GW17 FPL REVIEW FROM @FANTASYGAFFER
The last match before we enter the hectic three-GW, seven-day Christmas programme saw a dominating performance from Chelsea, as the Champions-elect ran out 0-2 winners at The Brittania. John Terry opened the scoring early, heading home a Cesc Fabregas cross on 2′. While the goal was a welcome bonus for all of Terry’s owners, the match from Fabregas is the talking-point. The 27-year-old has been amoung the early candidates for Player of the Year in his first season back in England. After missing GW16 through suspension, the one goal, one assist performance against the Potters leaves Cesc with two goals and 12 assists on the season. In any other week, this would have been the EPL fantasy performance of the weekend – but it was not.
The performance of the weekend went to the ‘handled’ Charlie Austin as the 25-year-old hitmat took 10 shots, landing six on target and scoring three against a visiting West Brom. Austin’s hattrick left the forward with 11 goals this term and left Baggies’ boss Alan Irvine befuddled in a post-match presser where he confidently stated “[Austin]’s a very good player and he’s in great form,” said Irvine. “We handled him very well in general play but on those occasions he was good enough to get the goals.” Austin sits behind only Sergio Aguero in terms of Shots on Target this season, but a large percent of his season to date totals in shots taken, shots on target and goals all flow from the 90′ on Saturday. Austin has a mixed bag in the next three with a difficult trip to the Emirates off-set by home clashes with Crystal Palace and Swansea. We him moving forward if for no other reason than the Hoops lack options. Of the 18 Premier League goals this side has scored, 11 have been struck by Charlie.
On side with no shortage of scoring options is Austin’s next opponent, Arsenal. The Gunners boast one of the deepest and most versatile collections of attacking talent in the world, headlined by Olivier Giroud. The French international is recently returned from a prolonged injury and is already in a rich vein of form. The 28-year-old former Montpellier player has just 406′ in the Prem this term, but has hit five goals – with three in his past two. Arsene Wenger’s side are once more chasing the pack and will rely heavily on Giroud – who hit 16 goals and nine assists a season ago – in the forthcoming fixtures: QPR, West Ham, Southampton and Stoke. No longer an injury concern, he’s played in six on the spin and increased his playing time to the 80′ barrier has last time out. We expect to see him on the pitch without fear of rotation, knowing his minutes may be limited in those matches where Arsenal hold a commanding lead late.
After the outlier of GW15, which saw eight clean sheets with six of those coming in a trio of 0-0 draws, the Premier League has returned to it’s scoring ways. Five clean sheets in GW16 was marginally bested this past week (six cleansheets) as Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton all earning the bonus. Few teams have an easy road in the coming week and fatigue, rotation and general off-field issues tend to surface when players are pushing their bodies to the limit. Attentive managers will have little concern, knowing a quick transfer can right an errant acquisition (even if you must pay a penalty), but for those who are looking to set their lineups and forget them while visiting family, there are a pair of suggestions.
Upcoming fixtures for prime defenders see Manchester City and Liverpool lead the way. LFC have the easiest upcoming schedule – a trip to Burnley is followed by home clashes with Swansea and Leicester. The Clarets have the worst home scoring record, having netted just seven in nine games. The Swans and Foxes are amoung the worst road teams – scoring eight and four road goals, respectively. Kolo Toure has recently gotten a run in the side and is likely available on the cheap, regardless of format. In the Official FPL he is under 1% selected and priced £4.7m. Kolo has played at least 80′ in four of the past five and looks to have solidified a spot in Brendan Rodgers’ squad.
While we mention Kolo as a low-cost acquisition, there is also a time and a place for the posh play and adding Pablo Zabaleta and/or Gael Clichy ahead of a soft set of opponents certainly qualified. Zab is amoungst the most expensive defenders to acquire and Clichy is one of the most heavily owned. The duo are both subject to rotation during this busy period, which compounds their price as FPL managers must carry a viable replacement on the bench for either player.
Finally, there was a rumor that Divok Origi may be returned from loan to Liverpool, with the Reds set to pay a penalty to cancel the loan ahead of this summer’s anticipated return. Origi is one to watch and may be worth adding immediately should he turn up in England. Liverpool have not had any shortage of chances in their past two fixtures and a competent striker on the pitch could have easily turned the tide in either encounter. This also bodes well for Daniel Sturridge upon his eventual return, but his high price and nagging injury concerns must dampen any enthusiasm for owning the England international.
Read the Gaffer’s Last Article: Injuries Are Live