Search
Close this search box.

Fantasy Premier League Primer: Actionable items for Gameweek 20

Share

Festive football is delightful, isn’t it? We’ve had some stellar football to feast on as we recover from a loaded Christmas schedule.

Here’s what you need to be across, as we build up to FPL Gameweek 20.

When does FPL Gameweek 20 start?

Saturday 30 December, 10:00 pm AEDT

Luton Town host Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea in the final game of 2023. Luton will enter the fixture bouncing having beaten Newcastle and Sheffield United in their two recent Premier League outings.

Rob Edwards’ side is everything Chelsea hates; compact, tough to break down, and quick on the break, and in Ross Barkley (£4.9 I 0.2%) they have a star likely out for vengeance against a club he spent five wasteful seasons at.

Luton Town, Rob Edwards, Premier League
Luton Town’s Rob Edwards

Chelsea will be looking to recover from a form slide that has Poch’s job security the talk of London. There were no festive celebrations for the team, who fell to Wolves on Christmas Eve, with defensive frailties added to the Argentine coach’s extensive list of faltering West London parts.

Nicolas Jackson (£6.9 I 6.6%) has caught the ire of disappointed and frustrated fans, while Raheem Sterling (£7.0 I 9.0%) would’ve had nightmares before Christmas reliving his botched sitter against Wolves. Perhaps the great silver lining for Chelsea is Christopher Nkunku’s (£7.4 I 3.1%) increased involvement, with the Frenchman’s late header at the Molineux giving fans worldwide something to cheer about.

If Chelsea is any hope of toppling Luton in FPL gameweek 20, Nkunku will be their key man, especially with Sterling and Cole Palmer (£5.6 I 20.9%) suspended.

FPL Gameweek 20 notes

Bournemouth are brilliant, aren’t they?

Bournemouth’s good times keep rolling on. They’ve won four on the trot, and seven of their last nine games, with their only loss in that time coming against Manchester City.

Andoni Iraola’s magic is starting to show, especially up front. Bournemouth have scored three goals in their last three games and haven’t been held scoreless since a 3-0 loss to Everton in early October.

Reaping the rewards of this renewed attacking thrust is striker Dominic Solanke (£7.0 I 25.9%), who buried a penalty against Fulham to bring up his 12th goal of the season, and fifth in his last three games. The former Chelsea man’s form is frightening and he is fast becoming an FPL must who, if he’s not in your team now, should be by the time FPL Gameweek 20 kicks off.

solanke
Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke

Villa’s Boxing Day bounce ruined

Set-piece strife morphed into set-piece delight for Erik Ten Hag’s side. Two first-half set-piece goals within five minutes of each other had Aston Villa flying as high as second in the table.

Credit where credit is due, though. From the moment Leander Dendoncker’s (£4.9 I 0.0%) goal found the back of the net Manchester United completely controlled this affair. For an hour they looked, quite convincingly, like the Manchester United of last season; A Christmas miracle or a sign of things to come?

Each Marcus Rashford (£8.4 I 10.5%) touch was menacing, each darting run or carrying threatening to score, or penetrate Villa’s defence. An assist for Alejandro Garnacho’s (£4.7 I 2.7%) first goal is nothing short of what Rashford’s shift deserves. The Englishman looked more like the Rashford of old than the shadow we’ve seen ghosting across English pitches this season.

Garnacho was undoubtedly the game-winner and on any other night, he’d be the talk of the town. That he isn’t is a credit to Rasmus Hojlund (£6.8 I 2.7%), who shoved 1,000 goalless Premier League minutes to the back of his mind before hammering home his debut top-flight goal following a failed corner clearance from Villa’s other goalscorer, John McGinn (£5.5 I 1.8%).

It’s too early to say whether United have turned a corner, but in their front three of Rashford, Hojlund, and Garnacho, there at least appears to be chemistry and a commitment to finding one another that’s been absent in recent weeks. Moving into FPL Gameweek 20 and beyond, the trio should be monitored closely to see if the Villa result was a once-off or a sign a corner has been turned at United.

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
Marcus Rashford was almost back to his best against Aston Villa I FPL Gameweek 20

What’s going on with Newcastle’s defence?

Last season, Eddie Howe’s side were borderline unbreakable. This season they’re as open as an owl’s eyes. Of all sources, it was Chris Wood’s (£4.9 I 0.9%) hat-trick that buried Newcastle against Nottingham Forest and further compounded Eddie Howe’s defensive woes.

Understandably, Nick Pope’s (£5.4 I 6.2%) absence hasn’t helped, but Martin Dubravka (£4.2 I 8.5%) is arguably the best deputy shot-stopper in the Premier League, nor have injuries elsewhere in the back four. But some of the defending for Wood’s strikes was elementary; no one had eyes on the Kiwi for his first, Forest broke too quickly for the second, with Dan Burn (£4.4 I 4.7%) also culpable for the goal, and the third was a botched offside trap.

