Gameweek 18 in the Fantasy Premier League was always expected to be a low-scoring affair and it turned out to be one. An average score of 30 points was expected with just 12 teams in action in the blank gameweek.

However, FPL is all set to make up for the loss of points as Gameweek 19 is set to be the season’s first double gameweek. It’s a big one at that, as 11 teams play twice.

It’s thus an incredible opportunity for FPL managers to close the gap on those above them and for those in the lead to further stretch it.

In double gameweeks, the usual way of team planning takes a back seat, with emphasis on players that are playing more than once. They key is to think short term and get as many DGW players in your side as possible, as going with a limited players that play twice could turn out to be costly.

It’s that time of the year when FPL managers put their thinking caps on.

Fixture Difficulty

FPL managers should target 11 teams that will play twice this week. Those are:

Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea, Fulham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, West Brom and West Ham.

Among these teams, Manchester City and West Ham have the easiest of games. Liverpool and Aston Villa have one good fixture and one tough fixture. Leicester have two home games but both are against top-half opponents. Chelsea and United have two tricky away games.

Burnley, Fulham, Newcastle and West Brom have difficult games and the double fixtures may not be as effective in case of these teams.

Among the rest of the teams, Tottenham have a tasty-looking game away at Sheffield United while Arsenal face Newcastle at home. Leeds’ home game against Brighton could have a lot of goals given the way these two teams play. Wolves also have an attractive fixture as they face West Brom at home.

Fixture Difficulty Ratings

Team *Combined Difficulty rating for GW 19-21 GW19 opponent (Jan 16) GW20 opponent GW21 opponent
Arsenal 9 (2, 3, 4) NEW(H) SOU(A) MUN(H)
Aston Villa 12 (5, 2, 2, 3) MCI (A), NEW(H) BUR(A) SOU(A)
Brighton 9 (3, 2, 4) LEE(A) FUL(H) TOT(H)
Burnley 15 (3,5, 3, 4) WHU(A), LIV (A) AVL(H) CHE(A)
Chelsea 12 (2,4, 3, 2) FUL(A), LEI (A) WOL(H) BUR(H)
Crystal Palace 11 (5, 3, 3) MCI(A) WHU(H) WOL(H)
Everton 6 (0, 4, 2) NA LEI(H) NEW(H)
Fulham 12 (4, 4, 2, 2) CHE(H), MUN(H) BHA(A) WBA(A)
Leeds 9 (2, 3, 4) BHA(H) NEW(A) LEI(A)
Leicester 12 (3, 4, 3, 2) SOU(H), CHE(H) EVE(A) LEE(H)
Liverpool 13 (4, 2, 4, 3) MUN(H), BUR(H) TOT(A) WHU(A)
Man City 10 (3, 3, 2, 2) CRY(H), AVL(H) WBA(A) SHU(H)
Man Utd 12 (5, 2, 2, 3) LIV(A), FUL(A) SHU(H) ARS(A)
Newcastle 10 (3, 3, 2, 3) ARS(A), AVL (A) LEE(H) EVE(A)
Sheffield Utd 15 (4, 4, 5) TOT(H) MUN(A) MCI(A)
Southampton 10 (4, 3, 3) LEI(A) ARS(H) AVL(H)
Spurs 8 (2, 4, 2) SHU(A) LIV(H) BHA(A)
West Brom 12 (3, 3, 4, 2) WOL(A), WHU(A) MCI(H) FUL(H)
West Ham 11 (2, 2, 3, 4) BUR(H), WHU(H) CRY(A) LIV(H)
Wolves 9 (2, 4, 3) WBA(H) CHE(A) CRY(A)

The big ins and outs

FPL managers already are thinking on the lines of maximising DGW as West Ham’s Thomas Soucek and Michali Antonio are the most transferred players this week. In great scoring form of late, Soucek could be a huge player with West Ham facing two fairly easy home games.

Leeds were supposed to play two matches this week before their Southampton match was cancelled and it may have caused a problem for FPL managers who brought in Patrick Bamford. However, he remains a great asset both for the short and long term.

Man City duo of Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden complete the top five.

Most transferred (in) players ahead of GW 19

Pos Player Club
MID Soucek WHU
FWD Antonio WHU
MID De Bruyne MCI
FWD Bamford LEE
As of Friday night

Injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to exit FPL teams after a great start to the season. Everton are also missing in action in DGW 19. With Spurs not playing twice, Son has also fallen out of favour.

Most transferred (out) players ahead of GW 19

Pos Player Club
FWD Calvert-Lewin EVE
As of Friday night

Chip Strategy: Bench Boost, Triple Captain or Free Hit?

If there was ever a gameweek to maximise your chips, this is it. Very rarely do you find six extra matches in a gameweek and it’s important to take advantage.

