Pro Pundit Teams

The value Man City options on offer for Blank Gameweek 18 and beyond

Planning anything in this crazy Fantasy Premier League season is proving rather difficult. Even as I’m writing this, the Blank Gameweek 18 schedule has changed once again. 

Aston Villa’s meeting with Tottenham Hotspur has now been officially called off, and in its place, Spurs’ home game with Fulham has been added.

I keep telling myself to ‘embrace the chaos’, but it does make planning kind of hard! However, as Fantasy managers, we need to adapt quickly, so in this, my latest column, I’m going to talk Blank Gameweek 18, with a heavy focus on Manchester City and their opponents, Brighton and Hove Albion. 

I will also touch upon some of the other teams involved this week, and highlight a few standout statistics relating to them. 

BRIGHTON’S DEFENCE

City’s opponents in Blank Gameweek 18, Brighton, shipped another three goals against Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out, which takes them to a total of 28 this season. Only West Bromwich Albion (39), Leeds United (33), Crystal Palace and Sheffield United (29) have conceded more.

However, the defensive statistics suggest they’ve been a bit unlucky. Based on expected goals (xG), they should have conceded just 18.66. They’ve also conceded the third fewest shots.

When analysing the goals they’ve let in, we can see six have been from penalties and seven from set-pieces. That suggests a lack of concentration, or discipline. Whatever you want to call it, it’s worrying, and to highlight it, you just need to watch Dan Burn’s (£4.2m) performance against Wolves in Gameweek 17. 

The fact they tend to switch-off could also stem from the keeper. Before he was dropped, Matt Ryan (£4.3m) was obviously struggling, and I have doubts that Robert Sánchez (£4.4m) is the long-term solution. To be fair to him, he has made some good saves, but he’s still young and will make mistakes.

So, knowing Brighton are susceptible to conceding from set-plays, finding a place in your squad for one of City’s biggest aerial threats, Rúben Dias (£5.8m) or John Stones (£5.0m), makes a lot of sense to me. Dias is due a goal too, having racked up an xG of 0.76 without scoring. It goes without saying that Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) is a good option too, but his set-pieces could be really important this week, which gives him the edge over team-mate Raheem Sterling (£11.4m).

MAN CITY’S DEFENCE, AND THE IMPACT OF DIAS AND STONES

Sky Fantasy Football: Sticks and Stones? Who to bring in before the Overhaul? 2

City have conceded 13 goals in 15 Premier League games this season, and just three in their last 12 in all competitions. Dias has played a huge part in that, and has probably been their best player this term, but Stones has offered real balance alongside him. As a partnership, they’ve given up just one goal in eight starts together!

Pep Guardiola’s side are clearly the best defensive play this week, and when you look at their schedule to follow (see below), a defensive double-up is really appealing.

CANCELO’S POSITIONING

João Cancelo (£5.8m) has looked really sharp this season, standing in at left-back most of the time.

However, with Kyle Walker (£6.1m) out of action, he’s moved to the right, and has often found himself pushing ahead of the holding midfielder when in possession, and occupying spaces on the edge of the oppositions box.

To highlight this, here’s his combined touch heatmap from the recent games against Newcastle United and Chelsea:

In Blank Gameweek 18, City will have a lot of possession in Brighton’s half, and will surely turn to the likes of Cancelo to unlock their defence. I know I say this a lot, but attacking returns look imminent here!

GUNDOGAN’S NEW ROLE

Another player whose role has changed in recent weeks is Ilkay Gündogan (£5.4m), who has been taking up a more advanced position. That’s coincided with goals against West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle and Chelsea.

Rather than playing as a second player in a double-pivot, he’s now more of a number eight and taking up some smart positions in the box, something he touched upon in a recent interview:

“… even though I like to be included in rotating the ball, when I am playing as a number eight and more offensive position, I try to put myself in the spaces where I think something could happen or I feel like the space is not occupied by a player of ours or the opponent. Both goals I scored in the last games were similar in the way they were from the right side and Raheem assisted me both goals and I tried to be in a space where I am free and able to get the ball and finish with one touch. It worked out quite well and as long as I am playing in that position I try to continue like that.” – Ilkay Gündogan

His seven shots in the box and four big chances in their last four matches are more than any team-mate, and his five shots on target are joint-top with De Bruyne. Here you can see where he’s been shooting from over that period, with his attempts on target in green:

If Gündogan continues in this role, I think he’s a viable option, and if you’re not comfortable with a defensive double-up, pairing the German international with De Bruyne could be a nice play.

