Pro Pundit Teams

A strong bench and going for broke: the ways FPL bosses can tackle a busy December

In his latest column, three-time top 5k finisher Az looks at the strategies to consider as we get ready for seven Gameweek deadlines in the space of a month.


I’m writing this on December 1 and having just received the news that the Aston Villa v Newcastle game, originally set to be played on Friday, has been called off.

In a way, it’s remarkable that, given the situation that’s happening across the globe, this is the first Premier League game to be postponed this season. Hopefully, it will be the last.

With many people holding two to three assets from Aston Villa and/or Newcastle, this comes at a bad time for our squads, especially as the focus for many is on juggling around their heavy hitters. 

For a lot of managers, there simply isn’t the wiggle room to consider shifting the likes of Jack Grealish (£7.7m), Emiliano Martinez (£4.8m), Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) and Callum Wilson (£6.5m) for one week only. All of these players have decent fixtures and are doing enough to justify their selections in our teams. It’s a shame to have to be putting out fires when we are trying to maximise the points potential.

As we look for ways to give our FPL squads the best possible chance of returns during an unpredictable month, one way of playing is to turn relatively defensive. This means ensuring that our teams are strong and healthy and that we can dip into our benches if and when needed. 

Alternatively, people might be looking to go for the jugular. This means trying to juggle heavy hitters and squeeze out as many points as possible during this busy period. While this poses a considerable risk, it of course may lead to huge returns if you can nail it.

Time to strengthen the bench?

Hunt for £4.0m FPL defender takes a turn as Ferguson ruled out through injury

The news of the postponement at Villa Park does serve as a bit of a wake-up call that a bench of players who at least play regularly for their teams seems a pretty good idea going into the festive schedule. With Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) now seemingly doomed to watch on from the sidelines, many of us are down to just two players on our FPL benches. 

The continued threat of coronavirus, as well as a packed winter schedule, means this may need to be addressed. Many of us are carrying players who seem likely to be at least in some way rotated over Christmas. For example, any of the Manchester City assets, Reece James (£5.1m), Timo Werner (£9.5m) and maybe even now Liverpool midfielders, with Diogo Jota’s (£6.8m) emergence, all look a little vulnerable. Now might be a good time to make sure you are prepared for any omissions.

Upgrading Mitchell to a £4.5m defender may seem a bit boring, but it might put you in good stead in the weeks to come. Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) looks the standout option at this price point for me. Five goal attempts over the last four Gameweeks puts him up with the likes of Reece James (£5.1m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.2m) and Leeds have a great run of fixtures to come, with only Manchester United looking like a potential banana skin right up until January 2.

Luke Ayling (£4.5m) is also a consideration, with the right-back boasting nearly double the number of penalty area touches (13) compared to Dallas over this time. However, despite promising stats, he has yet to register an attacking return this season, whereas Dallas already has a goal and an assist.

If one of the Leeds defenders doesn’t float your boat – or you already own one – then the other options to turn to are Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) or Vladmir Coufal (£4.6m). I really like how West Ham are currently set up under David Moyes, who is doing a fantastic job when many (including myself!) had written them off. 

Both Coufal and Masuaku have just 2.3% ownership at the time of writing, and once Manchester United are out the way this week, have a great run of fixtures right up until the end of January, with only Chelsea in Gameweek 14 looking like a good time to bench whichever defender you bring in.

Going for broke

The less conservative strategy at this stage is to accept whatever state our “fringe” players are in and really try and hammer the assets who have the biggest upside.

Mohamed Salah (£12.2m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) and Bruno Fernandes (£10.8m) all delivered in Gameweek 10. Many view these three as the “holy trinity” – players we should get in our squads no matter what.

However, is this perhaps doing a disservice to the likes of Harry Kane (£10.9m), Son Heung-min (£9.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), who have all had stellar starts to the season? For many, these are the sacrificial lambs as people look to pastures new.

I feel that a case can be made for any combination of the above, which really reflects how exciting this season is, with so many players being worthy of our consideration. However, out of all the options, I really do feel that Fernandes has done enough to make him immune from any form of “hokey-cokey”. If you don’t have him, he’d be the one that I’d look to get in before he’s out of reach.

