20 Teams: 20 Players looks at the best fantasy football option from each team, each week. From the must starts to the best of a bad bunch, here are this week’s picks for Gameweek 24 and 25 of the 2015/16 season.
Arsenal (Southampton A)
Olivier Giroud: Giroud has been on a good run of form with two goals and two assists from his last six appearances. These stats don’t tell the full story however, as the Frenchman’s 16 attempts from inside the box prove his returns could have been much better. Arsenal will be out for revenge after suffering an embarrassing thrashing at home to this Southampton side on Boxing Day.
Aston Villa (West Ham A)
Mark Bunn: Finally! An Aston Villa player has emerged as a legitimate fantasy option after 23 long weeks of FPL 15/16. Goalkeeper Mark Bunn – who replaced the ineffective Brad Guzan in Gameweek 21 – has been nothing short of sensational since coming into the side. Bunn has conceded just once in his three appearances, and saved a penalty against player of the season candidate Riyad Mahrez in that game. If he keeps Dimitri Payet quiet this week, he’ll start to get some serious attention from fantasy managers.
Bournemouth (Crystal Palace A)
Benik Afobe: Unless it was the morning after the London club’s Christmas Party, Bournemouth couldn’t pick a better time to play Palace than right now. Alan Pardew’s side have lost four on the spin, conceding at least three in three of those games and scoring just once themselves.
Add in the form of new signing Benik Afobe, who looks as comfortable in the Premier League as I do on my couch, and you have a recipe for goals a plenty for Eddie Howe’s side. They will now almost certainly make a mockery of this prediction by getting shut out.
Chelsea (Watford A)
Diego Costa: If his fitness holds up, no striker other than Aguero can hold a candle to Costa’s current form. Fresh off another mental and physical degradation of Arsenal’s defenders, the Spaniard should be primed to add to his record of five goals in six.
Crystal Palace (Aston Villa A)
Scott Dann: Palace have been a royal sham recently but the visit of Villa should be the tonic they need to get their once solid defence back on track. Dann and his teammates can take solace from the fact the side they’re facing have scored just four goals in their last six appearances.
Everton (Newcastle H)
Romelu Lukaku: A quiet patch of four games without a goal will have some losing the faith with the perennially “inconsistent” Lukaku but it can’t be denied that the Belgian has taken his game to new levels. He goes up against the Newcastle side that helped Odion Ighalo round nicely back into form last week.
Leicester City (Liverpool H)
Jamie Vardy: Vardy was back among the goals last week and now has likely assumed penalty duties from the suddenly ice cold Riyad Mahrez. Look for Leicester to continue to strut the attacking form that went missing over Christmas against a Liverpool team that just shipped four to Norwich.
Liverpool (Leicester A)
Roberto Firmino: With Daniel Sturridge displaying the durability of snow flake in the Sahara, and Christian Benteke in a state of constant perplexity in Jurgen Klopp’s system, Roberto Firmino has been asked to take on the primary attacking role.
The former Hoffenheim man has risen to the challenge admirably over the last few weeks, scoring four goals and adding an assist in his last three games.
Manchester City (Sunderland A)
Sergio Aguero: Four goals in two games and a trip to Sunderland makes this a no brainer for the Premier League’s premier player.
Manchester United (Stoke H)
David DeGea: Denied a clean sheet by a cruel 87th minute goal, DeGea owners take solace in the knowledge that Louis van Gaal hates attacking football and will probably play a ten man defence in order to blunt Stoke’s attacking threats. United maintain a decent defensive record at home and Stoke have scored the fewest goals of any top ten side. This one has 0-0 written all over it.
Newcastle United (Everton A)
Georginio Wijnaldum: There was once a time when picking somebody for this section of the column was the most intimidating part of our week, but thanks to the Dutch destroyer we are free from the burden of thought once more. That is unless the new arrival of Andros Townsend adds a little competition to the equation. Which it won’t, because Townsend is useless.
Norwich City (Spurs H)
Steven Naismith: Naismith started his Norwich career off with a goal and an assist against Liverpool, meaning his fantasy relevance skyrockets on a team that has been devoid of any worthy candidates since Wes Hoolahan’s early season form was replaced by a game of “Where’s Wesley?”. This week’s match up against Spurs is pretty unappealing, however.
Southampton (Arsenal A)
Shane Long: If he gets the start over Charlie Austin, Long has the good memories of scoring twice against this Arsenal side last month. He’s always better when his side plays on the counter and that should be the case this weekend.
Stoke City (Man Utd H)
Jack Butland: With United having failed to score at home before half-time since September and Butland having been the best goalkeeper in fantasy football this season, this represents an easy call to make.
Sunderland (Man City H)
Jermaine Defoe: Defoe has scored plenty of goals for Sunderland and constantly seems to exceed what managers expect from him. His nine this season have come from fewer shots than any striker with as many goals. City have kept three clean sheets in 11 after opening the season with seven in their first twelve games.
Swansea (West Brom A)
Andre Ayew: Swansea’s season would be dead and buried without their summer signing, Andre Ayew. West Brom hadn’t kept a clean sheet for over a month until last week, but the return of Ben Foster in goal makes them a tougher challenge.
Nonetheless, the Ghanaian international is the undisputed leader of the Welsh attack at present and has even replaced Bafetimbi Gomis up front in some games.
Tottenham Hotspur (Norwich City A)
Dele Alli: A goal and an assist from Ali helped Spurs to crucial win last week and showed just how talented a youngster he is. His six goals and six assists are coming at an other-worldly value for fantasy managers. Norwich, who conceded five last week to Liverpool, represents a great opportunity to add to his tally.
Watford (Chelsea H)
Odion Ighalo: Ighalo notched a goal and an assist last time out, taking his tally for the season to 15/6. Chelsea’s defensive efforts this season have been way below what Stamford Bridge is accustomed to and cut get ripped apart by the Deeney – Ighalo combination.
West Brom (Swansea H)
Ben Foster: Foster returned between the sticks after a lengthy absence and immediately piloted the side to their first clean sheet for four matches. The English internationals return to the line up shows the high esteem he’s held in by Tony Pulis and a match up against struggling Swansea will hold little fear for him as he adjusts to life back on the pitch.
West Ham (Aston Villa H)
Dimitri Payet: The best buy of the season against the worst team of the season, Payet should have Villa’s porous defence crying “Uncle” long before this one is out. After a three month absence, it’s great to see he has lost little vigour or creativity in the way he plays.