FPL Season 2018/19
Gameweek 20 Preview
Gameweek 19 was another high-scoring weekend overall, with an average score of 59 and plenty of managers scoring well over 70 points. There were no less than six players with a score of 15 FPL points or more, with surprise of the weekend Kyle Walker-Peters bringing home an incredible 18 points, courtesy of 3 assists, a clean sheet, and 3 bonus points. The other top scorers were Everton left-back Lucas Digne (17 points), Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren (15), West Ham winger Felipe Anderson (15), United midfielder Paul Pogba (15) and Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard (15). With just three days of rest between gameweek 19 and gameweek 20, the nightmare of player rotation is still far from finished, so keep that in mind when planning your transfers for this weekend.
We’d also like to remind all managers who haven’t used their first wildcard yet that they have until the gameweek 20 deadline (December 29th, 2PM GMT) to do so.
Some observations ahead of gameweek 20
Manchester United players are on the rise, in FPL terms at least. Sure, the two games under OGS saw the Red Devils face Cardiff away and Huddersfield at Old Trafford, two must-win games for any United manager, but the Norwegian’s winning start represents more than just the results. In a very short time, he’s managed to bring back some optimism to the red side of Manchester, both on and off the pitch. It’s probably too early to speak of a resurgence, but the Mancunians are off to a good start under Solskjaer. They are playing more attacking, free-flowing football, and a lot of the alleged discontent among the players seems to have evaporated. With home games against Bournemouth, Brighton, and Burnley coming up in the next five weeks, it’d be wise to check out the United roster for your future transfers.
Speaking of clubs on the rise, Leicester City can’t remain unmentioned. Claude Puel, who was allegedly on the brink of being fired as boss of the Foxes not so long ago, saw his men book two impressive victories in the space of just a few days. Leicester first beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (0-1) in gameweek 18 and then gave Pep Guardiola something to think about by beating his Man City 2-1 at the King Power. Next up are Cardiff at home, which is a challenge of a whole other type and it will be interesting to see how Leicester will handle having to take the initiative. In any case, confidence is soaring at Leicester and a third consecutive victory would see the Foxes start 2019 as the Premier League’s number seven.
One of the most interesting games of the 20th gameweek is taking place in Southampton on Sunday, when the local FC are hosting Man City. In their third game under new manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, the Saints lost for the first time (1-2 to in-form West Ham and Felipe Anderson), while City saw their title hopes dented after back-to-back defeats (to Crystal Palace and Leicester). The hosts will have been disappointed with the loss against the Hammers, but they’ve shown great improvement since Hasenhütll was appointed. The confidence and positivity are coming back to the club, and they’ll be more than motivated to show it against a struggling City side. The Cityzens should normally win this game, but if they turn up giving anything less than 100%, the reigning champions could be plunged into a full-blown Christmas crisis by a revived Saints side.
Finally, the Premier League’s current bottom-ranked team, Huddersfield. Over the past twenty years, there have been only 12 teams with less than 12 points after Boxing Day, and of those 12 teams, 8 ended the season as last. The Terriers currently have 10 points (from 19 games), with the only “positive” being that Fulham and Burnley just have 1 and 2 points more, respectively. Huddersfield, though, are facing Fulham (19th, away), Burnley (18th, at home), and Cardiff (17th, away) in the coming three gameweeks. This makes the post-Christmas period probably the most crucial period for the Terriers this season and they’ll need to make it count if they don’t want their season to be scarily close to over by the end of next month.
By scoring both of Chelsea’s goals in their 1-2 victory over Watford, Eden Hazard (£11.0m) booked his second double-digit score in the last three gameweeks. As a matter of fact, Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals this season, while having played just 18 games. Against the Hornets, the Belgian didn’t only score twice, he also had three shots on target and created another two big chances for his team mates. He has brought his owners more hauls of 10 points or more (6) than any other player in the official game and there have only been five Premier League games so far in which he hasn’t posted an attacking return. The Chelsea star man is one of the most in-form players at the moment and one of the best players in the world, and an away game against an admittedly stubborn Palace side could mean another successful week for him.
