FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 18 Preview

“Gameweek 18 is offering a few top encounters, including the London derby between Spurs and Chelsea at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium” (CC by 2.0). Image by Mat Simpson.

After a pretty high-scoring gameweek 17, with an average of 51 points, and a Kevin de Bruyne reminder of why he is always a candidate for a haul, we’ve now come to the first blank gameweek of the 2019-2020 Fantasy Premier League campaign. The Premier League gods ended up giving us a round in which the League leaders and best team at the moment, Liverpool, miss out, while on the fixture front, current 2nd place Leicester are visiting current 3rd Manchester City, current 4th Chelsea are visiting current 5th Spurs, and Manchester United are going to Vicarage Road in the knowledge that breaking down smaller teams who lie deep tend to cause them trouble. In other words, gameweek 18 is going to require some navigation for our FPL forum managers.

Despite the fact that many active FPL managers have already used one or more chips and/or their first wildcard during the topsy-turvy start of this season, we expect quite some activity surrounding these tools this weekend. Besides that, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a surge in the number of transfer hits taken overall. It looks like all the ingredients are there for another rollercoaster ride of a gameweek.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 18 is set at 11h30 (GMT+0) on Saturday, December 21st.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

Premium Jamie Vardy Norwich (a) 5
Premium Sadio Mané Watford (H) 6
Non-premium Mason Mount Bournemouth (H) 2
Non-premium James Maddison Norwich (a) 2
Differential Danny Ings West Ham (H) 2
Differential Jonjo Shelvey Burnley (a) 0 (injury)
Captain Jamie Vardy Norwich (a) 10

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per December 19th, 2019)

GK Schmeichel (Lei), Ederson (Cit), Patricio (Wol) Ramsdale (Bou), Guaita (Cry), Henderson (She) More expensive goalies from bigger teams traded in for cheaper goalies from smaller teams who have shown defensive solidity recently.
DEF Aké (Bou), Robertson (Live), Alexander-Arnold (Liv) Baldock (She), Lundstram (She), Kelly (Cry) Liverpool’s blank in GW18 and Aké’s injury, in combination with relatively kind fixtures for defensively solid Sheffield United and Palace
MID Mané (Liv), Mount (Che), Pulisic (Che) De Bruyne (Cit), Grealish (Ast), Son (Tot) Liverpool’s blank in GW18, and Chelsea’s decreased overall form and results
FOR Abraham (Che), Firmino (Liv), Aubameyang (Ars) Rashford (Utd), Vardy (Lei), Ings (Sou) Liverpool’s blank in GW18, and Chelsea’s decreased overall form and results, plus managers freeing up funds to redistribute during the Christmas period and adapt to the fixture calendar.

Premium fantasy picks

Premium pick number one for gameweek 18 is Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne (£10.3m). After a 19-point haul against Arsenal last weekend, some might call it logical, some might call it wise, some might call it knee-jerking. However, whatever you want to call it, the reality is that he is one of the very best players English football has seen in the past decade at least and that he hasn’t been mentioned as a premium pick by us in a while (although we did recommend captaining him earlier on this month). The Belgian midfielder already has 6 goals and 11 assists resulting in 116 FPL points, a tally only surpassed by Jamie Vardy’s 133 points. Over his past five games, KDB has scored 4 goals, provided 1 assist and racked up 40 FPL points in the process. That run consisted of Chelsea and United at home, and Newcastle, Burnley and Arsenal away. Until the last couple of games, City were not in the best form at the moment and next up are Leicester at the Etihad followed by Wolves at Molineux. Still, keeping in mind the congested Christmas schedule, De Bruyne’s key role in Guardiola’s team and his ability to get directly involved in goal-scoring against any opponent and at any time, we see few more promising premium assets for the upcoming gameweeks.

One of those premiums up there with KDB is Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min (£10.1). After a quiet start to the season where he produced just a single assist in the first four gameweeks, the South Korean forward has added 5 goals and 9 assists to his name. Since José Mourinho was appointed as the new Spurs manager in the build-up to gameweek 13, Son has brought his owners a sensational 39 FPL points, courtesy of 2 goals and 4 assists in those five games. Also, only Salah and De Bruyne had more shots on goal than Son’s 8 over the past six gameweeks, while no other player in the league created more than the South Korean’s six big chances over that same period. As you would expect, Son is a nailed-on starter on the left wing for Mourinho and we can definitely see him improving his tallies over the coming run of games. During the tricky gameweeks 18 and 19, Spurs are facing Chelsea and Brighton at home, who have conceded 17 and 15 goals in eight away games respectively. After that, Son and his team mates are rolling up to Norwich and Southampton. He could well develop into one of the most wanted FPL assets over the coming weeks (current ownership: 22%).

