It really is the most wonderful time of the year FPL wise and whilst I am looking forward to a Green rather than dreaming of a White Christmas, I can at least console myself with a rapid-fire football and FPL extravaganza that awaits this festive period which should lift spirits among the covid woes.
So I thought I would put together a Wishlist of differentials who could either spruce up your team or alternatively act as a band aid this for a period up to and including GW17. I will not however be discussing the blank and double game weeks in 18/19 as this is another topic entirely and very dependent on your current state of play, for example whether you have a wildcard still available or not.
Those who follow me on Twitter will know how much emphasis I put on Fixture difficulty hence our starting point which for reference is based on a match up principle of Attack v Defence and vice-versa for expected goals and expected goals conceded, Shots in box taken and conceded and also big chances created and conceded. This then creates an arbitrary number based on the match ups, dark green is good, dark red bad etc
As for the range of data I continue to use a period which generally does not involve fans in the ground, so in other words, since the world has been living in dread and fear of COVID19 – from project restart onwards and last years data is still weighted in at 20%, 2021 (full season) at 50% and the last three game weeks at 30% (GW 10-12). This is important as it gives us the opportunity to take into account sudden changes in fortune (& rating), for example Everton without Richarlison etc heralded the clanging chimes of doom for their attack during that period.
So, what does it tell us? Well firstly a general statement that attacking match ups are still better than defensive ones, this immediately makes me only want to consider a defender with the potential for attacking returns ideally with favourable attacking and defensive match ups in the coming weeks.
We cannot forget rotation and the risk of suspension therefore I will only select shortlist those who have played at least 60% of available time on the pitch with 3 or less yellow cards, and as we are talking differentials here we shall limit at those owned by 10% or less. This will mean some players may be missing from the lists.
Firstly looking at FDR, it isn’t a great Christmas surprise to see that the teams that stand out are Aston Villa, Spurs and Manchester City who all have match ups in positive territory shown by green in the table below.
Moving onto expected involvement per match (Xi90), this gives us a top 3 of Cancelo (Man City) 0.21 , Reguilon (Spurs) 0.20, who stand out for expected involvement and third, Konsa (Villa) 0.15.
But both Cancelo and Reguilon do bring some rotation risk and a world of dread and fear (of a benching), so this may suggest if you are not invested in a Villa defender that Konsa could be your man given he is slightly underperforming his Xi and that little bit cheaper. That said i prefer the upside of Man City or Spurs given my bench depth.
So our top 3 targets are set, but I would also give a notable mention to Charlie Taylor 4.4M, who’s Burnley side will be buoyed from a win at the Emirates as they run into some easier fixtures despite the FDR saying otherwise
Turning our attention to midfield, Fixtures wise its hardly surprising to see the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool heading the field with respect attacking match-ups, with West Ham Chelsea and Leeds following. Interestingly Fulham attack eye test is now starting to be supported by statistics too.
Moving onto expected involvement per match (Xi90), this gives us a top 3 of Mane (Liv), 0.80 Mahrez (Man C) and an early Boxing Day sale special in Ademola Lookman (Ful) 0.65. Noteworthy others (outside of the big 6) are a second Fulham option in Cavaleiro who topped Big Chances in the last 3 GW’s and interestingly Podence and Neto from Wolves who may be worth watching given the continued absence of Jiminez and a possible turn in fortunes for Wolves?
But as for our top 3, Mane, Mahrez are obvious choices and offer significant upside, although Mahrez could be naughty or nice given his rotation. Personally i am not totally sold on Fulham but Lookman and Cavaleiro have the potential to Make Fantasy Fun Again – who knows you may pull a cracker ?. Sterling is a a hold not buy in the form he (& Man City) are in, so if funds were available Rashford may be a safer option with Podence of wolves a more punty but interesting one. For non Soucek owners Bowen, (Aka Dasher given the festive period) also looks an excellent differential as i cant support a West Ham double up at the moment.
We dont need to repeat the FDR for attack but for the record forwards sorted by FDR is below with Firmino (Liv) topping the pile followed by Watkins (villa) and Decordova-Reid of Fulham, who despite playing almost as a wing back is still getting plenty of opportunities and is also due according to his stats. Brighton and Everton attacks are also in green territory.
If we sort again to account for Xi90 this puts Neil Maupay top of the pile with 0.84 Xi90 although this does not account for his tantrums and hot/cold performances so he gets a sack of coal for Christmas. Prancer will not be in my team. Richarlison, the pantomime villain is 2nd in the list with 0.78 Xi90 but if you own DCL the double up is clearly a no-go so we will pass on him.
This brings us to Danny Ings AKA Blitzen!, coming back into fitness from a relatively short injury (for him) so he is my first recommendation to have us rocking around the Christmas tree. Werner needs to be put out to pasture so to Ings may be a nice move to free up cash, even though Southampton are not treated well by FDR, this due to their tougher run and general lack of creativity recently. I wouldnt bet against him though, would you?.
Watkins (villa) follows him into my second choice, despite his loss of penalties he still appears good value with favourable fixtures.
My third choice, and a long-shot would be Chris Wood, I have a feeling that Burnley are about to turn a corner and if they do, Wood will be front and centre of any recovery. He is also massively underperforming and well overdue a return.
As for Christmas Poo, the team to avoid are undoubtedly Sheffield United, who get a resounding HOWDY NO from me. Fans cant return soon enough for them as Bramwell lane even with 2000 fans will make a difference.
Thanks for reading, have a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas wherever you are reading and if you are finding it tough particularly if you are away from your loved ones (as I am) my DMs on twitter are always open if you need to talk.
PS, how many Christmas song titles, lyrics and Reindeer names did you spot in the article? DM me via twitter @FPLmariner for the answer….