Summary for the lazy.
⏰ Gameweek 18's deadline is 18:15 GMT, Friday 30th December
🤕 Reece James ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury
🤝 Cody Gakpo close to signing for Liverpool
⚽️ Haaland scores 20 Premier League goals in just 14 games
😷 Wilson still a doubt, Mitrovic available
Stay for a £4.9m midfielder you definitely don't own, but probably should.
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It's the no-man's-land between Christmas and New Year, which means the very notion of time itself gets lost in a sea of ripped-apart Amazon boxes, dwindling tubs of Quality Street and a seemingly endless conveyor belt of turkey and gammon sandwiches.
Apparently it's a Thursday today, but there's no real way of knowing. All we know for sure is that there's no Premier League football: a small pause to collect ourselves before Gameweek 18 comes around.
If you had a rubbish Gameweek 17 - or you were on the wrong side of some frustrating 50/50 calls - this might cheer you up. It's the most-owned Gameweek 17 players amongst the top 10k managers.
James, De Bruyne and Darwin are all in there, whilst Mitrovic, Salah and Odegaard are nowhere to be seen.
Anyway, the fixture schedule is an impatient bastard who doesn't give us the time to dwell on the previous Gameweek. There ain't no rest for the wicked (or those who manage a fantasy team over the festive season).
Reece is in Pieces
If Reece James stopped getting injured so often I wouldn't have to keep using this shitty pun, but alas, a characteristic 1-pointer from the always-promising-but-never-delivering Chelsea man reminded us of why we were so careful about picking him before the World Cup.
It's another knee issue, and Chelsea have said the full-back could be out for as long as a month.
The sensible move is probably to bench him for a gameweek and reassess with two free transfers in your pocket, but if you don't have a decent bench option to fill his sweaty knee supports, here are our top replacements:
- Sven Botman (great passing numbers, £4.4m, plays for a robust Newcastle)
- Aymeric Laporte (two doubles soon, will probably keep clean sheets)
- Luke Shaw (if you're feeling fruity, Shaw could be a great differential)
The key stats
As Darwin Nunez tends to demonstrate every week, stats aren't everything. Still, it's worth taking a moment to scroll through these ones:
*The bookies' odds for top goal scorers haven't been updated at the time of writing, but you'll almost certainly be able to find them on this site nearer to the deadline.
Liverpool and PSV reach Cody Gakpo agreement
Cody Gakpo is the one who kept scoring for the Dutch in the World Cup. Usually deployed on the left-wing, he's scored nine goals from 14 appearances for PSV so far this season and notched double-figures last season too.
Earlier this week it was announced by PSV themselves that an agreement for his move to Liverpool had been reached.
His arrival - assuming he didn't over-indulge at Christmas and passes his medical - will add yet another pacy attacker to Liverpool's squad, meaning they now have 18 pacy attackers competing for just three spots...
...okay, not that many, but it's still an awful lot. When all of them are fit, it's going to be trickier than solving those metal cracker puzzles to get guaranteed starts from your Liverpool forwards.
Pep Roulette Returns
Foden, Cancelo, Walker and Laporte were omitted from City's starting XI against Leeds on Wednesday, giving FPL managers across the globe a serious case of PTSD.
This rotation-induced trauma is nothing new, but the World Cup break had given old wounds time enough to heal, such that Wednesday night's pain felt particularly fresh and sore.
The worst thing? Foden and Cancelo - the two highest owned players of the four - both cameo'd for one point each.
Pep is like the opposite of Santa: slim, completely hairless and hellbent on ruining Christmas.
Can we expect Cancelo to be a rotation risk from now on? Probably not, though Pep did have this to say about his replacement, Rico Lewis:
Pep praising a player so enthusiastically after a game is usually the kiss of death, so don't put too much stock into these comments. Still, it's one to keep an eye on. If I had Cancelo (I don't) he'd stay in my team for now.
The best captain for Gameweek 18
Having reached 20 Premier League goals faster than any other player on Wednesday, Haaland's Man City will host Everton on New Year's Eve.
Sorry Everton fans, but that's sort of like when you invite your Grandma over to play Articulate and then hide her reading glasses.
It's going to be total domination.
The Professor's Gameweek 18 team
After a successful Gameweek 17, The Professor is yet to make a transfer. Here's what he has to say:
The choice this week is obvious. James out? Nope. If Wilson isn't confirmed by Howe as fit to start in his presser I'll be moving Big Callum out and holding James. I can get by with Walker, Trippier, and Cancelo. I can't get by with one of my strikers out.
But who to choose? It's likely going to be Mitrovic a week early and pray he doesn't get a yellow card. Nothing is locked in yet.
As always, he'll be posting his final team on the Premium WhatsApp group before the deadline.
Current rank: 26,047
The Prof is using the BetterFPL Chrome extension here, which is why his team view is so much better than yours. You can use the code FPLTIPS to try it out for a month for for free (usually it's 10 days). Check it out here.
The £4.9m midfielder you should know about
Speaking of The Professor, he sent out a Premium email yesterday in which he talked about a particularly intriguing differential.
I liked it and, honestly, the longer I spend writing this email, the more brownie points I lose with my girlfriend and her family (who I'm currently ignoring in favour of writing this).
So I'm copying him. What's he gunna do, give me detention? From the Professor:
Right. First thing's first, I hate differentials. I think they're a sure fire way to not win your mini-league. Hence why you very rarely hear me speak or comment about them.
Who is this cheeky man quietly racking up data and starts?
That is Kaoru Mitoma (£4.9m) and the reason I'm sneaking him in to my aptly named Differential Dump is because we may have a chance to move off Andreas soon and onto a doubling cheap midfielder if Brighton, as we spoke about earlier, double in Gameweek 21.
The Mitoma gamble is on, reader.
The Darwin Award
Did you know that, in Gameweek 17, Darwin Nunez missed more big chances in a single match than any other Premier League player this season? What an accolade.
Keep calm. This was annoying for owners, but whilst over 100,000 managers have already got rid of him, you should keep the faith.
Is Darwin a bad pick because he enjoyed plenty of great scoring opportunities? No. The fact he didn't convert them is the outlier here. As the Professor said yesterday:
"Despite the obvious lack of a goal this week, that Darwin performance was everything you could hope for in a forward you own. And I'd go as far as to say that as long as Jota and Diaz are out, he's essential.
Basically what you want in FPL offensive assets is high expected output and that's pretty much what Darwin does - at a rate better than everyone else in the league."
An eagle-eyed Premium WhatsApp user alerted us to this tweet by Ben Crellin on Thursday afternoon:
There are lots of "ifs" and "buts" when it comes to fixture prediction and, as yet, nothing has been confirmed other than the matches we've already told you about.
We'll keep you updated if that changes.
Right, I've got an evening of trying to make amends for spending the best part of today on my laptop. That means I'm probably on washing up duty - see the sacrifices we make for you?
See you next year,
The FPLTips team.
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p.s. for keeping tabs on press conferences between now and the Gameweek 18 deadline, we'd recommend you follow Colm Hayes. He'll keep you in the loop.