While the likes of Jota and even Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) may be good value for their price – and this is how you should look at them, not as “coverage” for their more prestigious team-mates – I worry that the bubble could burst at any minute and we could be left with egg on our face. 

Salah and co look set to continue to deliver points all season. The trick is going to be knowing when these hauls are likely and when to get on them.

I brought in Vardy this week and a poor Leicester performance is making me consider whether he can really keep pace with the other players in his price bracket. An away game at Sheffield United, who have made the worst start to a Premier League season from any team in history, looks a good match-up for the Sheffield Wednesday fan so I’m not panicking just yet.

But, depending on whether you think Brighton is a tough game, Vardy’s fixtures are a lot less rosy thereafter and so the short-term pick of the Englishman may prove to be a costly one. He looks set to depart my team after being given little time to truly impress.

With no Salah or De Bruyne in my squad, and both with Fulham on the horizon, I am getting jittery. I think Son and Kane who will simply struggle to match De Bruyne and Salah over the next five Gameweeks, until Spurs themselves play Fulham in Gameweek 16. But moving these players out will require a hit, so timing feels like everything. For those that made the move before the Chelsea stalemate, well played. I think this was the time to do it. 

With games against Arsenal and Crystal Palace next, it feels risky shifting out the Spurs assets, so if you think they can continue to deliver points, then holding might be a sensible strategy. That said, can you really afford to ignore the upside of both De Bruyne and then Salah against Fulham? 

It’s hard to argue with a move for De Bruyne this week, which may be even better if paired with plans for another switch to Salah for the Gameweek after. Jiggery-pokery at its finest. 

My decision

The best Man City players for appealing fixtures after 5-0 win over Burnley

I’m toying with the idea of acquiring Mahrez for the Fulham game, which would mean ignoring De Bruyne entirely and looking for a way to bring in Salah for Gameweek 12. 

Getting a City player in feels a priority this week and a rest for the Algerian in the Champions League and some very, very promising comments from Guardiola about how “players who score will start” certainly bodes well for his chances of a start against the Cottagers.

This means I could hold on to both Son and Vardy this weekend and potentially move them both on next week to get Salah and Bamford, who have Fulham and West Ham respectively in Gameweek 12. Alternatively, I could lose Son this week and keep Hakim Ziyech (£8.3m) for his home match against Leeds.

Salah is the player who I’m coveting for the long term. Simply put, not owning him in my squad just feels… wrong. Okay there is the increased chance of rotation now that Jota is doing such a good job, but put simply, the Egyptian has proven over the last few seasons that he is the player most likely to register huge returns and if I’m ever torn between who to captain, he’s my go-to. 

As a captaincy option, while I’m happy with Fernandes if I need to, games against Fulham, Palace, West Brom and Newcastle in quick succession provide a perfect platform for the Liverpool double-up of Salah and Jota. City’s fixtures do also remain excellent, but there is the higher chance of rotation, a slight risk of De Bruyne dropping deeper to control the midfield in “tougher” games and from what I’ve seen from Man City, the high likelihood of a spread of points across their very capable forward line. 

Turning my back on last season’s top FPL performer doesn’t feel great and I know what he’s capable of. But you can’t have them all and this feels like something we are all going to have to put up with this season. Hopefully, we’re about to see the Mahrez of old who is more than capable of scoring 200+ points this season if he plays a decent number of minutes – although I also appreciate that he’s someone that can cause misery for those who take the punt on him. We’ll see what happens.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck for the following weeks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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1,832 Comments Post a Comment
  1. G-Whizz
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Giroud hat-trick...

    1. Hazz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      I would do anything for that sexy Frenchman.

  2. Daniel - FH,BB,TC,WC not us…
    • 11 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Surely Lampard has to start Giroud now

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      I think he just might

      1. Miguel Sanchez
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        Great for Reece James owners if so

    2. F4L
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      not good for Werner though, will be stuck on the left for a while

      1. Qaiss
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        Maybe he will play better with Giroud than Abraham.

        1. F4L
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          could do, you would just have to hope he doesn't share his minutes with Pulisic. I think I'd prefer Jesus to Werner right now.

          1. Qaiss
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            True. Werner rest today though. If a sub happens for Werner though then I’ll probably look to get rid at some point.

      2. Miguel Sanchez
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        Has been getting more chances from the left than he was when playing through the middle. Just needs to start taking them a bit better.

