Here we are, on the cusp of what seems like the twentieth international break of the season. Perhaps no-one feels the pain of these little hiatuses as much as FPL managers, who while away the fortnight anxiously alternating between checking Twitter to see if anyone has been injured and talking themselves out of using one of their chips. This situation is fraught with danger, as idle fingers lead to terrible decisions, so don’t let your boredom get the better of you and read on to find out everything you need to whip your team into shape ahead of Gameweek 12 of Fantasy Premier League:
A title-decider in November?
Yes, it’s very early in the season. Yes, there are a lot of matches left to play. But in many ways, Sunday’s fixture between Liverpool and Manchester City could be a huge factor in deciding the title race. The two teams are miles ahead of everyone else, and it’s quite clear that they are favourites to win the league. What might interest FPL bosses the most about this fixture, however, is that there are bound to be goals in it. In the last 20 Premier League meetings between the pair, there have been only two goalless draws, and out of those 20 matches, 15 have seen 3 or more goals scored.
So who should you pick? It’s safe to say that defenders and goalkeepers aren’t the wisest of options, with a clean sheet looking unlikely. The notable exception to this is Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m), whose buccaneering runs often results in assists, but even he might not be the best choice for your team. Stacking up on attackers from either side is your best bet, with Sadio Mane (£12m), Raheem Sterling (£12.1m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) looking like the best options ahead of the match. Sergio Aguero (£12m) is also a man for a big occasion, but his goalscoring form against Liverpool is not the best, with seven goals in 21 appearances.
Do I use my Wildcard?
Short answer: no. If you’ve waited this long, you can wait another week. It’s all well and good to make a wonderful team that looks like it’s going to coast through the coming fixtures, until four of your players get injured on international duty and you have to take a -8 just to have 11 useable players.
Top picks for GW 12:
Jamie Vardy (£9.4m): Purely on the basis of form, Jamie Vardy is the best striker in the league at the moment. Everything he touches turns to gold, and up against a struggling Arsenal side, the English striker could add to his already impressive tally of 10 goals. To make matters worse for Arsenal, he’s up against the centre-back pairing of David Luiz and Sokratis Papasthopolous, a duo who, to put it mildly, are not blessed with pace.
Marcus Rashford (£8.5m): Manchester United have hit a real rich vein of form in the past few weeks, a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth notwithstanding, and the Red Devils put three past Partizan in their Europa League fixture on Friday. Rashford has been a key part of this resurgence, and has scored four goals in his last four starts for the club. Anthony Martial (£7.7m) also provides a slightly cheaper alternative to his English counterpart, if funds are an issue, but he is prone to drastic swings in form.
Sadio Mane (£12m): Sadio Mane has been immense this season. The Senegalese attacker has, in the past, been outshone by a certain frizzy-haired Egyptian, but this season Mane has been a force to reckon with. Blessed with bags of pace, incredible natural ability and a relentlessness that often pays dividends, Mane has scored six goals and bagged four assists, many of which have been instrumental in getting Liverpool all three points. Manchester City have looked fragile at times in recent weeks, and Mane could punish that.
Diego Rico (£4.3m): Something seems to have clicked in the Bournemouth defence. The Cherries have conceded just 13 goals in their first 11 matches, and have kept clean sheets in their last three matches. Diego Rico has benefited from that defensive improvement, bringing home points on a regular basis. The Spaniard is also responsible for taking set-pieces, and could bag an assist against a Newcastle side that aren’t particularly adept at defending dead-ball situations. Plus, he’s an absolute bargain at £4.3m.
Paulo Gazzaniga (£4.5m): Hugo Lloris’s horrific injury has opened up the door for Paulo Gazzaniga, who in regular circumstances would probably be warming the bench during Premier League games. The Argentine has taken to his new role with aplomb, however, keeping a couple of clean sheets in the Champions League. Up against a Sheffield United side that isn’t known for their goal-scoring prowess, he could rack up the points.
Teemu Pukki (£6.8m): Wait wait wait, hear us out. We know you’ve been hurt before. We know you don’t trust as easily anymore. But a little faith can go a long way. After a spectacular start to the season, Pukki has been undeniably disappointing in recent weeks, and a lot of FPL managers have moved on from the Finnish striker, but the coming week could be a springboard for his season. Languishing in 19th place, Norwich have just one team underneath them, a Watford side that they will face in the Friday night fixture. If not now, then when? If not them, then who? Wait one more week to take the final call on Pukki’s position in your team. Just one more week.
O Captain, my Captain!
With the top two facing each other in a match that could go either way, Jamie Vardy appears to be the most logical choice for captain. The Leicester striker has scored five goals in his last four appearances against the Gunners, and even managed a brace in this fixture last season. Tammy Abraham (£7.7m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.3m) offer up interesting alternatives with Chelsea hosting Crystal Palace, but the Blues’ form at home has been circumspect.