The hectic period during Christmas in the Premier League is as challenging for football coaches and players as it is for Fantasy Premier League managers.
Player rotations, quick turnarounds between gameweeks, and resultant injuries make life a lot harder for FPL managers whose plans often get thrown out of the window during this period.
Less than 24 hours separate GW 15 and 16 with most teams playing two matches in three days.
Liverpool and Manchester United are perhaps the teams to target during this period as they have little more time between their two games compared to other teams. Thus these two teams are likely to see the least rotations among the top players.
The Reds also face West Brom at Anfield who are the second-worst defensive side in the division before travelling to Newcastle United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have a tricky trip to Leicester City on Boxing Day before meeting with Wolves at Old Trafford in GW 16.
Tottenham’s fixture against Fulham in GW 16 is also attracting eyeballs of FPL managers as a Harry Kane-Son Heung-min double up is once again an attractive proposition.
Burnley, Tottenham, Liverpool, Leeds United, West Ham and Arsenal have relatively easier games during the festive period with Tottenham and Liverpool the teams to focus on. Keeping in mind the blank and double gameweeks in GW 18 and 19 respectively, players from these two teams must be targetted as they will cover you for either gameweek.
Leeds United, who also play twice in GW 19, have two good-looking games in GW 15 and 16. Given their attacking prowess, their attackers are good bets in coming weeks.
Newcastle United and Aston Villa, who are one of the few teams that play in GW 18, have a really hard run of games and it will be best for FPL managers to avoid players from these two teams till GW 18.
Fixture difficulty ratings
|Team||*Combined Difficulty rating for GW 15-17||GW 15 opponent(Dec 26)||GW16 opponent||GW17 opponent|
|Arsenal||8 (4, 2, 2)||CHE(H)||BHA(A)||WBA(A)|
|Aston Villa||11 (3, 4, 4)||CRY(H)||CRY(H)||MUN(A)|
|Brighton||9 (3, 3, 3)||WHU(A)||ARS(H)||WOL(H)|
|Burnley||7 (3, 2, 2)||LEE(A)||SHU(H)||FUL(H)|
|Chelsea||10 (3, 3, 4)||ARS(A)||AVL(H)||MCI(H)|
|Crystal Palace||9 (3, 4, 2)||AVL(A)||LEI(H)||SHU(H)|
|Everton||9 (2, 4, 3)||SHU(A)||MCI(H)||WHU(H)|
|Fulham||9 (3, 4, 2)||SOU(H)||TOT(A)||BUR(A)|
|Leeds||8 (2, 2, 4)||BUR(H)||WBA(A)||TOTA)|
|Leicester||10 (4, 3, 3)||MUN(H)||CRY(A)||NEW(A)|
|Liverpool||8 (2, 3, 3)||WBA(H)||NEW(A)||SOU(A)|
|Man City||9 (2, 3, 4)||NEW(H)||EVE(A)||CHE(A)|
|Man Utd||10 (4, 3, 3)||LEI(A)||WOL(H)||AVL(H)|
|Newcastle||13 (5, 4, 4)||MCI(A)||LIV(H)||LEI(H)|
|Sheffield Utd||8 (3, 2, 3)||EVE(H)||BUR(A)||CRY(A)|
|Southampton||9 (2, 3, 4)||FUL(A)||WHU(H)||LIV(H)|
|Spurs||7 (3, 2, 2)||WOL(A)||FUL(H)||LEE(H)|
|West Brom||10 (5, 2, 3)||LIV(A)||LEE(H)||ARS(H)|
|West Ham||8 (2, 3, 3)||BHA(H)||SOU(A)||EVE(A)|
|Wolves||10 (4, 4, 2)||TOT(H)||MUN(A)||BHA(A)|
The big ins and outs
The fixtures seem to have a direct impact on the player purchases this week as three Liverpool players make the top five most transferred in players ahead of GW 15. Elsewhere, Leeds’ Patrick Bamford is also on the list, so is United’s Bruno Fernandes.
Most transferred (in) players ahead of GW 15
The two Chelsea full-backs who are nursing injuries are being shipped out by FPL managers. Surprisingly, City’s De Bruyne who is among the most consistent FPL players in the last few years and who has a nice fixture against Newcastle this week finds himself on his way out of teams. Jamie Vardy who has eleven goals to his name is also on the list of most transferred picks this week. A rather tricky run of games after Christmas might be the reason for FPL managers to ditch last season’s Golden Boot winner.