Bench Boost - This chip has been proven to be very fruitful in double gameweeks and in GW 19, it can be a lethal chip. However, for FPL managers to maximise this chip, you need a squad of 15 players who will start every game for starters. Then out of those 15, perhaps more than 50% of those players should ideally have two matches. If your team fits the criteria, then the bench boost is the best option.

Triple Captain - Another chip that can be best used in a double gameweek. However, it’s a bit of a lottery. Imagine if someone had captained Son Heung-min in GW 2, he would have got a lot more points than what any manager would get triple captaining a player in GW 19. However, the chances of a high return are obviously higher as the players gets two bites at the cherry. If you can’t bench boost, this is the second-best option.

Free Hit - A lot of FPL managers used Free Hit chip in GW 18 but not all would be satisfied. Being able to cherry-pick 11 best player for DGW 19 is quite an advantage and a free hit chip might be better utilised here than in a blank gameweek. So if you aren’t in a position to use any other chips, just go for a free hit.

No chip - With the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking the fixture list, there will be more double gameweeks to come this season so saving your chips for that time can be an option. However, there’s unlikely to be a gameweek as big and as lucrative as GW 19 and hence not using any chip is a bit of a waste.

Top picks for Gameweek 19

Whether you bring them in through transfers or (luckily enough) have them in your squad already, these are the five hottest selections for GW 19:

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): The Belgian leads the list of picks that pick themselves this week. Even though he has not been returning at the rate he returned in the last three seasons, De Bruyne is a must-have for DGW 19. Even in a below-par season, he has nine assists to his name and is second on the xA (Expected Assists) charts. Expected to be on penalty duties after Raheem Sterling’s miss in GW 18, De Bruyne is almost assured of returns in the next two matches.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Remember him? Yes, that Liverpool frontman who once racked up FPL points for fun. No return in three GWs is a massive rarity for a fit Salah, so much so that some FPL managers have shown him the door. But with Liverpool having two home games in DGW 19, there’s no way you can go without Salah. United game would be hard but expect him to right among the chances against Burnley. As they say, form is temporary and class is permanent. Salah quite clearly is world-class.

Aaron Cresswell (West Ham): Defenders have proved their worth this season and West Ham’s Cresswell has more to him than just clean sheet points. West Ham’s set-piece taker, Cresswell has a great target in Soucek to aim to. With two home games, the Hammers would also fancy a clean sheet, making Cresswell a very important player this week.

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United): He may have blanked against Burnley but you just don’t forget how good he has been in the last 12 months. United’s fixtures may not be the easiest but it has hardly mattered for Fernandes. So go into a DGW without him at your own peril.

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City): City defenders have become what City attackers were for the last three seasons. You simply cannot have a squad without one right now, certainly not in a double gameweek where City have great fixtures. Cancelo has become an integral part of Guardiola’s new shape and has got into numerous attacking positions in the last gameweeks. An attacking return is around the corner making him a must-have for DGW 19. Ruben Dias is also a good option.

Other notable players: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa).

Top differential picks for GW 19:

Michail Antonio (West Ham): The West ham forward has been eased into full fitness and is ready to make a mark in GW 19. Owned by just more than 5%, Antonio is a great differential during this double gameweek. He is someone who scores in heaps when he gets going and if he does that in a DGW, you are in business.

Phil Foden (Manchester City): The Englishman has quietly impressed and has scored in three out of City’s last four matches. It has pretty much made him untouchable in Guardiola’s line-up. Owned by just more than 9% of FPL managers, Foden is a steal at £6.3 million.

Timo Werner (Chelsea): The German striker has struggled at Chelsea but ended his long goal drought in the FA Cup last week. With Chelsea now having a full quota of attacking players available, Frank Lampard could finally use Werner in a central role. Facing teams who like to attack, the situation could be ideal for Werner to attack the space behind their defence. Hakim Ziyech’s return to fitness also enhances Werner’s chances of scoring.

Other notable differentials: Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Captain’s conundrum

With City having the best fixtures, it’s hard to look beyond De Bruyne. He is as closed to a nailed-on starter as possible in Guardiola’s team, consistent in his returns and also on penalties. However, the City defenders who have been consistently giving clean sheet points could also be considered in a double gameweek. The likes of Ruben Dias, Cancelo and John Stones are pretty certain to start.

Elsewhere, a punt on Mohamed Salah could also be a good option. It could have a slight differential potential to it as well with most managers likely to go for a City player. Fernandes is another alternative but the fixtures make him a lesser attractive proposition.

If you are in a mood for some adventure, then putting a punt on someone like Antonio could turn out to be hugely fruitful.

FPL Deadline for GW18: 4.30 pm IST, Saturday, January 16, 2021.