester derby last weekend, Kevin de Bruyne (£11.8m) did not really live up to expectations. In this crazy season, that alone would normally have been enough to see the Belgian being sold by thousands of fantasy managers, but in this case, City’s next game prevented this from happening. Pep Guardiola’s men are hosting West Brom on Tuesday night for a game that looks like a potential goal feast for the home side. The Baggies have conceded more goals (25) than any other side in the top flight, while City have scored 7 in their last two home games. KDB scored 1 and assisted 3 in those two games, and he could well be seeing double digits again versus West Brom. Rotation is always a risk, but the midfielder looks too essential to bench at the moment.
Amongst the many highly-owned fantasy assets who disappointed in gameweek 12 was Callum Wilson (£6.6m). Prior to Newcastle’s GW12 encounter with West Brom, the England international had been directly involved in an unbelievable 83% of all Magpie goals (7 goals and 3 assists in 9 games), but he did not have a direct hand in the two goals they scored against the Baggies on Saturday. As a result, he came off the pitch with a single point, courtesy of a yellow card. Wilson is quality though, and one of the most fixture-proof budget players in the game, so we’re backing him to bounce back against Leeds on Wednesday. Even though the home side are likely to dominate the game, they will also allow for a few opportunities for the visitors and that’s always dangerous against a striker like Wilson.
Our second non-premium fantasy pick will be starring in the same game as Wilson, though on the opposite side. Patrick Bamford (£6.2m) has already provided attacking returns in seven of his twelve games so far, and last weekend he was the one who won the penalty for Leeds. It was disappointing for him and the 39.6% of fantasy managers who own him to see him being subbed off in the 72nd minute, but a 5-point return is still decent for a player who started the season with an ultra budget price tag of £5.5m. On top of that, this could have been manager Marcelo Bielsa managing his minutes a bit with the hectic festive period coming up, which is all the better. Against Newcastle on Wednesday, the English forward will be looking to add to his 8 goals and 3 assists as Leeds will hopefully once again live up to their reputation of one of the Premier League’s most attacking sides.
The budget enabler
At the start of the 2020-21 campaign, clean sheets were hard to come by in the Premier League, but this trend seems to have changed somewhat. To give you an idea, gameweek 10 gave us 5 clean sheets, gameweek 11 gave us 3 and last weekend’s action resulted in 6 clean sheets. As a result, more value can be found in defence, especially amongst the less expensive options. Aston Villa’s Matt Targett, for example, already has 5 clean sheets, 1 assist and 35 FPL points to his name, while still costing just £4.5m. He is up against Burnley at home coming Thursday and against West Brom at the Hawthornes next weekend, which means one or two clean sheets are possible, and maybe even another assist. In any case, as a nailed-on starter in an good team and at his current price, he represents good value.
A differential pick or two
We wrote earlier that no less than three players in the FPL Team of the Week were owned by less than 1% of FPL managers, so we figured we’d go really differential with our first pick in this category. At the moment of writing, Brighton’s Pascal Gross (£5.8m) is still part of just 0.9% of all teams, which, in fact, is a bit surprising. We wouldn’t expect huge ownership numbers here, but for a budget-enabling midfielder who looks nailed-on in his team and who has delivered 2 goals and 2 assists in the last 6 gameweeks, 0.9% looks kind of low. The Seagulls were overrun by Leicester in GW12, but up next are Fulham at Craven Cottage and Sheffield United at home. Brighton will have a bit more time and space to play their game in these fixtures, which will only benefit Gross’ playmaking skills. They need to pick up some points as soon as possible to match their often decent displays and the coming week looks like a crucial one for them in this sense.
Our second differential is a differential for more obvious reasons, namely because he doesn’t play very often. Ferran Torres (£6.9m) has so far started five Premier League games for Manchester City, and managed a goal and an assist already. Manager Pep Guardiola has used him relatively much more often in the Champions League though, where he started four of the six group games and scored 4 goals. The Spanish attacker got 24 minutes as a substitute during the Manchester derby and we feel that a spot in the starting eleven could be on his way when the Cityzens welcome West Brom to the Etihad on Tuesday. For the fantasy managers looking to make up in their mini-leagues and willing to take a bit of a gamble, Torres could potentially bring big rewards.
Despite the ever-present threat of rotation when it comes to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, our captain for gameweek 13 is Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian midfield maestro looks irreplacable for City and with them trailing the leading pack at the moment (they do have one game in hand), we don’t think (or is it hope?) that he will be benched. City will dominate at home against the Baggies and we wouldn’t be surprised to see KDB bag his third double-digit haul in four games.
Gameweek 13 does provide other decent options for the armband as well, though. Bruno Fernandes in an away game is always a good shout, especially when Sheffield United are the opponents, just like Harry Kane, even when he visits Anfield. An incredible 9 goals and 10 assists for Tottenham’s very own from 12 games says enough. There is also Vardy at home to Everton or the fantastic Jack Grealish at home to Burnley. For those looking for a real punt, why not go for Patrick Bamford at home to Newcastle, Callum Wilson in the same game against Leeds, or even Danny Ings away versus an Arsenal side low on confidence?