Alarmingly, this was Newcastle’s first choice back four, meaning Eddie Howe has some serious work to do in order to transform his side back to the fortified defensive unit they’ve previously shown they can be.

There is a world where fortunes change, but for now exercise an air of caution with any Newcastle defensive assets owned, particularly Kieran Trippier (£6.9 I 43.0%) whose form has nose-dived quicker than a lead balloon in the last month.

Newcastle United, Kieran Trippier, All or Nothing
Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier.

For Forest, Wood’s goals continued his fine run of form. He has four goals and one assist in his last two outings. With Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.3 I 1.3%) absent until February with a groin injury, and Nuno needing a big, physical focal point, there is a world where Wood becomes a cheap FPL point of difference beyond FPL Gameweek 20.

Elsewhere, Anthony Elanga (£5.0 I 1.4%) grabbed two assists and is quietly having a fantastic season, which has seen him involved in nine goals so far. The Swede should be monitored moving forward, especially given Nuno’s capacity for maximising his wingers’ output.

Nunez returns with a bang

It took just six minutes of Liverpool’s eventual 2-0 victory over Burnley for Darwin Nunez (£7.5 I 13.8%) to curl his fifth goal of the season, and first since October, beyond James Trafford.

Playing on the left wing seems to suit the Uruguayan, who has a propensity to drift when he plays centrally. For Jurgen Klopp, it allows him to squeeze Cody Gakpo (£7.2 I 2.2%), who provided the assist for Nunez’s opener, into the side.

The Dutchman hasn’t found consistency since arriving from PSV in January 2023, but he is the kind of connective tissue Liverpool’s front three needs, like Roberto Firmino before him, and a player who facilitates a surge towards their frightening best, and a potential Premier League title.

On the other side of Liverpool’s front three, Mohamed Salah (£13.3 I 55.3%) blanked, which isn’t much of a concern given his 12 goals and seven assists this season, but given AFCON is just around the corner, now might be prime time to part with the Egyptian and bolster your team elsewhere ahead of FPL Gameweek 20.

FPL gameweek 20
With AFCON fast approaching is now the time to offload Mohamed Salah? FPL Gameweek 20

Mudryk stars and Madueke stands up

For the best part of the first half Chelsea thrived. Mykhailo Mudryk’s (£6.3 I 1.0%) array of technical and physical skills were on show, as he started looking like a player signed for his fee. Christoper Nkunku (£7.4 I 3.3%) was dangerous every time he collected the ball, his creativity plugging a hole Chelsea desperately needed filling, while French fullback Malo Gusto (£4.1 I 4.8%) was enterprising at right-back.

That all three were involved in the goal, scored by Mudryk and assisted by Gusto, says it all. In a first half that was arguably Chelsea’s best of the season, they were the three lights shining brightest.

On the stroke of half-time, Chelsea’s good fortune was washed away when Michael Olise (£5.8 I 0.5%) found the back of the net for the third time this season, sending the hosts into the dressing room more nervy than their performance to that point deserved.

A different Chelsea returned for the second half, one which was uninspiring, toothless, and a shadow of the side they were 15 minutes earlier. A flurry of plainly baffling Mauricio Pochettino substitutions, made as if the Argentine were shutting up shop as opposed to chasing victory, all but took the game away from his side.

That’s not to say they didn’t create in the second half, only that they did so sparingly. Nicolas Jackson (£6.9 I 6.5%) missed an absolute sitter in the 73rd minute, before wiping it from his brain two minutes later to sweep a goal home later ruled out for offside. Anyone with the Senegalese in their side should look to offload him ahead of FPL Gameweek 20, especially with AFCON on the horizon.

A late Eberechi Eze foul on Noni Madueke (£5.3 I 0.1%) gifted Chelsea a penalty, and a chance to secure a lead they barely deserved. Without Cole Palmer (£5.6 I 20.9%), Madueke stepped up, who nervelessly slotted his side’s second home from the spot.

An attacking three of Nkunku, Palmer, and Raheem Sterling (£7.1 I 9.0) is brimming with potential. Defensively, however, Chelsea has lots to work on.

Nkunku, AFCON
Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku impressed in his first Premier League start I FPL Gameweek 20

Madness at the Molineux

Wolves are quickly becoming the Premier League’s chief disruptors. They are, in short, brilliant. Gary O’Neill’s wand is working magic on the side the likes of which hasn’t been seen at Wolverhampton since Nuno was in charge.

Hwang Hee-Chan (£5.7 I 10.6%) scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season, and if he weren’t off to the Asian Cup at the end of January we would be shouting for him to be an FPL must-have from FPL gameweek 20 and beyond.

The South Korean isn’t Wolves’ only star. Both Pablo Sarabia (£4.7 I 0.3%) and Matheus Cunha (£5.8 I 6.4%) are having fine seasons in their own right, and both created goals against Brentford. In another huge FPL boost, Pedro Neto (£5.6 I 1.3%) was named as a substitute for this fixture. Even though he didn’t make it on the pitch, his inclusion hints at him nearing a return to action.

