FPL Christmas Gifts
From now to the turn of the year, the Premier League sees an immense amount of fixtures crammed into a schedule that isn’t player friendly or FPL thoughtful as the quantity of playing minutes on players can force unforeseen rotations in squads and peculiar results that aren’t generally seen in other periods of the season. Due to the mayhem that the EPL endures, there is a general shuffling of FPL rankings, overall and in mini-leagues. To assist in negating the “I need to take a hit” mentality that many FPL managers get in their heads over the festive season, WFC has complied a brief list of players that are essential to FPL squads, along with players that could boast as hidden gems should the scheduling nightmare benefit their possible points returns, giving a generous leg-up to mangers.
So, we start with the must Have Players:
Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.9) - Chelsea
Having recently sat out against Swansea after playing every minute of the season so far, the Spanish international is an essential player over the Christmas period as Chelsea have a quantity of relatively favourable fixtures. With a run games consisting of Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (A), Southampton (H), Everton (A), Brighton (H) and Stoke (A), it is possible to see the 2016/17 Champions put on a form drive that could put them back in a possible title threat. FPL wise, there is the potential that Chelsea could keep a clean-sheet in all 7 of these fixtures giving Azpilicueta owners consistent returns. In addition, the Spaniard has a fantastic attacking threat, having already recorded 5 assists in the league to lead all Chelsea players. With a further average of 2.7 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game, Azpilicueta is a workhorse all over the park, giving him the handy additions in the bonus points system that has seen him receive 11 points in 13 games played.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2) - Manchester City
Playing as and being the focal point of one of the best and in-form teams on the planet at the current time will always make a player essential when it comes to FPL. Over the hectic scheduling period in December/early January, it isn’t hard to believe that the man known as KDB will continue to consistently play big minutes, having an amazing engine and desire to play. Unlike others in the Manchester City squad, the classy Belgian can be relied on by FPL players to start. A string of 4 matches against Bournemouth (H), Newcastle (A), Crystal Palace (A) and Watford (H) between the 23rd December and the 2nd of January will be a crucial period for FPL managers to own De Bruyne as the expectation at WFC is that the destructive Manchester City freight train will continue to drive on. With his side currently sitting atop the league, De Bruyne has contributed 7 assists (second most in the league) and banged in 4 goals, from 3.1 key passes and 2.2 shots per game respectively. With the fixtures, expected minutes and consistent assisting/scoring threat, it isn’t hard to believe that KDB can pick up 35 FPL points or more over this 4 game stretch.
Sergio Aguero (£11.7) - Manchester City
Like teammate De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero has massive potential during the Christmas fixtures. History suggests that the Argentine will flourish between now and the turn of the year, and FPL managers have caught on in the past. Regardless, over the current season so far, the striker has been relatively less talked about due to the exploits of other big names from opposing teams and the increased form of fellow Manchester City players. However, ignoring Aguero could be a remedy for disaster for FPL managers. Having scored 9 goals so far to be equal top amongst Man City players for scoring, Aguero has contributed the second highest amount of FPL points (77) among all forwards, despite having played significantly less minutes than the rest of the top FPL 5 forwards. The only issue for Aguero over the Christmas Period is rotation with South American counterpart, Gabriel Jesus. However, Aguero’s 4.1 shots, 1.7 successful take-ons and 2.1 key passes per 90 minutes gives him the greatest potential for returns even if he is rested or plays from the bench for a game over the schedule. Being on penalty duty and a bonus point machine, Aguero is a “transfer in” essential.
Harry Kane (£12.8) - Tottenham
Thibaut Courtois (£5.4) - Chelsea
Sead Kolasinac (£6.1) - Arsenal
Mohamed Salah (£9.8) - Liverpool
Raheem Sterling (£8.3) - Manchester City
Alexis Sanchez (£11.8) - Arsenal
Eden Hazard (£10.7) - Chelsea
Leroy Sane (£8.9) - Manchester City
Paul Pogba (£8.0) - Manchester United
Alvaro Morata (£10.7) - (Chelsea)
Jamie Vardy (£8.6) - Leicester
So, they were the essentials. Now come the risks/punts that could reap great rewards:
Kiko Femenia (£4.6) - Watford
The very impressive Watford have turned heads this season with their ability at both ends of the field. A mainstay in the backline has been the crafty Femenia, who has operated effectively down the right flank. With a festive fixture schedule consisting of 5 winnable games, there is potential for Watford to keep clean-sheets that FPL managers crave. At a price of £4.6, the Spaniard is one of the cheapest defensive players that delivers returns you can live with. Three home games against Huddersfield, Leicester and Swansea, along with road trips to Crystal Palace and Brighton, makes Femenia a viable option. Making 1.9 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game, he ranks statistically better than Toby Alderweireld, Nicolas Otamendi and Antonio Valencia. Additionally, in Watford’s 5 clean-sheets this season, Femenia has received bonus points in all 5 games, meaning he is an essential element to the keeping opponents from scoring. Take the punt on Femenia and you very may well be rewarded generously.
Aaron Ramsey (£7.1) - Arsenal
Arsenal's current equal highest FPL scorer (73) has the potential to provide FPL managers with some nice Christmas gifts this year. Peaking at the right time, Ramsey has been known to be a fixture proof player when consistently fit. However, fitness is the biggest issue with the Welshman, who seemingly is always picking up short and long term injuries. For FPL managers, it is hard to trust Ramsey when he is an uncertainty of playing so regularly. Despite fixtures against West Ham, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and West Brom with Liverpool sandwiched in between, Arsene Wegner could opt to rest and/or rotate his squad to avoid players picking up these injuries, which have commonly derailed his title aspirations. However, if Ramsey is not in these plans and plays all games, his 3 goals and 7 assists will definitely be added upon. Having registered 6+ points returns in 5 of his last 6 games, with 2 double figure returns (Everton – 12, Huddersfield – 10), Ramsey’s attacking exploits will be beneficial for FPL managers to cash-in on. At £7.1 and a differential ownership of 6.9%TSB, the inclusion of Ramsey could also allow managers to get in other essential players for the Christmas period.
Roberto Firmino (£8.4) - Liverpool
Despite dropping down the chain of Liverpool’s best FPL attacking options due to the feats of Mo Salah, Sadio Manè and Phillipe Coutinho, Firmino still has the potential to score big points in the Liverpool squad. Playing consistently, Firmino has become a forgotten forward option by many. Having 2.2 shots and providing 1.9 attempted assists per game, the Brazilian seems to have just been unlucky recently not to score FPL points. Although it looks likely that the previously mentioned Liverpool trio of Salah, Manè and Coutinho will be relied on for a majority of goals this season, Firmino's statistical performances will surely bear fruit soon. Games against Brighton, Everton, West Brom, Bournemouth, Swansea and Leicester could allow this to come to fruition. Despite the risk of using a forward option for a currently FPL-wise underscoring player, Firmino could prove to be many managers' gem over the festive period if he can begin to capitalise on his statistical prowess.
Mat Ryan (£4.5) - Brighton
Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4) - Arsenal
Andreas Christensen (£5.5) - Chelsea
Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.1) - Stoke
Philippe Coutinho (£8.8) - Liverpool
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0) - Everton
Heung-Min Son (£7.9) - Tottenham
Matt Ritchie (£5.7) - Newcastle
Charlie Austin (£6.0) - Southampton
Josh King (£7.0) - Bournemouth