Festive Star Player and Punt – Gameweeks 18-20 – Kevo v Mesh v Marco v Sleno v Aaron v Shiva

Last week Villa Simon made it two on the bounce seeing off challenger Johnny Walker, however as we enter the Christmas break we thought we’d bring you an FPL Dugout festive 6 team challenge!

Mesh, Marco, Sleno, Aaron, Shiva and myself have all chosen a Star player (free choice) and a Punt (under 4% ownership). It’s hard luck if a player gets injured, rested or suspended so we’ve all had to think about players that will be on the pitch longer than others.

Players were chosen based on last season’s overall finish. I picked first then Mesh (yes hard to think Mesh actually came second), Sleno, Marco, Aaron and Shiva, and then in reverse order for the punt. The overall winner will take on Villa Simon in GW 21.

Kevo’s Star Player – Yaya Toure

3 games in 7 days, there are not too many players that could play that amount of football and give you a healthy return, however Yaya is one that has done before which is why I’ve picked him as my star must have player for the festive period. An away trip to the Hawthorns followed by two home games against Burnley and Sunderland, and on free kicks and pens, I don’t really need to convince you do I…nuff said!

Mesh’s Star Player – Alexis Sanchez

The Chilean refused to play at Anfield last summer and he still didn’t change his mind when Arsenal made the trip up north to Merseyside last week. Alexis had a poor game and failed to inspire the Gunners to beat a ten-men Liverpool side leaving Arsene’s men 4 points adrift of fourth place West Ham. But with a home match against Harry Redknapp’s QPR on Boxing Day, the Chilean star will be hoping to get his team back to winning ways before they make the short journeys to west London and Southampton on Sunday and Thursday respectively. Having scored the most points among midfielders in FPL, Sanchez will be expected to start the next two games as Arsenal cannot afford another slip up. It is also worth noting that Arsenal will play the next two games in London which means there will be no travelling involved, something the Gunners will be hoping to benefit from.

Sleno’s Star Player – Raheem Sterling

A player with so much promise, and on his day there isn’t a defender in the world I believe that can keep him under wraps for 90 minutes. Recent times has seen Sterling put in the effort, but without any reward. He gave us a timely reminder with a double, all be it in the League Cup, but alas a reminder none-the-less. When Christmas time comes around, so do tired defenders and this just plays into the hands of Sterling. With an away game against Burnley followed by back to back home games with Swansea and Leicester, it will be no surprise to see Sterling among the goals and assists this Christmas period. I will be bold to say that Sterling returns a goal, 2 assists, 2 clean sheet points, 4 bonus for a tidy 23 point haul over the festive 3 game period!

Marco’s Star Player – Christian Benteke

Not wanting to turn down a challenge I have gone for 1.1% owned Christian Benteke. At 1.1% he is a serious differential but I believe he falls into the star pick category. The next three fixtures for Lambert’s men are swa, SUN and CRY. There are two home fixtures there where Villa will expect to get returns and if as expected they do then Benteke will be a key part of that. Rotation isn’t really an issue as he recovers from his injury and a worldy strike against United confirms Benteke is ready to enter our managerial transfer thoughts before the January wildcard enters our midst. This man has carried Villa before and will hopefully carry me to victory in the Star/Punt player pick challenge.

Aaron’s Star Player – Robin van Persie

I had earmarked Raheem Sterling as my Star, but that canny Sleno beat me to it. The Dutch maestro is no consolation though. United’s home clash against Newcastle is Boxing Day’s plum tie. Newcastle’s defence are handing out shots in the box with a sprinkle of Santa’s generosity on Christmas Eve. I’m predicting a 3-0 win for United with a refreshed Van Persie (withdrawn on 60 minutes against Villa) amongst the goals. Away trips to Spurs and Stoke follow. You would never back Spurs for a shut out, and Stoke have one clean sheet in 14 matches. The Dutchman, on corners, free-kicks and penalties, will be there or thereabouts.

Shiva’s Star Player – Leighton Baines

0,1,1,2,1,1…No, it’s not my phone number. This is a return on 7.5m investment Baines in the last 6 weeks. So the form cannot be worse but Stoke (H), Newcastle (A) and Hull (A) aren’t bad fixtures to find form. Baines is not someone who is rested unless he’s injured. He is likely to play 270 minutes in the next 3 games and I certainly see a penalty, a free kick or an assist from a set piece coming from that left foot of his.

