FPL Season 2018/19 -Gameweek 27 Preview

19 Merci Arsène - Celebrating Iwobi's goal
“Aubameyang and his Arsenal team mates are very likely to be popular picks in the build-up to gameweek 27” (CC by 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

After this season’s first (mini-) double gameweek in round 25, in which Man City and Everton had two fixtures, we’re now building up to the season’s first FPL blank gameweek. This weekend, four teams are blanking, namely: Man City, Everton, Chelsea and Brighton. This means a total of only eight Premier League games for gameweek 27. The absence of City especially will have an impact on both the FPL transfer activity in the build-up to the weekend and the point averages for the gameweek, with highly-owned players like Sergio Aguero (32%), Ederson (20.1%) and Leroy Sané (11.6%) not featuring. A surge in chip activation, the Free Hit chip in particular, is also likely to take place.

Also be aware that the transfer deadline for gameweek 27 is set at 18h45 (GMT+0) on Friday the 22nd of February (i.e. tomorrow), and not the usual Saturday noon deadline.

What does blank gameweek 27 look like?

Just 16 teams will be competing in gameweek 27, with Man City, Everton, Chelsea and Brighton missing out:

Cardiff Watford Friday, February 22nd
West Ham Fulham Friday, February 22nd
Burnley Spurs Saturday, February 23rd
Bournemouth Wolves Saturday, February 23rd
Newcastle Huddersfield Saturday, February 23rd
Leicester Crystal Palace Saturday, February 23rd
Arsenal Southampton Sunday, February 24th
Man United Liverpool Sunday, February 24th

Seeing as we published an article yesterday on the experiences of the Premier League clubs in the fifth round of the FA Cup, which took place over the past week or so, we will skip the usual observations ahead of the gameweek this time and continue directly with our players picks of the week.

Premium picks

With the Manchester giants facing each other and Spurs playing an away game against an improved and much more defensively stable Burnley side, the stand-out premium pick for gameweek 27 is probably Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m). The Gunners are facing a Southampton side at the Emirates who haven’t kept a clean sheet in five gameweeks. It should be noted though, that over that period of time, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men also conceded more than one goal in a game on just a single occasion (last gameweek versus Cardiff). Still, since the Austrian took over in gameweek 16, the Saints have kept just one clean sheet. On the other hand, Arsenal have scored 28 goals in 13 home games so far and Aubameyang scored 13 of his current 15 goals against opposition outside the top six.  In other words, there could be an abundance of goals in this fixture and PEA could (and should) be at the centre of it. Probably the only (slight) risk concerning the Babonese striker is that he’s more than likely to lead the line during Arsenal’s Europa League clash against BATE Borisov on Thursday evening, as Lacazette will be suspended. The relatively calm past week and a half plus the three days of rest between the BATE game and the Southampton game (both at home) should put your potential worries to rest, though.

The stand-out game of gameweek 27 is the clash between Man United and Liverpool at Old Trafford. With the Mancunians still on a roll despite their loss against PSG in the Champions League and with Liverpool seemingly having left their little “start-of-the-new-year slump” behind them, this game could be fireworks. The Red Devils are still unbeaten in the Premier League, and considering their good form and the fact that this is a home game, our second premium pick of the week is United’s Paul Pogba (£8.8m). If you’re amongst the 57% of FPL managers who do not own Pogba, you just have one simple two-word question to ask yourself: “Why not?”. The Frenchman has scored 4 goals and given 2 assists in his last five Premier League games, and he was also the best player on the pitch in the FA Cup fifth round encounter with Chelsea. He was the foundation for their 2-0 victory over the Blues, providing an assist and scoring a goal himself. After the cracker against Liverpool this weekend, Pogba will be facing Palace away and Southampton at home, so the coming fixtures are also in his favour. His price tag has already grown to £8.8m, but in his current form, he’s still a bargain.

Our final premium pick ahead of gameweek 27 is Tottenham’s creator-in-chief Christian Eriksen (£9.3m). After two rounds of FPL disappointment (5 points from two home games against Watford and Newcastle), the Danish attacking midfielder showed his pedigree in gameweek 26 by scoring a wonderful strike and providing one assist, resulting in a 13-point haul. Still owned by just 7% of managers, he could be quite a differential force away to Burnley this weekend. True, the Clarets have improved dramatically over the past months, especially from a defensive point of view, but Spurs have scored 30 goals 13 away games so far. Eriksen is involved in most of Tottenham’s attacking moves and the return of Mo Sissoko has allowed Pocchetino to play Eriksen a bit higher up the pitch. He is a bit pricey, especially considering the available alternatives (his team mate is Son is £0.4m cheaper, for example), but the Dane is worth it and Kane’s possible return may help his assists.

