Double Gameweek fever will often take hold of even the best Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers. Once it hits you it’s hard to think about anything else, and we often forget to plan for the future.
The Gameweek 20 deadline begins on January 26 and we’ll have the Gameweek 23 deadline on February 6. That’s four Gameweek deadlines in just 12 days.
In this article I want to look at which players and teams we should be targeting over the coming weeks, given that we’re not going to have a huge amount of time to react to between deadlines.
The Fixtures: Everton (a) | Leeds United (h) | Fulham (a) | Wolves (a)
With all the talk of the Premier League title race being between Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, we have Leicester casually lying in 3rd place, ahead of Liverpool. Not that it matters much I suppose, Leicester couldn’t possibly win the league could they?
In terms of the upcoming fixtures there’s a lot to like for targeting Leicester attackers.
Wolves, Leeds and Fulham are all in the bottom six for expected goals conceded (xGC) over the last four matches, although it is worth noting that Fulham have played Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in that time.
In terms of players to target, Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) is always an obvious pick, with 10 shots in the box over the last four Gameweeks, you’d expect him to cause these defences problems.
He’s also a great option to swap to Harry Kane (£11.1m) in Gameweek 23 when Spurs play West Brom as well.
Vardy does have this hip impingement which has caused him problems so we should expect his minutes to be managed where possible, and we should be careful between the Leeds and Fulham game where there is about 48 hours between kick-offs.
Harvey Barnes (£6.8m) and James Maddison (£7.1m) are the other considerations in attack.
Barnes isn’t far behind Vardy in terms of shots in the box with eight in his last four, however Maddison comes in at just three, and it’s always his lower goal threat that puts me off.
He’s creative as we know, but if I’m going to take up a valuable midfield spot with someone right now, I want them to be someone who’s regularly threatening the goal.
My only issue with backing their defence right now is trying to find value.
James Justin (£5.0m) is the standout but if you don’t already own him it feels like a big investment when you can get the likes of John Stones (£5.1m).
Now that Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) has made an appearance in the league, it’s difficult to know exactly how they’ll set up going forward.
It feels like Justin has done enough to keep his place, but whether that’s at right-back, left-back or even a right centre-back in a back three, it’s difficult to know.
Until we see another game I wouldn’t read too much into Pereira playing right-wing as a substitute, I think that might have been to provide a bit more defensive stability to see the game out with Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) and Timo Werner (£9.2m) both playing down Chelsea’s left side.
The Fixtures: West Brom (a) | Sheffield United (h) | Burnley (a) | Liverpool (a)
If you don’t already own a double or triple up with Manchester City players then you’re probably sick of hearing about them. However the fixtures shouldn’t be ignored, and it’s not too late to jump on.
In West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and Burnley they face the three lowest scoring teams in the league so far this season.
This is on top of an already impressive defensive record which has seen them keep seven clean sheets in their last nine league games.
With an xGC of just 13.41 so far this season, the number of clean sheets is no fluke for City.
If you want absolute safety in starts (or at least as close as you can get with Pep Guardiola in charge) then Rúben Dias (£5.8m) is the one to target.
John Stones has formed a formidable partnership with the Portuguese centre-back, and looks to be nearly as nailed on.
It would be difficult for Guardiola to break this partnership even if the other centre-backs at the club were fully fit.
There’s always a chance of rotation but for £5.1m Stones is looking like a bargain.
It’s worth noting that he’s only had three shots in the box since Gameweek 10, so don’t expect double-digit hauls too often.
João Cancelo (£5.8m) feels a bit like the forgotten man right now, but in that same time period he’s had eight shots, four of them in the box and created 10 chances as well.
When you watch Manchester City in attack he’s often found in midfield and it feels like a big haul isn’t too far away, but you have to expect him to miss more minutes than the other two defenders mentioned.
In attack, I’m finding it hard to back anyone apart from Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) at the moment.
He not only has the most shots out of all the City attackers over the last four Gameweeks, but he’s also created the most chances too. He’s about as nailed on as it gets and the next three fixtures look appealing.
Elsewhere, you’re trying to bank on minutes and it’s difficult.
Even when playing, the likes of Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m) haven’t impressed.
I thought we might see a resurgence from Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) as well but he hasn’t quite been at it recently. Just four shots in the box over the last four Gameweeks, and two chances created. It’s not a lot of potential with such a high price to pay, at a time where we’re already struggling to fit premium players into our squads.
