Aston Villa players are back on the Fantasy Premier League radar following a Blank Gameweek 18 and this weekend’s Saturday lunch-time trip to Wolves.
Despite back-to-back defeats, Dean Smith’s men have looked threatening this season, with four wins in a row between Gameweeks 2 and 5 as well as a 3-0 victory at Arsenal in Gameweek 8.
The festive fixtures look good for Villa and they will be getting plenty of rest this Christmas too. Gameweek 12 opponents Wolves crumbled in the absence of Raúl Jiménez (£8.2m) at Anfield while matches against Burnley, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace come between then and Gameweek 15.
We asked the Scout Academy which options they believe can offer Fantasy managers the best deal…
Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez
With such mouth-watering fixtures on the horizon for Villa, it is hard not to be excited about so many of their budget friendly assets. The injury to Ross Barkley (£5.9m) is a concern that potentially could have a negative impact on both Jack Grealish (£7.7m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) although they both threatened against West Ham – and the central midfielder could end up missing fewer games because of the visit of Newcastle being suspended.
Here at Americans Talk FPL, we’ve both decided to invest heavily in Villa for this stretch of matches, with our focus primarily on the attacking side. Jason has gone all in with a triple-up, taking Emiliano Martínez (£4.8m), Grealish and Watkins. Beraht has opted for a double-up with Martínez and Grealish, avoiding putting too many eggs in one basket. While neither of us are entirely comfortable with Martínez after Villa have gotten a bit leaky in the past few matches, the upcoming fixtures are kind enough that we’ll hold him in the hopes that they can tighten things back up and, at the very least, make some saves.
Aston Villa’s Matt Targett
Aston Villa have had an impressive start to the season but their superb opening form is still somewhat absent at present. I own Watkins due to his attractive price point and potential for large hauls like we saw against Liverpool. But it did make for painful viewing in Gameweek 10.
Grealish is the talisman and creates plenty of opportunities on Villa’s day, but with the number of alternative FPL midfielders it’s hard to choose Grealish over Son Heung-min (£9.6m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Bruno Fernandes (£10.9m), Diogo Jota (£7.0m) or Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) in my view. Their run of fixtures through December are extremely appealing and defensively there are some attractive picks through the festivities, although if I were to choose, I’d invest more going forward.
Tyrone Mings (£5.3m) has been solid at the back and causes havoc in his opposition’s penalty box with two goals to his name already – but a more affordable defensive differential could be Matt Targett (£4.5m). With nearly £1.0m extra in savings between Targett and Mings, the clean sheets could still come in for Targett whilst giving yourself a little extra to reinforce any other areas of concern in your FPL squads. iTD’s Villa picks over Christmas would be Watkins and Targett.
Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring against Arsenal
After Villa’s great start to the season, I have currently invested in two Villa options, Martínez and Barkley. While I have no fear that Villa’s backline will continue to offer value for money (Martinez and Targett in particular), I think Barkley’s current injury could be a big blow for Villa, specifically Grealish owners. There’s no doubt that Barkley brought an attacking threat to Villa’s midfield that forced teams to divide their defensive attention a little more evenly.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish
Aston Villa ended Gameweek 8 on a high note after they managed to beat Arsenal right before the International Break. Since then the Villans have lost their last two games in a row.
At the moment I have two players from Aston Villa in Grealish and Targett although Barkley’s injury has put me off the latter somewhat. Considering his price, three are only three other options I would consider: Jota, Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) and James Ward-Prowse (£6.2m). But it is hard to overlook the fact that Grealish is more nailed-on to start than nearly all of those players.
Aston Villa is a team with plenty of question marks hanging over it.
Who will take the next penalty? – The two in six penalty record for Ollie Watkins was widely reported in the aftermath of his miss against West Ham in Gameweek 10. It is hard to imagine he’d be the one to step up to take the next spot-kick. With Barkley still out and Conor Hourihane (£6.0m) not a guaranteed starter, it’s difficult to predict. Of course, there’s over 42% of managers who would like it to be their man Jack.
