FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 21 Preview

“Is Jamie Vardy taking off where he left off in gameweek 18 in the new year?” (CC by 2.0). Image by CFC Unofficial.

If you are one of the lucky Fantasy Premier League managers who largely escaped the rotational chaos that characterised gameweek 20, you just need to take a look at our overview of last week’s fantasy picks to understand what the majority of us had to deal with. Out of Mo Salah, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli (all of whom were coming into the GW in good form), Willems against Everton at home, Deulofeu against Villa at home and Maupay versus Bournemouth at home, only the Brighton frontman returned something. A single assist. If you think that’s bad, remember that the festive craziness hasn’t ended yet. There is still one gameweek to go, starting tomorrow (January 1st, 2020) just 2.5 days after GW20 and a mere 3.5 days after GW19. In other words, prepare for another rollercoaster of a gameweek.

But then again, how to better start off the year with your captain Salah scoring a brace against Sheffield at home or big time differential Michail Antonio scoring a goal against Bournemouth in David Moyes’ first game back in charge of the Hammers, just to name a few potential scenarios? While Liverpool and Manchester City play at home (against Sheffield United and Everton, respectively), Leicester are travelling to a resilient Newcastle. The fixture of the round takes place on Wednesday evening though, when Manchester United roll up to the Emirates to face a tormented Arsenal side. So just make sure your team is in order before starting the celebrations tonight, welcome the New Year in style, hang out in our FPL Forum and enjoy another full day of Premier League action the day after.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 21 is set at 11h30 (GMT+0) on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

Premium Mo Salah Wolves (H) 3
Premium Jamie Vardy West Ham (a) DNP
Non-premium Dele Alli Norwich (a) 2
Non-premium Jetro Willems Everton (H) 1
Differential Gerard Deulofeu Aston Villa (H) 2
Differential Neal Maupay Bournemouth (H) 5
Captain Mo Salah Wolves (H) 6

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per December 31st, 2019)

GK Ederson (ManCity), Henderson (She), Schmeichel (Lei) Foster (Wat), Schmeichel (Lei), Alisson (Liv) Fixture swings for some teams, in combination with Watford’s rapidly increasing defensive stability.
DEF Lundstram (She), Pereira (Lei), Aurier (Tot) Alexander-Arnold (Liv), Baldock (She), Dunk (Bri) Lundstram’s injury and Aurier’s continuing inconsistency in combination with TAA’s ongoing returns and Dunk’s GW20 clean sheet and bonus points.
MID Maddison (Lei), Grealish (Ast), Alli (Tot) Traore (Wol), Martial (Utd), De Bruyne (ManCity) Many FPL managers seem to be making space for a few of the in-form players at the moment, at the cost of a few more quiet performers.
FOR Abraham (Che), Rashford (Utd), Ings (Sou) Calvert-Lewin (Eve), Jimenez (Wol), Ings (Sou) It’s a bit odd to see Rashford being transferred out by so many, and the same goes, to a lesser extent, for Abraham after his top performance against Arsenal. DCL and Ings provide outstanding budget value.

Premium fantasy picks

We’re starting this list off with Jamie Vardy (£10.1m), who was not included in Leicester’s squad for gameweek 21 as his spouse was about to give birth. Not only was this an extremely happy occasion for the Vardys, but also a good opportunity for manager Brendan Rodgers to rest his star player. The broken hearts of about four million FPL managers were considered to be nothing more than collateral damage, unfortunately. In all seriousness though, while it hurt in gameweek 20, we can now be quite certain that Vardy will be back for tomorrow’s game against Newcastle, right? What’s more, and maybe this is the Christmas feeling talking, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a hugely motivated Vardy run rampage at Saint James’ Park tomorrow. The gameweek 19 defeat against Liverpool was the first time in 11 games that the English striker did not record a return, while back in gameweek 8, he scored a brace (and 12 FPL points) against the Magpies at the King Power. Is the Vardy party taking off where it left off?

Our second premium fantasy pick for GW21 is Kevin de Bruyne (£10.5m), arguably the best and most complete footballer in the English top flight right now. The Belgian is fixture-proof and has returned in each of his last four games (3 goals, 4 assists, 42 FPL points). That’s right, 42 points in four games, against Arsenal away, Leicester at home, Wolves away and Sheffield United at home, all of them being at this moment inside the top 8. Up next is a home game against Everton, who the Cityzens also played in gameweek 7. In that game, De Bruyne competed for 79 minutes and provided 2 assists for a total of 9 FPL points. The only real risk for the Belgian playmaker is rotation, as he played 66 minutes against Wolves in GW19 and 90 minutes against Sheffield United in GW20. He is the beating heart of the team though, as well as the man in form, and Guardiola knows how much his team can suffer without De Bruyne. As always, keep an eye out for team news, but even if he should be rotated this week, he is an excellent long-term pick as well.

