Gameweek 13. Unlucky for some. After a week that saw Dean Smith and Steven Gerrard get off to winning starts at their new clubs, Eddie Howe missing his Newcastle touchline debut with Covid-19 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer given the boot by Manchester United, Fantasy Premier League managers have an awful lot of variables to consider. Approaching the hectic Christmas schedule, here are our three tips for success this weekend.
Spend big on your backline
If you haven’t clocked this one already, this season defenders are returning far greater value for money than forwards. At this point, it is worth dropping one of your premium forwards or midfielders to make sure you have at least two of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Joao Cancelo in your team. In fact, I've just made the move to make sure all three are in my starting XI for the foreseeable future - given their attacking returns in recent weeks.
James scored yet another belting goal in midweek while Alexander-Arnold has returned 12 and 15 points in the last two gameweeks respectively, edging out Cancelo’s cumulative total by just a point over the same time period. They will be rested on occasion, so make sure you have a fully fit bench, but these three seem like must-haves right now.
Gamble with new manager differentials
If you need to make up some points on your league rivals, one way to make that happen is to pick up the players who are now under new bosses. Callum Wilson (£7.4m) has already proven he can score goals in this league under Eddie Howe and we can expect an upturn in returns from him and Ollie Watkins (£7.3m) got off to a scoring start under Steven Gerrard but perhaps the ones to keep an eye on are Norwich assets.
They beat Southampton 2-1 in Dean Smith’s first game in charge, have now won back-to-back games and are off the foot of the table. The former Villa bosses first team selection gave us clues to how he wants to play but it also provided excellent value in FPL. Todd Cantwell (£5.3m), arguably Norwich’s most creative player is back in the fold for the first time this season and represents a bargain at that price while Billy Gilmour (£4.4m) also started in midfield. However, as always with the Canaries, Teemu Pukki (£5.8) looks set to continue as their main goalscoring threat and has now scored two in two. His price, along with Cantwell's, is only going to increase.
Leicester’s fixtures bring new possibilities
Brendan Rodgers is fighting a tough battle with Leicester at the moment, with the Foxes down in 12th as they also fight it on in Europe. But with their European adventure on a knife-edge ahead of tonight’s encounter with Legia Warsaw, they also have a kind run of league fixtures to get stuck into.
Jamie Vardy (£10.6m) is the second-highest scoring forward so far, despite his team’s iffy form, Timothy Castagne is a healthy option at 5.3m and Harvey Barnes, if he can nail down a starting spot, could be a valuable asset at £6.5m. Wait and see on this Leicester side, but a break from Europe, or any end to that campaign over the Christmas period could see Vardy in particular become integral to our sides.