FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 26 Preview

“After just 1 assist in 5 gameweeks, Eden Hazard rewarded his most loyal believers with 15 points in gameweek 25” (CC by 2.0) by Aleksandr Osipov

Now that the dust has settled after this season’s very first double gameweek, it’s time for us to congratulate those captaining Aguero or Laporte, to console those who went with Richarlison and Sané, and to give a disapproving shake of the head to those who bet on Everton’s defensive assets. With more or less expected results from Man City and Everton, the only two teams with a double  gameweek, the results were a mixed bag for FPL managers. There was a small surge in activated Free Hit chips, but unless you also captained Aguero (or Laporte), it probably wasn’t the ideal moment to do so. There are still some blank and double gameweeks coming up that will be harder to navigate without a Free hit. These weeks will more or less take place in the period between gameweek 31 and gameweek 35, and the blanks for gameweek 31 will be announced in the build-up to gameweek 27.

Some observations ahead of gameweek 26

It looks like Man United have uncovered a match made in heaven, so to say, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to reinstate Paul Pogba as the team’s big man in the middle while at the same time giving Marcus Rashford a chance to prove himself as their starting number nine. Not only have they each scored six goals since Solskjaer arrived in gameweek 18, they have also provided 6 and 2 assists respectively. What’s more, last Sunday’s only and this winning goal against Leicester was created by Pogba and finished by Rashford. Next up is leaky Fulham at Craven Cottage so if you’re a betting man (or woman) then, as bet brain uk will tell you, the odds are in favour of goals and a win for Man United.

Around a week ago, Chelsea were blown away by Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium and Blues manager Maurizio Sarri publicly criticized his men for seeming “impossible to motivate”, so last weekend’s 5-0 drubbing of Championship-bound Huddersfield should be placed into perspective. Of course, it’s an excellent result, and Blues fans and FPL managers alike will have enjoyed Gonzalo Higuain’s first two goals in a Chelsea shirt as well as his seemingly great understanding with star man Eden Hazard (who also scored twice, by the way, his first goals since gameweek 19), but don’t immediately forget Chelsea’s run prior to last weekend: last five games played, 2 victories (Palace and Newcastle), 1 draw (Southampton), 2 defeats (Arsenal and Bournemouth), 3 goals scored, and 7 goals conceded. The real tests for Sarri’s men come quick and fast this month, with games against City and Spurs in the league, and against United in the FA Cup’s fifth round.

In a direct battle for the title of “Best of the Rest”, Wolverhampton have shown once more, this time at Goodison Park, that they are in the Premier League to stay. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team displayed their, by now, trademark defensive stability and disciplined attacking patterns, which stood in quite a sharp contrast to Everton’s largely toothless performance. It’s no coincidence that Wolves assets like Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, and Rui Patricio have emerged as major bargains, because in reality, the newly-promoted side are playing like they’ve been competing for a top-10 spot in the Prem for years. With a nice run of fixtures coming up, count on Wolves assets to rise further in both price and popularity.

At the bottom of the table, Huddersfield are not the only team that has seen the gap between relegation and safety grow over the past weeks. Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham is down there with them, though still six points above the Terriers, in 19th place. The gap to the safe 17th spot is currently seven points wide, and the Cottagers are about to embark on a run of fixtures that provides very little hope for improvement: In the coming 7 gameweeks, they are facing United, Chelsea, Liverpool and City at home and West Ham, Southampton and Leicester away. The outlook is grim for Ranieri and his players.

Premium picks

When Liverpool visited the Vitality Stadium back in December 2018, the Reds swept the locals aside, largely courtesy of a Mo Salah hat-trick. This week, the reverse fixture is on the calendar, but seeing as we’re recommending the Egyptian for the captaincy later on, we’re going with team mate Sadio Mané (£9.5m). The Senegalese winger is in blistering form of late, which has seen him score once in each of his last three Premier League games and bring home a total of 24 FPL points. In the last six games, only number 19 Fulham and number 20 Huddersfield (12 each) have conceded more goals than Bournemouth (11), making it hard to not see the home team working on their goal tally on Saturday. If they end up doing so, Mané should be a good source for points.

Our second premium pick of the week is in-form Manchester United midfield maestro Paul Pogba (£8.6m). We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, simply because the Frenchman’s form makes it unavoidable: since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in gameweek 18, Pogba has scored 6 goals and provided 6 assists. Over that period, he amassed an impressive 76 FPL points. Despite not recording a single shot on goal against Leicester last weekend (he did provide the assist for the only goal of the game), it looks like the French midfielder will get his opportunities against Fulham coming Saturday. Between gameweeks 21 and 24, Pogba took 23 shots in direction of the goal and 10 of those were on target, while the Cottagers concede an average of 15 shots per game. It’s no surprise they still have the Premier League’s worst defense (25 games played, 55 goals conceded).

