The GW19 New Years Eve contests kick off at 3pm this Saturday, with 7 fixtures in total. This includes Middlesbrough’s trip to Old Trafford and Stokes trip to Stamford Bridge. The late kick off of the day sees City travel to Anfield in a top of the table clash.
Considering Stoke haven’t won in 4 and have conceded 9 goals in the process, and Middlesbrough are on a run of 8 away games without a win we will be relying heavily on Chelsea and United to fill our attacking options where possible this week. With Aguero and Costa both back and available this week, the frontline options have suddenly become very attractive too (and expensive!)
Elsewhere the likes of Burnley could provide good value as they host a wounded Sunderland side, who have lost 7 of their 9 away games this season and have now lost their best player and shot stopper in Jordan Pickford.
14 goals in their last 4 home games make Liverpool attacking assets difficult to ignore this week too – even with their tricky fixture.
GW19 Top Picks
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (MUN) – v Middlesbrough (h) – £14.6m
Quite simply unstoppable at the moment, the Swede is showing just why he’s one of the greatest ever. He now has 6 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 league games and as we’ve said many times before, when he plays at home he is FanDuel golddust as shown by his score of 66.5 points last week. A must-pick, regardless of his price. (Still waiting for Mourinho to throw us a curveball by resting him but so far there is no sign of fatigue from the big man)
Fernando Llorente (SWA) – v Bournemouth (h) – £8.9m
We quite fancy that if Llorente had started the game against West Ham last week, Swansea might have fared differently. But then, that’s probably why Bradley lost his job… 5 goals in his last 3 home games is form that we simply can’t ignore and although we aren’t convinced Swansea can actually win against Bournemouth, what we do know is their games involve goals, a lot of them. And so Llorente has another chance to prove to the new incoming manager just what he’s capable of. We expect with Sigurdsson’s top delivery for him to get on the end of a few. Don’t forget Bournemouth have conceded 9 goals in their last three away games!
Diego Costa (CHE) – v Stoke (h) – £14.7m
Back from suspension, expect Costa to slot straight back into his lone striker role and flanked by the in-form Pedro and Hazard should have plenty of chances to keep his scoring run going at home to Stoke this weekend. A goal or assist in all but one of Chelsea’s home ties this season, he will be fresh from his midweek rest and should guarantee attacking returns.
Henrik Mkhitaryan (MUN) – v Middlesbrough (h) – £9.8m
After his Boxing Day goal of the season effort at home to Sunderland, we cant see any reason why the Armenian won’t be starting at old Trafford this time around, and if he does, he offers better attacking threat and value than the likes of Mata or Herrera. He’s £3.1m cheaper than Pogba too so as far as value goes he’s the better pick. A goal in each of his last two home appearances and 3 chances created in just 29 minutes on the pitch against Sunderland demonstrates his attacking potential. He’s likely to be heavily involved in any attacking returns for United again this weekend. Another scorpion kick would be nice!
Dimitri Payet (WHU) – v Leicester (a) – £12.7m
One of the most in form players in the FanDuel game at the moment, Payet has been a major reason for West Ham’s recent turnaround and 3 wins in a row. Up against a Leicester team still struggling with injuries and suspensions we fancy he’ll be busy once again in GW19. He’s created 21 chances in his last 3 appearances and following 5 shots on target is very much due a goal too. Almost guarantee’s 30 points each week, even with his price continuing to soar, we can’t think of any good reason not to pick him…?
Ryan Shawcross (STK) – v Chelsea (a) – £7.2m
A strong performance away at Liverpool, which included 14 clearances and 3 shot blocked, puts Shawcross at the top of our wishlist for Stoke defensive coverage this week. An away game at Chelsea will be one of the hardest tests he’ll have all season, and up against Diego Costa and Co there should be lots of opportunities for more defensive CBI’s. He also offers the most attacking threat in the box for Stoke which is a bonus.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CHE) – v Stoke (h) – £7.7m
We often talk about points per million as an important metric and with FanDuel it really is. As values fluctuate every week, it’s about getting a mix of the best value players in your team that week, rather than just focusing on those that will possibly score the highest throughout the season. Azpilicueta is a perfect example of somebody who on the surface might seem expensive and not suited to FanDuel scoring but in reality provides 3 points per million in most games he’s played this season (which is very good!) and should therefore be considered. Azpi has been one of the stars of the Chelsea team so far this season and his underlying stats show he’s been the most effective defender in their back 3. With more clearances and interceptions than any other Chelsea defender and having created more chances than Cahill, Luiz and Ivanovic combined this season (10), he’s a consistent performer and always likely to offer good value at home against lower league opposition. Never going to deliver 40+ points but unlikely to deliver less than 20, he’s a solid and reliable choice.
