The craziest period of the Premier League season is here. Fixtures come thick and fast either side of Christmas and the races for different spots in the Premier League enter the bonus lap. For teams that excel in this hectic period, rewards are aplenty, and for those who fail, problems crop up in equal measure.
The same applies for FPL managers who need to get all their wits together to come unscathed from this tricky period of gameweeks where player rotation is frequent.
So while picking your squad for GW 18, it's important you have an eye on fixtures till GW 21 as they will pass in a blink of an eye. With very little time to recover in between games, form becomes a crucial factor in choosing players ahead of the festive period.
The top three in the Premier League are flying. Liverpool haven't dropped a point since drawing at Arsenal, Manchester City recovered from the defeat at the hands of Chelsea with three straight wins, although the final one came via a penalty shootout. Tottenham Hotspur are fresh from a victory in the north-London derby and will be looking to continue their fine form in the Premier League.
The Reds travel to upbeat Wolves on Friday, while Spurs face a tricky encounter against Everton at Goodison Park. City have the pick of the fixtures among the top three as they entertain Crystal Palace.
That fixture automatically makes Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane hot properties. Sterling has only featured from the bench in the last two games, while Sane was not used by Guardiola against Leicester in midweek. Expect the duo to start and be among the points. The City duo would also most likely fight it out for the armband this week.
Challenging the City duo for the most popular choice for armband would be Chelsea's Eden Hazard. The Belgian has five assists and a goal in his last five games in the league. Hazard also scored Chelsea's winner in the League Cup in midweek after coming off the bench. The Blues talisman appears to be back among the goals after a lean period. However, Hazard might not be as effective as a false nine at home where Leicester are expected to sit very deep.
Arsenal will look to bounce back from two straight defeats and a home game against Burnley presents them a great chance to do so. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been relatively quiet in recent matches but this might be the game where he springs back into life. With kind fixtures awaiting Arsenal in the festive period, it's better to have Aubameyang in your team. Same applies for Spurs' Harry Kane who like Aubameyang is expected to notch more goals in the days to come.
Son Heung-Min will soon disappear for AFC Asian Cup duty with South Korea so it is advisable for FPL managers to not just shop on basis of his current form. Dele Alli is a much better option as he is likely to get more among the goals in this festive period, especially after netting in the League Cup win over Arsenal.
The festive period might be coming at the perfect time for West Ham United. They are in red-hot form and face a fairly easy list of opponents till the new year. It's no surprise to see Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass being the most-purchased midfielders after City's Sane.
Manchester United, who have dominated headlines all week after dismissing Jose Mourinho from the position of head coach, have some tasty fixtures coming up. Teams usually react well after a managerial change and that adds to the temptation of investing in United players. However, it is advisable to wait for a week or two to understand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's thinking in terms of team selection with no dearth of attacking talent at his disposal. As for the defensive side, Mourinho's departure isn’t going to improve it overnight and hence it's safe to not bring in United's defenders.
Top picks for festive period
Danny Ings (Southampton): Ings is the most purchased forward this week. The forward on loan from Liverpool has quietly netted six goals this season. The brace against Arsenal, a very generous price of £5.4m and games against Huddersfield and West Ham have made him a very interesting prospect.
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): The Belgian wizard is back and how. A stunning long-range strike was his way of announcing his return to fitness. With City missing David Silva, Guardiola will hand De Bruyne his first league start after recovering from injury sooner rather than later. With a price of £9.7m, you could be a beneficiary of a potential price rise that is expected as soon as the Belgian starts and makes an impact.
Aboubakar Kamara (Fulham): Fulham might be bottom of the league, but the Christmas period is when they might spark a turnaround. A fixture list of Newcastle, Wolves and Huddersfield is quite encouraging. Kamara has been a regular starter under Claudio Ranieri and has looked a threat in the last few games. Expect him to get a goal or assist. At a price of just £4.4m, he is a steal
Ruben Loftus Cheek (Chelsea): The general feeling around Chelsea after recent weeks is that Loftus Cheek's time has arrived. The England international was the best Chelsea player against Bournemouth. Maurizio Sarri and Gianfranco Zola have both showered praise on Loftus Cheek and the youngster might finally be set for a run of games in the Blues starting XI.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur): Spurs struggled to keep clean sheets in the initial parts of the season but have been much more resolute in recent weeks. With fairly easy fixtures over the next few weeks, expect Tottenham to keep more clean sheets. Lloris is the cheapest goalkeeper among the top four teams and would be a great choice for the next few gameweeks.
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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2018 09:12:45 IST