Believe it or not, we’ve reached the midway point of the Premier League season! Week 19 begins when Arsenal and Liverpool battle at Emirates on Friday night and continues on Saturday with an action packed nine-match slate. However, suspensions have foiled some managers’ pre-Christmas plans. Troy Deeney will serve a four-match ban following his sending off against Huddersfield Town and James Tarkowski a three-match retroactive ban for elbowing Brighton striker Glenn Murray. Manuel Lanzini will complete his retroactive ban for diving, while Shane Duffy and Alvaro Morata are in eligable due to yellow card of accumulation.
So without further ado, let’s get down to business….
Remember, here’s what you need to know to maximize my advice. This column is reserved for weekly free agent adds for Togga draft leagues and features only players owned in less than 50 percent of all leagues. Players that make each column will be classified as; streaming options, (one-week adds), short-term/long-term adds (worth holding for a specific duration of matches) or a must-adds (should be owned in all leagues).
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Aaron Cresswell, West Ham (14 percent): West Ham has kept three successive clean sheets and Cresswell has scored at least 9.75 points in each of his last four matches . The 27-year-old has been a key part of the defensive resurgence under David Moyes, making 42 clearances and averaging 11.08 fantasy points per match since moving from fullback to the left of a back three. This week the Hammers play at home against Newcastle, who are without a goal since GW17 and winless in their last nine matches. With a good chance at another clean sheet, Cresswell is an above-average option for 10-team-or-deeper leagues.
Kieran Gibbs, West Brom (9 percent): Gibbs enters GW19 on the heels of scoring at least 8.25 fantasy points in five straight matches. The former Arsenal man has established himself as a vital part of a West Brom defense that has conceded just three goals in their last four matches. Despite his low ceiling, he has a good matchup against a Stoke City side that’s scored just one goal in their last three games. Gibbs could easily be a top-30 defender with a clean sheet at the bet365 Stadium, which makes him a streaming consideration for 12-team leagues.
Lewis Dunk, Brighton (4 percent): With Shane Duffy suspended after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season, his teammate Dunk is a candidate to consider streaming. Connor Goldson is poised for his Premier League debut in place of Duffy, which is likely to result in Dunk handling a big defensive workload. The 26-year-old is averaging 7.83 points per match the last three weeks, and should exceed his season averages in both clearances and tackles won. Against a depleted Watford side, Dunk has top-30 defender potential for GW19.
ilkay Gundogan, Manchester City (26 percent): Could this be the beginning of Gundogan’s “career” at Manchester City? Prior to starting Saturday’s win over Tottenham, the German had been limited to just 1,992 minutes since arriving at the Etihad in July 2016. Yet, he showed no signs of his previous fitness struggles in an influential first start of the season. With the absence of David Silva, Gundogan headed City in front from a Kevin De Bruyne corner after just 14 minutes and assisted on the Belgian’s goal just six minutes later. He finished the match with three shots on target and played only two inaccurate passes during his 90 minutes on the pitch. Gundogan is a great option to have on your bench, as he will see starts whenever any of the Citizen’s midfield trio (KBD, Silva, Fernandinho) is unavailable. Add him and expect top-15 returns in matches when he makes the starting XI.
Ramadan Sobhi, Stoke City (1 percent): After a fourth successive defeat it’s imperative Stoke City take all three points from Saturday’s visit of West Brom, as another could see manager Mark Hughes sacked. The club’s poor form has made it hard to trust anyone outside of Xherdan Shaqiri on a weekly basis, but Sobhi has quietly been a bright spot since cracking the starting XI. The 20-year-old has racked up seven successful take-ons and created four chances to go with an average of 12.75 points across back-to-back starts. Sobhi took five shots during that span, which ranks second amongst all Potter behind only Shaqiri’s eight. Available in 98 percent of all leagues, consider him a last-minute pivot if he starts in GW19.
Bakary Sako, Crystal Palace (Less than 1 percent): In terms of midfielders to add and hope for the best, Sako is pushing for Andros Townsend’s place after scoring in consecutive substitute appearances. The Frenchman came off the bench to score in the 89th minute two matches ago against Watford and followed up the midweek heroics with an excellent strike in the 94th-minute to cap off a 3-0 victory over Leicester City. Ahead of a busy festive period, during which Palace will play three matches over 11 days, it’s realistic to assume he’ll see at least one opportunity from the opening whistle. He’s a bench add for deeper leagues, who could offer fourth midfielder value in the Eagles’ starting XI.
Jermain Defoe, Bournemouth (36 percent): Over the last four weeks, I’ve fared rather well predicting goal-scorers. Jesse Lingard fired a brace in GW15, Demarai Gray and Wilfried Bony both converted in GW17, plus Marko Arnautovic scored last week. That being said, the striker I like this week is Defoe. The 35-year-old has two goals to show from six shots on target in his last three games thanks to a brace in GW16 at Crystal Palace. Over the weekend, the England international was denied a third when he fired off the post in the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool. Furthermore, he’s put at least one shot on goal in each of his last five appearances. It might seem like a huge risk to start him against Manchester City, but the high-flying Citizens have not kept a clean sheet in their last four matches at the Etihad. If you’re looking to roll the dice on a forward, Defoe carries top-15 potential for GW19.