Fantasy Premier League 2016-17: Players to pick for gameweek 18

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Fantasy Premier League 2016-17: Players to pick for gameweek 18

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SportsCafe Desk

12/23/2016

Gameweek 17 saw the Chelsea juggernaut continue its dominance in the top division of English football with a comfortable 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur continued their surge to the top with wins over West Brom Albion and Burnley respectively.

After suffering their first defeat since the opening day of the season, Arsenal came away empty-handed for a second game in a row with a loss at the Etihad. Liverpool replaced Arsenal in second position following their win against Everton in the Merseyside derby. 

Now the league enters a phase that it is celebrated for. The festive period will see 30 games being played in a matter of just 8 days and it could prove to be a make or break for everyone. Diego Costa, finally, picked up his fifth yellow card of the season that would render him unavailable for the Bournemouth game at the Bridge, while Manchester City's match against Hull City will be the end of Sergio Aguero's suspension.

While by the look of things, it appears that it should be an easy ride for all the "big teams", anyone who has followed the Premier League regularly will attest to the fact that literally anything is possible in the league. With games coming thick and fast, FPL managers need to be on their toes as they can gain on their rivals or extend a lead easily.

Fixtures Gameweek 18

Watford vs Crystal Palace

Arsenal vs West Bromwich Albion

Burnley vs Middlesbrough

Chelsea vs AFC Bournemouth

Leicester City vs Everton

Manchester United vs Sunderland

Swansea City vs West Ham United

Hull City vs Manchester City

Liverpool vs Stoke City

Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur

Picks for Gameweek 18 

Forwards

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11.5): After suffering a dip in form in the middle part of the season, the Manchester United forward has regained his goal-scoring touch again with six goals in seven Premier League appearances. The suspension of Diego Costa and the continued absence of Sergio Aguero along with the a couple of home games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough means that the Swede is the best option to have in your team for the upcoming matches.

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2. Harry Kane (11.2): The "Hurricane" has been off color so far this season scoring just seven goals. However, Spurs now have their full squad of players available and that could only mean more chances for the Englishman. He needs a couple of goals to get his confidence going before he starts smashing them in week in week out.

Midfielders

3. Adam Lallana (7.4):Philippe Coutinho's injury has really hit Liverpool hard as they have lost that early-season momentum since his injury. After a couple of winless games, Liverpool have replaced Arsenal at the second place on the table. This has been down to the form of Adam Lallana. The former Southampton man has three goals in as many games along with an assist. Stoke are the next opponents for Liverpool at Anfield and with the former struggling defensively Lallana could end up being your hero this week.

4. Kevin De Bruyne (10.7): After three games of no impact on the game, KDB has created two goals in the last two games - the latter the winner against Arsenal. The absence of Aguero, which should have inspired him to be the main player in the team has failed to materialize but with the Argentine just one game away from making a return, the Belgian will surely regain the form that he showed in the early part of the season. As an added incentive for you, Hull, their next opponents, have conceded the second highest goals in the league this season.

5. Theo Walcott (7.7): The Englishman has already scored eight goals this season, which is three more than he got in the whole of last season. He scored Arsenal's opener in the match against City ,and it would be highly unlikely that he would have to make way for someone after the defeat. West Brom and Palace will be the next two visitors to the Emirates and Walcott, with his clever off-the-ball running, is always the likely option to get you some points.

6. Paul Pogba (8.3): The world-record signing is yet to prove his worth for the money that United spent on him, but the Frenchman has shown glimpses of what he is capable of doing over the last few weeks. A goal and an assist in his last two games and the fact that the Manchester club has two easy home games coming up could see him play a part in the busy period for United. Being in less than 10% of the teams, Pogba could act as a differential in your team as well. 

7. Eden Hazard (10.4): Diego Costa's one-game suspension for picking up his fifth booking of the season will allow Hazard to take up the role of star player again. After scoring 5 goals in 4 matches, the Belgian has gone on a bit of a dry spell recently, but against Bournemouth, all eyes would be on him. He has carried Chelsea in some games in the past, and it would not surprise anyone if he did it again against the Dorset-based team.

Defenders

8. Jan Vertonghen (5.7): The Spurs centre-back has had an on-off season accumulating just 7 cleansheets so far this season. The injury to Toby Alderweireld didn't help Spurs' cause but now that the Belgian duo have been reunited, Spurs will look more like the solid unit that contested for the trophy last season. Available at just 5.7, he has been picked by only 9% people in their teams so he could act as a very good differential player.

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9. Phil Jones (4.9): The Manchester United fans have called him a Franco Baresi reincarnation. While I cannot condone such behavior, I would highly recommend opting for the defender in your fantasy team. Valued at just 4.9, Jones is a part of a defensive unit Mourinho's teams are well known for. The way United have conducted business over the last few weeks, it is highly unlikely that Sunderland and Middlesbrough will trouble the red devils.

10. Virgil van Dijk (5.7): Southampton have kept the most cleansheets in the league after Chelsea and the Dutchman has played a big part in the team. He looks set to beat his last season's tally of 130 points having picked up 66 already this season. In the 17 games he has played so far, van Dijk has been awarded 12 bonus points to go along with the shutouts.

Goalkeeper

11. Thibaut Courtois (5.8): When your team has kept 10 cleansheets in 17 matches and appear to have wrapped up the league title before Christmas, you deserve a starting place in any team. It's not just the defense who are playing well, the big Belgian pulled off two wonder-saves against Sunderland to secure an important win for the Blues.

Differentials 

Wilfried Zaha (5.8): After a mini recovery, Crystal Palace have now lost two games on the spin. Zaha, too, has seen a dip in form but yet again if Palace are going create anything upfront, the former Manchester United man will be the architect. His 3 goals and 8 assists this season are easily worth taking a risk on the player and the price of 5.8 doesn't do much to dissuade one from opting for him.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (7.5): The Icelandic international is the heart and soul of the Welsh club. Not only has he accumulated 5 goals and 5 assists this season but if Swansea do anything right in the game it is their No. 23 who has played a part in it. He is responsible for every set-piece and has the impressive record of finishing with over 150.

Patrick van Aanholt(5.0): The Sunderland fullback is one of the sound bets to have this season. After a brilliant display last season where he earned his managers 127 points, he has already scored 56 points so far scoring 3 goals - just one short of his tally for last season. With David Moyes finally getting results out of his team, van Aanholt could just be what your team needs.

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