Non-premium fantasy picks

On paper, this weekend’s encounter between Norwich and Wolves at Carrow Road is one of the most interesting fixtures from an FPL point of view. To put it very simply, that’s because the Canaries have already conceded a worrying 20 goals in eight home games, while Wolves have scored 11 goals in eight away games on their way to mounting another serious challenge for a spot in the top seven. As a result, our first non-premium fantasy pick for this round is Wolves striker Raul Jimenez (£7.5m). The Mexican is an essential cog in manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s machine and the team’s principal focal point in attack. He has not been spectacular in terms of FPL recently, but he has been offering a consistency of returns over the past months that few other players offer in the official game. In his last ten Premier League games, there have been only two occasions on which he did not record an attacking return, namely in gameweek 10 at Newcastle and in gameweek 15 versus West Ham at Molineux. In the other eight games, Jimenez returned either a single goal or a single assist, apart from the game in gameweek 8, when he provided 2 assists for Traoré against City. As a result of this consistency, the Wolves striker has brought his owners 61 FPL points, an average of 6.1 points per game. For a striker with his price tag, that’s very decent and we find it hard to imagine that he will not continue to display his extended fine form against Norwich on Saturday afternoon.

Our second non-premium fantasy pick for coming weekend missed a penalty in gameweek 17, but we’re not worried. On the contrary, we’re quite optimistic about his chances of becoming a stand-out player in the FPL universe on the short term. Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish (£6.2m) hit the crossbar with a well-taken spot kick, but only one player on the pitch (Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick) matched his 3 shots in the box. Over the past five games, in which Grealish completed the 90 minutes each time, he has scored 2 goals, provided 1 assist and recorded 23 FPL points for an average of just under 5 points per game. That’s not bad for a player with his price tag. To add to that, the young Englishman also had the third-most shots in the box (12) out of all midfielders in the game over that period, while in total, only five players recorded more than his 12 attempted assists. Up next are Norwich (home), Southampton (home) and Watford (away), exactly the three teams currently positioned below the Villans in the table. In combination with his ownership of 9.6%, this could make Grealish a serious differential pick.

A differential fantasy pick or two

Talking about differentials, what about Everton’s Richarlison (£7.9m)? The Toffees have been criticise a lot this season and with good reason, but meanwhile, their Brazilian star still established himself amongst the eight highest-scoring midfielders in the official game. Thanks to 6 goals, 3 assists and 7 bonus points, he currently sits at 79 FPL points, just 11 behind Son and 12 behind Sterling. It’s also worth mentioning that his 9 direct involvements account for 45% of all Everton goals so far this season. In other words, Richarlison is Everton’s major threat up front. Over the past six weeks, the Brazilian has scored 4 goals and amassed a very nice 33 FPL points in the process. What’s more, over that same period, only Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Man City’s Raheem Sterling managed to equal Richarlison’s 5 big chances. In Arsenal and Burnley, who are visiting Goodison Park in GW18 and GW19 respectively, the Toffees are facing two defences that can get leaky on the road. The Gunners have so far conceded 12 goals in eight away games, while the Clarets conceded 16 in eight away games. True, Everton are far from a free-scoring goal machine, but Richarlison (current ownership: 8.1%) should get a return or two on the very short term.

The second differential pick and the final fantasy for gameweek 18 is a second Wolf, after Raul Jimenez, namely playmaker Joao Moutinho (£5.4m). Like the case for his team mate, Moutinho got onto our radar for this weekend, thanks to Wolves having displayed good form recently and the opposition (Norwich) boasting the league’s worst defence (if we disregard Southampton’s freaky 0-9 demolition at the hand of Leicester). The Portuguese midfielder’s single goal and 4 assists indicate that he is not the most prolific provider of attacking returns in the official game, but he does offer considerable potential. There are, for example, only five players in the Premier League who have created more chances from set-pieces than Moutinho (19), which explains why he is the set-piece man at Wolves. At the same time, Norwich have conceded more chances from set-pieces than any other team in the league this season. At a price of just £5.4m and with a current ownership of 5.7m, Moutinho represents an interesting differential pick for the upcoming weekend.

For further GW18 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

As we wrote earlier, the captaincy choice is not easy this weekend as form and fixtures are not really lining up for a lot of teams. There are Spurs at home to Chelsea, where the likes of Son, Kane, Alli, or even Abraham could get on the score sheet. A day earlier, in-form Leicester are visiting the Etihad to face a Man City side that is currently four points behind the Foxes in the table. Just on the basis of recent past performances, Jamie Vardy enters the equation here as candidate for the armband. For the home team, Kevin de Bruyne stands out after his Player-of-the-Week performance last weekend, while the likes of Sterling and Jesus will also be looking to score in front of their own fans. We have gone with Raul Jimenez though, whose Wolves are visiting an extremely leaky Norwich side on Saturday.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW18 has very much a mixed bag with Rashford currently leading the way from Son, KDB and Kane.

Finally if you like FPL but want to have a go at a weekly Fantasy Premier League type competition for prizes then have a look at FanTeam’s 50,000 euro weekly monster. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. There’s also a free chance to win an entry into a comp over two gameweeks where the top prize is a guaranteed 30,000 euros.