The Boxing Day fixtures have fallen kindly for most of the top Premier League teams this week, with the likes of Arsenal, Man United, and Liverpool all at home to teams in and around the bottom of the table. As a result this is where we are going to be focusing on our defensive picks this weeks with the likes of Sunderland and Hull in particular likely to be busy and offer good value and points returns.
GW18 Top Picks
Papy Djilobodji (SUN) – v Man United (a) – £7.7m
If we just looked at away fixtures this season, Djilobodji would rank as one of the best performing defenders in the game, averaging 22 points per appearance. This is probably as a result of Moyes’s reluctance to attack teams on the road and his reliance on home form but either way we aren’t complaining. This week we expect more of the same, up against an in form United team at Old Trafford. All the signs are there that Djilobodji will prosper and offer great value for his fairly hefty price tag.
Importantly, while Patrick Van Aanholt might seem a better choice on paper this week for the same value, stats show he only looks more attractive because of his goal returns this season, which given the opposition this week looks far less likely to happen. He only averages 2 interceptions and 1 block per game compared to Djilobodji’s 9 and 3.5 so a defensive performance at Old Trafford this week plays right into the centreback’s hands.
Donald Love (SUN) – v Man United (a) – £4.5m
Our second Sunderland defender of choice this week earns his place in our top picks not just on price alone but also his underlying stats. The fact he’s likely to be the cheapest player in the game on Monday is a real bonus and makes him an obvious choice but when you also consider he averages more tackles per game than any other Sunderland player (2.2) he becomes an even more attractive option. Don’t be fooled by the low average points per game total he’s currently sitting on, a lack of game time early in the season and some last minute appearances have significantly impacted on that total.
If he scores over 20 points, which we think he will, he’ll be one of the best value players of the week.
Harry Maguire (HUL) – v Man City (a) – £6.5m
Maguire is quickly becoming a FanDuelTips favourite and makes our top picks list for the third week in a row. Thankfully each week he’s performed better than the last and with another corker of a tie at home to Man City on Boxing Day we have no reason to doubt he can’t continue that run.
1 assist and 4 shots on target in his last three appearances shows his attacking potential alongside the 10 clearances, 7 interceptions, 5 shots blocked and 6 tackles during those games. You can see why he keeps making our lineup and is a must have this week once again.
Steve Cook (BOU) – v Chelsea (a) – £7.9m
One of the most consistent and in form defenders in the game, Cook has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Nathan Ake in recent weeks but take one quick look at the stats and you’ll wonder why? He’s averaged over 33 points per game in his last 4 which includes an average of 15 clearances per appearance. With Ake unable to play against his parent club this week, Cook becomes the obvious choice for those looking for Bournemouth defensive coverage up against a formidable Chelsea team at Stamford Bridge.
If £7.9m is just too steep, his teammate Simon Francis has provided 25.8 points on average over his last 4 games too and at £0.5M cheaper still comes in at 3.4points per million and great value.
Keep a last minute eye out for Brad Smith’s name on the teamsheet who at just £5.1m could be drafted in this week to replace Ake and would represent excellent value.
GW18 Cheap Differentials
Jonas Olsson (WBA) – v Arsenal (a) – £5.6m
Jonas Olsson offers the cheapest way into the West Brom defence this week, and having started the previous two games is potentially the best value in the Baggies line up this week. Although Arsenal have not managed to keep a clean sheet in their last 8 appearances we still think the likes of McAuley and Brunt will find it difficult to get good attacking returns as they have in recent weeks and so for that reason Olsson is as good a choice as any, having made 20 clearances in just his last two games.
John O’Shea (SUN) – v Man United (a) – £5.7m
Yet another Sunderland defender makes it into our thinking this week and this time in the form of John O’Shea. Although his pitch time has been limited and his returns have been sporadic, should he start, he’s bound to be involved in plenty of defensive returns with the likes of Pogba, Zlatan and Rooney seemingly finding some form at the right time, and so for £5.7m he only needs to get us 17 points and he will have been more than worth the money. He’s managed that total 3 out of his 10 appearances so far this season so why not again this week?
Luis Hernandez (LEI) – v Everton (h) – £5.8m
With Huth suspended and probably enjoying his Xmas break getting plastered with the Vardy’s, Luis Hernandez should come into the centre of the Leicester defence to partner Morgan against Everton this week. Up against Lukaku and co, Leicester defenders are likely to be busy. They also tend to play a lot better at home than away, so at just £5.8m he’s another that could be a great value pick.
As always don’t forget to check the lineups an hour before kick off to be sure your 11 are starting – especially if you fancy some of the cheaper differential picks this week. We will continue to update our Twitter Feed with all the last minute tips you need to make your Boxing Day a FanDuel success.