Game Week 19 marks the half way point of the season and finally things seem to have kicked in to gear for my own personal team. I like this part of the season because it feels like things are finally settled down, teams tend to perform a little more consistently in line with their form and you have a feel for who the main contenders are in your mini-league.
Of course, it can all change and that is the beauty of the Premier League but as we ride high on the crest of a Wayne Rooney captain shout for GW18 the time has come to look ahead to GW19 which looks a much trickier path to navigate.
The first thing to point out is that GW19 kicks of on Friday night with the deadline kicking in at 6.45pm. We will of course be here with ‘The Last Word’ for members at around 5.15pm to give you our final thoughts ahead of the weekend’s games. Before then though, we have loads of good stuff coming up…
The GW19 podcast is already out, the podcast extra time is here, we will have our captain picks and more coming up through the week. But for now, we turn our attentions to our top picks for game week 19:
Arsenal Vs. Liverpool
League Cup action sits between Arsenal and this Liverpool fixture and with the visitors having already been ejected from the competition it could be a blessing in disguise as they have the whole week to prepare for this Friday night fixture.
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Arsenal will no doubt rotate most of their team for the visit of West Ham on Tuesday but it is unhelpful to say the least – particularly given how they stuttered over the line against Newcastle last weekend.
Wenger will not be able to complain about teams coming and ‘parking the bus’ after this game as it is not how Klopp’s Liverpool side do things and instead it should be a very entertaining game.
There has been talk of loading up on Liverpool players for the Christmas run in and Salah remains the must have player – but with Coutinho and Firmino both hitting form (with preference for the former) it could certainly pay to load up.
We see this being an open game and one that Liverpool will likely edge.
Everton Vs. Chelsea
Everton have hit form at just the right time and have now climbed to 9th in the league with four wins and a draw in their last five games. Wayne Rooney has been all the talk with 6 goals and 3 assists in that time but this will be no easy game for the Toffees who find themselves up against a Chelsea side that has the second best away form in the league and one that has only conceded 7 goals away from home – second best in the league.
This is likely to be a tight game and this could scupper both sides chances of scoring big Fantasy Premier League points. Rooney remains the top pick for Everton but with a tough run coming up that sees Everton face Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs in the next 5 games it might not be the time to load up on their players. That being said, Jonjoe Kenny was another pick of ours last week and he grabbed an assist to continue his good run.
Chelsea will be looking to build on their recently improved form and should have Morata back in action from the start in this game. Hazard remains a danger but patience is running out with him as he has failed to score in his last three appearances.
Chelsea play in the cup this week also and although they should rotate we see this having some impact on their preparations and see this being similar to the Liverpool game – 1-1 is our predicted scoreline.
Brighton Vs. Watford
Watford have a run of three decent fixtures to try and get their season back on track after some disappointing results of late. Brighton fought hard to a predictable 0-0 draw against Burnley last weekend and will be looking for a repeated clean sheet in this one.
With Deeney out suspended for three games it could pay to side with Andre Gray at £6.3m for these three games against Brighton, Leicester and Swansea – he has not been prolific this season with just two goals but he does score in gluts and these fixtures have a lot of potential. This could also be the last throw of the dice for Richarlison owners.
Man City Vs. Bournemouth
This is the fixture of the weekend without a doubt. Bournemouth were humbled in a 4-0 home defeat to Liverpool in GW18 and GW19 gets no easier with a trip to Man City on the horizon. If they approach this game in the same way they will be played off the park and this could be a blood bath.
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We can’t see City scoring less than 3 goals in this game and the usual contenders have to be Raheem Sterling (the poacher), KDB (the class) and Sane (the pace). If David Silva returns then he also has to feature heavily in your thoughts and Otamendi is the choice at the back due to his goal threat.
If you don’t have three City players in your side then now is the time to act. Doubling up in midfield has paid dividends for my own team and as City midfielders play like strikers do for other teams it is more than feasible to have a couple of theirs mids plus a defender or even a striker if you can stomach the rotation.
