What a crazy couple of days this has been! The rising COVID-19 cases at Carrington training complex scuppered the Man United vs Brentford game before the GW-17 FPL deadline, and then the Burnley vs Watford and Leicester City vs Tottenham games were called off hours before kick-off due to COVID-19 outbreaks within the Watford and Leicester camps respectively. Safety is paramount, but FPL managers are still pulling their hair out.
If you thought last week was tough, brace yourselves for this one. As I write, Man Utd v Brighton, Brentford v Southampton, West Ham United v Norwich, Watford v Palace and Everton v Leicester have all been scratched due to COVID-19 outbreaks. More fixture postponements could occur as the GW-18 deadline approaches, so hold your cards close to the vest (save your free-transfers until as close to the deadline as you can manage). Tune in to NMA’s EPL GW-18 Pre-Deadline & Live Chat near deadline time for further updates. Here are some useful tips that could help navigate through these tough times:
- Don’t make early transfers unless you have to.
In the current turbulence, the importance of information trumps price rises. Chasing price rises could be a costly error that could plummet your ranks.
- Try not to triple-up on teams.
Due to COVID-19 outbreaks, any fixture can be called off at any time. So try not to have too many players from the same team.
- Build a strong bench.
Spreading funds can hedge risk of postponement. Build a strong bench, to plug leaks.
With that out of the way, here are some player picks for GW-18.
All stats used in this article are sourced from understat.
Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1, Leeds vs Arsenal)
Ramsdale has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League ever since he took over Leno’s #1 spot. Apart from keeping eight clean sheets (three in the last five games), Ramsdale is also a bonus point magnet (#1 for bonus points among keepers). Facing a Leeds squad depleted by injuries, Ramsdale should get a decent return of points.
Emiliano Martínez (£5.5, Aston Villa vs Burnley)
After a tough start to the season, Martinez is slowly getting back to his best. With Burnley failing to find the net in each of the last three league appearances, a comfortable clean sheet is on the cards for the Argentine. Along with the clean sheet, Martinez also offers great bonus potential as the Villa man is #2 among keepers for bonus points.
Ben White (£4.5, Leeds vs Arsenal)
Priced at a paltry £4.5, Ben White is the best FPL defender to own at this price point. White doesn’t have the greatest goal threat, but the English center-back is ever-present in the Arsenal back line, offering excellent clean sheet potential and consistent point returns, a safe harbor for these chaotic times.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.2, Tottenham vs Liverpool)
TAA is the best defender to own in the game. The Liverpool right-back has outpointed Mo Salah over the last six games, making the scouser an interesting captain pick. Apart from goals & assists, TAA also offers a truckload of bonus points potential (24 in 15 appearances, #1 among all players) making him close to a must-own.
João Cancelo (£6.8, Newcastle vs Man City)
After missing out on City’s 7-0 win over Leeds (one game suspension for yellow card accumulation), Cancelo is expected to slot straight back into the Man City starting line-up for at Newcastle. Cancelo is part of the best defense in the league (fewest goals conceded), and he offers a great attacking threat going forward. Although Cancelo has provided five assists in 16 league appearances, the fullback is yet to open his own goal-scoring account. Cancelo is due a mega-haul, and Newcastle could pay the price.
Reece James (£6.3, Wolves vs Chelsea)
Chelsea is going through a rough period at the moment; several key players are absent due to injuries and COVID-19. Despite the problems, Chelsea is still the 2nd best defense in the league, and although recent performances may not agree, it’s about time for Tuchel to tighten the Blues at the back. Since their GW-18 opponents Wolves have managed to score just once in their last five league games, James offers great clean sheet potential. He also offers goal, assist, and bonus points potential, making the English wing-back a valuable FPL asset.
Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8, Newcastle vs Man City)
After an injury-riddled 2021 so far, De Bruyne reminded FPL managers what he can do when fit. KDB was the heartbeat of the Man City attack in the Citizens’ 7-0 drubbing of Leeds, scoring twice and earning a player of the match award to cap off a near-perfect game. The Belgian is Man City’s best attacker to own and is also one of the best captains for GW-18.
Mo Salah (£13.1, Tottenham vs Liverpool)
Picking Salah doesn’t need much convincing, just cash. The Egyptian has either scored assisted in every game except GW-2! Salah tops the charts for goals, assists, and expected goals. Don’t leave him out.
Phil Foden (£8.0, Newcastle vs Man City)
If buying KDB doesn’t quite fit your budget, Phil Foden is the next best Man City attacker to own. Playing as a false 9, Foden was the focal point of the flamboyant Man City front three, going close on several occasions to add to his tally of one goal plus one assist in GW-17. Now facing the worst defense in the league, Foden should have a field day in GW-18.
Jacob Ramsey (£4.5, Aston Villa vs Burnley)
Jacob Ramsey (brother of Aaron Ramsey) has slowly but surely established himself as the best budget midfielder to own in the game. Priced at £4.5, Ramsey has started each of Villa’s last three games as an attacking midfielder, and he scored a goal in Villa’s recent win over Norwich! Ramsey could be the bargain of the season at this rate.
Diogo Jota (£8.0, Tottenham vs Liverpool)
When fit, Jota is one of the midfielders to own in the game. Classed as a midfielder, the Portuguese attacker plays as the striker for the best attack in the league (Liverpool #1 for goals scored-48 goals in 17matches). Jota is #2 in the league for both goals scored (9 goals in 16 appearances) and expected goals (11.30xG in 16 appearances) behind only Mo Salah on both fronts. Although Firmino’s return might reduce Jota’s game time, the Portuguese is still a decent pick for this GW.
Alexandre Lacazette (£8.3, Leeds vs Arsenal)
With disciplinary issues freezing out Aubameyang, Lacazette has started each of Arsenal’s last three games in his preferred role as lone striker. This change seems to have worked out in Lacazette’s favor as the French striker looks to be more of an attacking threat down the middle. He has scored once and provided an assist in Arsenal’s last three matches. A trip to West Yorkshire to face the injury-hit Leeds team that fell 7-0 to Man City, Arsenal could put the whites to the sword. Expect Lacazette to be the executioner.
Ollie Watkins (£7.7, Aston Villa vs Burnley)
After a dull start to the season, Watkins seems to have re-established himself as Aston Villa’s talisman. Watkins is in a good run of form, having scored thrice and provided an assist during Villa’s last six games. With a relatively easy fixture run coming up, Watkins is arguably the best short-term and long-term forward pick at the moment.
Check out stallexpress76’s insightful EPL GW-18 Fantrax Player Picks, covering the best picks for Fantrax. On Saturday, make sure to tune into Paul’s EPL GW-18 Pre-Deadline & Live Chat for the latest news on fixture postponements and fresh injury updates. And you may keep coming back to this page for pre-deadline chat and questions.
Have thoughts to add? Any questions on your mind? And of course, if you have played a chip (or are sweating over whether to do so), please share. See you in the comments below!