It only makes sense that after heralding my best week of bargain picks, the midweek fixtures make an absolute mockery of me. No clean sheets, no goals, we were left with just a lot bunch of promise.
As always, we reminded of the lesson to check injury news just before your deadlines and picks as this column publishes well before the weekly press conferences. I say this because Charlie Austin was suddenly ruled out with a minor injury on gameday, yet I still think he will end up as a great bargain in just about any fantasy Premier League format.
So too will Steven Naismith, who couldn’t transfer a stellar performance against Liverpool to Spurs on Tuesday. Still, reliable and productive forwards are always hard to come by and these two have the proven track record to be just that.
As I mentioned last week, we will start to see the influx of winter transfers making club debuts, but be cautious about selecting them until you see them play. You can find two winter arrivals below who I think will make a sudden impact in their respective sides.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 25. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
One Week Buys (OWB) - 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.
Short-term Buys (STB) - 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 Fantasy Premier League format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks.
Long-term Buys (LTB) - 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 the FPL.com game.
GK – Fraser Forster (Southampton)
I recommended Forster the week after his return from a long-term injury in Week 21 after recording a clean sheet against Watford. But if you saw the Arsenal match on Tuesday, you would understand why I am compelled to suggest him once again. Southampton has not given up a single goal since his return, meaning Forster has recorded four straight clean sheets, just two short of the club’s season total in 20 weeks before his return. Against Arsenal, the keeper was the clear Man of the Match with his 10 saves. Forster is a premium long-term buy in any league format (available for just £4.8 in FPL.com) and was still available in nearly half of all Fantrax draft leagues prior to the Arsenal match. Without a doubt, Forster has been the best bargain of 2016 so far.
DEF – Marc Muniesa (Stoke City)
The former Barcelona man looks like a great way to break into a strong Stoke City defense that is waiting for Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson and Geoff Cameron to return. Muniesa is definitely a short-term buy at best and looks like a great one-week buy best suited for weekly DraftKings leagues for this week at home against Everton with an injured Romelu Lukaku. This is definitely one to check the injury news on Friday to see if Philipp Wollscheid and both Geoff Cameron are fit to start, but at the moment I’d expect Muniesa to get the nod like he did this past week against Manchester United. But be wary once Cameron and Wollscheid both return to full fitness, which won’t be too far off.
MID – Sandro (West Brom)
Sandro has jumped right into West Brom’s setup in a surprising swoop that rarely happens to a Tony Pulis team (Saido Berahino, take note). But adding Sandro is not for everyone, especially if you are in goal-driven leagues like FPL.com (unless you just need a reliable place-filler on your bench to squeeze under the salary cap). But for leagues that reward tackles, interceptions and defensive metrics, Sandro is an excellent buy, particularly if he is available on the waiver wire in a draft league. He is selected in just 1.4 percent of Fantrax draft leagues and he’s probably available in your league as well. When healthy, the Brazilian excels at protecting the back-line, something that will make him a constant figure in any Pulis setup.
MID – Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City)
I’m always pleased to see Sigurdsson at a top level, considering what he did at the start of the 2014/15 season. He was essentially what Riyad Mahrez is to Leicester City now, except for Siggy’s second-half drop-off last season. But the Icelandic star looks to be back at it despite playing for a struggling Swansea side. Don’t look now, but Sigurdsson has scored four goals in the past five Premier League matches—that’s more than half of the club’s goals in that time. Although he is likely already picked up in your draft league, the midfielder looks like a solid option in FPL.com at £7.0 and would be a shrewd choice for your weekly lineup in DraftKings.
FWD – Alberto Paloschi (Swansea City)
We got to see Swansea’s new £8 million man in action on Tuesday after Ki Sung-yeung was taken off with a head injury. Even though it was just one half, Swansea looked like a completely different team with Paloschi up top. His skillset (excellent finishing, darting runs into space, forward passing vision) pairs exceptionally well with that of Andre Ayew and he is a hand-picked Guidolin favorite. The Italian came close twice in the second half against West Brom and I expect him to become a regular starter in no time. It may not be the time to use a transfer on him in leagues with limited transfers, but he’d be a great pickup in a draft league when he can fill a spot on the bench until he starts scoring. Do it quick, because Fantrax says he is getting snapped up quick (he has been selected in 13 percent more leagues for Week 25 than he was for Week 24).