        1. F4L
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          fair enough. No doubt he'll still get goals.

      3. JIMMY764
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        He’s looked a threat every time I’ve watched him play off the left tbf. I’m in no rush to get rid just yet.

        1. F4L
          • 6 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          yeah, wouldn't be getting rid, can imagine the Leeds game will suit him as they should leave space in behind.

      4. AnfieldLad
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 18 days ago

        Yeah, and surely Pulisic will start some games? He was their best player last season post lockdown

        1. Daniel - FH,BB,TC,WC not us…
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 18 days ago

          Giroud will be good for Werner imo

  3. Lamplighters
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    VAR only checks for reds not second yellow.......again terrible call.

    1. Noah’s Ark
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      What’s the point then. Can’t correct an incorrect decision because it’s not a straight red. Seems flawed really.

    2. Pariße
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Yeah I don’t think so.

  4. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 10 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    5 subs yet keeps Fred on

    1. United 99 4Ever
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      this

    2. JBG
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Never a second yellow that, but yeah. Should have taken him off.

  5. UNDERWORLD7
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Not watching the Chelsea game, has Werner been poor or something?

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Not playing

    2. La Roja
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      He looks poor on bench

    3. UNDERWORLD7
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Ahh ok cheers guys haha

    4. Zim0
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      Hasn't touched the ball even once. Appalling

  6. teneighty
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    Giroud is way too good to be third choice in Chelsea. It seems like he is not highly thought of in PL but I never got why.

    1. Daniel - FH,BB,TC,WC not us…
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      He was really wasteful around 3 years in a row for Wenger and never scored 20 goals in season so he got that reputation

    2. La Roja
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 18 days ago

      He’s always been criminally underrated

  7. Pariße
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 18 days ago

    What’s the point of VAR when egomaniacs won’t admit their mistake?

  8. airzeppelin
      1 month, 18 days ago

      With Kane uncertain, I'm not sure I should risk his sell loss (100K)? Returns and price rises could make it worthwhile. Thanks!

      McCarthy
      Chilwell - Zouma - Justin
      Jota - Bruno - Son - Grealish - Mendy
      DCL - Vardy - Kane

      1 FT - 1 million ITB
      Kane > Cavani or Bamford
      Mendy > Mahrez

      1. BeWater
          1 month, 18 days ago

          Remember when Jose told us Son was out? Pepperidge Farm remembers...

          Kane will play.

          1. how now brown cow
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Jose said he thinks kane will play didnt he?

            1. BeWater
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Last I heard he said Kane was a doubt. I haven't seen today pre match conference yet though. I'm a Spurs fan so I tend to watch them all.

                1. airzeppelin
                    1 month, 18 days ago

                    Thanks for the feedback.
                    I do think he'll play and I have a funny feeling that he'll get a few against Arsenal.
                    Keeping Mendy in the fourth spot will hurt and I have Konsa and Dunne both as a no-go in the back too so I'll need to keep what I have there.
                    Cheers

          2. Super Saints
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Typical, Cavani worlds best striker against us then immediately crap again!

            1. how now brown cow
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              His chip against the bar wasnt that crap

              1. Super Saints
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                He should be scoring that chance, didn't even hit the target, crap!

            2. La Roja
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Moral of the story; psg are good and saints are a bit shite? 😛

              1. UNDERWORLD7
                • 9 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Hehe

              2. Super Saints
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                How dare you, I'd back us to bear PSG at the moment, United were lucky haha!

            3. Rainer
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Inch away from a wonder goal, he’s class.

              1. Super Saints
                • 4 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Missed a one on one...... Class!?

          3. clarkey
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            My squad is horrendous, 1FT 2m itb

            Martinez* Steer*
            Laporte* Kilman Coufal Gabriel Ayling
            Salah Sterling Son Foden* Grealish*
            DCL Jiminez* Brewster*

            What to do?
            a) Foden -> Mahrez
            b) Jiminez -> Vardy
            c) Jiminez -> Werner
            d) Martinez -> Meslier
            e) Grealish -> Jota

            something else

            1. how now brown cow
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              You need some sure starters. Jimenez must be out for a few weeks so I'd ship him at least.

          4. Dr. Ante Pavlovic
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            I will have Olivier Giroud once this seaskn. No doubt about that.

