So the festive period is upon us, which means we’re about to be treated to a ridiculous amount of Premier League football in such a short space of time.
This means all Fantasy Premier League players will need to be paying closer attention than normal. We have three separate game weeks to navigate between Boxing Day and the January 2. Game weeks 19 and 20 are separated by about 18 hours or so, which doesn’t give you much time to make any necessary changes.
So as we approach an exciting, yet equally crucial, period of the FPL season, we’ve taken the time to put together a list of nifty infographics for you to mull over when sorting your team out.
We’ve studied form, fixture difficulty and also thrown in a bit of gut feeling in for good measure.
For the first of nine articles over the next three days, we’re looking at players going in to the festive period in a good run of form. The five players in the graphic below should be on your shortlist if they aren’t already…
First up is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is already widely owned by a huge 34.1% of FPL teams. However, with Sergio Aguero still suspended and Diego Costa sidelined for the Boxing Day fixture, the big Swede will arguably be the one man to have in your team leading in to the festive period.
Many people had given up on him after he went on a run of six game weeks without registering a goal or an assist but, since then, he has scored seven and assisted one in his list six Premier League appearances. With home fixtures against Sunderland and Middlesbrough before a trip to West Ham’s London Stadium, Zlatan really is a player you can’t afford to ignore as 2016 comes to a close.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is one of the most underrated players when it comes to points scorers. The Iceland international has been hugely important for a struggling Swansea side this season and currently averages 5.1 FPL points per 90 minutes played.
With five goals and five assists in 17 Premier League appearances so far this term, Sigurdsson has been a steady and reliable points scorer. However, despite the Swans’ lowly league position, they do have one of the more favourable of festive fixture schedules, which should give the midfielder the perfect chance to boost his points total.
Swansea have back-to-back home fixtures against West Ham and Bournemouth before the year is out, and then they travel to a struggling Crystal Palace in the new year. Sigurdsson should be able to collect some valuable points from those fixtures.
Next on the list is Theo Walcott. While Alexis Sanchez has been taking centre-stage for the Gunners this season, Walcott has successfully been going about his business in the back ground.
The England international has eight goals and three assists this season, and is currently averaging an impressive six FPL points per 90 minutes played.
He has three goals in his last six outings and will fancy himself against West Brom (H), Crystal Palace (H) and Bournemouth (A) over the festive period.
At just £7.8m Walcott is a pretty cheap option in midfield and is guaranteed to return points over the course of the season while he continues to hold down a starting berth under Arsene Wenger.
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has been quietly racking up the points during the Blues’ ruthless charge towards another Premier League title.
While Eden Hazard and Diego Costa continue to make the headlines, the Spain international has consistently returned impressive points totals alongside them.
He may only have two assists to his name but he has thrived in Antonio Conte’s new winning formation, which has led to him being awarded 15 bonus points already this term. Eight of those have come in the last three game weeks, meaning he is going in to the festive period in fantastic form.
Chelsea have a good run of fixtures over the festive period, too. A tough trip to White Hart Lane in the new year follows home fixtures against Bournemouth and Stoke respectively, so expect Azpilicueta to continue returning big points.
And, lastly, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane simply has to be on your radar this winter. He is well owned – 20.9% of FPL teams have him – but those that don’t need to reconsider their midfield options and find a way of crowbarring him in.
Given his rapidly rising price of £9.4m – he started the season at £9m – it’s vital you get him in soon before he increases in value further, but the outlay will definitely be worth it.
The midfielder has returned eight goals and six assists already for his new side, and is currently averaging 6.6 FPL points per 90 minutes played this season.
Liverpool have home fixtures against Stoke and Man City before travelling to Sunderland in the new year, so Mane certainly is a man to consider bringing in this week, especially given the form he is in.