After a busy week of FA Cup fixtures, we are back in the league with a sparse GW-18. Only twelve teams are due to feature this time around; we would’ve had only ten, but GW-1’s Burnley vs Manchester United match was slotted in recently. So eight sides miss out, and Covid-19 hangs over others, disruptions sure to consume many chips.
Rotation was very much order of the day in the FA Cup, with most teams utilizing their youth squads; especially those with fixtures coming up this time around.
It’s worth noting that the week after this, GW-19, will be our first double game-week of the season, with Burnley and Man Utd the only teams from GW-18 who also have do the double in GW-19. Here are our picks for game-week 18:
Bernd Leno - £4.9Mil - Crystal Palace (H)
Arsenal has been much improved in the last few weeks, and the commanding Bernd Leno has impressed during this time. He now has two consecutive clean-sheets in the league, as well as recording a clean-sheet in the recent 2-0 FA Cup victory over Newcastle. He was called into action towards the end of normal time, superbly denying Andy Carroll.
Hugo Lloris - £5.6Mil - Aston Villa (A)
Tottenhame Hotspur may face Villans who are confident in front of goal, but this doesn’t mean you should necessarily overlook shot-stopper Hugo Lloris. In the last game-week, Spurs faced a free-scoring Leeds and successfully managed to keep them out. This game could well end up the same.
Romain Saïss - £5.1Mil - Everton (H)
After a fair amount of time out of the Wolves lineup, Saïss is now back in favour. He has rewarded the manager’s faith with two goals in his last three matches, earning a couple of bonus points in the process. Everton blanked the last time out, so Saïss has the potential to bank points at both ends of the pitch.
Lucas Digne - £6.0Mil - Wolves (A)
Lucas Digne has been one of the most coveted fullbacks in the game since his 2018 arrival from Barcelona. Out eight matches injured, he’s now a differential with under 5% ownership. Despite the missed minutes, he still has an impressive five assists to his name this season and faces a Wolves side that conceded three goals last time out. Digne got a 66 minute run-out in the FA Cup on Saturday, so he looks ready.
João Cancelo - £5.8Mil - Brighton (H)
Make sure you keep an eye on Manchester City’s FA Cup fixture against Birmingham City on Sunday to see who’s used up and who’s rested. It’s certainly worth backing a Citizen defender in a favorable home fixture against Brighton. Cancelo is a strong frontrunner, but of course this depends on how much he plays in the FA Cup compared to other in-favor defenders.
Bruno Fernandes - £11.3Mil - Burnley (A)
The Red Devils’ majestic midfielder is a common fixture in our player picks articles, and he is certainly a great pick for this blank game-week. His form lately has been sublime, with four goals and three assists in the last four game-weeks. Bruno Fernandes is also strong away from home, so he will be key to unlocking the Burnley defense. He was given a rest in Saturday’s FA Cup tie, so he should be nailed on to start in the league.
Bukayo Saka - £5.3Mil - Crystal Palace (H)
Arsenal’s teenage sensation has been an essential part of Arsenal’s turnaround in recent times, rewarding Mikel Arteta’s faith in youth. Saka has been the bright spark in the Gunners’ attack and has started to bag the points with two goals and two assists in the last three fixtures. At his price, he offers outstanding value and would be a great enabler for any squad.
Kevin De Bruyne - £11.7Mil - Brighton (H)
After struggling to get in amongst the goals in recent weeks, De Bruyne heavily rewarded loyal FPL Managers with a huge 13-point haul last time out when he helped himself to a goal and assist. The Citizens’ play-maker has reminded everyone how valuable he is to this side. Now he faces a tasty fixture against struggling Brighton, a team that has leaked goals throughout the season. Get him in!
Pedro Neto - £6.0Mil - Everton (H)
Neto has consistently delivered points, including two assists in his last three games. He’s a great value chipping in during the absence of Raul Jimenez. His stock continues to rise, as he also offers further value as an enabler. He could be a great asset to have for those using the Free-Hit chip this game-week.
Harry Kane - £11.0Mil - Aston Villa (A)
Spurs’ talisman Harry Kane is back among the goals and assists, getting one of each in an impressive 3-0 victory over Leeds last time out. The England Captain is equally worth backing along with his strike partner, Son Heung-Min. This should be a great fixture with only three points separating the two sides. This could be a game full of goals, and Kane will look to capitalise.
Alexandre Lacazette - £8.3Mil - Crystal Palace (H)
There has been plenty of talk at the Emirates lately regarding the performances of the “Young Guns”. However, the experienced Lacazette has been in fine form and essential to the Gunners’ improved form. He now has four goals in his last three league matches and is Mikel Arteta’s preferred center forward. He was mostly rested for Arsenal’s FA Cup win over Newcastle, given only a cameo in extra time, registering an assist. He’s reasonably priced and has low ownership (currently 7.1%).
Sergio Aguero - £10.3Mil - Brighton (H)
According to Pep Guardiola, Aguero is now fully fit and raring to go but he didn’t make the FA Cup squad against Birmingham City. We don’t know the reason yet, but if he is fit, then it’s certainly worth backing him in this favorable league fixture: Aguero has four goals and an assist in his last three matches against the Seagulls. Aguero is a differential at 1.6% ownership.
What do you think of our picks this week? Any tips for differentials? How are you preparing for January’s Blank and Double whipsaw? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!