For the first time in quite a while, all of the top captaincy choices performed in a gameweek. Mo Salah got 12 points for his goal and assist versus Wolves to make him the highest scorer in FPL again (125 points), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the net twice against Burnley to bring home 13 points for his owners, and Tottenham’s very own Harry Kane had a 15-point haul after scoring two goals and providing an assist to 21-point man Heung-Min Son.
For the FPL managers who put their eggs in a Chelsea or City basket though, last weekend was something of a disaster. Chelsea went down 0-1 to Leicester at Stamford Bridge, while reigning champions City suffered a shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace (2-3). Premium assets and popular captaincy options like Raheem Sterling, Eden Hazard, and Leroy Sané all blanked, causing a lot of unexpected red arrows across the board. With leaders Liverpool, in-form Spurs, and a seemingly reinvigorated Man United all playing at home and facing interesting opposition, gameweek 20 will provide plenty of opportunities for points and green arrows.
Some observations ahead of gameweek 19
Whether or not Man United would’ve disposed as easily of Cardiff as they did with Mourinho still in charge, we’ll never know. What we do know, is that the Red Devils booked a morale-boosting 1-5 away victory, with Rashford, Martial and Pogba all starting and with Jesse Lingard excelling by scoring two goals and assisting another. New manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a United legend who, besides spending eleven years at the club, also managed a few of United’s current stars when they were still rising through the club’s youth systems, among them Lingard and Pogba. The Norwegian’s tenure at United is just one game old, so we should take some time before labelling him the miracle doctor, but what’s true is that he’s off to a great start and the upcoming home game against Huddersfield provides a great opportunity to make it two for two.
Probably the biggest shock of the weekend, and possibly of the entire season, was Palace’s away victory over Manchester City. It looks like not even Pep Guardiola’s goal machine is completely immune to the savagery that is the Premier League’s festive December month, and the Eagles were willing to prove that. As usual, the Cityzens came out to attack and score goals, but Palace manage to avoid truly dangerous situations for most of the time. They were well-organised and “stubborn”, as City’s Fabian Delph put it, while City were wasteful and generally not as threatening as they normally are. By the time Kevin de Bruyne was brought on in minute 62, the City engine started to glow again, but Palace were 1-3 up already by then and boosted by an absolute Andros Townsend screamer. City will get back to winning ways, don’t worry, but last weekend’s game showed that they’re certainly not invincible.
In Chelsea, another title candidate suffered a surprise defeat last weekend. Leicester visited last weekend and not only did the Foxes take the three points back to the East Midlands, they managed to do so with a clean sheet (0-1). Of course, Ben Chillwel was excellent again at left-back and Jamie Vardy poached the only goal of the game, but it was especially the way in which Claude Puel’s men largely neutralised Chelsea’s star Eden Hazard that will have grabbed the attention of Chelsea’s future opponents. Blue’s manager Sarri has a lot of talent at his disposal, but it seems that when Hazard is not able to shine, neither is Chelsea. Considering the Leicester game represented Chelsea’s third loss in six games, the club will certainly be looking for ways to diminish the pressure that rests on the brilliant Belgian’s shoulders, possibly even during the winter transfer window.
In the bottom half of the table, Southampton seems to have started something of a surge up the ranks as new manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men booked a second victory under the Austrian coach, and their third Premier League victory all season. After their impressive home victory against Arsenal, the Saints booked a 1-3 away victory over Huddersfield that moved them out of the relegation zone and into 16th place. Danny Ings once again led the Southampton attack and scored his third goal over the past two gameweeks, this time from the penalty spot after winning the spotkick himself. The Saints have a few difficult games coming up over the coming three gameweeks, including a home game against City and an away game versus Chelsea, but their roster nonetheless holds some interesting differential potential.
After scoring a double and providing an assist away to Everton, Harry Kane (£12.5m) looks likely to be among the attacking returns again against Bournemouth at home in gameweek 19. As a matter of fact, the Spurs striker has returned in seven of his last eight Premier League games, scoring 6 goals and giving 4 assists. The only time Kane didn’t perform for his FPL managers, was in gameweek 16 against Leicester after he was brought on towards the end of the second half. Bournemouth have lost 5 of their 8 games on the road and they’ve conceded 14 goals in the process. Mauricio Pocchetino, on the other hand, had led Spurs to their best ever start to the Premier League after beating Everton 2-6 last weekend. The Spurs have won 5 of their 7 home games this season, a run in which they have scored 12 goals and conceded just 6. Just three of Kane’s eleven goals so far have come away from Wembley, but the Englishman is still one of the favourites to score this coming Wednesday.
