FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 26 Preview

“GW26 of the 2019-2020 campaign sees the first winter break in Premier League history” (CC by 4.0). Image by Damian Stricker

After last weekend’s developments, league leaders Liverpool are now 22 points ahead of 2nd placed Manchester City with thirteen rounds to go. At this rate, with this humongous 22-point gap remaining intact, Jurgen Klopp’s men can crown themselves champions of England after the gameweek 32 encounter with, you guessed it, Manchester City! The big question is: can anyone or any team prevent this scenario from becoming reality? Southampton looked like they were capable of causing Liverpool some trouble for about a half last weekend, but that game eventually finished 4-0 in the Reds’ favour, which might just be very illustrative for their incredible season so far.

In other news, José Mourinho’s Tottenham caused the shock of the Fantasy Premier League weekend by dispatching of Manchester City at home, 2-0. Spurs had been far from free-flowing up until now and City could have won this game on any other day, but not last Sunday. The other top-six encounters (Leicester vs Chelsea and Man United vs Wolves) in gameweek 25 both ended in draws, 2-2 and 0-0 respectively. Bournemouth booked a very necessary 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, Everton came from behind to take three points back home from Carrow Road, and a Robert Snodgrass brace was not enough for West Ham to hold on a lead at home to Brighton (3-3).

A last note in regard to gameweek 26: this gameweek is split into two halves, one taking place this weekend and the other the following weekend. This means that some of the fantasy picks that you need to decide on coming Saturday will only play about a week later, so keep that in mind.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 26 is set at 11h30 (GMT+0) on Saturday, February 8th, 2020.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

Premium Mo Salah Southampton (H) 16
Premium P-E Aubameyang Burnley (a) 2
Non-premium John Lundstram Crystal Palace (a) 1
Non-premium Raul Jimenez Manchester United (a) 2
Differential Matt Ritchie Norwich (H) 6
Differential Divock Origi Southampton (H) 0
Captain Mo Salah Southampton (H) 32

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 5th, 2020)

GK Schmeichel (LEI), Ryan (BRI), Gazzaniga (TOT) Henderson (SHE), Pope (BUR), Button (BRI) Current form, fixture swings and the return of Lloris.
DEF Lundstram (SHE), Kelly (CRY), Söyüncü (LEI) Baldock (SHE), Van Dijk (LIV), O’ Connell (SHE) Sheffield United have favourable fixtures coming up, but Lundstram was benched recently.
MID Mané (LIV), Maddison (LEI), Martial (UTD) Salah (LIV), Son (TOT), Bergwijn (TOT) Mané remains injured, Martial is not delivering, Salah is approaching top form, and Spurs just beat City 2-0 with new boy Bergwijn scoring on his debut.
FOR Vardy (LEI), Abraham (CHE), Ings (SOU) Firmino (LIV), Jimenez (WOL), Ings (SOU) Largely form-based, though Ings seems to be really dividing FPL managers into 2 camps.

Premium fantasy picks

Not having or bringing in Kun Aguero (£12.0m) in gameweek 26 is one of those “You can, but at your own peril” kind of situations. True, there is the very real risk of rotation with a fit and in-form Gabriel Jesus praying on a starting spot up front as well, but Aguero looks too good to rotate right now. He did not return anything for the roughly 1,7 million FPL managers who currently own him in last weekend’s game against Spurs, but to be honest, we’re not entirely sure how that’s possible. The Argentinian  could have had a hattrick in the first half alone and Gundogan missed a penalty that had been won by the striker as well. In the three games prior to the Spurs encounter though, Aguero recorded an unbelievable 37 FPL points, courtesy of 6 goals and 1 assist. This weekend’s opponent West Ham have just come off conceding three goals at home to Brighton, while their total of goals conceded in 12 away games sits at 18 already. In other words, a serious Aguero haul could be on the way.

Based on current form and fixtures, we felt that we simply could not go without a premium fantasy pick from Liverpool’s roster. We didn’t want to repeat our consecutive recommendation of Mo Salah and Firmino is up next in the “Non-premium” category, so we took a bit of a risk instead. Sadio Mané (£12.2) got injured during the first half hour of gameweek 24 and the hope is that he will be back in the team for the away game against Norwich in gameweek 26 (which takes place on Saturday, February 15th). His ownership has plummeted over the past few weeks to “just” 21.7% and with Salah’s ownership expected to rise above his current 43.4%, the Senegalese winger could be something of a unique differential against the Canaries. He has scored 11 goals and provided 8 assists so far this season and the fact that 4 of those goals and 3 of those assists have come away from home only further increases the appeal of this punt.