Non-premium fantasy picks

Marcus Rashford (£9.1m) played 62 minutes against Newcastle in gameweek 19 (1 goal, 6 FPL points) and 90 minutes against Sheffield United in gameweek 20 (1 goal, 9 FPL points), so maybe it’s a fear of rotation that is making FPL managers ship him out in such numbers that he currently appears amongst the three most transferred-out strikers. We just find it hard to see another reason, because even though Man United have been inconsistent this season, Rashford has been FPL gold. His 12 goals, 5 assists and 120 FPL points make him the third-best striker and the fifth-best player overall in the official fantasy game. Manager Solskjaer’s United seems to be more comfortable in games where they do not need to take the initiative and where they can wait for the counter, and that’s the kind of game we’re expecting tomorrow, when the Red Devils travel to the Emirates to face Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. The Gunners will want to dominate the ball in front of their home fans, which will give United an excuse to lie deep and figure out how to launch Rashford and co up front. Arsenal have conceded 17 goals in 10 home games so far, and 30 goals in 20 games overall, so the English forward will already be thinking of making it 3 goals (or more?) in three games.

Our second non-premium fantasy pick can be considered a wise choice and not so much an exciting outfield pick with big differential value. As last gameweek showed, the value of a decent bench is a very important during the festive period as it’s likely that one or more of your players will be rested at one point or another. A starting budget defender playing for a defensively solid team can therefore be of exceptional value these days. Like Martin Kelly (£4.4m), for example. The Crystal Palace defender is not a spectacular FPL point magnet nor is he an undiscovered FPL gem (his current ownership stands at 32.5%), but he is an assured starter in a Palace backline that is suffering from an injury crisis. Still, the Eagles are far from leaky. They have conceded just 4 goals in their past seven games, and when looking at away games only, that total comes to a mere 2 goals in four games. He’s priced at just £4.4m and up next are Norwich at Carrow Road, where the Canaries have scored 16 goals in ten games. How productive will they be when Kelly and the rest of the league’s fourth-best defence visit?

A differential fantasy pick or two

It’s been a while, but an Everton player has made it back on our weekly list of fantasy picks. Though it’s too early to really say, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) seems to really enjoy the first days and weeks under Carlo Ancelotti’s reign. With the Italian manager in the stands, he scored the only goal against Burnley in gameweek 19 and then followed that up with a brace against Newcastle for Ancelotti’s first game in the Toffee dug-out in GW20. As with practically all players in this period of the year, the threat of rotation is real (DCL played the full 90 minutes in the last two games), but what we know for sure is that his goal instinct is on high alert of late. Next up are Man City at the Etihad, which makes us think that Ancelotti will want to start his most in-form eleven. The Cityzens have conceded 4 goals in the last four home games though, which offers some hope for DCL, while the run after this gameweek offers much more than that. Even if he is rested against Man City, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the young English striker add to his current tallies (8 goals, no assists, 68 FPL points) in the upcoming games against Brighton (H), West Ham (a), Newcastle (H) and Watford (a).

Our second differential fantasy pick and final pick for gameweek 21 is Burnley’s Chris Wood (£6.2m). the Clarets are welcoming Aston Villa to Turf Moor on Wednesday afternoon and they will be looking to take advantage of Villa’s horrendous away form. The Villains are bottom of the league when it comes to away games, with just four points from ten games. The 22 goals they have conceded over that period are more than any other defence in the league. On the other hand, it’s not like Burnley have been scoring for fun this season, but their 13 goals in 10 home games show that they are not completely lost in front of goal either. On top of that, Wood has proven that he can score goals and he has already done so seven times this season. That might not sound like that much, but it does represent almost a third of all of Burnley’s goals. The home team will have marked this as a must-win and many eyes will be on the tall New Zealand striker to bring them victory.

For further GW21 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

Gameweek 21 offers FPL managers a nice selection of candidates for the armband. Brendan Rodgers should send out the usual suspects again against Newcastle after a mass rotation move last gameweek, while both City and Liverpool play home games. We expect most of the captain picks to come from these three teams and our personal preference lies with Leicester striker Jamie Vardy. It’s Christmas and New Year, he will be over the moon with the birth of his daughter and he will be fully rested for the encounter at Newcastle. The Magpies know very well how to frustrate their opponents under manager Steve Bruce, but we doubt whether they will be able to ruin another Vardy party.

If these three teams are not convincing you, there are a few out-of-the-box picks as well. Chris Wood at home to Aston Villa could see you move up the ranks in a big way, while a punt on Troy Deeney against a tired Wolves outfit would qualify as a big punt for the armband as well. Rashford or Martial away to Arsenal don’t look too bad either, especially considering their form and the (lack of) form of their opponent.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW21 indicates Vardy, Salah, KDB and Mane are the most popular captains.

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 New Year’s Day weekly monster. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via their weekly FISO newsletter. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks.