#FPL Gameweek 18 Preview
You can also listen to Craig, Tom and Ash on their Fantasy Football Podcast – The Gaffer Tapes
DEFENDER: SCOTT DANN, CRYSTAL PALACE
The Christmas period is a hard one for everyone. They have to eat salmon pasta for breakfast, football families have to go without loved ones on the most magical day of the year and we have to work out two FPL line ups in less than 48 hours. Everybody suffers. I kind of look at it as a two game block for the games on the 26th and 28th. It’s a good time to look at some ‘must haves’ you may have overlooked or stubbornly excluded. My advice is to write down all of the players who have scored nicely in the last 6 weeks. Then write down all of yours that haven’t done anything for you, the ‘naughty’ ones shall we say. Write those lists then give them the once over or ‘check them twice’ you could say. Ok, that’s enough of that. No more Christmas puns here but I am going to mention Scott Dann for the defensive giant he has been this season. Palace sit in 5th place and Dann is the 3rd top scoring defender in the game. If that were one of the so called bigger teams in 5th, he would be a lot more than 5.5m and a hell of a lot more picked than 17%. Bournemouth away and Swansea at home is one of the more favourable Christmas game blocks and he should pick up one clean sheet out of the two at least, plus he’s worth the odd goal.
MIDFIELDER: YAYA TOURE, MAN CITY
Now I am sure I’m not the only one to have noticed it but there’s a distinct suspicion that Yaya Toure might be back. You know, the languid looking fella who scores at free will and bosses games. Yaya’s peach of a consolation against Arsenal and more important one against swansea have given him 16 points in 2 games, something we are very used to seeing in the ghost of seasons past. While City have the toughest game in England, away at Leicester, on the 29th they also have Sunderland at home on Boxing Day and will need an emphatic win if they are to genuinely believe they can win the title. Back in August I would have told you Yaya was ready for the scrapheap and perhaps counting the cash he could earn at City’s American affiliate with Lampard and Pirlo. However, seeing him score that goal against Arsenal I would say that’s unlikely and we should forget this Fairytale of New York and embrace him back in our FPL teams.
FORWARD: OLIVIER GIROUD, ARSENAL
Picking strikers has been a nightmare this season. (Ed. Explains why you write twice as much about defenders..) Trying to find form and regularity outside Lukaku, Vardy and Ighalo has been nigh on impossible. They’re the Aquafresh of FPL right now. While I absolutely implore you to keep those 3, it’s kind of my job to say something different, even if no one understands or agrees. Like Noel Fielding. The only picked percentage that I would say does not currently make sense is that of Olivier Giroud. Now, if I found him in my stocking I’d be happier Jamie Vardy on a Club 18-30 holiday. He’s a dreamboat. But put that to the side, he’s not a piece of meat. He is 12.2% picked despite scoring 18 points in the last 3 games. Arsenal have a south coast double against a woeful Southampton and an all be it plucky Bournemouth at home. Those numbers don’t add up and I think he’s a bargain for anyone looking to deviate slightly from the holy trinity.
CAPTAIN: SERGIO AGUERO, MAN CITY
It has to be Sergio Aguero if you have him. It’s the first time I can remember him ever being as low as 12% picked and if he can’t do it against Sunderland at home on Boxing day then drop him forever and never look back. Coming back in against arguably the best side int he league last week was a tough ask but he really has to start scoring soon if he wants to deem this season a success. At over 13m, he really needs to get close to emulating that 5 goal haul to be value. Good news is, if he bombs then his price next year will plummet.
OUTSIDER: SAIDO BERAHINO, WEST BROM
It is always worth keeping an eye on injuries this time of year. I pointed out a few weeks ago that Wilfried Bony would get minutes as City had little option and now West Brom have the same sort of problem. Rondon got himself sent off and is now out until mid January leaving that striking department as bare the cranberry section in Sainsbury’s. Berahino has played a total of 1 minute in his last 4 games as the pre-season contract debacle has clearly spilled over onto the pitch. James McClean is also suspended, another attacking threat, and you have to wonder if now is the time for all to be forgiven and let him play. The other option is Rickie Lambert who surely can’t lea the line for 90 minutes? A year ago Saido Berahino was knocking on Roy Hodgson’s door and rumoured in a 20m move to Spurs. He’s clearly still very talented and I can’t see him not being used during the Christmas games. God Bless Us Everyone.
Craig Hazell is a television professional, writer and Heart of Midlothian fan who makes up one third of the popular FPL podcast The Gaffer Tapes. As a student, Craig won the BBC Sports Broadcaster and Comedy Broadcaster of the year, before going onto to be a regular on the London open mic comedy circuit. He now writes about anything from TV & Movies, to food and of course football, providing he can shoehorn a 90s pop culture reference into just about anything.