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Fantasy Premier League Primer: Actionable items for Gameweek 18, Hammer time?

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FPL gameweek 18, Kudus, Paqueta, West Ham

Again, the Premier League produced another week of madness. Goals were scored almost at free will, red cards were brandished, and the race for the title tightened.

Here’s what you need to be across, as we build up to FPL Gameweek 18.

When does FPL Gameweek 18 start?

Friday 22 December, 5:30am AEDT

FPL Gameweek 18 kicks off the festive period with a bang. Fresh from a galvanising draw against Manchester City, Crystal Palace host Brighton in the Premier League’s weirdest derby.

Roy Hodgson’s job seems consistently on the line but a win at Brighton could blow the cloud of doubt hanging over his head right away. Palace will contend the affair without Sam Johnstone (£4.6. I 4.2%) and Odsonne Edouard (£5.5. I 2.9%) but are boosted by Eberechi Eze’s (£6.0 I 2.7%) likely involvement in FPL gameweek 18.

Brighton have won just two of their previous 11 fixtures and will be hoping to add another three points when they travel to London.

roberto de zerbi, brighton & hove albion
Will Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi continue his league high number of match-to-match rotations?

FPL Gameweek 18 notes

Kai Havertz leads Arsenal’s top-spot consolidation

When Kai Havertz (£7.1 I 1.7%) arrived at Chelsea it was under the guise of a prolific goal-scoring attacking midfielder. That he never lived up to that potential at Stamford Bridge was a by-product of the system as much as the player.

In his last five Premier League games for Arsenal he’s scored three times, each finish more cool and confident than the previous one. Could it be that we are now witnessing the rebirth of the Kai Havertz Chelsea thought they were getting? Potentially so, especially given his positioning as an attacking midfielder with the freedom to burst into the box.

Moving into FPL gameweek 18, the German is continuing to stake his claim as a worthwhile FPL midfield point of difference and eyes should remain fixed on Havertz’s late runs into the box and goalscoring prowess.

With Cole Palmer, anything is possible

For a large part of Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield United, it looked as if the Blues would fail to break down Chris Wilder’s side and boos would ring out around the stadium as their seemingly uncontrollable slide looked likely to continue.

That’s until Cole Palmer (£5.5 I 20.8%) intervened. Alongside Raheem Sterling (£7.1 I 12%), the Englishman provided Chelsea’s only attacking impetus, scoring the opener before reacting quickly to provide Nicolas Jackson (£6.9 I 6.6%) with the easiest of finishes.

Those who don’t own Cole Palmer, what are you doing? At his price, he should be in just about every team from FPL gameweek 18 onwards.

A fourth clean sheet of the season without Reece James (£5.4 I 3.8%), Marc Cucurella (£4.8 I 0.5%), Ben Chilwell (£5.4 I 5.0), and Robert Sanchez (£4.7 I 6.8%), all of whom are absent for varied lengths of time, will also delight Poch, who fielded a back four comprising entirely of centre backs.

FPL gameweek 18
Attacking midfielder Cole Palmer has been Chelsea’s shining light this season I FPL Gameweek 18

Haaland-less City flounder

City were cruising to victory against Crystal Palace in their second consecutive game without the defender nightmare-inducing goalscoring monstrosity otherwise known as Erling Braut Haaland (£13.9 I 68.1%).

City travel to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup, subsequently missing FPL Gameweek 18, with their fixture against Brentford to be caught up on at a later date. As a result, there is a little bit of wriggle room when it comes to a decision on replacing Haaland.

Julian Alvarez (£6.9 I 30.2%) seems the natural for many FPL managers, but the likes of Ollie Watkins (£8.6 I 45.3%) and Dom Solanke (£6.8 I 17.0%) are having fine goalscoring seasons, while Gabriel Jesus (£7.9 I 4.4%) looks to be returning to his best.

Resolute United resists Liverpool

34 shots. Only one side in Premier League history has taken more without scoring. Jurgen Klopp’s side will be ruing a missed opportunity against a resilient, understrength Manchester United side. In the end, they couldn’t breach Erik Ten Hag’s side, ending in the Premier League’s first 0-0 since October.

Manchester United can consider themselves lucky to walk out of Anfield with a point to their name, and thankful for Andre Onana’s (£4.8 I 14.7%) presence between the sticks. The Cameroonian made eight saves to repel a relentless Liverpool’s consistent peppering.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.2 I 16.7%) was strong, creating most of Liverpool’s best chances whilst going close to scoring himself, Kostas Tsimikas (£4.9 I 14.5%) on the other flank was lively, as were Mohamed Salah (£13.2 I 53.6%) and Darwin Nunez (£7.6 I 16.4%), who probably should’ve done better with a first half header from a Trent cross.

