First of all, here’s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Fantasy Premier League (FPL) was in a very merry move as they handed out an extra Free Hit chip in the festive period, which seemed well-timed as we have received the news of (at least) three games being postponed in Gameweek 19:
- Liverpool v Leeds United
- Burnley v Everton
- Wolves v Watford
This had a big impact on the state of play as most Fantasy managers own three Liverpool assets including a £13.0m-rated Mohamed Salah. There is also a heavy percentage of FPL managers owning the likes of Raphinha (£6.6m) or a Watford striker.
This will lead to a few players thinking of deploying the Free Hit chip this week.
THOUGHTS ON THE FREE HIT
My own thoughts on chip strategy at the moment is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way of dealing with this, as it mainly depends on how your team is placed, but my initial thought is if you can take a hit or two to field a reasonable team in Gameweek 19, I would be more inclined to do so because they players from Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and West Ham United that have good fixtures in Gameweek 19-21 also could have a potentially good-looking Double Gameweek in Gameweek 22.
It also depends on how comfortable you are selling Salah who will be rested and ready to go against a tired and injury-hampered Leicester City defence in Gameweek 21. As things stand and if the AFCON is going ahead, Salah could potentially play only two out of the next five Gameweeks, which are matches against Leicester City and Chelsea. It is worth noting that Liverpool could have a very good-looking Double Gameweek in Gameweek 22, for which I would definitely hold onto Diogo Jota (£8.1m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.3m) despite the blank.
There are alternate captaincy options in Gameweek 20 if you do choose to sell Salah, namely in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m), who faces Burnley at home, one of the Spurs premium attackers who travel to Southampton and Jota himself, whose underlying numbers have been incredible in the last few games. There is no denying that the potential of Salah versus a tired Leicester is huge and I’ve also seen a few in the FPL community suggesting Free Hitting in Gameweek 20 to gain the Egyptian back for one week only, instead buying players who have a good fixture in Gameweek 20 as well as a potentially appealing-looking Double Gameweek 22.
Like I said, there are just too many moving parts at the moment and as content creators, we can’t really tell you what to do but we can cite the factors to consider while playing your chips. We dive into as many factors to consider as possible in this week’s episode of The FPL Wire which you can view below:
FREE HIT DRAFT
What I did do, and what I recommend you do, is have a Free Hit draft in mind in case we have any last-minute cancellations, which could well happen given the rumours circulating on Christmas Day. I gave a Free Hit draft a whirl and these are my thoughts:
Arsenal have really tightened up as a defensive unit and are in the top five teams for expected goals conceded (xGC) in the last six matches. Norwich at the other end of the spectrum are struggling for goals and only five teams have a better expected goals (xG) tally than them in the last six matches. Keeping this in mind, I would be very happy to double on the Arsenal defence with Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1m) in goal and Kieran Tierney (£4.8m) who has a considerable attacking threat from that left-back spot.
Joao Cancelo (£6.8m) simply plays for the best defence in the country and being the top shot taker in the league amongst all defenders, I don’t see a world in which you can leave him out.
The same applies for Reece James (£6.3m), who despite playing a strong Aston Villa team finds his place in my Free Hit draft just because of the immense potential he offers on both sides of the pitch. Yes, Chelsea haven’t kept too many clean sheets of late but it is also worth noting that N’Golo Kante (£4.9m) is on the pitch again and James is second to only Alexander-Arnold this season for Mins/ xGI.
Diogo Dalot (£4.5m), who is playing in an advanced full-back position against a struggling Newcastle United, would be my fourth starting defender.
In attack, the first thing that came to my mind is Newcastle United is definitely the team to target with your attackers and I want a huge slice of that. Which is why I would stick Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5M) and Bruno Fernandes (£11.6M) in my team. I would want atleast a couple of attackers from Manchester United and I would definitely put the armband on Ronaldo this Gameweek just because of Newcastle United’s defence.
Gabriel Martinelli (£5.4M) who has the fourth highest xG non penalty amongst all attackers in the last four matches would be in my draft because of the value he offers. Arsenal are in a good space at the moment and in my opinion, Martinelli is Arsenal’s biggest goal threat as he’s really an inside forward and not a winger and finds him in goal scoring positions very regularly.
One problem I have with this draft is having just one attacker from Manchester City attack who are playing a depleted Leicester City defence. Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9M) would find a place in my team from that attack and if I was confident of another attacker, I would try shoe horning one more into my free hit draft.
The rest of my midfield would be made up of a well-rested Son Heung-min (£10.4m) – providing the Palace match goes ahead – and Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), who has incredibly strong underlying numbers and plays Southampton at home.
I would have at least two playing substitutes given the current situation in the league.
If you are unsure of players, the Arsenal defence and the attackers from both the Manchester teams are what I would prioritise and then figure the rest out.
That is it from me this week. Good luck this Gameweek!
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