The only other attacker I think I’d look at right now is Ilkay Gündogan (£5.5m). At his price he doesn’t pose much of a risk, although he does take up a potentially valuable Man City slot. He’s had the same number of shots in the box as De Bruyne for less than half the price, and has created a few chances as well. We should forget thinking about him as a deep lying player, he’s getting into the box as much as anyone else right now. It’s just whether you want to take the risk over him being guaranteed minutes, but right now he seems to be.
The Fixtures: Burnley (a) | Southampton (a) | West Ham (h) | Arsenal (h)
It’s quite easy to forget about Aston Villa right now considering they haven’t played in the league since New Year’s Day where they lost to Manchester United 2-1.
They’re a bit of an unknown right now, not in terms of how good they’ve been, but how good they’ll continue to be.
This whole season is setting new precedents and giving us new challenges. Seeing how a team copes with forced lockdown and training ground closures has still only happened a handful of times.
Luckily we’ll get to see their fitness against Manchester City and then how good of a performance they can put in against Newcastle before we have to start buying their players again ahead of a fairly good fixture run in Gameweek 20.
It’s also worth noting that like Manchester City, they have fixtures they still need to rearrange, so at some point they’ll have more Double Gameweeks, although we can’t say exactly when yet.
In terms of value I think they still offer lots. At the back their defensive numbers are some of the best in the league. Their average expected xGC per match is 1.14. To put that into perspective, Manchester City have 0.79 and Chelsea have 0.94.
Matt Targett (£4.6m) is the cheapest way into the defence, however he’s only created two chances in his last four matches, compared to Matt Cash (£5.0m) who’s created six. If you want to back the clean sheets though and save some money you could do worse than Targett.
In attack Jack Grealish (£7.7m) is still the standout. Even after missing Gameweek 18 he’s still the fourth highest scoring midfield by both total points and points per match this season.
No player has created more chances so far this season (55), nor has higher expected assists (xA) at 5.02. This includes De Bruyne who has played just one minute less than Grealish. Even for shots in the box, he stacks up with 31 so far. That’s 11th out of all FPL players.
Anwar El Ghazi (£5.8m) is another player that was popular before the enforced break for Villa, but I do worry about what might happen once Ross Barkley (£5.9m) is back.
Barkley was a mainstay in the team until injury and if he comes back into the side it could be El Ghazi who misses out.
We will likely get some kind of indication of this in the Manchester City or Newcastle games. If El Ghazi did miss out, Villa will be looking for another penalty taker and unless Watkins has found some confidence from somewhere they could fall to Barkley, although this is only speculation on my part.
Up front I still think Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) provides lots of value. With some doubts over Dominic Calvert–Lewin’s (£7.6m) fitness we are perhaps starting to run a little low on cheap forwards, with Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) and Michail Antonio (£6.3m) being some of the other popular ones.
Watkins has provided plenty of frustration to owners after missing some decent chances, but his movement is key, being able to get into great positions so consistently and having Grealish behind creating those chances. In fact, Watkins’ expected goals (xG) per 90 is 0.51 so far this season, that’s the same as Kane and higher than Danny Ings (£8.3m) and Timo Werner (£9.2m) who are 0.41 and 0.40 respectively.
Crystal Palace face West Ham (h), Wolves (h), Newcastle (a) and Leeds (a) over the next four weeks. With Tyrick Mitchell (£3.9m) looking to have won the left-back spot back, he provides great value for our squads and potential good cover when needed to be called upon.
While a lot of FPL managers are likely loathe to invest in the Chelsea attack, we shouldn’t ignore their defence. As mentioned above they have some of the best defensive numbers in the league.
They’re not going through a great period right now but they do have some fixtures which should see defensive returns. They play Wolves (h), Burnley (h), Spurs (a) and Sheffield United (a) over the next four. Apart from Spurs, the other sides are all in the bottom seven for xG this season.
If Reece James (£5.1m) can prove his fitness he still looks to be a bargain, although right now Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) possibly provides a more reliable option, especially with the risk that Kurt Zouma (£5.8m) may have now lost his regular centre-back spot.
With fixtures to rearrange we shouldn’t completely forget about Fulham. They face Brighton (a), West Brom (a), Leicester (h) and West Ham (h) in the next four.
We have seen some signs of defensive improvement from Scott Parker’s team, although given the difficulty of fixtures over the last four, we will have to wait and see exactly how that plays out in the next few weeks.
Alphonse Areola (£4.5m) offers a cheap back-up goalkeeper opportunity and Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) offers a very cheap midfield option as a 4th midfielder or more likely a bench option.
He does have some competition from Bukayo Saka (£5.3m), Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) and Raphinha (£5.5m), but with Double Gameweeks at some point in his future he may be the one to opt for, especially with West Brom to play soon.
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