Fantasy Premier League gameweek 18 kicks off this Tuesday with only six fixtures scheduled to take place. One of those fixtures involves Aston Villa who have seen an outbreak of COVID-19. So, this promises to be a really unpredictable gameweek. A draft ‘Free Hit’ team has also been provided at the end of the article.
Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 18 Picks
As usual, the advice is to wait for as long as possible before making a decision. However, with the Aston Villa match likely to be postponed, many FPL managers are thinking about deploying the Free Hit chip. With that in mind, let’s go through all the fixtures and try to find out the best picks from them.
Sheffield United vs Newcastle United
This looks like a very dull match.
In fact, a goalless draw or a scrappy 1-0 win for either side is possibly the most likely outcome. Sheffield United must win this match to have any hope of staying in this division. However, their struggles to find the back of the net all season do not exude confidence in their FPL assets. The Blades have only scored eight goals in 17 matches in the Premier League so far this season.
On the other hand, Newcastle United have failed to win any of their last five matches. They play quite defensively and apart from Callum Wilson, none of the other players seem like scoring. FPL managers could take a gamble on this finishing 0-0 and take one or two of the defenders and/or goalkeeper. Callum Wilson missed the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal so there are some doubts over his availability as well.
Burnley vs Manchester United
Manchester United have won on each of their last four visits to Turf Moor in the Premier League. The signs are definitely good for the Red Devils although the Clarets did beat them at Old Trafford in January last year.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has injury concerns around quite a few players. Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelöf and Luke Shaw are all doubtful at this stage for the match on Tuesday. Alex Telles could be a brilliant pick if Shaw is ruled out.
Fans will expect Manchester United to win but it may not be straightforward. Marcus Rashford has scored four goals in his last three away matches. Alongside the must-have Bruno Fernandes, Rashford could be a crucial differential.
As Manchester United play twice in gameweek 19, one could bring their assets in even without deploying a Free Hit.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Everton
A very tricky one to call; it could well be a very tight 1-0 or 1-1 result. On a Free Hit, Romain Saïss should be considered strongly due to his attacking prowess. Other than that, Dominic Calvert-Lewin could take advantage of the poor defensive record of Wolves. Pedro Neto is in form and should trouble the Toffees.
Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester City have won their last five matches in all competitions. They have performed quite well in those victories as well.
In a week like this, their players are without a doubt the most attractive options for FPL managers. Everyone would love to learn Pep Guardiola’s rotation plans for this match.
There are doubts over Raheem Sterling as he missed the FA Cup victory over Birmingham City. Sergio Agüero missed that game as well as he came into contact with a person with COVID. He will miss the Brighton match. This makes the return of Gabriel Jesus important for Manchester City.
Kevin De Bruyne, João Cancelo and Rúben Dias were all taken off at half time so they should all start this match. John Stones played the second half only so he should keep his place as well. Ilkay Gündogan is likely to start as well.
Aston Villa/Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur
This match is likely to be postponed considering the COVID outbreak in the Aston Villa camp. If it goes ahead then Tottenham Hotspur should win as Villa will have to play without quite a few regular starters. The names of the affected players are unlikely to be disclosed prior to the match.
According to David Ornstein, Fulham could be asked to play this Wednesday. Let’s hope confirmed news is declared soon.
Exclusive: Aston Villa v Tottenham (Wed) in doubt because of #AVFC #COVID19 issues. Premier League in talks to postpone, replace with rearranged Tottenham v Fulham & possibly move Fulham v Chelsea from Fri to Sat. #FFC unimpressed@TheAthleticUK #THFC #CFC https://t.co/iawWR0VGSH
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) January 11, 2021
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
The resurgence of Arsenal has been the talk of the Premier League in recent weeks. The Gunners have notched up four wins in a row in all competitions.
Bukayo Saka is a must-have from them this week. The youngster is in sublime form and should trouble the Crystal Palace defenders. Kieran Tierney is another one who is in solid form.
On a Free Hit one could take a punt on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal captain scored in the FA Cup which could give him confidence ahead of this game. Alexandre Lacazette is in great form so he should be considered as well.
Before being benched for the FA Cup match, Lacazette scored five goals in four matches in all competitions.
Crystal Palace have a decent recent record against Arsenal though. They are undefeated in the last four games against the Gunners and scored two or more goals on three of those four occasions. Childhood Gooner Wilfried Zaha could hurt them once again.
Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 18 Free Hit Draft
For those deploying the Free Hit chip, the following team could be considered. This is based on assuming Tottenham Hotspur will host Fulham.
Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow
Defenders: Rúben Dias, John Stones, Kieran Tierney
Midfielders: Bukayo Saka, Son Heung-min, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Kevin De Bruyne
Strikers: Callum Wilson, Harry Kane
Bench: Jason Steele, Rhian Brewster, Tyrick Mitchell, Bernardo
If Spurs do not play at all this midweek, then one could replace Kane with Calvert-Lewin, Son with Aubameyang, Stones with Cancelo and Bernardo with Ciaran Clark.