There are definitely good options available elsewhere in this high price range but risk to reward ratio tempts me to go with Baines as the Star player for the next 3 games.

Shiva’s Punt – Adam Lallana

I think Lallana’s transfer to liverpool isn’t as bad as Balotelli, Markovic or Lambert for that matter. But his injuries didn’t really help him convince fans or FPL managers to back him enough. Watching him play against Arsenal last week I saw a glimpse of Lallana from Southampton whose movement was brilliant. Him along with Coutinho and Sterling created loads of chances and I expect Liverpool to continue creating many chances in their next 3 games which are easy (probably the easiest of them all) on paper.

The festive period isn’t about giving 270 minutes to all players and Lallana isn’t certainly in his best fitness form, but I would punt on him to start at least 2 of those games.

Aaron’s Punt – Samir Nasri

It was quite a shock to discover that Nasri is owned by only 2.6% of FPL managers. What’s not to like about an attacking Man City midfielder, with fantastic form, fixtures and a secure place in the side? City look primed for three wins against West Brom, Burnley and Sunderland, and while Silva and Yaya are the popular picks, this little Frenchman could emerge as the dark horse of the festive period. One of the most creative players in recent weeks, I’m backing Nasri for a goal and two assists over this period.

Marco’s Punt – Philippe Coutinho

Recent improved performances from Brendan Rodgers’s side are slowly turning heads in the FPL fraternity but the likes of Sterling were too widely owned for this punt. Coutinho’s ownership however stands at 2.9% and fits in perfectly as a man who could potentially hit the jackpot. The next 3 fixtures over the festive period take Liverpool to Turf Moor and then home visits of Swansea and Leicester, which Liverpool would expect at least to return 7 points, and the pace and trickery of Coutinho will be all too much for the Premier League’s strugglers. 10 points in his last match against Arsenal shows he has the potential to produce but maintaining that form is the only issue. But if you were to hand pick three fixtures you would want, you would probably pick two of the three teams mentioned. Over to you Phillipe!

Sleno’s Punt – Bojan Krkic

This season’s pre-season Boselli, Master Bojan at a price of 5.5 was hard to ignore. But ignore was by far the best plan, as he was given week after week to “settle in.” Well here is the good news, he is settled and ready to kick on! With 8 starts in a row he has the platform to perform from now to the end of the season. Although over this 8 game period he has only scored twice, with one assist his performances have come with rave reviews. With a mixed bag of fixtures against Everton, West Brom and Man U over the Christmas period, I believe that his class will shine against each of these mid-table teams. Count him in for a goal and two assists over Christmas, and all at the cut price cost of 5.0! Beauty!

Mesh’s Punt – Radamel Falcao

Manchester United’s 6 game winning streak came to an end at Villa Park where the Reds failed to take advantage of the extra man having had to settle for a disappointing draw. However, it wasn’t all too bad for Luis van Gaal’s men as Radamel Falcao netted his second goal of the season on his first start since October. The Colombian goal poacher has had a disappointing season with injuries but he’s now come back with a goal and he will be hoping to add to that in the upcoming fixtures. So far, Falcao has always delivered when he’s started games for United having managed two goals against Everton and Aston Villa and two assists against Leicester and West Ham (both led to RVP goals). The Reds will host Newcastle at Old Trafford on Boxing Day where they have only lost and drawn once this season, and Falcao will be expected to keep his starting place and add to his goals tally. United will then play Spurs and Stoke on the road and with RVP and Rooney playing almost every game in recent weeks, the fresh legs of Falcao will help him get more game time and he’s more than capable of netting goals consistently because he’s all about goals, goals and goals.

Kevo’s Punt – Erik Lamela

I know you all thought I’d punt Bobby Soldado but I’ve gone with the 1.8% owned Argentine. Ok it’s taken a while but last time out a goal and 3BP’s against Burnley returned 10 points, and I’m hoping this is it – Lamela has arrived!

An away game at Leicester followed by a home double header against Manchester United and Chelsea is enough for me to punt Lamela. Chelsea will be tough but I can see him making easy pickings of United’s defence especially with Spurs playing the high line pressing game. 15 points minimum is what I see Lamela returning this festive period…any takers?