Andre Gray (BUR) – v Sunderland (h) – £7.1m
Gray’s minutes have been limited so far this season, (his 6 game ban didn’t help to be fair), but as a result the young English striker might fall under the radar this week. His 8.94 avg points on FanDuel do not tell the true story of his performances when he’s been a regular in the team this season and some last minute sub appearances have skewed the numbers.
Having seemingly cemented his place back in the starting line up in recent weeks, Gray has actually managed 2 goals and 1 assist in the 4 home games he’s played so far this season and managed 20+ FanDuel points in three of those four appearances. At just £7.1m and up against a poor away team in Sunderland, he’s a great third choice forward this week should he start again, not just because he frees up budget for your midfield, but because he offers a very real goal threat. Don’t forget he scored 25 goals in 51 appearances last season!
Scott Arfield (BUR) – v Sunderland (h) – £6.1m
Another from Burnley’s value team this week, Arfield has averaged at least 2.5points per million in his last 3 gameweeks and we think he’s great value to do so again. His underlying stats suggest as far as Burnley coverage goes this week, he’s a better option than the likes of Boyd or Hendrick who are both more expensive but far lass consistent. Arfield has the better attacking credentials and has created more chances than any of his teammates in recent weeks (3). 21 clearances and 5 interceptions this season shows he gets involved defensively when required too.
Dejan Lovren (LIV) – v Man City (h) – £7.5m
Up against a City front line that welcomes back Sergio Aguero, we fancy Liverpool could be busy at the back as well as in attack this week. Far more consistent than the cheaper Klavan, Lovren offers a goal threat as well as impressive CBI numbers in recent weeks with 20 clearances and 4 interceptions in just his last two appearances. Similarly priced to most of the Middlesbrough defenders this week we fancy Lovren to be the better performer thanks to his bigger goal threat.
George Friend (MID) – v Man United (a) – £7.4m
If it is Middlesbrough coverage you are after, Barragan’s 5th booking of the season on boxing day all but confirms George Friend’s return to the Boro line up this week. Although his recent ‘form’ looks a little shaky, he proved at the start of the season just how effective he can be in that backline when he’s given starts with impressive hauls away at Man City, West Ham and Sunderland. Having created just as many chances for teammates as the likes of Barragan, despite injury limiting his minutes, Friend could be a good differential over the next few weeks as Middlesbrough’s fixtures take a turn for the better and is currently the cheapest route into their backline. Be aware Karanka has talked of a ‘surprise’ for Mourinho this week so a close eye on the lineups will be required before committing.
John Flanagan (BUR) – v Sunderland (h) – £5.5m
If Flanagan get’s recalled again this week (unlikely with Lowton back from suspension), at £5.5m he’s likely to be the cheapest defender in the game worth having. He’s averaged 16.95 points in his 5 games so far this season thanks to both attacking and defensive returns and against Sunderland this week we fancy there are chances for more at both ends of the pitch. At just £5.5m if he plays and can provide more than 16 points this week he’s worth investing in.
GW19 Goalkeeper Choice
There is only one goalkeeper worth investing in for this week (and probably subsequent weeks) and that is Vito Mannone of Sunderland. While he isn’t going to guarantee a clean sheet each week, with Pickford on the treatment table for the foreseeable future and priced at just £5.4m he’s £1.4m cheaper than the next available keeper. With Chelsea and United attackers not coming cheap we are more than happy to make a saving on our keeper and use the funds to bring in the likes of Hazard, Costa and Azpi instead. The good news is Mannone made a fair few saves and clearances in the couple of appearances he made at the start of the season so should be more than worth his low price tag.
Don’t forget, rotation is a very real risk this week as the festive fixtures are in full swing so keep an eye on team line ups from 2pm on Saturday and we will share our last minute tips and differentials with you via our Twitter Feed.