Most transferred (out) players ahead of GW 15
Top picks for Gameweek 15 and 16
Whether you bring them in through transfers or (luckily enough) have them in your squad already, these are the five hottest selections for GW 15 and 16:
Common picks for Gameweek 15 and 16:
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): The Liverpool frontman showed off his FPL credentials in style last week as he delivered two goals and an assist even after only coming on as a substitute. Up against West Brom and Newcastle in the next few weeks and with a mouthwatering double gameweek on the horizon, Salah is simply a must-have.
Patrick Bamford (Leeds United): Marcelo Bielsa’s men may have divided opinions in recent weeks but there is little doubt over their attacking ability. Bamford has nine goals and three assists to his name already and games against Burnley and West Brom would only help him add to the tally.
Andy Robertson (Liverpool): The Liverpool left-back has delivered two assists in his last two matches and has been getting in really advanced positions all season long. The Reds have also strengthened defensively in recent weeks with three clean sheets in their last six matches. Up against, West Brom and Newcastle, the Reds would be expected to keep clean sheets and with Robertson, attacking returns and bonus points are always around the corner
Picks for Gameweek 15:
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): The Belgian has been below par compared to his previous seasons, but he has been getting into the groove in the last few weeks. He has the highest xA (Expected Assists) tally in the Premier League and against a struggling Newcastle side, he could be in serious business.
Yerry Mina (Everton): The Toffees have turned their season around with three straight wins and with clean sheets against Leicester and Chelsea in the process their defence is looking solid. Up against a Sheffield United side who struggle for goals, Mina can be backed for a clean sheet. Everton have scored eight times from set-pieces and Mina can be a huge threat from corners as he showed against Arsenal. The Blades are especially vulnerable defensively on dead-ball situations, something that the Colombian can exploit.
Picks for Gameweek 16:
Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur): The Spurs midfielder has been in red-hot form this season and will relish the game against Fulham who like to attack rather than sit back. The South Korean has been deadly against teams that given him a bit of space behind to run into and against Fulham at home, the South Korean can be devastating.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City): The Foxes frontman has been in scintillating form on the road and has returned in five out of the six Leicester games away from home. Nine out of his eleven goals have come on Leicester’s travels and against a Crystal Palace side that have not kept a clean sheet in 13 straight games, he is a must-have.
Top differential picks for GW 15 and 16
For GW 15:
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City): With just 4.3% ownership, Sterling has great differential potential especially when he is showing signs of returning to form. Having returned in three out of the last four gameweeks, Sterling is a great alternative for De Bruyne.
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): The Blues winger was involved in every Chelsea goal against West Ham. Although it translated to just one assist, the American showed signs of his best form. Against a struggling Arsenal, he could make a difference for the Blues as well as your FPL team.
Rodrigo (Leeds United): Leeds’ summer signing seems to have finally found his feet at Elland Road and has started their last three matches. Netting a goal and bagging an assist in those games, the Spaniard looked quite threatening. With games against Burnley and West Brom, he could finally begin to live up to his potential.
For GW 16:
Charlie Taylor (Burnley): Burnley have got great fixtures and are slowly beginning to get their defensive solidity back. At home against Sheffield United, Burnley is a decent bet for a clean sheet. With left-back Taylor, attacking returns are also a possibility.
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea): With Tammy Abraham favourite to start at Arsenal, Giroud could be all set to play Chelsea’s home game against Villa two days later. The Frenchman has been in great goalscoring form and will get plenty of chances at Stamford Bridge where the Blues have scored three or more goals in three out of the five matches.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United): The French striker has double-digit hauls in his last two gameweeks, and also scored in the Carabao Cup win over Everton. Owned by just 3.8% of FPL managers, Martial can boost your rank if he has a good haul against Wolves who have leaked goals on the road.
In terms of the captain’s armband in gameweeks 15 and 16, there are a few obvious candidates. Facing West Brom, Salah is a very strong option for captaincy in GW 15. De Bruyne and Sterling are also good alternatives but it is hard to back against Salah in such kind of form.
For GW 16, the Spurs duo of Kane and Son would be frontrunners given their home game against Fulham. The two players have combined more than any other duo in the Premier League this season and against their London rivals, it is hard to see both of them blank. Jose Mourinho is also not a big fan of rotation and you could see both these players play all games during the tight schedule. The evergreen Salah once again is a top alternative, but the Spurs duo are just ahead.
FPL Deadline for GW15: 4.30 pm IST, Saturday, December 26, 2020.
FPL Deadline for GW16: 10.30 pm IST, Monday, January 1, 2021.
Note: The gameweek 16 deadline marks the end of the window to use your first wildcard. So in case you haven’t used it so far, make sure to do so before the deadline on Monday.
(Stats Courtesy: Fantasy Premier League website, WhoScored.com, FBref.com. Percentage stats as of Friday.)
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