Welcome to another edition of Mikey’s Musings. Last week, I wrote about the strength of the so-called Template and teams that might cause a shift in the template going into the busy winter period. This week, I expand on that by looking at some players from teams with the best fixtures over the coming weeks.
I’ve focused on the next six gameweeks which takes us to the New Year. That is basically six games within a 3 week period. A lot can happen in that short space of time so I focus on the teams with the best fixtures on paper. Via Fantasy Football Scout’s fixture ticker, here are the teams with the best run over the festive period.
West Ham and Manchester United have the best run over the festive period from a defensive point of view. I think for many FPL managers, defensive transfers will happen because of:
- To replace players affected by the postponements – so players like Reguilion and Davies at Spurs or Duffy and Lamptey at Brighton, these may need replacing as the next couple of Spurs games look unlikely to go ahead at time of writing due to a COVID outbreak at Spurs with a large part of the squad testing positive.
- Downgrade to generate funds elsewhere – a lot of FPL managers like myself have gone big at the back, meaning a large amount of budget has been used in defence. To fund upgrades in midfield and/or the purchase of a big hitter like Ronaldo, one expensive defender might get sacrificed in due course.
Here are a couple of potential, low owned options to consider if you do need to make a defensive transfer:
Diogo Dalot (£4.4m)Embed from Getty Images
Until recently, Man Utd defence was a no-go zone having kept three clean sheets in the PL all season. With the arrival of Ralf Rangnick, the main change has seen Dalot start the last two PL games at the expense of Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.1m).
The early signs are encouraging. Dalot is generally considered a better attacking option than Wan-Bissaka. Though not showing through on the statistics, I believe that Dalot is more of a threat going forward. Dalot is a better pure footballer and has the potential to pick up bonus points, shown by him picking up 2 BPS in the game vs Crystal Palace.
Also, Wan-Bissaka played in the dead rubber Champions League match vs Young Boys on Wednesday and put in a poor performance in my view. In fact, I think Wan-Bissaka has been poor all season and really requires some proper coaching to get back in track. It also looked like Wan-Bissaka had a nasty collision with advertising boards and could have picked up an injury, which was mentioned by Rangnick in the post match interview.
I think Dalot has the RB slot for now and will continue to start. He is not nailed by any means but he is a cheap way into a Man Utd defence that has greater potential for clean sheets than previously.
Issa Diop (£4.3m)
An alternative cheap defender is Issa Diop. The West Ham defence has been weakened with injuries to Ogbonna who is out for the season with a serious knee injury and Zouma who has a pulled hamstring. This means that Craig Dawson (£4.9m) and Issa Diop will form the central defensive partnership over the coming weeks.
I think he represents a cheap way into the West Ham defence. They haven’t kept many clean sheets so far this season but as a safe and secure bench option with the chance of a set piece goal, Diop is a solid, unspectacular option. Again, this is a pick if I wanted to generate funds for an attacking upgrade and you weren’t sold on how nailed Dalot is.
West Ham, Man Utd and Man City feature as having the best run of fixtures for their attacking assets over the festive period. I expect all three of these teams to score plenty of goals if they pick up form.
Palace, Burnley, Southampton and Watford also have very favourable fixtures in this period though I believe that Watford aside, I am less inclined to pick their assets as I will elaborate on.
Here are some assets to consider:
Jarrod Bowen (£6.4m)Embed from Getty Images
West Ham are playing really well this season and Bowen has been a key part of it. To me, he seems to have really picked up his game this season and the output signals to that improvement with 3 goals and 7 assists. What is really notable is that he has underperformed compared to his expected output which suggests a bit of misfortune in not getting more attacking returns. Last season, Bowen got 8 goals and 5 assists which closely matches his expected output (7.1xG and 4.1xA). This season, his 3 goals have come from 4.76xG.
If Bowen can revert to the mean and continue his form, there is a strong chance of attacking returns over this period. What is encouraging is a greater percentage of minutes played. Last season, Bowen managed 75% of minutes (2576 total minutes) whilst this has shot up to 90% of minutes this season (1227 total minutes), starting all bar one PL game. I expect Bowen to start most games and come off the bench if he doesn’t happen to start.