So, moving away from City, here’s a few standout statistics and observations relating to some of the other teams involved this week:

  • Manchester United have scored 21 goals in their seven Premier League away matches this season, averaging three per game – not bad, is it? It’s also worth noting Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) is yet to blank on his travels, registering six goals and four assists in seven appearances. Yes, Burnley are a decent defensive team, but can be exposed by better sides, and a midfield double-up involving Rashford and Bruno Fernandes (£11.3m) looks sound this week.
  • Since Boxing Day, Arsenal have scored eight goals. They’ve also taken more shots and had more attempts in the box than any other side during that time. This week, I see the wide players being key, so Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) is near the top of my Watchlist. Since moving to the right-flank, no midfielder has taken more shots in the box, and he’s also been on corner duties too. However, if you’re working with a smaller budget, Emile Smith Rowe (£4.4m) is another nice option.
  • Though there have been signs of improvement at Arsenal recently, Wilfried Zaha (£7.4m) can cause them problems. Let’s not forget, the Gunners have failed to keep a clean sheet at home this season. I also think they look vulnerable against quick players who like to run at them, which should suit Zaha. If you can fit him in, he should do well.
  • Over the course of the season, only two teams have given up more big chances than Sheffield United. Bearing in mind Callum Wilson (£6.6m) has been directly involved in five of Newcastle’s eight away goals in the Premier League this season, plugging him into one of your forward positions makes a lot of sense this week. The Blades are also on a club record 20 league matches without a win, and are yet to keep a clean sheet.
  • In this climate, filling your Free Hit benches with Sheffield United and Newcastle players looks wise, seeing as they kick off shortly after deadline. The likes of Ethan Ampadu (£4.3m), Jayden Bogle (£4.3m), Rhian Brewster (£4.5m) and DeAndre Yedlin (£4.3m) are all cheap and should get some minutes, and at least contribute a few points from the bench in case of any disruption to Wednesday or Thursday night’s fixtures.

So, best of luck in Blank Gameweek 18 everyone, and thanks for reading!

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1,530 Comments Post a Comment
  1. iCon
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Why is Leeds DGW in doubt?

    1. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      The game v Southampton might be rescheduled due to Saints' FA Cup tie.

      1. There's Always One!
        • 11 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        When are we to find out?

    2. Jimmers
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Southampton cup game v Shrewsbury may be moved to the Leeds game date. Nothing definite yet

      1. Jimmers
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Shrewsbury's league game this weekend has already been cancelled so no guarantee they'll be able to field a team in the Cup next week either

      2. iCon
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Cheers lads

  2. Jafooli
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    @Diesel001

    What you reckon on Foden & Saiss as kinda differentials this GW?

    1. diesel001
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Saiss, yes.

      Foden - depends on what Pep says in his press conference.

      1. Jafooli
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Cheers, reckon I’ll have them as my outliers.....

    2. Magic Zico
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Nice one for one week, I would do if I were FH-ing

      1. Jafooli
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Thanks Zico...

  3. Deulofail
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Hello all. Gunner jump the gun a bit here.

    1. Any thoughts on next week's tranfer(s)? 😀
    A) Mitchell > CHE defender
    B) Son > Rashford
    C) Brewster > Antonio

    2. Who would you bench if necessary?
    A) Tierney (NEW)
    B) Saka (NEW)
    C) Bam (bha)
    _________________

    Martinez
    TAA Cancelo Stones Tierney*
    KDB(c) Bruno(v) Son* Saka*
    Martial Bamford*

    McCarthy* | ESR*, Mitchell*, Brewster*

    1 FT. 3.3 ITB.
    * = SGW

    1. Herman Toothrot
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      I'm liking C myself

      1. Deulofail
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Brewster > Antonio I take it. Thanks

  4. LLoris
    • 2 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Who would you rather have on FH?
    A) Wilson
    B) Cancelo

    1. bitars
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      B

    2. Deulofail
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Wilson by a smidge

      1. The Tinkerman
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Isn’t he an injury doubt?

        1. Deulofail
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          I wouldn't know

    3. boombaba
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      B

    4. Front 442
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      B

  5. Alisson WondHaaland
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    A few players that I think are overrated as a free hit pick:

    - Tierney: I really don't trust such a slow Arsenal CB pairing against the likes of Zaha and Eze, Arsenal havent kept a clean sheet at home this season yet either. Then you're suddenly relying on attacking returns which he's only got in 2 games this season. A lot of recency bias from the West Brom game here (Its West Brom for gods sake). For a similar price point there are many other defenders this week who seem more likely to keep a clean sheet