Non-premium fantasy picks

As we wrote above, one of our two non-premium fantasy picks for gameweek 26 is Roberto Firmino (£9.7m). The Liverpool forward has been in more than decent form over the past five weeks, recording 31 FPL points from 2 goals and 3 assists. It should also be noted that the opposition over that run consisted of three away games (Spurs, Wolves, West Ham) and two home games (Man United, Southampton). In other words, not the easiest run of fixtures imaginable. The upcoming run of games is a whole different story, though: Norwich away, West Ham home, Watford away and Bournemouth home. The Brazilian already has 8 goals and 8 assists to his name, and all of those goals plus one assist were recorded away from Anfield, which is a stat of such nature that it’s worth taking into account when deciding on Firmino. Considering his current form and the favourable upcoming run of fixtures though, there are probably not a lot of better forward options in the official game at the moment.

Firmino is currently the eight-best forward in FPL and one spot above him is Southampton’s Danny Ings (£7.0). The English striker’s incredible goal-scoring form cooled down a bit due to a three-game streak without any returns, but we caution against writing him off already. First of all, in one of those three games, Ings got just 20 minutes of playing time, and second of all, he was a constant menace to the Liverpool defence last weekend. He probably should have gotten a penalty in that game as well, but instead he finished the game with 2 FPL points. The Saints and Ings will get opportunities to get back to winning and scoring ways over the coming weeks though, with the next five games being Burnley at home, Aston Villa at home, West Ham away, Newcastle home and Norwich away. We can easily see Southampton’s striker adding to his current 14 goals and 1 assist over that run.

A differential fantasy pick or two

Sometimes, when a budget player spreads out his returns over a longer period of time, he can slip under the FPL radar for quite a long time, which is what John Fleck (£5.1m) has done, kind of. The midfield creator carries a very modest price tag and is owned by just 6.4% of FPL managers, but he is just 13 points shy of the 100-point mark after 25 gameweeks. Fleck has scored 5 goals, provided 2 assists and played a part in 7 clean sheets, which has brought the happy few who own him a very nice 87 points. Gameweek 28 is a blank one for the Blades, but before that, they have home games against Bournemouth and Brighton coming up, and after GW28, it’s Norwich at home. Combine that knowledge with the fact that Fleck scored 56 of his 87 points in front of his own crown and you can see why he could be an outstanding budget-enabling pick for the short and medium term.

Our second differential fantasy pick for GW25 is based on just one game, a lot of enthusiasm, and a desire to take a real punt this weekend. Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) needed just 63 minutes to introduce himself to the Spurs fans and the Premier League in general. A few days after signing from PSV Eindhoven, José Mourinho surprised us with a spot in the starting eleven for the Dutchman and he did not disappoint. At the point of drowning against the reigning champions, Bergwijn placed a well-controlled volley in the bottom right corner to make it 1-0. This was followed by Son’s 2-0 not ten minutes later, which meant game over for Pep Guardiola. The new winger’s dream debut got him 10 points in FPL and we’re thinking: why would he not simply continue this trend when Spurs visit Aston Villa in gameweek 25 (which takes on February 15th)? It’s a real punt and Mourinho might even leave him out of the starting eleven, but if he doesn’t and Stevie does his magic again, you can be part of the lucky 1% (his current ownership total) if you picked him.

For further GW26 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

Seeing how convinced we are of Sergio Aguero‘s potential earlier in this piece, it would be kind of strange not to pick him as our captain for gameweek 25. He is facing West Ham, who have improved under David Moyes, but who are still far from a solid, reliable unit. Last weekend’s home game against Brighton showed that once again as the Hammers lost gave up a 3-1 lead in the final 15 minute of the encounter. Their defense definitely did look suspect at times and they won’t be looking forward to stopping off Aguero, or trying to at least.

In case you can’t or don’t want to make Aguero part of your team, gameweek 26 fortunately offers some decent alternatives. Salah and Firmino are facing Norwich away from home, so they could be good picks for the armband. Danny Ings will be looking to get back to scoring against Bournemouth next weekend, just like Raul Jimenez will be against Leicester at Molineux. If you want to make it even riskier, the likes of Calvert-Lewin at Goodison Park vs Palace, Maupay at home to Watford, Baldock and Fleck against Bournemouth at Bramall Lane, and Aubameyang against Newcastle at the Emirates could reap highly differential awards.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW26 shows Salah and Aguero out in front followed by KDB.

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. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.