1) Hazard (£11.3m) or Sterling (£11.2m)? Both have started the season in great form, but which player would you pick out of the two?
It’s a very close call between the two in my eyes, but I think I just favour Hazard. There are a few reasons for this: Hazard has a much higher ownership at 43.9%, so if he bangs, it can really harm your rank; and also, as the talisman for Chelsea, I would expect him to start the majority, if not all games over the winter period, and this security of starts makes him a genuine captain option most weeks.
For us, it’s Hazard. Although Sterling is arguably on the better form, Hazard is a more dependable premium midfielder. Both have the potential to light up a game, delivering massive returns. The main difference is that in his current system, Sterling is much more vulnerable to rotation. Pep just loves to keep us FPL managers guessing!
For the amount of money required to own either of them, you need – you deserve – to have him play every match. A second reason, although on a much smaller scale, is that in Chelsea’s XI, Hazard is the man. He’s the one the rest of the team looks to play the ball to. Haz is clearly their go-to attacker. He’s their target man.
Whereas at City, Sterling is one of many attackers that have similar potential. Aguero, Sane, KDB (when healthy), Mahrez and David Silva are all equally good options. The depth of the City squad is why Pep is fast and loose with his rotations. Allocating that £100m budget is challenging. And we invest a lot of time and thought into selecting our players, especially the Starting XI. So it stands to reason that those players play as close to 90 minutes every week.
For consistency’s sake, Hazard is our choice between the two.
Hazard was the main man at the start of the season, scoring 7 goals and assisting 3 in his first 8 league matches. By GW9, his price had risen from £10.5m to a ridiculous £11.4m, reflecting his outstanding performances.
However, a mixture of injury and fixtures has led to the Belgian only getting 1 assist in the last 4 game weeks, resulting in over 400,000 managers transferring him out. Still selected by over 43% of managers, he is still a popular choice in the FPL community.
Sterling on the other hand is only selected by 9% of managers, yet has contributed to more goals than Hazard. Sterling has scored 6 goals and assisted 5, although has played 60 minutes more than the Chelsea star. Over the last 4 game weeks, Sterling has scored 2 goals and assisted 3, outscoring Hazard considerably.
Both have a mixed bag of fixtures coming up, with both playing each other in GW16 at Stamford Bridge. If you look at the stats, then Hazard leads in a majority of the fields, including shots per 90, key passes per 90 and expected assists.
It seems that Sterling is finally getting the recognition he deserves, and in turn has caused an FPL headache for Hazard owners. Hazard has the minutes guarantee whereas Sterling is playing in the highest scoring team in the league.
If we had to pick, we would go for Hazard solely because of his limited rotation risk. The Pep roulette is a big deciding factor, and the performances of Mahrez suggest that he is rising to the occasion when needed. As mentioned, the ownership is still firmly on the side of Hazard, and not owning him can be a massive rank killer at this point in the season.
2) After the recent Mendy injury, who is the best replacement for the Frenchman? Is double City defence a good choice?
I still think that Laporte is the standout replacement for Mendy as he offers nailed-on cover for the best team in the league, and I think a double up with Ederson is certainly viable. However, for people who are looking to free up funds to upgrade other players, I think Doherty and Digne are the stand out options as they provide great value and attacking threat.
Once again, Mendy stirs things up in FPL. It seems that he and Pep collude to make FPL as unpredictable as possible! Joking aside, his injury and subsequent surgery really made managers scramble. He was an anchor in most FPL teams’ defenses – putting the “M” in the RAM combination.
But sometimes things like this are good for us. It forces our hands to make somewhat difficult decisions that ultimately create more differential between teams. It seems that a popular option for a lot of managers is to choose like for like from the same team. Laporte is being transferred in to a lot of FPL teams. He’s right up there with Mendy in terms of points. Plus, he’s part of that strong City defense. Laporte is a good choice. We brought him in to replace Mendy.
In terms of doubling up on City defenders, it’s not a bad idea. Since Ederson is a widely-owned goalkeeper, a lot of managers likely already had the double because they also owned Mendy. Given the relative ease of fixtures all the way through the end of December, choosing the double could pay off.
There’s always a risk when having two players from the same team in the back: If that team concedes a goal, two chances for clean sheet points are lost instead of one. But with City, it seems like a risk worth taking. So much in FPL is about risk-reward. And calculated risks can provide big hauls.
A lot of talk has been made about Laporte, but Kyle Walker (£6.5m) is another great option if you’re in need to a Man City defender. Non-City options include Trippier (£6.2m), Robertson (£6.5m) and Alonso (£7.1m)(if you don’t already own one or both of them), TAA (£5.1m) and VVD (£6.0m) from Liverpool. This also presents managers with the opportunity to find a less expensive solution so they can invest the savings in upgrading another area of their teams. Lower-priced choices include, Dunk (£4.5m), Doherty (£4.9m)(if fit), Keane (£4.9m), Pereira (£5.0m) and Chilwell (£5.1m).
We have recently discussed this hot topic in our recent article which we recommend you take some time to read. We think that the decision has to be made on reflection to your own squad and its current situation.