Our second premium pick of the week is a player we probably should’ve mentioned a few weeks earlier, namely Tottenham’s Korean superstar Son Heung-Min (£8.7m). The lightning-quick forward has been in good form since gameweek 13, but in absolutely sensational form since gameweek 16. In his last four Premier League games, Son has scored five goals and provided 3 assists, with 49 FPL points as a result. Mind you, he played just 15 minutes in gameweek 17 and recorded just a single point that week. The Spurs attack is running at full speed as of late, scoring 11 goals in their last 2 games, and Son has been instrumental to Pocchetino’s plans. Of course, the Korean will be leaving for the Asian Cup after gameweek 22, but this could have an upside as well. Considering the form he’s in, he’s unlikely to be rested for the games in gameweeks 20 (Wolves at home), 21 (Cardiff away), and 22 (United at home), so if you can plan for his replacement in a few weeks time, you should probably bring him in as soon as you can.
This week’s final premium pick, at least in terms of price, is also a bit of a punt, but hear us out. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (£9.1m) is a crucial part of Jurgen Klopp’s hard-to-defend tactical plan, but his new, deeper role has not done his FPL performances any favours. The versatile Brazilian has scored 4 goals and given 5 assists so far this season, with 77 FPL points as a result. He has blanked in his last three games though, a run that consisted of home games against United and Newcastle, and an away game versus Wolves, so it takes a bit of guts to bring him in for the home game against Arsenal. The Gunners have conceded 16 goals in 9 away games already and are now going through something of an injury crisis in terms of defenders, with Bellerin, Mustafi, Monreal, Holding, Koscielny, and Mavrapanos all either injured or doubtful for Saturday’s clash. The weak spot of the London outfit lies in the centre of their defensive block and Firmino could well be capitalising on that, in support of Mo Salah and Sadio Mané.
A differential or two
To call Kevin de Bruyne (£9.7m) a differential player is quite frankly a bit ridiculous, but his ownership stands at 4.2%, so selecting him would be a true differential choice, in theory. Of course, the Belgian has had a very unfortunate season, having played just 193 Premier League minutes so far due to ongoing injury concerns, but he’s arguably Pep Guardiola’s most key player. The Belgian playmaker is now officially injury-free and we expect him to be starting the coming games as City will be aiming to get back to winning ways after a very disappointing Christmas period. On Sunday, they’re visiting a Southampton side who have conceded four goals in the last three games (the first three under Ralph Hasenhüttl). A more worrying stat for the Saints though, is that they’ve allowed 16 goal attempts against both West Ham (last gameweek) and Huddersfield (in gameweek 18), the league’s least effective attack. City are struggling, but this game could be the perfect way to put those struggles behind them, and if they do, KDB could be decisive.
Our other differential pick for gameweek 20 is Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m). Yes, the Serbian hitman hasn’t scored since his two goals against Southampton in gameweek 13, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. In last weekend’s game against Wolves at Craven Cottage, Mitro was one of the best players on the pitch. He made 8 attempts at goal, 3 of which were on target, while also providing a key pass. He missed a Cyrus Christie centre by a few inches and he saw a ball cleared just off the line by Wolves defender Ryan Bennett at the very end of the game. The Fulham number nine was definitely the most threatening man on the pitch and it wouldn’t be surprising if he finally finds the net again in a home game against Huddersfield coming Saturday. The Terriers have conceded a worrying 20 goals in 9 away games.
In theory, Harry Kane (£12.5m) is a captaincy candidate every gameweek, as a result of being one of the best strikers in the world. Add to that the fact that Spurs are in red hot goal-scoring form and have a home game coming up, and the English striker becomes a prime candidate for the armband in gameweek 20. True, the opposition on Saturday are Wolves, who have conceded just 9 goals in 9 away games this season, but it’s still hard to see Kane not getting some attacking returns against them. He’s scored 4 goals and provided 3 assists in his last five Premier League games, while also creating 5 big chances over that same period of time. Tottenham’s very own has blanked in just two of his last nine games (one of those appearances was a 16-minute cameo) and he’s just one goal behind current top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Our second suggestion of the captaincy this week is Man United’s born-again Paul Pogba (£8.0m). When caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived in Manchester, he said that Pogba would be central to his plans for the team and he didn’t exaggerate one bit. The Frenchman has taken on a central, more advanced role, with 3 assists and 2 goals in his last two games as a very tangible result. On top of that, he’s made 8 attempts at goal in those games, 5 off which were on target, and he gave 5 key passes. Sunday’s opponents Bournemouth have been leaking goals over the past few gameweeks, letting in 11 goals since round 16 and have just lost defender Simon Francis to a long-term injury. The Cherries have conceded 33 goals in total already this season, 19 of which in away games, so a reinvigorated United with the desire to attack in front of their own crowd is likely to be (way) too much for them.
You can also see what fiso members think of their GW20 Captain in our weekly forum poll where Kane is currently leading the way with 44 of the 114 votes cast so far.