    - Son: Surprisingly, Fulham have conceded the least goals out of any team in their last 4 matches which include games vs Soton and Liverpool and they've had a very long rest. In particular, Son who by xG terms has almost overperformed by x2 this season, may struggle to break through their defence , and with no penalty duties there might be better ways to spend money

    - Wilson: Since he is quite cheap, there is still a lot of merit in going for him. But quite frankly, Newcastle are shocking going forward and more often than not Wilson sees very little of the ball during games. Even against a side as bad as Sheffield, I think their FA Cup win will give then a morale boost and it certainly won't be an easy game for Newcastle I think there is more value in going for a 352 with the likes of Saka or Gündogan as a 5th mid

    1. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Agree with 2 out of 3, but I'll still have Son as Fulham haven't had enough time on the training ground for this match.

      1. Alisson WondHaaland
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Fair point. I love Son as a player too and hope he does well regardless

    2. Jimmers
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Wilson on pens is the clincher for me.

    3. No Professionals
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      wilson has played for that shocking attacking team all season and has more points than mane and rashford.

      1. Alisson WondHaaland
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        That's fair, his form has dipped recently though

    4. Camzy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Agree on Tierney and Wilson. Disagree on Son.

      He's the top scoring player in the game for a reason. Screw the stats, he gets one chance, he'll score. And Fulham are completely unprepared for this game too while Son has gotten rest.

      1. Alisson WondHaaland
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Hard to disagree on that, Son is an amazing player for sure. But in terms of the Son vs Rashford argument, I think Rashford just edges it for me

    5. Deulofail
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Hey Thanks for thewrite-up. Regarding Tierney, the recency bias is somewhat justified since Arsena have switched to 4-at-the-back recently, with Tierney finally playing his dangeroud LB position. It's not a fluke that he looks good. He was expected to provide a lot going forward since he arrived at Arsenal.

      It's not impossible that Gabriel is back as well, though perhaps more unlikely than likely.

    6. Woy_is_back
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Finish atleast within top100k before giving "pro" advice pal 😉

      1. Keeptrying
        • 7 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Would be interesting to hear how you transformed from a very mediocre player into a consistent Top 10k and even top 100 player.
        Do you take full advantage of the analytics? Do you spend more time or less? What has changed?

        1. Woy_is_back
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          No analytics, I dont even watch the games. Its just that in the past I missed deadlines a lot of times(was busy) or gave up the season in an early/earlier stage. I always choose fixtures over form too.

          1. Keeptrying
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Thanks for sharing! That's nice insights.
            All the best 🙂

    7. Gonzola
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Don't agree on Tierney. He has huge upside with the amount of crosses he swings in and has only recently moved a more attacking position from being a left sided centre back in a back 5. Arsenal are also starting to gel with Saka playing on the right wing.

  6. Woy_is_back
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Will Sterling start?

  7. leonickroberts
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Bottomed.

    For one week only:

    a) Dier
    b) AWB
    c) Maguire

    3 votes and it's a done deal.

    1. Adebayor, Adebayor, this is…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Dier

      Utd dont keep away CS's

    2. Front 442
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      A

  8. bitars
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Any chance that we can get information about the Leeds game or who from Villa tested positive for covid-19 before deadline?

  9. Adebayor, Adebayor, this is…
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Seriously considering a City defensive treble up and no KDB as a real differential.

    Am i crazy?

    1. Ohh1454
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      I’d just keep double city defence with Kdb

      1. Adebayor, Adebayor, this is…
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        No KDB feels like the biggest differential can get this week though

  10. RAFA THE GAFFA
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Best last few things?

    A. Stones (Clark, Mitchell, Burke bench)
    B. Dias (Mitchell, Burke, 3.8 bench)

    1. Sean
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Stones seems to be just as good as Dias for this week so A I guess

      1. RAFA THE GAFFA
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Not think Dias has a set piece goal in him?

  11. Flair
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Bissouma -> Smith Rowe for a -4 tempts. Like the potential the little wizard has

    1. Dark Side Of The Loon!
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Plus is a better 5th mid.

    2. boombaba
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      He would have to assist at bare minimum to be worth the punt

  12. Kizza_10
    • 6 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Would you make any changes to this FH team ?

    De Gea
    Cancelo Dier Dias Tierney
    Saka KDB Bruno Son
    Kane Lacazette

    Subs:
    Forster, Lookman, Mitchell, Brewster

  13. tabby98
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Which team is better?
    A)
    Lloris (£4.0m)
    Cancelo, Stones, Shaw (Mitchell, £3.8m)
    KDB, Bruno, Son, Saka (Smith-rowe)
    Kane, Lacazette, Wilson

    B)
    Leno (£4.0m)
    Cancelo, Stones, Dier, Maguire (Mitchell)
    Bruno, Son, KDB, Rashford, Saka
    Kane (£4.3m x2)

  14. SHOWSTOPPERRR
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Guys Wilson fit to start?

  15. UTFB
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    A - Rashford and Smith Rowe

    B - Laca and Gundogan

    1. EgyptianKing
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      A

  16. Better luck next year
    • 1 Year
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Will Leeds Southampton game in GW 19 be postponed?