We will learn more about the expect team to play after their cup game on Tuesday.
Southampton Vs. Huddersfield
There has been lots of talk about Aaron Mooy after his brace against Watford but with just 4 goals all season it is not the time to get all giddy about the midfielder. He does play each game and is a good price at £5.3m and depending on which Southampton turn up this could be a good chance for him – but we are not recommending any of these players for GW19 or the near future.
Huddersfield are not going to score more than 1-2 goals most weeks and Mooy will most likely end the season not in double figures.
Instead, we see this as a chance for Southampton to get back on track and Charlie Austin and any Saints defenders have good chances of points in this game.
Stoke Vs. West Brom
This game has 0-0 written all over it except for the fact that these two sides rarely keep clean sheets these days. Instead we are going for West Brom to heap the pressure on Mark Hughes further – but this is a game to avoid from an FPL point of view.
Swansea Vs. Crystal Palace
Palace will be missing Christian Benteke at just the wrong time here. They are back in form and their striker who was a villian a week ago after missing ‘that’ penalty could have had a hat-trick at the weekend but did score and assist as Palace broke their away game goal drought to beat Leicester 3-0.
Wilfried Zaha is the main threat this week and is starting to be a bit of an automatic pick. His price is still just under £7m and with 2 assists and a goal in his last 3 his price won’t stay that way for much longer.
Swansea blew it at Everton on Monday night and we don’t see things improving for them here. Crystal Palace 2-0 is our prediction and we will be backing Zaha to grab a goal.
West Ham Vs. Newcastle
The resurgence of teams like Crystal Palace and West Ham breathes new life in to FPL half way through the season and has opened up some brilliant new choices for managers. Just like Zaha is a great pick from Palace, Arnautovic is an excellent prospect at West Ham. Two goals in his last three, he could have scored a hat-trick against his former employees in GW18 and although he is nursing a slight muscular injury he will hopefully be back in time for game week 19.
The backline is also likely to pick up points in this game and we will be backing Masuaku to again bring home the points as a really cheap defender (£4.4m).
Burnley Vs. Spurs
Two games without a goal for Harry Kane and plenty of managers are dropping the English striker. It could also be to coincide with his upcoming blank GW21 but this will be a tough game and it could be a third game without a goal – at £12.8m it is hard to keep him in the side when there are so many viable alternatives at almost half the cost.
If you keep him in this week then you are going to want to keep him in for the game against Southampton in GW20 before the blank GW21. There are other options and if you have them then great – the likes of Son and Eriksen are still likely to return well over the season – but I don’t see them breaking down this Burnley rearguard that has kept three clean sheets in a row and only conceded 3 goals at home all season (9 games).
For me, if you have a good alternative to Kane and are planning on dropping him for the GW21 anyway then I’d get rid now. Myself and Quigliano discussed this in the podcast this week and we both had differing opinions – so if you want to hear more on the topic listen to the pod.
Leicester Vs. Man Utd
The return of Paul Pogba to Man Utd just before the Christmas fixtures really kick in could be key to their bid to challenge Man City. United visit Leicester City this weekend who had been in good form prior to Palace scoring 3 past them in GW18 and with the Frenchman in the United midfield they will be feeling optimistic in this game.
With Pogba in the side, United have created an average of 12.5 chances per game. Without him it has been just 7. It is true that Pogba has missed some of United’s biggest games in terms of opposition but the stats point to a dominant display here by the away side and it could well be Romelu Lukaku who benefits.
At £7.9m it is well worth a punt on Pogba who has 56 points from just 8 appearances this season. Double that to 16 appearances (2 less than the maximum possible so far) and his tally would be 112 which would put him 1 point behind KDB and in joint third place overall with Raheem Sterling.
If your budget is tight or you need a David Silva replacement (if he is not ready for GW19) then Pogba is an excellent alternative at £7.9m!