Despite the playoff-style international break being one of the most thrilling weeks of soccer every four years, our focus now returns to the Premier League for the next four months straight—and it will require your full attention.
In the five weeks between now and Boxing Day, there will be nine Premier League matchdays to keep us busy, which kicks off with the North London derby between Arsenal and Spurs on Saturday. Buckle up, it’s going to be a busy couples of weeks.
Gameweek 11 was one of my best weeks of the season, and of my Bargain Hunter career, with three of my five points pulling in major points. Charlie Daniels recorded a clean sheet, Xherdan Shaqiri starred with a goal, assist and three bonus points, and Glenn Murray continued to put up numbers for Brighton with a goal and two bonus points.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 12. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the Premier League on a weekly basis. Our friends at FPL.com take the data from a thousand private leagues, all of which consist of eight teams, in order to minimize the impact of data from public leagues where autopick drafting is more prevalent. Of course, it’s just a sample size, so it’s not hard and fast; but it should give us a good idea of the tendencies of FPL Draft leagues and managers. Remember, the waivers deadline is a full 24 hours before the first game of the week, and the lowest-placed team in your league gets the first pick.
One-week Pick (OWP) - When a regular is suspended for a match, ineligible to face his parent club as a loanee, or his fill-in looks to deputize for only a week while the regular nurses a minor injury, this is where to find some replacements. They should only be looked at when you really need help at a position that week alone, and not looked at as long term plays. Best for salary cap leagues with unlimited transactions, not so much for draft leagues.
Short-term Pick (STP) - When a regular faces a multi-game suspension, an injury layoff lasting 2-5 weeks, international commitment, etc., this is where you look for players that can offer more beyond one week but do have a limited shelf life in most cases. Worth using a waiver claim or spending a bit more of your free agent budget (FAAB) than the One Week Buys. Can be useful in salary-cap format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks. Also someone used as a
Long-term Picks (LTP) - When a regular is either facing a month or more out or has lost his spot seemingly to someone better, these are the players that emerge as potential long-term investments and are therefore the most valuable of the group and worth paying up. Great for any format, but especially valuable in draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace)
To be fully transparent, I’m not exactly thrilled with my picks for the upcoming week. With the exception of Chris Smalling over Joe Gomez, I would take the other four Gameweek 11 picks over this week’s picks. But with the current free agent pools, based on our weekly samples, it doesn’t hurt to give you options in case some of those older picks are taken in your specific FPL Draft leagues.
Let’s start with the evergreen Julian Speroni, who has taken back the starting job from Wayne Hennessey in goal for Crystal Palace. The Argentine has started each of the last four league matches, starting with that shock 2-1 win against Chelsea, and has seven saves since getting the call from Roy Hodgson. In case you’re in a real keeper crisis, Speroni is a serviceable stopgap as a short-term pickup with a light holiday schedule ahead for the south London side.
DEF – Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
For the time being, I think a move for Chris Smalling is an absolute steal. With so many games in the next month, I would expect a bit of rotation from the top sides, but we know that Jose Mourinho likes to stick with certain players and setups when the going’s good. And with Phil Jones nursing a thigh injury that he aggravated during the international break, Smalling could have more of secure spot in the United starting lineup that most presume.
The long-time Red Devils defender has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the last five Premier League matches, which includes three clean sheets and two bonus points. The club only has Arsenal and Manchester City in Gameweek 15 and 16 to worry about as tough prospective fixtures between now and mid-January, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for clean sheets, and he’s available in 63 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues.
DEF – Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Jagielka has experienced a late-career Renaissance with the appointment of long-time coach David Unsworth as caretaker manager as the club continues its long-winded managerial search. After nearly leaving the club last January, the 36-year-old has now started and played the full 90 minutes in the last four matches, good enough to even keep Ashley Williams out of the starting lineup in a thrilling 3-2 win against Watford last week.
Now, I still prefer Charlie Daniels and Chris Smalling as better options if they are available in your FPL Draft leagues, but Jagielka is a good alternative available in roughly three-fourths of leagues. What I like most about Jagielka is the club’s upcoming schedule with Crystal Palace, Southampton, West Ham and Huddersfield all due up in the next few weeks. He’s not a bad short-term option, as long as he continues to start.
MID– Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Given Manchester City’s undefeated run of form and blistering attack, it looks like everyone in the club’s starting lineup is benefitting, and that especially includes Fernandinho. The Brazilian has started every game this season and has seen some attacking numbers trickle his way as well with two goals and three assists already. It’s crazy to think he’s putting up better numbers this season, so far, than Mesut Ozil, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
I can’t imagine Manchester City continuing at this current pace for long, meaning Fernandinho is likely going to be one of the first to suffer. But I also can’t see that streak ending anytime soon with Leicester City, Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham in the next four weeks. If you are searching for a fifth midfielder who can come off the bench, Fernandinho is a productive choice available in more than 60 percent of our FPL Draft sample.
FWD– Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
You’ll surely hear this 10 more times throughout the season, but goalkeepers and forwards are always the toughest bargains to find, considering the limited availability of quality starters. In the last few weeks, I’ve suggested Glenn Murray and Tammy Abraham, and I would still recommend them over Calvert-Lewin, who has plenty of promise but is still growing into his Premier League boots.
The 20-year-old has received plenty of playing time this season, starting seven matches this season. Calvert-Lewin came off the bench last week to score his first league goal of the season against Watford, which goes with his three assists so far this season. The forward is clearly a better option for the FPL.com game than FPL Draft due to his £5.0 price, so I would keep an eye on him for now in the hopes that he catches fire soon.