A few months ago, there was a considerable amount of (mostly rotation-related) doubt when talking about Man City’s Kun Aguero (£11.4m), but it looks like the Argentinian killer has secured the starting spot up front for yet another season at the Etihad. Despite blanking against Everton on Wednesday in what was the second game of his double gameweek, he is our third premium pick of the week, largely thanks to his great performances prior to the Everton game. Kun has scored 6 goals and given 2 assists in his last 8 games in the Premier League, resulting in a total of 49 FPL points. This run includes a 14-minute cameo in gameweek 22 versus Wolves, but also a hat-trick against Arsenal last weekend. Rotation is always a risk in Pep’s Manchester City and Aguero is facing formidable competition in the form of Gabriel Jesus, but Kun looks like the first choice striker. Do keep in mind that City are blanking in gameweek 27 and that the Champions League will be getting underway again next week.

A differential pick or two

Brighton has one of the most favourable fixture calendars for the coming weeks and after not booking a victory in any of the last five Premier League games, the Seagulls are an interesting source of potential differential assets. For an 11-game run in which Brighton will only face one team from the top six (Spurs away in gameweek 33), we’ve gone with attacking midfielder Pascal Gross (£6.7m). The German creator has scored a goal and provided an assist in his last last three games, and he created an unbelievable 10 chances versus Watford last weekend. Five of those came from set-pieces, which Gross more or less always takes for the Seagulls, and he also made three attempts at goal (all of them off-target). With his current price and his upcoming run of fixtures (he blanks next week, though!), Pascal Gross has the makings of a real differential and budget enabler.

Speaking of budget enablers that can make a real difference: Wolverhampton’s Joao Moutinho (£5.3m). The Portuguese veteran midfielder is a whole £1.4 million cheaper than Gross and in arguably much better form. Moutinho has brought his FPL owners a more than decent 27 points over the past three gameweeks, courtesy of 5 assists and 5 bonus points. He’s a guaranteed starter under Nuno Espirito Santo and we know how little the Portuguese manager likes to tinker with his starting line-ups, so that’s another one in Moutinho’s favour. With games against Newcastle (home), Bournemouth (away), Huddersfield (away), and Cardiff (home) coming up, it might be a good time to move the playmaker towards the top of your transfer lists.

For further transfer ideas in GW26 check out this fiso forum topic.

The captaincy

Both Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.2m) will be amongst the most-selected captains for gameweek 26 as borne out by the FISO Forum GW26 Captain Poll, thanks to their favourable match-ups against Bournemouth (home) and Huddersfield (away). We’re starting with the Gabonese striker, who has already scored 15 goals this season and is currently Arsenal’s highest-scoring player in FPL (150 points). PEA has been excellent of late, though a bit inconsistent in terms of FPL returns if anything. Since gameweek 18, he has scored 5 goals and provided 2 assists, resulting in a total of 50 FPL points, or an average of just over 6 points per game. If we ignore potential bonus points, that’s the equivalent of a striker scoring every game. Huddersfield have conceded 20 goals in 13 home games this season and the Terriers haven’t won a game at the John Smith’s since the start of November. You should probably trust Aubameyang with the armband if you can.

Mo Salah (£13.6m) is having a bit of a dip in form lately, illustrated by his first two consecutive blanks since gameweeks 7 and 8, which is frustrating for his owners, considering his absolute premium price tag. Still, for a game versus Bournemouth at Anfield, few FPL managers with the Egyptian in their teams will decide against captaining the Egyptian this weekend. Just to remind the doubters: between gameweek 16 and 23, Salah scored 9 goals, provided 3 assists, and recorded 87 FPL points. His average per game against sides from outside the top six this season: 8.7 points. Bournemouth are far from the league’s most stable defensive unit, having allowed three big chances and no less than 12 attempts on goal (of which 9 came from inside the area) versus Cardiff last Saturday. Even during the shock 4-0 home victory over Chelsea a week earlier, the Cherries still conceded 11 efforts on goal of which 7 came from inside the area. Eddie Howe’s men haven’t taken a single point from an away game since gameweek 10 (a 0-3 victory at Craven Cottage) and despite Liverpool’s slight struggles over the past weeks, we foresee the possibility of an abundance of goals in favour of the home side this coming Saturday.