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FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT: Again Kevin De Bruyne to pile the distress on West Brom

Now it is about mind and discipline – and I’m talking about FPL managers not Premier League players. 

Now is the time in the season where quick turnarounds for games catches part-time players out.

Deadlines get missed, captain’s armband goes untouched, substitutes are out of sorts and suddenly there are big movers in mini-leagues. Don’t let it be you.  

Bobby Decordova-Reid (left) put a dent in Liverpool's title hopes by scoring for Fulham

Bobby Decordova-Reid (left) put a dent in Liverpool’s title hopes by scoring for Fulham

James Maddison (right) was one of the stars of Gameweek 12 after his brace against Brighton

James Maddison (right) was one of the stars of Gameweek 12 after his brace against Brighton

Today’s 4.30pm deadline ahead of Wolves vs Chelsea this evening will certainly catch folk out. It happens every year and it is what separates contenders from pretenders.

Gameweek 12 was rough for many players but the swift switch to focus on Gameweek 13 means it is resigned to history.  

As always, in this column I’ll be breaking down what we learned from the latest round of games, how best to utilise the free transfer for our squads and the differentials that can make the biggest difference week-to-week. 

Biggest takeaways from GW12

I repeat: Arsenal are in real trouble. 

Stuck in 15th and now only five points clear of the relegation zone, Mikel Arteta, and this is said without hyperbole, is clinging to his job. 

Sections of support from fans waned after the latest loss, a 1-0 home defeat by Burnley, and next comes the visit of high-flying Southampton. 

Ownership of Arsenal assets in FPL is at a season-low and nobody can blame bosses for showing no faith. There has been nothing to suggest they are sound investments.

The same with West Brom. While Fulham show signs of revival, the Baggies are walking through mud and going nowhere. 

Boss Slaven Bilic cut an exasperated figure on the touchline in the 2-1 loss to Newcastle. He looked like a man who had Callum Wilson leading the line in his FPL team and he could not believe he hadn’t scored.

Arsenal fans booed off their own players on Sunday after they were beaten 1-0 by Burnley

Arsenal fans booed off their own players on Sunday after they were beaten 1-0 by Burnley

West Brom boss Slaven Bilic (middle) finds himself on very thin ice after losing at Newcastle

West Brom boss Slaven Bilic (middle) finds himself on very thin ice after losing at Newcastle

A rash move to take out Jamie Vardy right on the deadline for Harry Kane – who has seen his price continue to rise – got what it deserved with Vardy ending up with 13 points.

Captaining Kane eventually drew me 18 points after his goal in the draw at Crystal Palace. But had I stuck with Vardy, as originally planned, a 26-point return would have come in.

The other big takeaway at the weekend was that fatigue is setting in more than ever now.

Liverpool barely got out of first gear for the first 25 minutes against Fulham, the Manchester derby was a low-level affair in comparison to ones that have come before and Wolves looked off their best in the West Midlands derby loss to Aston Villa.

Best use of the free transfer this week 

James Maddison (Leicester) – £7.1m

This selection will be forced upon thousands of managers who backed Liverpool’s Diogo Jota. 

The former Wolves attacker had been lighting it up for the Reds until disaster struck this week and Jurgen Klopp revealed he could be looking at two months on the sidelines. 

His £6.9m price tag made him highly attractive but fear not, James Maddison’s revival is good news for everybody. 

Maddison (front) scored 16 points in GW12 and is full of confidence he can kick his game on

Maddison (front) scored 16 points in GW12 and is full of confidence he can kick his game on

Maddison’s brace against Leicester was fantastic and was the latest reminder of how effortless he can make the game look when everything clicks. 

His 46 points so far come in one lower than Jota’s total but the best asset in such a packed calendar is availability with only one free move each Gameweek.  

Games are tough and they aren’t like-for-like but few players in Jota’s price range are as confident as Maddison is right now. 

GW13 FIXTURES 

Tuesday December 15 

Wolves v Chelsea

Man City v West Brom

Wednesday December 16

Arsenal v Southampton

Leeds v Newcastle

Leicester v Everton

Fulham v Brighton

Liverpool v Tottenham

West Ham v Crystal Palace

Thursday December 17

Aston Villa v Burnley

Sheffield United v Man United  

Three differentials that caught my eye

Tomas Soucek (West Ham) – £5m [Selected by 7%]

On paper this is not a smart FPL play.

Defensive midfielders are typically vital to managers but not to FPL bosses given the limited points returns for those doing the dirty work.

But Soucek is not a typical defensive midfielder. In fact, it could be argued he is one of West Ham’s biggest goal threats.

Three goals in the last five games has caught the eye and given his cut price, he frees up extra cash to flip mid-level assets to elite stars from the Big Six sides.

A home game against Crystal Palace feels tempting to give Soucek the nod. 

Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) – £5.3m [Selected by 0.1%]

Not a popular pick but Fulham are ascending and with a home game against Brighton next, the pace in attack is something to watch out for. 

Alongside Ademola Lookman, Ivan Cavaleiro has looked sharp, even if he only has one double-digit return in 12 games. 

He is Scott Parker’s preferred option through the middle with Aleksander Mitrovic out and, as Jamie Vardy showed in Leicester’s 3-0 win over Brighton, the Seagulls can collapse when met with pace.

There are lots of options out there but given he is listed as a midfielder and played as a striker, one to consider if funds are tight.  

Tomas Soucek is becoming a goal threat for West Ham and is worth consideration in FPL

Tomas Soucek is becoming a goal threat for West Ham and is worth consideration in FPL

Stuart Armstrong is the heartbeat of this Southampton team and yet has such low ownership

Stuart Armstrong is the heartbeat of this Southampton team and yet has such low ownership

Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) – £5.5m [Selected by 0.8%]

The final budget midfield option in this week’s column is Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong. 

Two goals and two assists is nothing to rant and rave about but Armstrong is the heartbeat of this Southampton side.

There is something about their use of a 4-4-2 which has me believing they will turn over Arsenal this week.

The Gunners are fragile right now and Armstrong is proving an asset both in breaking up play, laying on assists or scoring himself. 

Differentials are becoming key and Southampton’s impressive start should see Armstrong become more of a go-to man heading into Christmas.  

Captaincy advice

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) – £11.9m

The obvious candidate for those who have him.

Double digit returns in his last two home league games and to go even further he has produced 17 shots in the last four Gameweeks, a return that puts him joint-top among all players in FPL. 

West Brom have won just once this season and travel to City with the joint-worst goal difference in the league.

Burnley were battered, Fulham were comfortably beaten and now it’s the turn of West Brom to try and find a way to stop the Belgian. 

Kevin De Bruyne is the overwhelming captaincy option given his big points returns at home

Kevin De Bruyne is the overwhelming captaincy option given his big points returns at home

The Manchester derby was a dour affair that hurt owners of De Bruyne and United’s Bruno Fernandes. 

Both were being man-marked and their influence was severely limited. 

Fernandes is the other stand-out option for captaincy for non-De Bruyne owners with United travelling to face rock bottom Sheffield United. 

But with table-toppers Tottenham and Liverpool going head-to-head at Anfield, City can put on an attacking clinic to remind the league just how lethal they are.

Sorry West Brom, but De Bruyne could feast this evening.  

De Bruyne was kept quiet in the Manchester derby but that is unlikely to happen vs West Brom

De Bruyne was kept quiet in the Manchester derby but that is unlikely to happen vs West Brom

Team of the Week (4-4-2)  

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