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FPL tips: Could differential success be just a Stones throw away?

Manchester City v Fulham – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Alex Livesey)

With a packed festive schedule ahead, FPL bosses will have a lot of planning to do amid the mince pies and sherry.

In order to help you identify potential transfer targets, we have devised a score which takes into account form, cost, ownership and upcoming fixture difficulty rating (FDR) to produce an overall rating out of 100.

Form makes up half of the total with the other categories weighted equally. So who will you be stocking up on this week?

Play it safe between the sticks

Hugo Lloris, Tom Pope and Ederson are our top goalkeeper picks

Hugo Lloris, Tom Pope and Ederson are our top goalkeeper picks (PA graphic)

For many managers the biggest concern around the goalkeeping position is usually filling it as cheaply as possible to enable funds to be spent elsewhere.

However with none of the budget options shining at the moment, managers in search of a new custodian would be advised to opt for a pricier pair of hands.

Tottenham’s gentle run of games makes Hugo Lloris the standout pick for Gameweek 15 and beyond, although those with an eye on the double gameweek in mid-January may want to consider Burnley’s Nick Pope who is also £0.2m cheaper.

The improving Clarets play twice in GW19 and have two home matches against sides currently in the relegation zone beforehand.

For bosses with even more money to spend, Ederson offers the only means of avoiding the dreaded “Pep rotation” at Manchester City.

The Brazilian’s price tag counts against him, but with four clean sheets in his last five appearances and easy-looking fixtures ahead he’s likely to return even if City’s misfiring attackers don’t.

Could Stones be a rock at the back?

Manchester City’s solid back line also dominates the defensive recommendations, with the resurgent John Stones leading the way. Having completed the full 90 minutes in four of the last five gameweeks, he offers a tantalisingly cheap way into one of the Premier League’s best defences at just £4.9m.

John Stones, Ruben Dias and Mason Holgate are the top defensive picks

John Stones, Ruben Dias and Mason Holgate are the top defensive picks (PA graphic)

For those who worry that Stones’ return to the first team is temporary, the near ever-present Ruben Dias may be worth the extra outlay.

The Portuguese stopper has started every Premier League match so far and finished all but one of them on the pitch, so appears robust enough to handle the festive fixture congestion.

Get Mo for your money

While Riyad Mahrez features in our midfield recommendations for GW15, the current league leaders outnumber City in the top three.

The most expensive player in the game, Mohamed Salah, looks to be the smart pick regardless of his high price, thanks to some sparkling form.

Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson are our top three midfield picks

Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson are our top three midfield choices (PA graphic)

There have only been three gameweeks this season in which the Liverpool’s Egyptian star hasn’t registered an attacking return and he was self-isolating for one of them.

Five goals and three assists in his last five appearances have cemented his status as the main attacking threat in Jurgen Klopp’s side and with some winnable fixtures and a double gameweek ahead he is incredibly difficult to ignore.

A more surprising inclusion from the reigning champions’ squad is Jordan Henderson, who offers an intriguing way into their midfield. Three recent attacking returns, combined with an affordable price, low ownership and near-guaranteed place in the starting 11 as captain add up to a potentially reliable source of points.

Move forward with Firmino

The Reds cap off our recommendations with another name that has been a stranger to fantasy managers’ watchlists.

While few would question the contribution of Roberto Firmino to Liverpool’s attack, his efforts haven’t always translated into FPL points.

Roberto Firmino, David McGoldrick and Chris Wood top our forward charts

Roberto Firmino, David McGoldrick and Chris Wood top our forward charts (PA graphic)

However the Brazilian’s involvement in three of his side’s goals at the weekend, following a strike against Spurs in midweek, indicate that he may be about to enjoy a purple patch.

Firmino’s form, combined with his relatively low ownership, could provide a differential alternative for managers whose mini-leagues are already dominated by Salah.

If you’re shopping in a lower price range this week and in need of a cheap forward, then it’s worth browsing through the ranks of the division’s relegation battlers.

David McGoldrick celebrated his return to the first team with a brace against Manchester United last week and has some more straightforward fixtures ahead.

An extra million will secure the services of Burnley’s Chris Wood, who may only have three goals to his name so far but is ideally placed to add to his tally with winnable home games over the festive period and a double gameweek to follow.

What’s more, both strikers are owned by just 1% of bosses at present, so could make the difference for those in need of an edge.