In a fashion reminiscent of last season, Liverpool’s Mo Salah (£13.2m) is rapidly becoming an unavoidable premium pick. The Egyptian forward was brilliant at Molineux last weekend, scoring the opener in the 18th minute and the providing the assist for Virgil van Dijk’s 0-2 in the second half. This made it four goals and two assists for Salah since gameweek 15, a run that has brought the happy 38.3% of FPL managers that own him an impressive 39 points, or an average of practically 10 points per game. Next up at Anfield is Newcastle, who have been in OK form as of late and who have shipped just 7 goals in 8 away games all season. Liverpool is flying though, and the Reds have scored 18 goals in just 8 home games already this season. Another Salah hat-trick, anyone?
Our final premium pick of the week is another Liverpool player, namely Virgil van Dijk (£6.3m). The Dutch central defender has given Liverpool the defensive solidity that last year’s Liverpool missed at times, while he also chips in with the occasional attacking return from set-pieces. This was the case last weekend, when Virgil slotted home a Salah center, scoring his first goal of the season and adding to his two assists. In all honesty, his goal last weekend has caused somewhat of a hype around the centre back as he booked a 15-point haul, but we’re recommending him for his clean sheet potential, in the first place. Liverpool boasts the best defence in the league, by far, having conceded just 7 goals in 18 games so far. In other words, Newcastle, who have scored 7 goals in 8 away game, don’t look like they’ll be worrying the Liverpool defence too much on Wednesday.
A differential or two
Before Southampton host Man City and travel to Stamford Bridge, the Saints are playing a home game against West Ham. While the Hammers have had an excellent December month so far, their defensive solidity remains doubtful. They have shipped 11 goals in 8 away games and reborn in-form Saints striker Danny Ings (£5.6m) looks like the most likely suspect to capitalise on West Ham’s defensive fragility. The English number nine has welcomed new Saints coach Ralph Hasenhüttl in style, with 3 goals in his last two games, including a double strike against Arsenal. His ownership is rising, but still stands at 6.8% overall, making him a great differential for the third (or even second) striker position in your squad.
The second differential pick of the week is Man United’s Marcus Rashford (£7.0m). True, it was the cheaper midfielder Jesse Lingard who took the spotlight last weekend (2 goals, 1 assist, 18 FPL points) and it was Paul Pogba who registered no less than three assists, but it was Rashford who took most shots at goal (4, as many as Lingard and Martial combined). In the continued absence of Romelu Lukaku as a result of private circumstances, Rashford is likely to start up front against Huddersfield at Old Trafford on Wednesday. It’s way too early to call United’s saviour on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the positivity seems to have returned at United and Rashford (overall ownership 13.7%) could prove to be an excellent differential pick in gameweek 19.
For further ideas check out the fiso forum FPL GW19 transfers topic.
Seeing as we already recommended Harry Kane as a premium pick for gameweek 19, we’re recommending his team mate Christian Eriksen (£9.2m) as a candidate for the armband. With the Danish playmaker on the pitch, Tottenham are a better team, it’s that simple. With Son and Kane taking up most of the attention lately, and with Dele Alli chipping in with great attacking performances as well, Eriksen has been operating somewhat in the background. Still, he has scored a goal in each of his last two Premier League games, against Burnley and Everton, while he has also provided four assists over the past six gameweeks. The risk with the Dane is that he could be used in a too deep position by Pocchetino at times, which reduces his goal threat, but he’s Spurs’ best player and a very likely starter after having his minutes managed during the Champions League group stage.
We’ve said before that recommending Mo Salah (£13.2m) is quickly becoming unavoidable and the same goes for handing him the armband. Should you have Salah in your team already, or if you’re bringing him in this week, he should probably be captained. If you don’t have him in your team and you’re not planning to bring him, all you can do is hope that he won’t produce a 21-point haul against Newcastle at home this week. Salah has scored 11 goals already this season and he’s set up another 6 goals, which has resulted in 125 FPL points so far. No player in the game has more. He’s scored 6 goals and given 2 assists in his last six Premier League games, a run that includes a 25-minute appearance in gameweek 15 (1 assist). Considering everything, there’s a big chance Salah will be the most-selected captain in the run-up to gameweek 19.
According to the fiso forum members, the FPL GW19 Poll currently has Salah leading the way with 42% of the vote followed closely by Kane with 34%.