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. dsefton
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 2 days ago

    is Fabianksi fit for DGW19?

  2. More Cowbell
    • 11 Years
    5 months, 2 days ago

    Advice please! Can you see any way to improve this Free Hit squad?
    Have 0.3m left over ITB.

    Ramsdale
    Stones, Dier, Tierney. Yedlin
    KDB(c), Bruno, Son, Saka
    Kane(vc), Lacazette

    Vernips, Mitchell, Brewster, Anguissa

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

      Remove Ramsdale and pretend you did not even consider him

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

        Get Smith Rowe for Saka and upgrade Yedlin to AWB or Holding?

        1. More Cowbell
          • 11 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Could possibly get behind this move.

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

    G2G on FH or anything you would change?

    Lloris
    Cancelo - Stones - Tierney
    KDB - Bruno - Son - Rashford - ESR
    Kane - Lacazette

    Brewster Mitchell Kilman

    1. Atletico Junior
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 2 days ago

      Same team 100%, who will you captain? Im thinking KDB

      1. _Ninja_
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Cheers yeah on him for now but not 100%

    2. Rinseboy
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 2 days ago

      same team as me. Although am worried about no bench!

      1. Xna
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        can't see any doubts for any of these, honestly, so no need to worry

  4. Jamie_GAWA
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 2 days ago

    Is there any forward except Brewster under 4.8m that has any chance of game time?

    (Playing 4-5-1)

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

      No don't think so, 5.2m for F Silva and McGoldrick the cheapest

      1. Jamie_GAWA
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Ok thanks

  5. Wicked Weapon
      5 months, 2 days ago

      Is this bare bones team ok ? or should I look towards FH ?

      Cancelo, Mitchell
      Bruno, Zaha, Saka
      Kane, Wilson

      1. RyanMK
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        I'd FH

        1. Wicked Weapon
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Would be the sensible thing to do but I really don't want to

        2. Geriatric Unathletic
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 10 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Take som hits and bring in additional from City/united? These will have a double and so reduce the impact of the hit. Also with no player anyway is only half a hit?

          Ive taken a -12 and feel comfortable for this week and next.

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

        Who would you rather have?
        A) Darlow
        B) Leno

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

          B

        2. g40steve
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Like Darlow but is he nailed?

      3. g40steve
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Wanted Lloris & Tierney but have to settle for Leno & Dier?

        Any better keepers for 18?

        Leno,
        Stones, Cancelo, Dier
        Rashford, Bruno, Son, KDB
        Kane, Laca, Wilson

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

          If you had Saka instead of Wilson you could probably afford Lloris and Tierney?

          1. g40steve
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Good point, Wilson against Sheffield & on Pens though??

      4. sthelenslad92
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Wilson in 3-4-3 or Rashford in 3-5-2?

        Lloris
        Cancelo - Stones - Tierney
        KDB - Fernandes - Son - Saka - _____
        Kane - Lacazette - _____

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

          Rash

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

        Which pair would you rather have?
        A) Tierney Dea Gea
        B) Maguire Leno

        1. sthelenslad92
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          A

      6. Totti
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        is cancelo safe to start?

      7. RyanMK
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Current FH team. Suggestions?

        Lloris
        Stones - Dias - Shaw
        Saka - Bruno - KDB - Rashford
        Wilson - Lacazette - Kane

        ESR - Yedlin - Mitchell

        1. Totti
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          shaw is injuried

          1. Andy_Social
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Are we 'shaw' about that - he's not flagged/

      8. Rinseboy
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        Tierney or Maguire/Awb?

      9. Gorbitz
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 2 days ago

        I've had a break from fpl lately just to see what happens with covid and fixtures. Could you help me with these two questions:

        1) I could field 9 players in GW18 with an 8 point hit. Would you save your FH in that case?

        2) Taking covid out of the equation for a second - how many gameweeks do we have to adjust our teams between FA Cup 5th round and the potentially big BGW29?

        Thanks!

      10. Yuhz89
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Will Davies (Spurs) gonna play tomorrow?

        • dsefton
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Thoughts on this WC plan:
          Leno (Areola)
          Holding Stones Cancelo AwB (Coufal)
          KdB Bruno Rashford Son (Soucek)
          Laca Wilson (Bamford)

          Son + Laca --> Salah + Antonio (-4) for DGW19 BB

        • In a Rush
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Any thoughts on this draft please?

