Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) with his fantasy premier league December review

Here’s Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) with his fantasy premier league December review. Rob covers a number of hot topics from the month including giving the player and donkey of the month awards. He looks forward at potential blank GW28 and shows a high performing managers team from one of his mini leagues. Rob finished with a rank of 22k last season 4,701 in 2015/16 and 7,810 in 2014/15


Hi everyone and welcome to the fifth of my monthly reviews for 2017-18 FPL season. Regular visitors to the site will remember that I ran this monthly series of articles last year and I’m pleased to report I’ll be doing the same this season. With me also doing weekly ‘Player Picks’ and showing my team along with some of my fellow contributors each week, I’ve slightly changed the format to this season’s review articles.

I’ll still continue my series of observations reflecting on the previous month’s action and also looking forward to the next month. These observations are made on some basic stats analysis combined with some personal opinion derived from watching EPL action. I’ll be doing monthly awards again. Player of the Month and Donkey of the Month return but I won’t be doing One to Watch this season as it crosses over a little with my Player Picks article. Instead I’ll be doing a Team to Watch award – the EPL team who I think could provide some strong and possibly unexpected returns over the next month, with a look at their prospects and their players.

Finally, I’ll take a look at some of the high-performing teams from the mini-leagues I’m entered in this year. It’s back to my family and friends league this month and team who’s riding the wave of a recent upturn in form.

December Review

The busiest FPL month of the season has seen a bumper 7 gameweeks since my last review in early December. We were all wary of the dreaded spectre of rotation over the festive period and Premier League managers didn’t disappoint us in this regard. Our bench players were regularly called upon, with GW21 proving potentially problematic as we started to load our decks for what was ultimately a somewhat anti-climatic Double GW22. Let’s look at some of the key points.

Strike it Lucky

Much debate last month about changing formation from the traditional staple FPL 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 or even 4-5-1. At the centre of this was the #Kanexit debate with a clear split emerging between managers who sold Kane to free funds to invest in their midfield and managers who chose to hold. So what was the result? GW19 and 20 was an obvious victory for #Kaneremain. Most managers profited in GW20 by also handing him the armband and the most loyal were rewarded in GW19 as well (notably including one of my fellow contributors lol!) GW21 was a blank for Spurs which left remainers with high hopes for Sir Harold going into Spurs’ double GW22…

The Weakest Link

…and then Kane let us all down! No returns in the 2 fixtures was a clear win for #Kanexit here. Some managers had even gambled their Triple Captain chip and were left even further disappointed (leading to another fellow contributor setting up a support group on Twitter I would add!) To be fair whilst GW22 was a disappointment Kane was anything but The Weakest Link in December. If you’ve got any Stoke City players, then they must surely take this award. It’s been a terrible month for The Potters who now sit in the danger zone and are also now managerless. Surely things can only get better at The Brittania and after they play Man United this week, they’ve got a relatively kind run of fixtures which will no doubt make or break their season.

Have I Got Transfer News for You

It’s transfer window time again and it’s opened with a massive transfer, the second biggest ever in fact. Phillipe Coutinho has made his dream move to Barcelona with Riyad Mahrez being lined up as the rumoured replacement. What will this mean for Liverpool and key attacking players like Salah, Mane and Firmino? On the basis of this season’s stats, maybe not that much as Liverpool actually scored more and gain more points per game when Coutinho was injured! More of an issue here might be a possible suspension to Firmino though – we’ll watch this one closely.

In other transfer news, Everton have splashed out £27m for Beskitas striker Tosun (the best striker in the world at this price by all accounts whatever that means) with Ross Barkley leaving Goodison for Chelsea for a ‘bargain’ £15m. Time will tell how these players fit in and how they will affect the respective line-ups and I’m sure there will be much more activity through the month.

Fifteen to One

As mentioned above, a full squad of 15 proved very helpful this month, with bench players frequently being used and contributing handy points. The one thing that still stands above all though is the importance of your captain choice. This performance of this one player can have massive repercussions on your overall rank, particularly players with high ownership. There’s been some great captain choices available over the last few weeks – Salah, Sterling and Kane all standing out. There’s also been big let-downs as well though- Kane in the double, Hazard and Morata most notably. Captain Polls are really important and if you’re torn, going with the Shield option of the highly backed, high ownership player is of course often the safest option.

The Price Isn’t Right?