            1. Dr. Ante Pavlovic
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Season*

              1. Dr. Ante Pavlovic
                • 3 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                At one point*

          5. Rainer
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Rashford injury must be bad if Cavani & Martial are having to be rested.

          6. KGFC
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            So when we need a goal, Ole takes off Rashford, Cavani and Martial!
            What the hell??!! 😡

            1. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              I think Rashford got injured 🙁

            2. Rainer
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              How he left Fred on is ridiculous.

              At the wheel though and doing his thing, long may it continue!

            3. Troll hunter
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              When he needs red,
              He so keeps Fred

          7. Zim0
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            I don't understand why even an inexperienced manager like Ole can't have the common sense to take off Fred. We all do.

            1. Noah’s Ark
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Shocking decision really really was. How can he justify it I don’t know. Poor management is the only explanation.

            2. 1912 F.A Cup Winners
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Especially when he can use 5 subs too!! Mind blowing!!!

            3. how now brown cow
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Inexperienced?

              He's been a manager for like 370 games.

          8. La Roja
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            United are losing and Ole takes Cavani and Martial off

            1. Tinkermania
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Cavani is too old. He has run out of steam. Martial just came back. But, yes Ole is c"£p.

              1. Noah’s Ark
                • 8 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                I think Cavani is ok for a bit longer. Much quicker and fitter than I thought.

                1. Tinkermania
                  • 1 Year
                  1 month, 18 days ago

                  Quick for you, but not PSG 😉

                  1. Noah’s Ark
                    • 8 Years
                    1 month, 18 days ago

                    Yeah maybe! We were better team than them tonight before the red card. Second goal was against the run of play. Martial is at risk of getting dropped soon I think.

          9. Silecro
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Giroud FOUR goals

          10. Hryszko
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Giroud with 4, unreal.. miles ahead of Tammy!

            1. Tinkermania
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 18 days ago

              He won't play Seville every week!

          11. Brosstan
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Werner lost his spot now.

            1. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              He plays on the left wing....

            2. Stram Dunk
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Or Tammy...

            3. Miguel Sanchez
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              *Tammy

          12. gooberman
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Crikey 4 goals for Giroud. Wasted at Chelsea.

          13. La Roja
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Le donk on fire

          14. Super Saints
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Kane > Giroud for a -12 done!

          15. aborg
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Lol Giroud scoring a four bagger...now this really is a weird season !

            1. Tinkermania
              • 1 Year
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Watch him go 8 league games without a goal.

              1. aborg
                • 3 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Exactly this ! 🙂

          16. sentz05
            • 4 Years
            1 month, 18 days ago

            Is it worth using one of my free transfers to upgrade my second keeper to McCarthy so I can rotate between him and Martinez?

            1. UNDERWORLD7
              • 9 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Rotating keepers never works, or so I’ve found

            2. BeWater
                1 month, 18 days ago

                I'm on 50 points in 10 gameweeks from rotating Martinez and McCarthy. Haven't got it right every week. These were the highlights...

                GW2 Martinez 13 McCarthy 0
                GW4 McCarthy 9 Martinez 3
                GW5 Martinez 9 McCarthy 1

            3. La Roja
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Timo on for Gru

              1. Silecro
                • 3 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Gru rested for Leeds

            4. Hazz
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              BTW That was an ultra perfect quadruple.

              1 x left foot
              1 x right foot
              1 x header
              1 x penalty

              1. how now brown cow
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 6 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Does he need the 5th one in of his arse?

                1. Hazz
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  1 month, 18 days ago

                  He can do anything.

              2. UNDERWORLD7
                • 9 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Wow, incredible

            5. Pompel
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Wilson still rising on fplstats 😛

            6. how now brown cow
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Mbappe big miss.

            7. Madderegern
              • 6 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Martial and Ole lost it.

            8. Zim0
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              The legend is on. Ighalo! 😆

            9. Pépé Pig
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              1 month, 18 days ago

              Need KdB, who should I move for him:

              A) Grealish (-4)
              B) Son

              1. JohnnyRev7
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 10 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Son and save the hit. You're a GW late but your best move this GW out of the options above.

              2. JohnnyRev7
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 10 Years
                1 month, 18 days ago

                Link your team.