A differential pick or two

With just eight games in gameweek 27 and blanks for some of the game’s most popular players, a few less-owned players from teams outside the top six gain some prominence. One of these players is Wolverhampton’s Diogo Jota (£6.1m). Despite a slightly unlucky performance against Newcastle at home last gameweek, the Portuguese offensive midfielder has tapped into a decent vein of form, scoring 3 goals and providing 2 assists in his last four Premier League games. It should be noted that all of those goals came in gameweek 23 versus Leicester, but that doesn’t play down the fact that Jota gets involved up front for Wolves. He missed out on Wolves FA Cup fifth round clash with Bristol City due to a knock, but is expected to be in the starting line-up for his team when they take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium coming Saturday. Jota is deployed high up front by his coach Nuno Espirito Santo, in a sort of second-striker role next to outstanding performer Raul Jimenez. After the Cherries, Wolves are taking on Huddersfield (away) and Cardiff (home), so now is a good time to consider bringing in Jota.

With an on ownership of 4.4%, Newcastle’s Salomon Rondón (£5.7m) is just slightly more present in FPL teams than Diogo Jota (3.7%). The Venezuelan striker has been phenomenal for Rafa Benitez’ Toon outfit, scoring six goals and providing 3 assists in a team that has scored just 22 goals so far this season. That means Rondón has been involved in 41% of Newcastle’s goals. Coming Sunday, Newcastle are hosting Huddersfield Town, who have conceded 26 goals in 12 away games and who haven’t kept a clean sheet since German coach Jan Siewert took over from David Wagner three weeks ago. Rondón blanked in the last two Premier League games against Spurs and Wolves (both away), but he did score against Man City in gameweek 24 and provided an assist against Cardiff a week earlier. In the four games after after Huddersfield, Newcastle are hosting Burnley and Everton, and visiting West Ham and Bournemouth, so Rondón could be a major differential, budget enabler, and source of points for some weeks to come.

The captaincy

As stated earlier, the most attractive fixture in gameweek 27 from an FPL perspective is probably Arsenal against Southampton. We’ve recommended Aubameyang as a premium pick and our first suggestion for the captain’s armband this weekend is his team mate Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m). The reason we’ve gone with the French striker is that he was sent off with a red card against BATE Borisov in the Europa League last week, meaning that he’ll have to sit out the return next week. This makes it very likely that he’ll be starting up top on Saturday, against a Saints outfit that has conceded 23 goals in 13 away games. At the same time, Laca has scored 4 goals in his last six Premier League games. On top of that, he has completed the 90 minutes in four of those games, while he got 67 and 74 minutes in the other two games. When Arsenal faced Southampton at Saint Mary’s in gameweek 17, the French striker got just 45 minutes of game time, but this was enough for him to record an assist and earn 4 FPL points. This time around, it looks like there is more than a single assist on the cards for him.

Our final suggestion and second captaincy pick of the week is West Ham’s Felipe Anderson (£7.2m). Admittedly it’s something of a punt, especially given the Brazilian’s recent returns (2 goals and a single assist in the last 8 gameweeks), but his lack of returns came hand-in-hand with a dip in form for the Hammers after a magnificent December month. West Ham will be hosting Fulham coming Friday evening and if there’s one team against which an attack-minded player can get back into form, it’s the Cottagers. As a result of allowing 15 shots per game on average, Fulham has already conceded 58 goals this season, which boils down to an average of 2.2 goals per game. While Anderson has been limiting his shot count in recent games (3 attempts in the last 4 games), he did show his assist potential (7 key passes in the last 3 games). He is an explosive type of player, as is illustrated by the five double-figure hauls he’s already recorded this season, four of which came against teams from outside the top six. The game against Fulham is the perfect opportunity to make it six double-figure FPL scores. An added plus for Felipe Anderson is that West Ham will not be blanking this season.

For further ideas on who to captain in GW27, have a look at our forum Poll on the FPL GW27 Captain.