FPL Christmas Crackers
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FPL Mariner‘s FPL Christmas Crackers

It really is the most wonderful time of the year and whilst we might not be driving home for Christmas this year, we can at least console ourselves with a rapid-fire football and FPL extravaganza awaits us this festive period to lift our spirits among the COVID woes.


The eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a bit of trend in this article so here’s to you raise a glass for everyone and let’s take a dive into Game Weeks 14 to 17 over this festive period to try and identify our three Kings and a couple of band aids in case your team needs medical treatment.

Fixture Difficulty Rating

Those who follow me on Twitter will know how much emphasis I put on fixture difficulty rating (FDR) and captaincy choices on a week-to-week basis.

Is it going to be a White or Blue Christmas? Can anyone stop the Cavalry of the Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool attacks?

For reference my FDR is based on a match up principle of attack v defence and vice versa for expected goals and expected goals conceded, shots in box taken and conceded and also big chances created and conceded. This then creates an arbitrary number based on the match ups, dark green is good, dark red bad etc.

As for the range of data I continue to use a period which generally does not involve fans in the ground, so in other words, since the world has been living in dread and fear of COVID19 – from Project Restart onwards and last years data is still weighted in at 20%, 2021 (full season) at 50% and the last three game weeks at 30% (GW 10-12).

This is important as it gives us the opportunity to take into account sudden changes in fortune (& rating), for example Everton without Richarlison etc heralded the clanging chimes of doom for their attack during that period.

So, what does it tell us? Well firstly a general statement that attacking match ups are still better than defensive ones, this immediately makes me only want to consider a defender with the potential for attacking returns.

Attacking wise, its fairly obvious from the table that Liverpool (1.98 Avg 14-17) and Manchester City (1.65) stand out within the so-called big hitters. Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs but do not have the output of the former. Interestingly it doesn’t suggest a time for parties and celebrations for Leicester, but we all know who can buck that trend don’t we!

Outside the top six, West Ham (1.87) are worthy of mention, this possibly due to their outstanding creation of headed chances – more on this later.

We must also pray for the other ones who look to be set for a tough period, WBA seemingly the stand-out from a defensive frailty point of view given the upcoming fixtures.

As for Southampton, It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid – but It will also be a great test for their defence with some very difficult match ups incoming.

Rotation Risk

Christmas is that one time of the year when rotation affects the rich and the poor ones, the old and the young and not just those competing on many fronts. Aston Villa thankfully had a rest due to Newcastle Covid issues so I’m hopeful they won’t be affected but this really is a time where you need a strong bench to cover.

So, given due consideration to both fixtures and rotation lets try and find those treats under the tree.

The Three Kings (AKA Chelsea Defence)

Zouma 5.7 M 
James 5.3 M
Chilwell 6.2M

I have packaged these up as one player, although you may consider doubling up as a differential over the period given all their potential for attacking returns over the period combined with better than average chances of clean sheets too.

Stats wise, and for those about to head out Christmas shopping on the back of this article, one slight concern may be James if he picks up another card in the next GW as he will be teetering on the brink of a ban. That said James is cheaper than Chilwell and may enable you to reinvest. He is also performing closest to his stats rather than overperforming and passes the eye test.
Either way, in Reece James, when this season comes to pass, a star is born.

Rotation wise, Zouma is probably the most nailed and whilst the headed match ups in the coming weeks are more challenging, you’ve got the feel you’re on solid ground owning him and I would not bet against another towering header nestling in the net from the man mountain

Reguilon (TOT)

The theme continues of attacking defensive assets with Reguilon.

Clearly Jose has gone full “Mourinho” in recent matches parking that bus, however Reguilon continues to pass the eye test for me and also looks to be getting into the right positions – its just the output that Is missing so I back him to put this right in the coming weeks and as a result I am dreaming of a White Christmas.

(Courtesy of SofaScore)

Soucek (WHU)

Thomas Soucek (WHU) in recent weeks has finally started to deliver on the promise he has shown and represents in my opinion some of the best value in the game and is ideally placed to fill your 4th or 5th Midfield spot through the Christmas Period.

He is heavily involved in the box and with the service of both Creswell and Coufal I can see more returns over the Christmas period.

(Courtesy of SofaScore)

I genuinely see him as a bright new shining star and an essential enabler.

Captains

As for captaincy woes, this year, to save me from tears I’ll give it to someone special and therefore the last THREE picks are based on captaincy choices between GW 14 and GW 17 and interestingly are all penalty takers!

Bruno Fernandes (Man U) Whilst he offers an excellent captaincy option in GW14 v a woeful Leeds defence, I think I would not captain him GW15 to 18 and therefore as a result we will concentrate on the other three wise men bearing gifts this season of good will.

Mo Salah (LIV)

Illustration by Stadium of Sports

Cou

Whilst Liverpool (& Mo) appear somewhat off the boil I back Mo to come good over the period where the fixtures are favourable throughout. It really would be a brave soul to not have him (or captain him) v WBA in GW15 given he tops Shots in box (90) with 1.8 and has 1/3 of Liverpool’s XG. So, you’d better watch out, you better not cry you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Mo Salah is coming to town!

Kevin De Bruyne (MCI)

FPL GW11 Wildcard
Illustration by Stadium of Sports

KDB is breaking the stats in the wrong way, confounding XG and XA probably due to those around him not hitting their straps.

However, I still back him to make spirits bright over the festive period given the return of Aguero.

Harry Kane (TOT)

Illustration by Stadium of Sports

As a non-Kane owner for now, it’ll be lonely this Christmas without him to hold so now I know what a fool I’ve been I expect I will put this right by GW16 and buy him back.

Kane loves this time of year FPL returns wise and I expect this season to be no different. Despite Spurs’ more defensive outlook in recent weeks, he continues to obliterate all in his path now topping 100 FPL points amassing an incredible 19 returns from 12 fixtures (1.58 returns per match avg).

 

 

As for the Christmas Poo, the ones to avoid are undoubtedly Sheffield United, who get a resounding HOWDY NO!

 

Thanks for reading, have a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas wherever you are reading and if you are finding it tough particularly if you are away from your loved ones (as I am) my DMs on twitter are always open if you need to talk.

PS, how many Christmas song titles, or lyrics did you spot in the article? DM me via twitter @FPLmariner for the answer….

 

 


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By FPLMariner

FPLMariner is Chris Turner. He has been living in Singapore since 2017 and works in the shipping industry. He supports Grimsby Town and is active on Twitter.