Salah’s had a few mentions again this month and he gets another here as we have to talk about his price. He was yellow flagged just before GW22 and his ownership has dropped by a whopping 10% since then. So why hasn’t his price dropped? The only conclusion is that the FPL algorithm has placed a much greater protection prices for injured high ownership players (including those yellow flagged.) The upshot of this is that managers who sold going into GW22 are now faced with up to a £0.6m deficit if they wish to re-instate him in their squads. Thanks for that FPL!

Blankety Blank

The FA Cup is in full swing and we’re at the business end of the Carabo Cup (aka the EFL Cup) now. This means we have blank gameweeks on the horizon! The likely weeks for these are: GW28 (clashes with the Carabao Cup Final,) GW31 (FA Cup quarter-finals) and GW35 (FA Cup semi-finals.)

GW28 first – the Carabao Cup semi-final results are important here as a Man City vs Chelsea final means that we could lose Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United that week. This is provided that the cancelled fixture can’t be moved to the next midweek – this move couldn’t happen if City, Utd or Chelsea have an FA Cup replay. Hope That makes sense! FFG has done a specific article on potential blank and double gameweeks

Losing all of the above for gameweek 28 could have huge squad implications as many of us carry a total of 6 or 7 players from these clubs in the core of our team. Watch the results of the semis closely, by my reckoning an Arsenal vs City final is probably the best option FPL-wise.

The FA Cup quarters are often the week that gives us he most blank fixtures, so GW31 this year. Any team knocked out the FA Cup before then can potentially have a fixture that week, Everton vs Stoke is the only confirmed fixture for GW31 at the moment, but we’ve got 2 more rounds to go before then so plenty of time for things to change. GW35 is too far away at the moment to be concerned about so we won’t worry about that at this stage.

Any gameweek that has a lot of missing players is a major headache. Either plan from quite far off or if you’ve got your Free Hit chip then use it. For me, ideally I’d like to use the chip in GW31 but if GW28 is looking bare and I don’t want to sell City/Utd/Chelsea/Arsenal assets, it may have to be used earlier. Watch this space folks as I’ll update again next month.

Player of the Month – Raheem Sterling (Man City £8.9m)

Sterling has been a revelation this season and is clearly thriving under the Guardiola regime. He’s City’s top scorer with 14 goals and 7 assists; 5 goals and 3 assists coming in the last 6 matches. He looks a totally different player this season and seems to be reading the game brilliantly, with a handy knack of being in the right place at the right time. Along with Salah, he is a core player now, his 37% ownership reflecting this fact.

Donkey of the Month – Alvaro Morata (Chelsea £10.5m)

Oh Alvaro, what a disaster your performance against Arsenal was. 3 gilt edged chances spurned leaving us who held him through his suspension tearing out our hair in frustration. He’s bound to hit form soon though and the good thing is he’s getting the chances, when one sticks I expect the floodgates could open.

Team to Watch – Brighton

It’s a key 6 weeks ahead for The Seagulls, with Chelsea in GW24 being the only top team they face before Arsenal in GW29. They have an awful last 4 fixtures in GW35 to 38 so it’s key they get close to 40 points before then; these next 6 weeks are vital to that.

The best investments look to be at the back. Ryan is a solid budget goalkeeping option with Bruno, Dunk and Duffy offering similar value in defence. Indeed how these latter 2 haven’t registered more attacking returns is a mystery as they seem to be good at getting chances.

Further forward things are a bit leaner. Gross and Murray are the stand out players here, both are cheap but Gross’ returns have dropped off since GW12 and Murray is hardly prolific.

It will be interesting to see who Hughton manages to pick up in the transfer window. Brighton have been heavily linked with Moussa Dembele of Celtic in the Scottish media, he could prove a good signing. He did ok at Fulham and averages a goal every 2nd game at Celtic. Granted the SPL is a massively inferior league to the EPL but he’s a tricky player with plenty of pace so could be a relevant option at the right price.

Mini-league watch

It’s back to my friends and family leagues this month and I’ve picked a manager who’s risen steadily after a tough start to the season. He’s a manager with a good pedigree – he won our Euro 2016 league and is my go to person for Liverpool news.

It was a tough week for him last week, as he dropped 80k to 270k but considering he was placed at 1.8 million after GW8, his progress over the last couple of months has been superb. He’s got some injuries for next week so I’ll be interested to see how he deals with these!

fantasy premier league December review

That’s all from me this month. A very Happy New Year to you all and all the best for January in FPL.

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