FPL season 20-21: Gameweek 19 Preview

“No football for Everton in gameweek 19 after their game against Aston Villa was postponed, making them the only team to blank this round” (CC Image by Genius&Gerry).

With more than 30% of FPL managers activating a chip in the build-up to blank gameweek 18, and with just over 22% choosing the Free Hit, expectations for blank gameweek 18 were high. As has become usual in this crazy, crazy season though, reality didn’t quite match them as it ended up being another round for the differentials. To illustrate: of the 11 names in the official Team of the Week, only Harry Kane and Tyrick Mitchell boast an ownership of more than 7% (and the latter mostly thanks to his £3.9m price tag). To illustrate further: 5 players from the team boast an ownership of less than 2%, while 4 of those are owned by less than 1% of all managers. Gameweek 18’s stand-out performers? Everton’s Michael Keane, Man City’s Phil Foden and Man United’s Paul Pogba.

Fortunately (or unfortunately perhaps), there is a very quick chance of redemption as gameweek 19 kicks off about 37 hours after last night’s final whistle and it’s a biggie. With 11 teams involved twice, 8 teams involved once and 1 team not involved at all, the coming round of Premier League football is a kind of blank-single-double gameweek for fantasy managers, the likes of which we’ve rarely seen before. What chip will you be playing in GW19? The resurging coronavirus is causing mayhem to the schedule and will likely continue to do so until and after tomorrow’s deadline. We would tell you to keep an eye on developments and plan with new potential postponements in mind, but it’s close to impossible to predict the whens and wheres. The best we can do is to suggest following @bencrellin for any fixture-related news and to hope for the best. Oh, and to tell you our recommended fantasy picks for BDGW19, of course!

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 19 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, January 15th.

Do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per January 15th, 2020)

GKMcCarthy (SOU), Martinez (AST), Ryan (BRI)Martinez (AST), Forster (SOU), Meslier (LEE)
DEFTierney (ARS), Dalles (LEE), Kilman (WOL)Cresswell (WHU), Stones (CIT), Cancelo (CIT)DGW assets being brough in.
MIDSon (TOT), Zaha (CRY), Neto (WOL)Soucek (WHU), Foden (CIT), De Bruyne (CIT)DGW assets being brought in.
FORCalvert-Lewin (EVE), Wilson (NEW), Kane (TOT)Bamford (LEE), Antonio (WHU), Watkins (AST)DGW assets being brought in, Bamford with favorable fixture, form and price tag.

Premium pick

Manchester City probably have the most favourable match-up for the upcoming gameweek with two home games in a span of three days, first against Crystal Palace and then Aston Villa. Many fantasy managers will be aiming for skyblue assets, but the issue is rotation. In normal times, it’s difficult already to guess manager Pep Guardiola’s choices, in corona times even more so. Add to that the upcoming DGW schedule and the task becomes close to impossible. The safest route into City’s attack is still Kevin de Bruyne (£11.8m), who has delivered 1 goal and 3 assists for a total of 27 FPL points over the last four gameweeks. Slightly underwhelming perhaps, for a player of his pedigree, but that is mainly due to the lack of a clinical finisher in front of him. The Belgian is the most creative force in the team by some distance though, and he looks primed for a big haul in every game. Someone just needs to get on the end of his passes…

Non-premium picks

One of the major COVID19-related schedule changes has been the Aston Villa v Everton game being moved out of DGW19 (Everton now blank) and replaced by Aston Villa v Newcastle, which increases Villa asset appeal. They do still face Man City away before hosting the Magpies, but the Villains are having a good season and results could definitely be booked over the coming week and a half. As far as DGW picks go, few attacking assets are more nailed-on than Villa talisman Jack Grealish (£7.7m). Apart from postponements, the young Englishman has not missed a minute of Premier League football so far and he has repaid that trust with returns, 5 goals and 9 assists to be exact. Though his productivity has slowed down of late with “just” 3 assists in his last four outings, he still looks like a wise choice for the double gameweek. Villa are set to give Man City a run for their money and are expected to dominate against Newcastle at Villa Park, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Grealish finish the upcoming round with double digits.

