Steve Rothgeb

Weekly Picks

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Fuzzy's FPL Favorites - GW25

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Well, this has been one of the more eventful Januarys on record in the Premier League.

 

The transfer window is alive and kicking, with a huge player swap that sees Alexis Sanchez join Manchester United while Henrikh Mkhitaryan heads to North London to play for Arsenal serving as the most blockbuster example. Everton have a new striker and a veteran winger who was once one of FPL's darlings in Theo Walcott. Riyad Mahrez is looking destined to leave King Power Stadium and we have already seen Liverpool part ways with Philippe Coutinho while bringing in Virgil van Dijk. And, easy to forget because of his long-term absence due to injury, Ross Barkley is ready to make his presence felt with Chelsea.

 

Another big source for news in recent days has been injuries. With FA Cup action over the weekend, a few influential players have seen the dreaded injury flag inserted next to their names since we last looked around ahead of Week 24. Leroy Sane is the freshest injury news to come out, but West Ham United certainly deserve the award, or at least the empathy of everyone, for their current injury crisis. I am having a tough time imagining what their front five or six will look like Tuesday night if all the players currently marked as injured cannot play. That sees no Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini, Michael Antonio, Andre Ayew, Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll or Diafra Sakho. David Moyes may need to play a 9-1 formation with Chicharito leading the line and nine defenders behind him.

 

A mention of Liverpool seems needed as well. Since the last FPL column, the Reds were riding the high of defeating Manchester City and investment could not be more frantic ahead of a follow-up match against bottom-of-the-table Swansea. We were trolled by the FPL gods once again as the Swans inexplicably shut the Reds attack down. Then, Pool are bounced from the FA Cup after conceding three goals to West Brom. Despite all the efforts made by the Video Assistant Referee, Liverpool took all the momentum of beating City and watched it evaporate in a few days' time.

 

The FPL market is not looking too friendly at the moment as it looks as though template teams are making it difficult to climb the ranks. An interesting stat I came across while researching this week's column - one of the websites that track player prices and when they predict rises and falls shows only a select few players are being bought while dozens upon dozens are being shipped out. As of this writing, just nine players were within 5% of a price rise while a whopping 47 players are within 5% of a drop. Some high ownership players are too dangerous to go without, like a fit Sergio Aguero, but, unless you want your rank treading water, it is important to find one or two low ownership players that will produce, and I believe I have a few options this week that fit the bill.

 

So, let's take a peek at the landscape ahead of Week 25 then:

 

 

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TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

 

So now it is time to look at the players to think about ahead of Week 4. As a reminder, there are four categories of players which I feel are worth mentioning week to week when making decisions about transfers....

 

1) Players to buy

2) Players to sell

3) Players to hold onto

4) Players to avoid buying

 

I will also include later in the section, my top choices for the captain's armband. While I will consider every player from A to Z, you will normally find the usual suspects there.

 

Right, so let's dive in...

 

GOALKEEPERS

 

*Just as a reminder, keepers should always be the last position to think about using transfers for, unless there is an urgent need. So, when you see who I have listed here, bear in mind that my keeper advice does not carry as much weight as the outfield positions.

 

Player to buy: Kasper Schmeichel - Schmeichel collected another clean sheet after recommending him as a buy in the last round and I have to stick with him. Leicester have a trip to Man City in the near future, but, outside of that, every opponent is capable of being kept out by the Danish international. I would much rather spend a transfer on a Leicester defender, as mentioned below, but if you need a keeper, go Schmeichel.

 

Player to sell: Jonas Lossl - Huddersfield have kept just one clean sheet in eight and it appears their fortunes will not turn soon. They host Liverpool this weekend, then have trips to Man United and Tottenham in two of the following four rounds. The way the fixtures look around the league, I do not see any keeper options below 5m that attract me. Lossl owners will need to open their wallets and make an upgrade. 

 

Player to hold: Adrian - The Hammers are decimated by injuries at the moment, but most of the defense is still intact. It seems to me, if they are going to get some positive results while waiting for attacking players to heal is through the defense. Looking at the fixtures, I wouldn't be surprised to see David Moyes work a couple of 0-0 results. Adrian hasn't kept a clean sheet since Week 18, but he has a fair chance at one or two over the next few weeks.

 

Player to avoid: Nick Pope - Tom Heaton is back training with the club and will eventually regain the #1 role over Pope. It is only a matter of when. So, despite Burnley's attractive fixtures ahead, Pope may turn out to be a wasted transfer. Better to wait for Heaton, who is now cheaper than Pope, to return and buy him instead. 

 

 

DEFENDERS

 

Player to buy: Harry Maguire - Maybe I am one round early on this pick, but Maguire's attacking threat gives me confidence he will make a mockery of his 5.5m price tag over the next month and a half. After the trip to Goodison Park in Week 25, Leicester play three of four at home against Swansea, Stoke and Bournemouth. Leicester have kept three straight clean sheets, so odds are they will collect more in that stretch.

 

Player to sell: Tottenham defenders - Managers will be dropping Tottenham players from every position once they see that Spurs have Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal over the next three rounds. This is the position I would drop before cutting the like of Harry Kane or Heung-min Son though. Spurs are wrapping up a lenghthy stretch of kind opponents, playing just one club in the top six since Week 12. The four clean sheets in that span fell below expectations. So sell now and look to add back after the North London derby, when a fellow by the name of Toby Alderwiereld should be back on the pitch, making the defense much better.