          De gea
          Tierney reguilon cancelo
          Kdb (c) Bruno Gündogan son
          Kane(v) Wilson Lacazette

          Button Esr Fernández Mitchell
          Cheers all and good luck

        • Bishopool
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          a) Bamford
          b) Antonio

        • Woy_is_back
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Mendy could haul but probably wont start, right?

          1. Atletico Junior
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Exactly

        • UNDERWORLD7
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Is Shaw now injured?

          Do you guys think Lindelof will play?

          Cheers

        • GE
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          What to improve on FH?

          (0.0 itb)

          Lloris
          Cancelo/Dias/Tierney
          KDB/Bruno/Son/Saka
          Kane/Laca

          Bench: Ramsdale, Mitchell,

          1. GE
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Bench: Romsdals, Mitchell, Bernard, Stephens

          2. RyanMK
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Missing one in your starting 11.

        • Tinfoil Deathstar
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Thoughts on FH team? Defence is boring (I already own Stones and Dias) but front XI very good and I have nothing ITB. One thought is Saka, Dier, Dias to Smith-Rowe, Cancelo, Regullion - but I have my doubts whether the latter will start given issues over COVID breach.

          Leno
          Dias - Stones - Dier
          KDB (C) - Bruno (vc) - Son - Rash - Saka
          Kane - Laca

          Bench: Verrips, Mitchell, Bernardo, Davis.

          1. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            * front XII

            1. Oldie99
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              5 months, 2 days ago

              taht Team value must be knocking on 104.5 ish right? looks good to me

              1. Tinfoil Deathstar
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                5 months, 2 days ago

                Cheers. It was around £104.8 before activating FH and around £104.0 now, I think. Team in the post directly below looks like they have insane value built up!

        • It’s gonna Ben Mee
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          FH GTG?

          Lloris
          Cancelo Stones Tierney
          KdB Son(c) Bruno Rashford Saka
          Kane Lacazette

          Bench: Brewster Mitchell 3.9

          1. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Very good - you've done well to afford that. The team I would have if possible. Had to go Leno, Dias, Stones, Dier instead at the back - the same coverage across teams, but a lot less attacking threat with three centre-backs.

            1. It’s gonna Ben Mee
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 2 days ago

              Cheers! Good luck to us 🙂

          2. Oldie99
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            this is mental, good team obvs

            TV?

            1. It’s gonna Ben Mee
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 2 days ago

              Squad value is 105.2 and 0.2 ITB. Sale value is 104.

        • Oldie99
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Reposted this a couple times now with no comments - this good to go considering i have terrible TV?

          Darlow (4.0)
          Stones Cancelo Dier WanB
          KDB(C) Bruno Rash Son Smith-Rowe
          Kane

          Brewster Mitchell fodder

          1. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            I would consider Leno over Darlow, given unclear whether the latter will play which will save you £0.1. I'm also not sold on AWB (doesn't offer much from an attacking sense, and Man Utd not the most reliable with CS points either), so I'd consider switching him to Tierney. Or you could switch AWB to Shaw if you are set on a United defender (he is on some set pieces and has looked good on eye recently). The rest of your team looks really good though.

            1. Oldie99
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              5 months, 2 days ago

              yeah i like all that cheers! will try and puzzle Shaw in and Leno as I dont want double ARS defense

        • OptimusBlack
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Who to C ?
          A- Laca
          B- Kane
          C- KDB

          1. RyanMK
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            C

          2. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            C

        • Better luck next year
          • 1 Year
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Got 8 players for GW 18. Not using chip anyway, so might as well take a -8 to get two more players? The effective loss will probably be -4 tops..

          Thinking of bringing in Dias and Gundogan, who I could also keep for GW19 in case I don't use the FH in that round.

          What do you think?

        • OptimusBlack
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Rashford can beat Wilson +
          Gündogan points ?

        • Sulley
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Is anyone toying with the idea of Foden, has more upside to Gundogan if he starts....

        • The Colonel
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          By using my 2 FTs i can get to 8/9 playing (although this includes 2X Palace defence). Worth saving FH?

        • RECKLESS
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Why no Kane im Scout Picks?! Is he out?

          1. RECKLESS
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 2 days ago

            They even have funds for Lacazette to Kane

          2. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Yeah I thought the same. Strange one.

        • Thewonderfulgame
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 2 days ago

          Tight on budget- which is more nailed?

          Shaw or Lindeof?

          1. Tinfoil Deathstar
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            5 months, 2 days ago

            Shaw has really impressed me recently so would be surprised if he doesn't go straight back into XI. Think there is a lot more potential upside with that pick over Lindelof, personally.