You remember that thing you were supposed to buy last week on your lunch break that you said you would and you said you did, but you didn’t and now it’s sold out? Merry Christmas!

Back to Fantasy Premier League action this weekend – and it’s the time of the year where you can gear up for some predictability. Twitter jokes abound about how receiving gifts of socks and Lynx box sets really takes the surprise out of receiving gifts of socks and Lynx box sets. With the fantasy game, there’s a similar train of thought.

@FantasyYIRMA

We have reached the point in the season where there’s an element of predictability about the game and the template team has started to formulate. With this in mind, let’s just say that players such as Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling, Eden Hazard, etc are good and try to pick out a few differentials for your team over the festive fixtures.

Differentials for this column will be players for consideration under 8%. It’s not a wise suggestion to load up on 11 low-ownership players due to the increased risk but there’s nothing wrong with a couple of them throughout your squad to try and shake things up a bit.

Also recommended reading is the post from last week which covers the matches over the next month and even goes as far as to include a sexy chart (no expense spared) looking at upcoming fixture difficulty for all 20 teams between now and Gameweek 22.

1. Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal, Defender, £5.0m

Owned by: 3.5%

Bit of a defensive crisis for Arsenal boss Unai Emery as he looks to continue the Gunners ongoing unbeaten streak. Both Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos picked up their fifth booking of the season against Huddersfield meaning they are ineligible for GW17 match against Southampton.

Elsewhere Rob Holding had shown genuine improvement this season and demonstrated why Emery was keen to keep him at the Emirates and shipped off Callum Chambers to Fulham so it’s a shame to see him crocked and out of contention for a lengthy layoff.

Club captain Laurent Koscielny returned to the first team in midweek Europa league and may have to play here given the lack of options. This is the season for marauding full-backs and with that in mind Kolasinac, at 3.5% owned, brings a differential option into the Arsenal defence.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina full-back has been impressive since coming into the team with two assists coming in the match against Bournemouth showcasing his desire to push forward.

Following Southampton, the Gunners host Burnley at the Emirates and then travel to Brighton for Boxing Day meaning there’s a decent shout of a clean sheet in addition to the attacking threat for Kolasinac.

2. Son Heung-min, Tottenham, Midfielder, £8.5m

Owned by: 6.8%

It’s difficult to look past Spurs at the minute given their fixtures over the next few gameweeks. Burnley (H) Everton (A) Bournemouth (H) and Wolves (H).

The reality is that you could have one of three premium midfielders from Spurs in this period with Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen all coming in under the 8% ownership limit we’ve set this week.

If it comes down to budget Son at £8.5m is the cheapest of the trio and it’s been interesting to see Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino pushing him further forward alongside Harry Kane. With Champions League distractions out of the way, Tottenham can push on in the league.

3. Callum Paterson, Cardiff, Midfielder, £5.1m

Owned by: 1.5%

The thing about the template team is that popular players are popular because they tend to be good. Good players tend to cost more money because they are good. So as always, if you want a star-studded squad, someone, somewhere has to balance the books. Fantasy football economics 101.

Callum Paterson has a tendency to confuse people at the best of times. Thought by some as a defender, listed as a midfielder in the official game and currently playing out of position up front for Cardiff, he makes James Milner look like a one-trick pony.

The former Hearts man (where he played mainly at right-back) is seemingly loving life in the Premier League. Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock has expressed doubts over his defensive capabilities, claiming: “He can’t defend” and “I’ve been sold a dummy by Hearts there”.

At £5.1m, Patterson could be a fifth-choice midfielder for your squad. With Watford and Crystal Palace among Cardiff’s next three fixtures, there’s potential points up for grabs and with four goals already this season, Patterson feels like an option that you can have on your bench with rotation elsewhere always a threat.

4. Jamie Vardy, Leicester, Forward, £8.8m

Owned by: 3.1%

Jamie Vardy is in contention for the Foxes’ festive fixtures following a return to full training earlier this week.

Before his injury setback, Vardy had scored in consecutive games against Brighton and West Ham and his tally of five goals for the season is actually not too bad when you consider he’s played 848 minutes of Premier League action.

Next up for Leicester is Crystal Palace, before Chelsea and Manchester City loom large. The Foxes frontman has a great record against the top six though – and Christmas is a time for giving.

Joe Bryan, Fulham, Defender, £4.8m

Owned by: 0.1%

Before any abuse is hurled in this direction, keep in mind that mince pies are a pain in the arse to clean off your screen – and it was a goal to include a 0.1% owned player in this column.

A few issues:

  • Fulham clean sheets this season: 0
  • Goals from Fulham defenders this season: 0
  • Assists from Fulham defenders this season: 1

Yet the next three fixtures for Fulham read West Ham (H), Newcastle (A) and Wolves (H).

New boss Claudio Ranieri has his work cut out for him to get Fulham out of the quite spectacular mess they are currently in. They need to be picking up some points in this run of fixtures and they need to improve defensively sharpish. Three home matches at Craven Cottage in their next four games should provide some stability for the Italian to hopefully build on.

Joe Bryan made his return to the starting lineup last week against Manchester United and struggled. The summer signing from Bristol City has previously been more effective further up the pitch and did contribute with eight goals and 13 assists from his time with the Robins. At £4.8m he is one of the more expensive defensive options from the Fulham options available, however with pace on his side expect to see him improve under Ranieri’s leadership.

Besides, if Ranieri can help Leicester win the league at 5000/1 odds, then surely he can lead Fulham to a clean sheet. A true Christmas miracle.

Follow us on twitter @FantasyYIRMA and check out our fantasy football podcast – Bang Average on your podcast platform of choice.

FantasyYIRMA started in 2012 focused primarily on news and previews for the Fantasy Premier League. Following consecutive fantasy coverage across 244 gameweeks, we are confident we could have been well on our way to becoming a qualified astronaut had the time been spent more productively.

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