With the European group stages behind us after tomorrow evening, FPL managers can fully focus on what is traditionally one of the most anticipated fantasy football periods of the season: the Christmas period. Starting with upcoming gameweek 17, which is kicking off on Friday evening, we’ve got four gameweeks set between then and January 2nd, 2024. That means four Premier League matchdays in nineteen days, with three of those matchdays taking place between December 21st and January 2nd. On top of that, it’s important to remember that the first Wildcard will expire after the GW20 deadline, if you haven’t used it by then, that is.
First things first though, with gameweek 17 offering fantasy managers plenty of hope for big hauls. On Friday, for example, Spurs are visiting Nottingham Forest for what could end up being a more than entertaining encounter. On Saturday then we see free-flowing Bournemouth at home to Luton, Chelsea at home versus Sheffield United, Manchester City at home to Crystal Palace and Newcastle at home against Fulham as those that stand out from a fantasy perspective. Sunday was reserved for the big clashes this weekend, as Arsenal host Brighton and Liverpool close the gameweek with a game against arch-rivals Manchester United at Anfield. The visit of Unai emery’s unleashed Aston Villa to Brentford will attract considerable fantasy interest as well.
Check out FISO’s FPL Forum for the latest discussion and don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 17 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, December 15th, 2023.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per December 13th, 2023)
|Areola (WHU), Pope (NEW), Onana (MUN)
|Martinez (AST), Neto (BOU), Leno (FUL)
|Trippier (NEW), Andersen (CRY), Mitchell (CRY)
|Porro (TOT), Senesi (BOU), Alexander-Arnold (LIV)
|Trippier suspension, TAA back to point-scoring form, Senesi back-to-back goals
|Mbeumo (BRE), Luiz (AST), Fernandes (MUN)
|Son (TOT), Gordon (NEW), Salah (LIV)
|Salah and Son form, Mbeumo injury, Fernandes and Luiz suspensions
|Haaland (MCI), Darwin (LIV), Alvarez (MCI)
|Solanke (BOU), Watkins (AST), Alvarez (MCI)
|Haaland injury doubt, Solanke and Watkins form
Had Haaland not been an injury doubt at the moment, then he would have once again featured as our stand-out premium fantasy pick for City’s upcoming home game against Crystal Palace. The Norwegian is a serious doubt for this weekend though, which has made us shift our attention to the City Ground in Nottingham, where Spurs are playing Forest on Friday evening. Sure, Mo Salah is playing a completely unpredictable Manchester United side at home, a fixture that ended 7-0 last season with Salah bagging a brace, but we are still going with Son Heung-Min (£9.6m) as our premium fantasy pick for gameweek 17. The South Korean attacker, who is listed as a midfielder in the official game, gave a stellar performance during Spurs’ impressive 4-1 victory over Newcastle. He scored a goal and gave 2 assists for a total of 17 FPL points, snatching the Player of the Week “prize” in the process. We know by now that Nottingham Forest are much more comfortable at home than they are on the road, but with Tottenham’s explosive attacking potential in mind, we feel backing Son here is the way to go.
To call Dominik Solanke (£6.6m) a non-premium fantasy pick is actually understating his current FPL value, because the Bournemouth forward has rather quietly been having a great first half of the season. After his goal at Old Trafford last weekend, the 26-year-old now sits on 8 goals plus 1 assist from 16 league starts. His total of 73 FPL points means that he is playing at an average of almost 5 points per game so far this season, which is more than decent for a striker who started the season at £6.5m. What makes this pick better still is the fact that Solanke is guaranteed two things: a spot in the starting eleven and penalty duties. And what makes this pick EVEN better than that, is that Bournemouth are in form and have got Luton Town at home, Nottingham Forest away and Fulham at home coming up in the next three. Saturday’s opponents Luton have already conceded 32 goals this season and 18 of those were conceded in eight away games. Let’s see if Solanke can get on the scoresheet in back-to-back games for the first time this season against the Hatters.
The budget enabler
Plenty has been said about Chelsea’s less than mediocre season so far, with the Blues currently in twelfth place in the league. One of the few brights spots in manager Mauricio Pochettino’s first full season in charge of the Londoners has been Cole Palmer (£5.5m) though, the youngster who was brought in from Manchester City for a whopping £ 42.5 million on deadline day this summer. Around gameweek 7, the 21-year-old midfielder/winger conquered a spot in Chelsea’s starting eleven and he has not disappointed since then. Palmer, who started the FPL season with a price tag of just £5.0m, scored 5 goals and gave 3 assists since GW7. The fact that he is on penalties has contributed to those stats considerably, but in terms of FPL, that should only further his appeal as an ideal budget enabler. Chelsea are in no form whatsoever and they haven’t been for a while now, but they do have one of the best fixture runs coming up. This weekend, Sheffield United come to Stamford Bridge, followed by a visit to Wolves, a home clash with Crystal Palace and an away game at Luton over the hectic Christmas period. Considering his form, his role in the team and the upcoming fixtures, Cole Palmer is definitely one of the budget enablers of choice at the moment.
We recommended Son Heung-Min earlier in this article, but chances are that many managers won’t be able to easily bring in the South Korean. That’s because a large majority of FPL teams features either Erling Haaland or Mo Salah, while a considerable number carry both of them. Especially for those managers who have both powerhouses in their squad, their budget and the way it is spread around the squad likely makes it complicated to bring in Son without taking a hit or two. If that’s the case for your squad, but you’re still set on getting in on the Spurs action, Dejan Kulusevski (£7.0m) could be an interesting move. Now, we’re not saying that you should expect the Swedish forward to perform at Son levels, but the fact that manager Ange Postecoglou used him as striker in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle has caught our attention. While Kulu recorded a disappointing 2-pointer, the underlying stats provide some encouragement. In terms of creativity, especially, he played his best game of the season so far and he could have easily gotten an attacking return or two on another day. Spurs are now facing Forest away and then Everton at home, so we can see the 2.8%-owned Swede compensating for his lack of points in GW17 by getting on the scoresheet at least once over the next two.
With Haaland likely out of action, the captaincy debate for gameweek 17 is more open than it has been in most gameweeks since the Norwegian’s arrival in the Premier League. We are probably placing the armband on Son Heung-Min this weekend for Tottenham’s visit to Nottingham Forest, but we can see a last-minute change to Mo Salah for his home game against Manchester United as a real possibility as well.
Other, more differential options for the armband are in-form Dominik Solanke at home to Luton Town, Julian Alvarez for Man City’s home game versus Crystal Palace, and Bukayo Saka for Arsenal’s welcoming of Brighton on Sunday.