Bowen is top of my list of potential transfers this week.
Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) vs Ilkay GundogAn (£7.3m)
I think there is a very interesting debate for Man City midfielders. I think we have all been surprised by the consistent attacking returns provided by Bernardo Silva, with 7 goals and 1 assist so far this campaign. This is reminiscent of a certain Ilkay Gundogan of last season, who ended up with 13 goals.Embed from Getty Images
I am personally quite torn about this one. On stats alone, Bernardo Silva cannot sustain these returns. His 7 goals come from 3.67xG so he is scoring twice as much as expected. His 2 goals against Watford last GW came from 0.2xG! Gundogan has superior stats to Bernardo Silva with 3 goals from 4.47xG.
Having said that, comments from Pep Guardiola seem to suggest that Bernardo Silva is in the form of his life and watching him play, you can see the confidence in his play.
Relative ownership is still rather low so that doesn’t play a huge factor in my opinion. Within the top 100k, Bernardo Silva is owned by 18% of managers, 17% in the top 10k; Gundogan is owned by 6% and 8% respectively.
I think it depends what kind of manager you are. Though I do lean on stats a bit, the eye test is leaning me towards Bernardo Silva; he just seems to be in the zone. I currently own Foden who seems to have injured his ankle again so I may make a sideways move to Bernardo this GW.
Man United Attackers
As a lifelong Man Utd fan, nothing is better than when my team is firing and I have a Man Utd triple up. Man Utd have an excellent fixture run over the foreseeable future but I don’t have a proper read yet on the team under Rangnick and so I don’t suggest getting their assets apart from Ronaldo (£12.4m) if you have budget to spare.
There is a bit of talk about Rashford (£9.4m) as Rangnick played him up front alongside Ronaldo in a front 2. In my opinion, I think this position doesn’t suit Rashford’s talents. Remember when Utd a couple of seasons ago tried playing Rashford as a out and out 9 and he missed a lot of chances. I think he is better with the play in front of him rather than back to goal. I’d prefer Greenwood play that position personally.Embed from Getty Images
From what I have seen of United under Rangnick, I still believe that all roads lead to Ronaldo. Against Palace, balls were getting tossed into Ronaldo from both sides and although there were no clear cut chances, it was obvious that Ronaldo was still the focal point. This is another reason why I am not totally convinced by players alongside Ronaldo; I think they will act as decoys to open space for Ronaldo.
It is a watching brief for me for now. More clues will emerge over the next few games. Maybe Rashford, Sancho or Greenwood will emerge as good picks.
Best of the rest
I plan to buy one of Josh King (£5.8m) or Emmanuel Dennis (£5.7m). Watford need to score goals and their attack seems to be doing well, even against tough defences like Chelsea and Man City. I wouldn’t be averse to having both. The main caveat is that Dennis could be called up by Nigeria for AFCON but he hasn’t played for Nigeria since November 2020 and it was unclear whether he is under consideration. For safety, I may pick King who is playing as the central striker and is on penalties in the absence of Sarr.
I have no considerations of getting any Palace players now. They have looked ropey as of late, losing three on the spin and only scoring once. There is also rotation amongst their attackers with Benteke (£6.4m), Edouard (£6.4) and Ayew (£5.8m) sharing minutes. It is a no-go zone for me.
Finally a brief mention for Southampton. A bit like Palace, it is hard to get proper read on their attack with Adams (£6.8m), Armstrong (£5.9m) and Broja (£5.0m) all sharing minutes. I really like the look of Broja; I think he is a real talent who needs regular games to really break out. Looks strong, direct runner and a good finisher. He seems to have a better all-round game compared to Armstrong. As a 3rd forward who can sit on your bench, he could be a fine option but I’d be wary of starting him in your team every week.Embed from Getty Images
I currently sit 57k OR having dropped from 30k in the past couple of GWs. Here is my current squad with 1 FT and 1.4m ITB.
Toney out for King is a straightforward move given Toney is ruled out at least for GW16 and likely GW17 too. I am awaiting news on Emile Smith Rowe and Foden injuries but I will likely do Foden to Bernardo Silva for -4.
Hope you enjoyed this longer edition of Mikey’s Musings. Good luck with your gameweek!
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