For example, if you are selling Mendy and do not have another City defensive asset, then the priority would be to do a straight swap. If this is your situation, then Laporte (£6.0m) and Stones (£5.3m) are the two best alternatives to pick from. Stones represents the value pick but possible rotation risk, whereas Laporte represents minutes guarantee (until the Pep roulette returns), at a premium price.
We think both players will be susceptible to rotation over the busy Christmas schedule, with Kompany and Otamendi waiting in the wings. We would personally go for Laporte as a Mendy alternative, as it seems Laporte is a tougher man to replace in the defence being the only left footed centre back.
Outside of City defensive cover, the next best alternatives would be Liverpool cover. The sale of Mendy wouldn’t fund Robertson but if you have money in the bank then he would be hard to ignore as a alternative. Alonso looks a must own this season but again will be hard to fund even with the sale of Mendy, unless you have money in the bank or willing to sell another player.
Budget options, there are a few that have been mentioned on Twitter. The stand out would be Lucas Digne (£4.8m) and Mat Doherty (£4.9m). Both valued at similar prices, they provide attacking potential while having some decent fixtures in the short term.
3) With the highly owned players playing away from home and the big London derby, who is the best captaincy pick for GW13?
For me, this week is definitely the trickiest in terms of captaincy. With both Aguero and Salah playing away from home, the decision is very difficult. Aguero plays in a rampant and free scoring City team, but his minutes will likely be limited with an important CL game midweek. Salah is likely to get more minutes and has an incredible record against Watford in the league (5 goals + 2 assists in 2 games), however Liverpool still haven’t quite clicked into top gear.
I think at the minute I favour Salah for security of minutes, however the captaincy decision for me will go right down to the wire. For those looking for a differential pick, I think Richarlison (£6.9m) is a great pick after he was declared fit.
For us, Aguero or Salah seem like the best obvious choices. We’d have to imagine that they’ll be the two most-captained players of Week 13. Aguero will wear the armband in our GW13 team. Differential options include Richarlison, Martial, Mane, Sterling, Lacazette, Jimenez and Aubameyang.
Although you would expect both City and Liverpool to win their matches away from home, it isn’t a gimme for either in regards to a goal fest. Highly owned players such as Salah, Aguero and Mane therefore are not screaming out to be captained compared to other game weeks.
The other regular captain choice in Hazard faces a tough away match to London rivals Spurs, where we wouldn’t expect Hazard to have his biggest haul of the season. In fact, it is only Man United out of the ‘top 6’ that have a home match that is favourable. Martial is the obvious choice in the United side, and playing Palace there is an argument that he could continue his fine run of form.
The differential pick of the week would be Richarlison, who faces Cardiff at home. Adopting his new striker role, the Brazilian comes into the match off the back of a brace and against one of the worst travelling defences. If you’re chasing a mini-league and own him, he could be your man. For us, the choice would be between Aguero and Salah.
4) For those who still have a wildcard available, who would be the first players in your wildcard team?
I think wildcarding at this time, the main focus should be having a strong bench to survive the festive period. In order to fit in the big hitters like Aguero, Alonso and Robertson, (I think these 3 would still be the first names in my wildcard) and Salah and Hazard etc, you will have to look at utility players like Balbuena, AWB, Camarasa, Kennedy, Jimenez etc.
If you’re looking to wildcard in a few weeks, be wary of the fixture swings for Arsenal and Tottenham – some of their assets like Harry Kane (£12.4m) and Lacazette (£9.7m) should be on your wildcard watch lists.
We’d look to get an anchor for each of the four lines. In goal, we’d choose Ederson or Alisson. The defender would be Alonso or Robbo, Salah and/or Hazard in the midfield, and Aguero up top. Maybe one more premium defender and midfielder, and then it’s time to start looking for mid and low-priced options.
Goalkeepers like Ryan, Pickford and Patricio come to mind. Defenders include Doherty, Duffy, Pereira, Chilwell and Keane. In the midfield, Fraser, Richarlison, Martial and Felipe Anderson are hot at the moment. And then forwards deserving of consideration include Jimenez, Wilson, Arnie, Vardy and Murray.
A tip is to play around with different combos. Once you like a certain combination, take a screen shot so you can have it on hand and then have a go at another lineup you might like. And you can always seek input from other FPL managers like us, FPLFootballAdvice and FPL Logic.
While we would love to have this option right now in the season, it seems that there are plenty of players finding form and the choice is broad and almost impossible. There are a number of players that as of right now would be an essential pick in our wildcard team. These include: Ederson/Alisson, Alonso, Robertson, Doherty, Arnautovic and Salah. These picks are based around current form throughout the season, upcoming fixtures and big team coverage/ownership.
There is no perfect wildcard team, especially at this point in the season, and everyone will have different opinions. From early season form however, it looks that owning double (or for some triple) City and Liverpool is essential. Plenty of debate about putting all the eggs in one basket but we believe these are the two best teams to do this with if you had to find the best value throughout the course of the season.
It’s the year of the budget defenders, so don’t be afraid to fill 2 or even 3 posiitons in your team with these types of players. They provide great value and equally provide the funds to strengthen your team in the areas that you need it most.
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