Could Arsenal pull off the unthinkable this season? It’s looking increasingly possible after the Gunners extended their lead over the chasing pack by grabbing a hard-fought victory over Brighton, while closest rivals Manchester City and Newcastle surprisingly dropped points against strugglers Everton and Leeds.
Not so surprisingly, Erling Haaland continued his imperious goalscoring form despite the Citizens’ failure to secure maximum points. Ivan Toney also rewarded managers with a goal and assist, but a knee injury saw him leave the pitch on a stretcher. Thomas Frank subsequently provided reassurance that the injury is not serious, but many risk-averse FPL owners will be shopping for replacements, and we’ll discuss potential candidates below.
On that note, let’s take a look at some of the players that seem poised to perform in game-week 19. (BTW, if you’re in the market for GW-19 differentials, then check out Chisom’s recommendations here.)
David De Gea (£4.9m, Man United v Bournemouth)
De Gea enjoyed a second straight clean sheet when Manchester United got the better of Wolves in New Year’s Eve’s early kick-off fixture. De Gea was pivotal to United’s victory at the Molineux with three very important saves. Up next is a fixture against a struggling Bournemouth side that has failed to score since the Premier League restart.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.6m, Chelsea v Man City, Fulham v Chelsea)
Kepa marked his return to Chelsea’s line-up in GW-17 by helping the Blues earn their first shutout in five games. The Spanish international was on a run of three clean sheets in four games before an ankle injury forced him off at halftime during GW-14. He faces two attack-oriented sides in GW-19, but there should be save points in the cards and he’ll get four points just for showing up.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m, Brentford v Liverpool)
Alexander-Arnold put up his second straight outstanding performance on Saturday, when the Reds welcomed Leicester City to Anfield. The full-back, who has often been the subject of criticism for his defending, was rock-solid at the back. But TAA didn’t just sit deep; he was also pivotal at the other end of the pitch where he helped himself to an assist (albeit for one of two own-goals by Wout Faes). This week he’ll face a Brentford side that could be missing its talismanic hitman, Ivan Toney, which would increase the odds of a rare Liverpool clean sheet.
John Stones (£5.4m, Chelsea v Man City)
Stones will surely still be ruing his missed header that hit the woodwork in Manchester City’s stalemate against Everton. The England center-back has a talent for being in the right place at the right time for goal-scoring chances, and a fixture against a Chelsea side without a recognized center-forward could yield clean sheet points.
Kieran Trippier (£5.9m, Arsenal v Newcastle)
With clean sheets and/or attacking returns in 14 of 17 games, Trippier has easily been the season’s standout FPL defender. The England international has been nearly unplayable since his move from Atletico Madrid. If he’s not already in your team, it’s time to fix that.
Luke Shaw (£4.9m, Man United v Bournemouth)
The victory over Wolves was Shaw’s second straight clean sheet, and the left back claimed three bonus points as well. In the absence of World Cup winner Martinez, Shaw has been filling in as the club’s left-sided center-back (ahead of Maguire and Lindelof, btw). While it is unknown where he will play against Bournemouth, Shaw has shown that he remains a huge asset wherever he finds himself on the pitch.
Andreas Pereira (£4.6m, Leicester v Fulham, Fulham v Chelsea)
Priced at just £4.6m, Pereira has been a revelation for FPL managers this season. The midfielder notched his fifth assist of the campaign in the Cottagers’ victory over Southampton on New Year’s Eve. With Fulham set to play two fixtures in this game-week, Pereira seems sure to come good at his bargain-basement price.
Miguel Almiron (£5.9m, Arsenal v Newcastle)
Previously criticized for his lack of end-product, Almiron has shown composure and precision in front of goal this season: Saturday’s game against Leeds was just his second without an attacking return since GW-8. While a fixture away to Arsenal might look daunting on paper, Almiron’s recent form makes him a risk worth taking.
Marcus Rashford (£6.9m, Man United v Bournemouth)
Forced to start from the bench on Saturday due to a disciplinary issue, Rashford came on in the second half and scored the game-winner. The goal was his second in two games. With the Ronaldo saga now concluded, the England attacker seems eager to take up the mantle of the team’s primary goal-scorer, and a tie with the league’s most porous defense offers him a great chance to add to his tally.
Martin Odegaard (£6.5m, Arsenal v Newcastle)
On current form, Odegaard might be the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League right now. Signed with an eye toward replacing Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid, the youngster ended up replacing him at Arsenal, and he is beginning to show that his £34 million transfer was a bargain. Odegaard has hit double figures in each of his last three fixtures, and four of his last five.
Gabriel Martinelli & Bukayo Saka (£6.8m & £8.1m, Arsenal v Newcastle)
What an embarrassment of midfield riches Mikel Arteta has. Along with Odegaard, Martinelli and Saka have proved crucial to Arsenal’s surprising title tilt this season. The wide attackers have helped ease the pressure on the team’s offense in the absence of striker Gabriel Jesus, each scoring in both fixtures since the restart of the Premier League. The Gunners will need their wingers to be at their best if they are to get past a resilient Newcastle side.
Harry Kane (£11.6m, Crystal Palace v Tottenham)
Harry Kane bounced back from the heartbreak of a crucial World Cup penalty miss to grab Tottenham’s second goal against Brentford. While Haaland has understandably stolen the headlines all season, Kane has been no slouch himself, scoring 13 goals for Spurs this campaign. And don’t be too concerned about his failure to produce against Villa on New Year’s Day; this season he has never followed a blank with another blank.
Erling Haaland (£12.2m, Chelsea v Man City)
Selected by 84.7% of managers, the bullish striker obviously needs no introduction. The Norwegian has transitioned seamlessly into Premier League football and seems virtually unstoppable. Twenty-one goals in just 15 games is simply outrageous and yet Haaland is making it look natural.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£7.1m, Leicester City v Fulham, Fulham v Chelsea)
Mitrovic confounded me when I left him on my bench due to uncertainty over his fitness in GW-17, and then he started and hit double figures. While I was still reeling from that managerial gaffe, he then missed a last-minute penalty after I started him against Southampton in GW-18. Argh! Anyway, if you’re put off by his penalty miss, don’t be. Mitrovic always bounces back, and a double game-week gives him two chances to hit the mark.
What do you make of our picks this game-week? How many double-gamers will you field, and are you taking hits to bring them in? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!