Welcome to the Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Gameweek 21 ahead of today’s 11:00 GMT deadline.
The headlines in this edition: Everton are discussed as key players return and the fixtures improve, Chelsea’s new manager Thomas Tuchel is put under the spotlight, Manchester City continue to excel, and Raphinha (£5.4m) stars for Leeds United with Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) in a slump.
Elsewhere, Pro Pundit Tom is excited about Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m) as he looks to target an easy run for Crystal Palace and a match against Newcastle United in particular. While Az suggests taking more risks with our armband choices – but does Captain Sensible writer Jan agree?
Couldn’t score for Toffees
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) started the season in sensational form bagging 10 goals in the opening nine Gameweeks, but the Everton No 9 has since endured a barren spell, last scoring in Gameweek 11.
However, with an appealing set of fixtures and key players returning, Joe asked the Scoutcast panel – can good fixtures breed good form?
For Ted the answer is an emphatic yes. The visual stats creator revealed that he has taken a minus eight to triple up on Carlo Ancelotti’s men:
What I really like about Everton is that you‘ve also got Lucas Digne as a ‘world class’ left-back, he’s just a sensational crosser of the ball, and you’ve got James Rodriguez on that other side, a perfect marriage of creativity on either flank. Dominic Calvert-Lewin just needs to get some form going, because he’s without a goal in seven matches, he’s underperforming his stats, and once he starts scoring in the league – he got one in the cup – if he starts scoring in the league I think he could really start firing with the fixtures.
In fact, Lucas Digne (£6.0m) played out-of-position on the left of midfield against Leicester City, further enhancing his prospects of attacking returns.
Everton average positions vs Leicester City (FFS Match Data)
And with Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.2m) returning from suspension to add thrust in midfield, could Everton be on the brink of a purple patch?
Ted is not the only one adding a Toffee to his selection with Az eyeing-up Digne and Calvert-Lewin.
Owners of Harry Kane (£11.2m) have an easy route to the Everton target man after the Tottenham Hotspur striker was ruled out by Jose Mourinho.
Bamford’s Pukki Moment
Another way to free up a slot in our forward lines is to sell Patrick Bamford, whose recent downturn in performance makes him a prime candidate for the chop.
Joe described it as a ‘Pukki Moment’, which is defined as “a highly-owned-once-high-performing player, who you can hop-off for a player that you are assuming will be the next big thing.”
Against Newcastle United, the Leeds striker managed just one attempt, an off-target header, and three penalty area touches. Instead it was left to Raphinha to write the headlines, the Brazilian now has three goals and as many assists from a season in which he only started his first match in Gameweek 10.
But questions are being asked about Bielsa’s side, who suffered recent defeats to Spurs and Brighton before the narrow win over the Magpies.
The convenient narrative is that they are knackered, Bielsa is like this harsh taskmaster and these poor Leeds guys are all sitting in the Vicotrian orphanage, all like “oh I can’t move any more” – and I just don’t buy that myself because these are fit blokes.
But how do we explain the recent performances – have they been found out?
I think these players are at the maximum level of their ability and they are, on average, Championship players.
Speaking on the Scoutcast, Leeds fan Seb gave an insightful explanation about the problems his beloved team encountered against Newcastle, before outlining what needs to change:
The solution for us is a new left-back and a new centre-mid but until that happens if teams continue to put pressure on us in the right places, which is the midfield and not centre-back … and force us into pressing high up the field and then out-numbering us with quality one-on-one players … teams can beat us.
Not a particularly optimistic outlook.
Chelsea’s New Tuch
However, things are decidedly more upbeat in affluent West London with the arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel. His appointment has got Fantasy managers wondering which Chelsea players will thrive under his stewardship.
Jamie highlighted a possession style of football and a preference for a narrow 4-2-2-2 formation, as well as an impressive number of goals per game achieved at previous clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.
It’s worth noting that Tuchel tends to use high possession as a means of defending rather than attacking. And Tom included cut-price centre-back Antonio Rüdiger (£4.5m) in his trio of differentials for Gameweek 21, the 27-year-old could prove to be a budget route into the Blues backline.
Tuchel’s teams also favour shot quality over shot quantity. Consequently they can be a little boring to watch, as the goalless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers illustrated.
And there will be question marks over several players including Reece James (£5.1m), who may find himself marginalised under a manager whose previous teams have produced a very low number of crosses.
Instead, Kai Havertz (£8.2m) could become a key figure for Chelsea, thanks to his ability to get the ball into the penalty area from central areas. Pro Pundit Lateriser noted the German playing closer to goal in Tuchel’s first match.
Target Teams Playing Newcastle
Tom signed midfielder Wilfried Zaha ahead of Gameweek 20 and is another looking to incorporate Calvert-Lewin.
Part of his thinking behind those moves is a good run of immediate fixtures for both sides, especially upcoming matches against Newcastle. The Aston Villa fan noted:
Towards the end of Steve Bruce’s reign at Aston Villa, they were lacking any kind of structure with the same approach in every game, and there are a lot of similarities at Newcastle now.
Az is even considering handing Calvert-Lewin the armband for Everton’s home encounter with Newcastle. Reflecting on a failed captaincy pick, the co-host of FPL Black Box wondered if we should start taking risks:
The logic of Fernandes was completely sound of course, but there is huge potential to get ahead if you can get the captaincy call right. The captaincy allows us to roll the dice for one week and if we want to elevate our seasons to the next level, getting on the right end of some of these calls could be a great way to rise up the ranks.
However Jan is not ready to trust Calvert-Lewin with the armband just yet:
Over the last six matches, only three teams have registered fewer goal attempts than Carlo Ancelotti’s men. While Everton are expected to win this match, it is probably a step too far to trust any of their attacking assets with an armband, especially as Newcastle and Steve Bruce will be “fighting for their lives”.
Instead, the double-points maestro turns to Pep Guardiola’s troops for his preferred armband picks.
Manchester City’s impressive form continued with lkay Gündogan (£5.8m) and João Cancelo (£6.0m) thriving against West Brom as Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) posted impressive stats and Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) put pressure on John Stones (£5.2m).
And, courtesy of G-Whizz, the clean sheet odds favour returns at both ends of the pitch, with City most likely to record a shutout (61 per cent) and Sheffield United least likely (nine per cent).
Sterling, Gündogan, and Cancelo all have their merits. But if you are struggling to decide between them, or suffering from ‘decision fatigue’, Seb has some advice:
There are too many variables to consider them all, you’ve got to make a decision that you can explain and then be happy with, and move on.
Community Competitions and Head-to-Head Fixtures
RedLightning rounded-up the latest Community mini-leagues and competitions.
In the Head-to-Head Leagues, the fixtures have been generated for the second half of the season. The main page includes links for each Gameweek, while the fixtures for Gameweek 21 can be found below:
Use the drop-down menus to show your league and division. To find out which league and division you are in, follow the instructions on the main Head-to-Head page.
Once the Gameweek starts, if you click on your opponent’s name you will be linked to their team on the FPL website.
May your arrows be green!
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