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Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 12

Preview
Gameweek 12 promises to be one of the most open of the season, with several evenly matched contests and perhaps the only likely banker of the weekend taking place at Anfield, where Liverpool host struggling Fulham. The atmosphere at the King Power Stadium, where Leicester host Burnley, is likely to be highly charged and emotional in the wake of recent events – which in itself could provide a certain air of unpredictability to a game Leicester start as favourites. Southampton scored their first Premier League goal since mid-September in the previous gameweek, and next host inconsistent Watford at St Mary’s.

The form guide would suggest that Sunday’s quadruple-header will produce home wins for Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City against, respectively, Fulham, Everton, Wolves and Manchester United. That said, Everton are finding their form under Marco Silva, Wolves are a tough nut to crack despite recent results, and anything can happen in the Manchester derby. Don’t be surprised if any of those games move off script.

Captain’s pick

Sadio Mane has picked up just two points fewer than his more vaunted teammate Mo Salah this season, but he is available at a hefty £3.2m cheaper than the Egyptian. Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham are not renowned for their defensive strength, and Mane will surely fancy his chances in the wide-open spaces often left by the leakiest defence in the league so far this season.

With left-back Andy Robertson likely to push high and supply the width, Mane should have the freedom to make those penetrative runs in between right-back and centre-back, both from deeper positions and off the defender’s shoulder – just as he did in the build-up to Liverpool’s goal at Arsenal last weekend (above). Liverpool will be desperate to banish the ghosts of Tuesday’s defeat to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League; if they put Fulham to the sword, Mane is likely to be front and central.

Value selection

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With any value pick there will be a certain element of risk – but Brighton defender Lewis Dunk looks well worth it. An away trip to Cardiff is by no means a walk in the park, but Neil Warnock’s men are not the toughest opponents in the Premier League, and the three goals Brighton conceded at Everton last weekend were the first they had shipped since late September.

What’s more, after Cardiff their next four fixtures read Leicester (h), Huddersfield (a), Crystal Palace (h) and Burnley (a) – plenty of potential for clean sheets in there. At £4.4m, Dunk is the cheaper of the two regular Brighton centre-backs – Shane Duffy comes in at £4.6m – and despite only managing two Prem goals since the start of last season, one of them did come only last week. Maybe he has opened a gate.

Long-term option

Anthony Martial – the top-scoring Manchester United player in Fantasy – is cheaper than Paul Pogba, Mesut Ozil, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Pedro, to name but a few, but he is outscoring them all. The French attacker, listed as a midfielder, has scored five in his last four Premier League games. While he may have his work cut out against champions Manchester City this weekend, his recent run of starts in the United team, coupled with his increasing goal return, marks him out as one to keep an eye on.

United have fixtures against Bournemouth, Cardiff, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield and Fulham before the year is out, and three of their first four league games of 2019 are against Newcastle, Brighton and Burnley. Assuming he keeps his place, which is never certain, Martial could represent an excellent investment over the coming months.

Avoid

Aleksandar Mitrovic may be Fulham’s top point-scorer, but he has gone five games without a goal since his equaliser against Watford in September, and has managed only one assist in that time. Furthermore, the Serbian forward has been booked three times in the last five games and four times this season, so he is only one more yellow card away from suspension. With the likes of Callum Wilson, Glen Murray, Wilfried Zaha and Marcus Rashford all in a similar prince range, it may be wise to look elsewhere for this week – particularly as Mitrovic will be up against arguably the best centre-back in the league in Virgil van Dijk.

Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 12

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