We mentioned the issues with Manchester City assets earlier when discussing KDB, but when it comes to defensive picks, the situation is a bit different. While the City attack appears hampered a bit this season, the City defence is rock solid. No team has conceded less than their 13 goals from sixteen games and the classic rotation risk is a lot less present in the backline. That’s why we think it could be very smart to invest central defender Ruben Dias (£5.8m) for the games against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. The Portuguese summer signing has started every game since gameweek 4, only failing to complete the 90 minutes once, back in GW10 versus Burnley. He has no attacking returns to his name yet, but he did rack up 8 clean sheets already. In a period of extreme uncertainty, Dias offers a very welcome combination of sure starts and consistent returns.

The budget enabler

Besides Manchester City, West Ham probably have the most attractive double gameweek schedule. They are playing Burnley on Saturday and then West Brom on the Tuesday after that, both at home, which brings several of their players into the DGW mix, especially defensively. Together with Sheffield United, these teams rank in the bottom three for goals scored, while the Hammers have conceded a reasonable 21 goals in 17 games. These statistics make Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) a very appealing fantasy pick. West Ham brought him in from Czech side Slavia Prague for £5.4 million back in October and he has made the right-back position his rather quickly, starting 13 of 14 games since gameweek 4. The Czech defender gets plenty of freedom to roam forward, which has resulted in 3 assists already, on top of 4 clean sheets. For the double gameweek, he looks like a stand-out budget-enabling option.

A differential pick or two

For our first differential fantasy pick, we’re sticking with the Hammers, but moving up-field. Michail Antonio (£6.2m) started the 2020-21 campaign in good form, scoring 3 goals in the first six games, but ongoing injury issues since then have seen him play just 89 minutes of Premier League football. He returned for 13 minutes in GW16 and played 31 minutes in the last round, while playing 90 minutes in the FA Cup 3rd round encounter with Stockport last Monday. With a 5-day rest in the bag and the sale of his principal rival for a starting spot up front, Seb Haller, to Ajax, Antonio looks like a firm first-choice pick for manager David Moyes in double gameweek 19. While first opponents Burnley have improved considerably over the past games, second opponents West Brom rank bottom for goals conceded so far. With a current ownership of just 4.4%, the English forward looks like a major differential for DGW19.

Our final fantasy pick for gameweek 19 also has two fixtures coming up, though James Maddison (£7.1m) and his Leicester team mates are not facing a run as appealing as City or West Ham. First up is in-form Southampton, followed by a kind of out-of-form Chelsea side. They face both games at home though, and the Foxes are having another good season, which has made us consider Maddison as a differential for this round. The English playmaker has been one of the stand-out performers for Leicester in recent weeks, with 3 goals and 1 assist in his last six games, and looks like a sure pick for manager Brendan Rodgers. Leicester’s preference for a more counter-attacking style might fare very well against Southampton and Chelsea, and with an ownership of just 4.8%, picking Maddison might just result in some green arrows by the end of DGW19.

The captaincy

Double gameweek 19 is offering a bunch of interesting candidates for the captaincy with the Manchester clubs topping the list. We have gone with Kevin de Bruyne for his double encounter with Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, though putting the armband on one of his team mates in defence, like Joao Cancelo or Ruben Dias, could pay off handsomely as well. As far as the red part of Manchester goes, the inevitable Bruno Fernandes will be a popular captaincy pick as the Red Devils face Liverpool and Fulham away from home. The same goes for Liverpool’s Momo Salah as he faces Manchester United and Burnley at home this round.

The double gameweek is also a good moment to go for a bit of a punt, mainly when it comes to West Ham assets. Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen are facing two favourable opponents, and putting the armband on either of them could see you soar up the ranks. Of course, Jamie Vardy is a decent choice as well when he faces Southampton and Chelsea at home, though his ownership is a lot higher than the West Ham picks (26.3%).