When will Ross Barkley be fit again? – Villa haven’t looked quite as potent offensively without Barkley in the line-up. However, one positive thing to note is that in his absence on Monday night, Villa’s adjusted formation appeared to afford more space for the full-backs down each flank. Check the heat-maps in the Premium Members Area for exact data, but Matty Cash (£5.0m) and Targett certainly passed the eye test against West Ham. Had Watkins not been offside by the length of a thread on his shirt sleeve, Targett would have matched Cash’s assist on the night. Even if the injury to Barkley is as minimal as reported, these muscular injuries always take time to get back up to speed. In the meantime, the full-backs could provide a good source of value given the change of tactics for Aston Villa.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins
The Villains’ purple patch appears to be turning a shade of red, with three losses in their last four matches. Local Wiltshire lad Mings seems to be no longer organising that defence as well as earlier in the season, letting three goals slip against Leeds and conceding four to Southampton. Villa fans will be hoping that they can stop the rot, with a 3-0 win at Arsenal showing promising signs that their rags to riches story could be true. Whilst there may be no “Oliver Twist” in their side, they do have their own Oliver Watkins, and when it comes to goals he frequently says “Please Sir Can I Have Some More?”.
Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Martinez
In my opinion, Grealish is the only Aston Villa asset that can be trusted. He is their talisman and could be on penalties following Watkins’ latest miss from the spot. That said, the former Brentford man has been very unlucky last couple of Gameweeks but is getting chances and looks like good value. He seems like a classic, “don’t buy if you don’t have him, but don’t sell him if you have him”.
I have the Aston Villa triple up of Martínez, Watkins and Grealish. The latter is an easy hold but the other two seems like sub-optimal assets. Thankfully, it is not a big problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
Aston Villa have been unlucky to not score more goals recently and also unlucky to concede as many as they have. If you have no other fires to put out then maybe I would suggest to look out for a better goalkeeper or make a sideway transfer from Watkins to Wilson/Antonio. Even though I start seeing Martinez as a problem it would take a lot for me to make a goalkeeper transfer at this point. Edouard Mendy (£5.2m) looks like the best keeper in the best defence but most of us already have Chelsea defensive assets and their schedule isn’t the greatest either.
Ross Barkley leaves the pitch following an injury
No team has surprised more this season than Aston Villa. Carrying on from the form they displayed in Project Restart, they have built on a solid defensive performance and added a bit more consistency and goal threat, which has left managers with the question of how heavy to invest in them.
Currently, I have (inadvertently) gone with the triple-up. I use the term ‘inadvertently’ because I have Ørjan Nyland (£4.0m) as my back-up keeper along with Grealish and Watkins. In a season with so many premium midfielders to choose from, Grealish offers amazing value, reliability, and impact for his price, and, at the same time enabling funds to be used elsewhere. While the consistently maybe hasn’t been on display every single gameweek, we’ve seen that when Grealish is on form, he carries Villa along with him.
Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins celebrate
I currently have two Aston Villa players (Martínez and Grealish) although I have slight reservations about both. Their goalkeeper has been an excellent signing, both for Villa and for my team, but if their form was to deteriorate (there have been a few hints that this could be the case), or Tom Heaton (£4.5m) forces his way back into the side, then a switch to Alex McCarthy (£4.6m) at Southampton looks like a no-brainer at a similar price point.
As for Grealish, the loss of Barkley against Brighton definitely impacted his performance and output although he still scored at West Ham.
What’s happening in the Scout Academy?
This month we have been delighted to welcome to few new content creators to the academy. FPL Gents, FPL Shake n Bake, Alfie Pods Fantasy Football and FPL Side Net. We have also published some new ‘How to’ guides on how to write a book about FPL and how to set up an FPL Community.
The FPL Gents make videos on a weekly basis. Some of their most recent videos include the top three captaincy picks and the watchlist video These videos are also posted in written format as a part of the weekly gameweek preview on Twitter. FPL Gents also post anytime FPL return odds for both attackers/midfielders, as well as for defenders.