Defensively, Wolves are robust, even if their two clean sheets for the season don’t indicate that. The same cannot be said for Brentford, who will be stressing over Ivan Toney’s return, even if goals are only a small part of their current shortcomings.

No Haaland, are we worried?

If FPL players aren’t, then Pep surely is. Erling Haaland (£13.9 I 59.7%) is one of the most owned FPL assets, and while he wouldn’t have stopped the calamitous defensive errors that led to Jack Harrison’s (£5.5 I 0.1%) Everton opener, he is the perfect insurance policy who strikes fear through opponents and constantly distracts them with his mere presence alone.

It marked the third consecutive Premier League game the Norwegian has missed through a foot injury which is a large absence, especially for the goalscoring superhuman he is. It’s a tough one with regards to trading him because when he’s fully healthy he should be an automatic selection in any side. Is it worth moving him on temporarily or shifting him to the bench and waiting patiently for his goalscoring return?

In his wake, Julian Alvarez (£6.8 I 28.2%) stepped up to score a penalty just after the hour mark, a strike which put City in the lead following Phil Foden’s (£7.6 I 11.1%) equaliser. With five goals and eight assists this season Alvarez is the best back-up striker in world football, but he isn’t Haaland.

Bringing the Argentine in while his Norwegian teammates recover from injury is probably the best short-term stop-gap solution from FPL Gameweek 20 onward, especially when considering City face Sheffield United, a defensively shambolic Newcastle United, Burnley, and Brentford in their next four matches.

But once Haaland returns to first-team action he needs to be brought into your team, especially with his creative partner, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2 I 1.7%), edging closer to a return.

Erling Haaland image
Erling Haaland missed his third consecutive Premier League match against Everton I FPL Gameweek 20

Fortune favours the brave, and the Hammers

Should it have stood? That will be the Premier League’s headline-dominating question throughout the final week of 2023. Jarrod Bowen (£7.9 I 24.0%) swept a ball back into the box for Thomas Soucek (£4.9 I 1.5%) to open the scoring in West Ham’s 2-0 victory over the Gunners which was barely conclusively in the field of play, but awarded nonetheless under a cloud of controversy and doubt.

It shouldn’t distract from Arsenal’s failure to break down a compact West Ham side, despite countless opportunities. Outside of Bukayo Saka rattling the post or having a header saved brilliantly by Alphonse Areola (£4.2 I 32.7%), Arsenal were toothless, missing five big chances, and often resigned to launching crosses and cutbacks at a defence inviting crosses and cutbacks.

Captain Martin Odegaard was the Gunners’ standout performer and on any other night, against any other opposition, he might’ve singlehandedly carried his side to victory. That he didn’t is a credit to West Ham’s resolute defence, who blocked 10 Arsenal shots across the 90 minutes.

Aside from Liverpool, who now sit top of the table, and Manchester City, who returned to the Premier League with a victory, the real winner of this fixture is Kai Havertz (£7.1 I 1.6%), whose importance to Arsenal can’t be understated. One can only imagine how this game could’ve turned out had the German been ghosting into the box to meet Arsenal’s 30 crosses.

Pedro’s penalty brace sinks Spurs

Brighton hosted Ange Postecoglou’s rampant Tottenham side having won just once in their previous five Premier League outings. 90 minutes later and having scored four goals for the first time since the second game of the season, they left the encounter with all three points.

At the heart of it all was Brazilian forward, Joao Pedro (£5.4 I 9.8%), who bagged a brace of penalties in addition to assisting young Jack Hinshelwood’s (£4.5 I 0.1%) second goal of the campaign. In between these goals was a return to play, and the scoresheet, of Pervis Estupinan (£4.9 I 13.7%) who hasn’t featured since Brighton’s 6-1 loss to Aston Villa in September.

Estupinan’s return will be a relief to FPL managers, having proved to be one of the game’s most reliable defensive options whose attacking output borders on remarkable. While Pedro’s sixth and seventh goals of the season mightn’t catapult him to the top of the FPL striker rankings, he at least provides an alternative option at a point in the season where injuries and fixture congestion take their toll.

brighton, pedro, january transfer window
Brighton’s Joao Pedro proved the difference in their rout of Spurs I FPL Gameweek 20

Transfer targets under 15% ownership

DEFENDER: Alfie Doughty (£4.4 I 0.6%)

MIDFIELDER: Anthony Elanga (£5.0 I 1.4%)

FORWARD: Chris Wood (£4.9 I 0.9%)

Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

Latest Stories

Premier League, best managers of all time
Who are the 10 best Premier League managers of all time? We've had our say
flag bearer contenders, paris olympics, australia
5 contenders to be Australia's flag bearer at the Paris Olympics
DPOY, Wembanyama
The NBA's on the verge of robbing Wemby of a key historic milestone
Nike Mercurial
Nike's launched a slate of new pre-Olympic releases across 3 sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles