Now that we’re back into a nice Premier League routine of football at the weekends and no annoying cup games to get in the way of things, we can really get down to achieving some sustained FPL success. Gameweek 27 brings with it a North London derby, a game that I like to refer to as Future Liverpool XI (Southampton) vs current Liverpool XI, and yet another fairly routine game that Chelsea will probably lose. Part one of this Best Picks article should help you pick a goalkeeper and some defenders to aid you in your Ash Ketchum-esque quest to be the very best.
Budget Option: Asmir Begovic (4.5m)
Bournemouth have now gone unbeaten in their last seven games, which is quite the achievement, but they have kept just one clean sheet in that period, which came against Chelsea. With that in mind, Begovic seems like a strange suggestion, but the Cherries get a clash with Huddersfield this weekend, and this is very much a matchup pick. The Terriers have scored just 19 times this season, and are without a goal in their last three league games, which is frankly embarrassing. Bournemouth shouldn’t have their hands full dealing with the Huddersfield attack, and a clean sheet should bless those who put faith in them.
Budget Option: Mathew Ryan (4.5m)
Despite sitting just a single win above the relegation zone, Brighton have the joint best defensive record of clubs not in the top seven, tied with eight place Leicester. Add to that the fact that the Seagulls have a matchup against Stoke, who are languishing down in 18th, and you have a great shot at a clean sheet for Mathew Ryan. Brighton have been providing good value defenders and a goalkeeper for this FPL season, and it’s worth riding their success because it doesn’t show any signs of stopping. If they do stay up it will be as a result of their sturdy back line, so Ryan is a good pick.
Premium Option: Ederson (5.6m)
The Brazilian goalkeeper has been widely praised for his remarkable distribution, but it’s clean sheets and saves that we care about as FPL managers, and he’s good at providing those too. Manchester City have 12 clean sheets for the season, and have conceded just 19 times this season, the second fewest in the league. This weekend the champions elect face Leicester, who haven’t had too many issues in front of goal, but the Cityzens are capable of registering a clean sheet against any side when on form. Laporte will likely start this game, and he looked good on his debut, so that should help shore up their back line even more.
Budget Option: Alfie Mawson (5.0m)
Swansea have become a supreme force under Carlos Carvalhal, beating both Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks, as well as registering an 8-1 victory over Notts County in midweek. It seems only a matter of time before their defence follows their attack in an upwards trajectory, and their clean sheet against Liverpool will have gone a long way to help their confidence. Mawson gets Burnley at home this weekend, and the Clarets have scored just twice in their last four games. I could see a hard-fought 0-0 in this one, so Swansea’s back line look promising for some fantasy points.
Budget Option: Jose Holebas (4.8m)
Watford are an intriguing prospect defensively, mainly because they were so bad at the back under Marco Silva, and they now seem to be slightly more solid with Javi Gracia at the helm. The Hornets beat Chelsea last time out, but it was the 0-0 draw with Stoke the week before that is interesting here. That game was a similar prospect to this week’s clash with West Ham, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Watford manage another clean sheet against a Hammers side that have netted just twice in their last three games in all competitions. Holebas should start too, and provides a decent attacking threat down the flank, with the threat to add to his current tally of three league assists this season.
Premium Option: Antonio Valencia (6.8m)
As entertaining as it was to see Manchester United collapse in front of Tottenham two weeks ago, that result was an outlier amongst a remarkable collection of clean sheets and comfortable wins. The Red Devils’ last eight games in all competitions have delivered seven clean sheets, and they are the best defensive side in the league with just 18 goals against them all season. A game against Newcastle this weekend seems fairly routine, and Valencia is the most reliable starter amongst Jose Mourinho’s defensive options. He has also grabbed three goals this season, so provides a relatively decent attacking threat.
Premium Option to AVOID: Ben Davies (5.5m)
This is a difficult pick because I think Ben Davies is up there with one of the best defensive FPL options out there this season, but a North London derby is always a risky game for defenders. Arsenal looked fairly devastating against Everton, and their five goals were no fluke, so Tottenham’s defenders could be in for a shock when they face Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Ozil. Arsenal’s back line are by no means secure themselves, so it is perhaps best to leave this game alone completely from a defensive standpoint.
North London derbies are notoriously unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean that the players involved in it are write-offs. What you will have to do however is make a bold guess, and my bold guess involves a surprise Arsenal win.
Aside from Arsenal and Tottenham, the big clubs all have favourable matchups this week, so make sure you maximise your output from those clubs. Keep an eye on team news to make sure your representative from each will play, because you don’t want to miss out on some high-scoring affairs.