FPL Side Net
November was a productive month for FPL Side Net who released a podcast episodes every week. Some of the topics discussed during the month included the impact of Jota and how Liverpool’s new ‘Fab 4’ could benefit FPL teams; who the best Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) replacements were after his injury; Villa’s impressive performances, and if a double or triple-up was best moving forward; upcoming fixture swings; and, the debate over form vs fixtures in respect to Manchester City, and if the fixtures could kick-start the form.
Looking ahead to a busy December for the show, the guys at FPL Side Net are preparing to add some animation design to their social media channels and make a start into YouTube. The ‘FPL Side Net’ Podcast can be found here.
FPL Shake n Bake
FPL Shake n Bake has taken a look at the best young, English midfielders in an attempt to find a Jack Grealish Differential. Spoiler: he doesn’t think anyone will be able to achieve the heights Grealish has to start the season!
Ahead of Gameweek 10 FPL Shake n Bake discussed his plans to bring in the big hitting duo of Salah and De Bruyne.
Americans Talk FPL
After a busy October between FPL and UCL Fantasy every week, the international break in November was for Americans Talk FPL a much needed time to step back, assess their squads, and come up with a strategy going forward to increase both the frequency and depth of green arrows. With the fixture swings in full flow, Jason played his wildcard ahead of Gameweek 9, and the guys at Americans Talk FPL discussed their ultimate wildcard squads before the deadline on our weekly show.
At Americans Talk FPL they continue to provide weekly content for the official UCL game, each week going over our squads, transfer/chip plans, and giving our top player picks for each gameweek. You can find them on YouTube.
FPL In The Dugout
iTD has spent November chasing after a slow start and therefore focus drifts to differentials to jump back up the rankings! His weekly POWERPLAY squads aim to be the number 1 FPL manager for the Gameweek as well as giving any last minute transfer inspiration to all followers! Over on Instagram there are weekly Gameweek previews, reviews and Q&As.
FPL Hangover Podcast
The FPL Hangover Podcast is released weekly – airing every Tuesday Morning. In the podcasts the guys reacting to previous Gameweeks and looking ahead to the next round of fixtures. This month they had their fellow countrymen, FPL Renegades join them for an episode. Throughout December FPL Hangover will be returning the favour and taking a trip over to the Renegades FPL Show, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.
During a chaotic international break full of injurys and the self isolation of players, FPL Focus found time to look at captaincy options over on YouTube FPL Focus now has a new live show complete with guests every wednesday at 6pm called ”MID WEEK FOCUS” on the first show Glen Kightly from ”Everything Arsenal” joined to look back at Gameweek 8 and ahead to Gameweek 9. A subsequent MID WEEK FOCUS saw a collaboration with new fellow FFScout academy member @FPL_Gents.
Fantasy Football Academy
Fantasy Football Academy have this month added a new Member to their podcast team – FPLStonkss! Additionally they were joined by FPL_Lew during our live-stream before Gameweek 9. The new episode of the podcast for Gameweek 11 will feature FPL_Raptor!
FPL Talking Points
In much the same way that we as managers prepare our FPL teams ahead of the busy festive period, November was very much a set up month for FPL Talking Points. Beginning December 1, they are launching an ambitious campaign to promote and review a unique podcast or vod/stream from the FPL community each day for 25 straight days until Christmas!
FPL Talking Points has spent the last month contacting content creators around the FPL globe to bring FPL managers 25 Days of Podmas! Visit the 25 Days of Podmas page on FPL Talking Points throughout the month of December to learn more about your favorite members of the FPL community during the holiday season!
FPL Chip Chat
Last Month saw October’s winner Henry hailing from Egham treating himself to a tasty pint on FPL Chip Chat. The FPL Chip Chat league remains as fierce as ever as the boys continue to get contestants on the podcast to share all their trials and tribulations that the 2020/21 season has currently had to offer.
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