You’re joking – not another one?
Another deadline comes hurtling into view, so we’ve once again chosen who we think are the best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players for the upcoming Gameweek.
We’ve opted for a two-premium set-up this week, with a double-up on the Manchester City defence as part of a 4-4-2 formation.
As ever, we are limited to £83.0m for our first XI.
After a reader vote ahead of 2022/23, an overall price cap of £100.0m is in place for our 15-man squad, too.
The dearth of stand-out Reece James (£5.8m) replacements is partly due to there being few obvious clean-sheet opportunities in Gameweek 18 (and beyond).
Manchester City v Everton is an exception and the reigning champions are the only team with a greater-than-50% chance of shutting out the opposition in the upcoming Gameweek, at least according to G-Whizz’s excellent round-up of the bookies’ odds.
City’s defence has for years been statistically the strongest in the league and even with some recent wobbles they still boast the lowest expected goals conceded (xGC) tally in the division. Everton, meanwhile, haven’t scored in their last four away matches.
A lack of save/bonus points means that Ederson (£5.4m) is often looking at a six-point ceiling but with just 65 hours separating City’s Gameweek 17 and 18 fixtures, we at least know we’re assured of a start with the Brazilian – unlike pretty much anyone else in Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Speaking of which… we’ve doubled up on the City defence with Joao Cancelo (£7.4m), who continues to feel his way back from international duty with Portugal.
Wednesday’s benching was his first in the league in 2022/23 and was partly signposted by Pep Guardiola in advance of Gameweek 17, due to his late return from Qatar. Benchings don’t happen very often with Cancelo: he started over 97% of the league games he was available for last season.
There’s some element of risk involved with the full-back’s selection, then, but a 22-minute cameo against Leeds at least gave him some sort of match rhythm, and the swift turnaround between fixtures will surely prompt a handful of changes from Guardiola this weekend.
The Portugal international’s underlying numbers aren’t as good as they were last season but all three of his double-digit hauls in 2022/23 have come on home soil.
Fixtures against Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers seem appealing on paper but there’s some trepidation about the clean-sheet prospects of Marc Cucurella (£5.1m), Kieran Trippier (£5.9m) and Luke Shaw (£4.8m).
Forest are unbeaten in four matches at the City Ground and have failed to score in only one of their eight home fixtures, Wolves will be buoyed by new management at Molineux, and Leeds have found a way to score past the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Chelsea this season.
But let’s look on the positive side, dear reader: Forest have injury problems up top, Wolves are the division’s lowest scorers, and Leeds will surely be pooped after having to play Man City less than 72 hours before they head to Newcastle.
Cucurella takes the place of James as the Chelsea representative in our Scout Picks, with Ben Chilwell’s (£5.8m) current unavailability boosting the Spaniard’s short-term game-time prospects.
Trippier and Shaw are first and eighth respectively among defenders for chances created this season, with Shaw set to return to his usual left-back role in Gameweek 18 after a rare start at centre-half against Forest. Anyone who has seen Nelson Semedo (£5.0m) play in the current campaign will know how weak Wolves look down that flank.
Trippier, incidentally, is coming up to almost a full 12 months without any blank on Tyneside!
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