For Manchester United, despite their utter domination, they could’ve gone close to winning it had Rasmus Hojlund (£6.8 I 2.9%) found the back of the net as opposed to Alisson’s (£5..6 I 10.5%) chest cavity. Ten Hag’s defensive headaches will be worsened in FPL gameweek 18 by Diogo Dalot’s (£5.1 I 4.3%) idiotic, immature late red card.

Onana image
Will Andre Onana turn a corner following his shot-stopping heroics against Liverpool? I FPL Gameweek 18

West Ham’s free-scoring front three sinks Wolves

Mohammed Kudus (£6.7 I 4.1%) may get all the plaudits, and rightly so given his first-half brace, but make no mistake, this was a match for the ages from Lucas Paqueta (£6.0 I 1.6%). The creative Brazilian’s incisive long passing range was on show as he lay two assists on for the Ghanaian, who is really starting to come into his own in the Premier League.

Of course, Jarrod Bowen (£7.7 I 21.6%) got in on the act, scoring West Ham’s third and final strike of the affair following a quick one-two with Paqueta. Shifting to modern fluidity with this current iteration of West Ham’s attack, Paqueta and Kudus flanking Bowen, has the potential to begin an exciting new chapter for Moyes men.

From an FPL perspective, Kudus’ form is as tempting as a cold glass of water on a 40-degree day, but given the Ghanaian is highly likely to depart for AFCON within the next month wasting a trade on him at before FPL gameweek 18 feels wasteful. Paqueta, on the other hand, is worth assessing in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, this was the third consecutive game Alphonse Areola (£4.2 I 33.6%) did not start. His relatively cheap price means the one-third of FPL owners with him in their side can afford to have him on the bench, but his future minutes should be monitored, especially with the emergence of other cheap shot-stopping options.

Are Spurs back?

That question is hard to answer. A 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest is nothing to write home about for a side of Tottenham’s stature, but given their recent torrid form and the increased criticism from the hard-to-please British press, it felt quite significant for Ange Postecoglou’s men.

Dejan Kulusevski (£7.1 I 3.7%), operating in a central attacking midfield in James Maddison’s (£7.9 I 8.4%) absence, proved the difference as he scored once and created the other for Richarlison (£6.6 I 2.3%). The Brazilian’s continuation of his goalscoring showing against Newcastle is a positive sign for Ange given Heung-Min Son’s (£9.7 I 41.8%) looming Asian Cup absence.

Even more delightful for the Australian is the form of Kulusevski, who remains far from incredibly critical in front of goal but has shown an increased incisiveness in recent weeks. With Maddison out, his creativity has been crucial, but should this form continue when the Englishman returns from injury it will just adds another arrow to Spurs’ attacking bow, especially in affairs when Maddison and Son are marked tightly.

ange postecoglou, Spurs
Ange Postecoglou will be delighted by Spurs’ recent uptick in form

Should any of the weekend’s red cards be an FPL concern?

As we mentioned above, Diogo Dalot (£5.1 I 4.3%) was shown his marching orders late into his side’s stalemate with Liverpool. But his was one of five red cards shown over the weekend.

Yves Bissouma (£5.0 I 0.4%) received his second red card of the season in Spurs’ 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest meaning he won’t feature in a Premier League game until the end of AFCON. Ben Mee (£4.8 I 2.3%), Boubacar Kamara (£5.0 I 0.1%), and Raul Jimenez (£5.3 I 2.7%) were also sent off at the weekend.

Aside from the Mexican, whose recent goalscoring form has been crucial to Fulham’s turnaround, the of suspensions accrued over the weekend won’t directly impact many FPL sides in the sense that almost all are functional defensive players who contribute very little in an FPL sense.

However, how the team surrounding them functions in their absence is where much of the impact will be felt. Will Brentford’s defence be even more leaky in Mee’s absence? Will John McGinn’s (£5.5 I 1.6%) attacking forays be less frequent without Kamara’s screening presence? How will Spurs operate without Bissouma, their midfield glue, and the connective tissue between attack and defence?

All outcomes that must be closely monitored in from FPL gameweek 18 onwards, especially for Spurs given the lengthy nature of Bissouma’s absence.

Transfer targets under 15% ownership

DEFENDER: Kostas Tsimikas (£4.9 I 14.5%)

MIDFIELDER: Lucas Paqueta (£6.0 I 1.6%)

FORWARD: Gabriel Jesus (£7.9 I 4.4%)

gabriel jesus, arsenal
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus is a good option.
Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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