  17. Ohh1454
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Dias, Dier, Kdb, Son, Bruno, Kane, Wilson
    Will that be enough to get me through the week ?

    1. Sean
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      yes

      1. Sean
        • 11 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        if arsenal blank then you're losing very little ground

  18. Sean
    • 11 Years
    5 months, 3 days ago

    Would you rather:

    A) Tierney + Dier (with subs)
    B) Lacazette + Shaw/Lindelof (no subs)

    1. Ohh1454
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Tough one but probably more upside to having laca so B

  19. SilentLemonMan
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Thoughts on a hit doing Vardy to Martial(or Cavani?) I'm not freehitting.

      Would give me 9 this week and free up funds for son to salah for DGW19.

    • Tshelby
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      FH first draft

      Darlow
      Dier, AwB, Cancelo, Tierney
      Son, KdB, Bruno, Rashford, Smith Rowe
      Kane

      G2g?

      1. boombaba
        • 8 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Very good to go but I would not risk Darlow. Leno?

      2. Sean
        • 11 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Prefer Leno over Darlow myself

        1. Tshelby
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Double Arsenal def? Could work out! Thanks!

    • Henning
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      On freehit.

      1. Gundogan and Lacazette
      2. Rashford and Wilsons

      1. grumpyman
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        I’ve got all 4 but if so had to pick I’d go for 1

      2. Hart-ake
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        B just about.

      3. Front 442
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        5 months, 3 days ago

        1

    • el polako
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      I got Holding, Dias, KDB, Bruno and Kane plus couple other potential 2 pointers - thinking that I will save my FT.
      Cant be bothered to work it out plus bit worried about recent infections rate and possible cancellations.

    • EgyptianKing
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 3 days ago

      Lads which trio (FH)?

      A) De Gea Dier Dias

      B) Lloris Bissaka Stones

      Cheers!

    • LJJH1984
        5 months, 3 days ago

        Any changes to this FH team?

        Lloris
        Tierney Cancelo Dias
        Saka Son KBD Bruno Neto
        Kane Laca

        Cheers!

        1. Ohh1454
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Really like it gtg

          1. LJJH1984
              5 months, 3 days ago

              Thanks!

        2. RAFA THE GAFFA
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Is this starting 11 nailed enough to have only Mitchell and Burke as bench fodder? Cheers

          Lloris
          Dias, Cancelo, Tierney
          KDB, Bruno, Son, Saka
          Kane, Laca, Wilson
          (4.0, Mitchell, Burke, 3.8)

          1. Magic Zico
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Is this FH? Saka > ESR and upgrade Mitchell?

            1. RAFA THE GAFFA
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 5 Years
              5 months, 3 days ago

              FH yes. Other option is Dias >> Stones and 3.8 >> Clark

              1. Magic Zico
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                5 months, 3 days ago

                That could work well yes

        3. Taegugk Warrior
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Who is more likely has more points this week..? Saka or Gundogan..

        4. Totti
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          who to get in FH?

          A) cancelo
          B) dias

        5. Qaiss
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Would you say Bruno’s EO will be over 100%??

          1. Andy_Social
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Way over.

        6. ChelseaGuy
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          Dias Holding to Stones Tierney
          Yay or Nay?

          On FH

          1. Andy_Social
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Yeah. In one game Stones is as likely to score as Dias, but you can't say the same of the Arsenal pairing.

        7. Bishopool
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 3 days ago

          PLEASE confirm. Dont get it.

          Leeds, Southampton and Villa still have double games coming up?? Some kind of signals they will be postponed?

          Extremely important whether to WC or not....

          1. ChelseaGuy
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Leeds vs Southampton most likely to be postponed so that's a SGW for both of them

            1. Bishopool
              • 9 Years
              5 months, 3 days ago

              ffs

          2. Dark Side Of The Loon!
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            Villa still no news on when they will resume
            Leeds Southampton may get postponed due to FA rescheduling

          3. Andy_Social
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 3 days ago

            It could work out that Villa have back-to-back DGWs. We just don't know.