 

Player to hold: Maya Yoshida - Yoshida missed the last two league games with a hamstring problem but returned for the FA Cup win over Watford at the weekend. He should remain a steady presence in Southampton's defense, who play Brighton, West Brom, Burnley and Stoke over the next five rounds. I anticipate two clean sheets out of those four, possibly three, with Yoshida dipping into the bonus points. 

 

Player to avoid: Swansea defenders - Did you get a haul from a Swansea defender in Week 24? If you did, you certainly were not expecting it. All credit due to Carlos Carvalhal's men for shutting down Liverpool's attack. Perhaps Swansea's defense has improved under the new boss and will provide help in FPL down the road, but despite their showing agains the Reds, I cannnot recommend any of their options with Arsenal and Leicester the next two opponents.

 

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Player to buy: Xherdan Shaqiri - So far, I have been on point regarding Shaqiri. He grabbed three goals and three assists from Weeks 10-15, but I correctly predicted an end to form, and he went the next eight weeks without an attacking return. Well, I think it is time to grab him, as he could be on the verge of another hot streak. The Swiss international picked up an assist in Stoke's win over the Terriers, and he is second in shots on target over the last two rounds to only Harry Kane. The fixtures make the case even stronger, with two of the next three at home and the opponents are Watford, Bournemouth and Brighton.

 

Player to sell: Tottenham midfielders - If you are reading this, I am assuming you own Harry Kane. With three tough fixtures in a row for Spurs, I cannot see how to support Kane AND a Tottenham midfielder at the same time. That is too much money for too tough a stretch. Heung-min Son can make a case to stick around, but you can make plans to get him back in Week 28 if you want him. The three games until then should see your money spent elsewhere. If you do not own Kane and own Son, I would hold the South Korean. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are easier to cut.

 

Player to hold: Pascal Gross - I am not expecting much from Brighton in terms of attack when they travel to Southampton for this coming round, but with West Ham, Stoke and Swansea in the following three, there is some optimism. Yes, Gross has seen his production plummet but you have to pay at least 8m for a midfielder who has produced more this season, and Gross goes for under 6m. 

 

Player to avoid: Jesse Lingard - The arrival of Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford will certainly have a domino effect on pitch time for United's attacking players and the very popular Lingard may be the main victim. Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial all seem nailed on at the moment, leaving just one more place in attack beyond the base of central midfield. Lingard could be splitting time with the likes of Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford. Lingard should be the ahead of the other two at the moment, but early substitutions and rotation could zap his fantasy value. Best to watch a match or two to see how things look before buying the budget option.

 

 

FORWARDS

 

Player to buy: Sergio Aguero - Aguero stays as the forward to buy for the third straight week and can you blame me, coming off the heels of a hat trick in the last round? At home against the Baggies in Week 25, he should be the top armband choice as well. Brief warning, this may be the last good week to buy him. City's fixtures not only toughen up after West Brom, they get congested due to being alive in all three of their cup competitions. Gabriel Jesus is expected to return to training in a couple of weeks, so resting Aguero will be a legit worry in the not-too-distant future.

 

Player to sell: Wayne Rooney - Last round, I advised ending ties with Dominic Calvert-Lewin while giving Wayne Rooney another week. Turns out, both are in need of an exit from your squad. Rooney did not start Everton's Week 24 match and, since then, Sam Allardyce has stated Rooney and Gyfli Sigurdsson are too slow to both be on the pitch at the same time. With Theo Walcott's arrival, Gylfi and Rooney are essentially battling for one spot behind the striker and Siggy was given the first crack. I sense Rooney will get his turn, and may establish the role as his own. But for now, your fantasy team cannot afford to wait and see.

 

Player to hold: Roberto Firmino - What to do about Liverpool? First, they do what no other club could - beat Manchester City. Then, they follow it up with a dud against basement-dwellers Swansea and bow out of the FA Cup to West Brom, where Firmino infamously missed a penalty chance. Well, first things first - Liverpool are a hit or miss side. They can look fantastic and they can look awful. But, when they are awful, it is not for long. So, odds are when you drop someone like Firmino, it will be bad timing. Huddersfield are shipping goals to lightweight clubs. Firmino could explode along with the rest of the Reds attack Tuesday night. Having Firmino and Mo Salah in the last round felt like a bunch of cash wasted, but I think you are OK having both for now despite recent surprise results.

 

Player to avoid: Alvaro Morata - Morata looks poised to return from a back injury that caused him to miss Week 24, as well as cup action since, but he will need to set the PL on fire before I look his way for investment. Since Week 15, just a single goal and no assists for Morata. Meanwhile, he has seven yellow cards in domestic competition, only one behind the leaders in that department.  Alexandre Lacazette has quietly moved to within a point of him in the FPL game. Managers cannot afford his price right now with other expensive forwards providing consistent returns. So, even if Conte clears him for Week 25 and even though Chelsea have easy opponents the next three rounds, I would avoid.

 

TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES

 

1) Sergio Aguero

2) Mo Salah

3) Eden Hazard

4) Raheem Sterling

5) Roberto Firmino

 

That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline Tuesday evening. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.

 

Good luck, and may your arrows be green.



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb





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