The midweek games were not quite so testing in terms of squad rotation and unless you have Sane and Jesus in your team then you probably escaped fairly unscathed. A typical Harry Kane blank rewarded the non-conformists and with a potentially tough game at Man City up next and with no game in GW21 it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to his poor display.
There are very few easy games this week with the tastiest looking fixtures being played at Stamford Bridge and The Emirates.
We are on hand to assess the best of the best ahead of game week 18 as we look to build up a good December points tally going in to the gruelling Christmas fixture schedule.
Leicester Vs. Crystal Palace
It is hard to get away from Leicester’s recent good form and we mentioned it (and Riyad Mahrez) last week with some decent options available in Claude Puel’s side. A 4-1 spanking of Southampton makes it 4 wins from 4 with Mahrez having scored 3 goals and claimed one assist in that time – is it time to put the forward back in your team?
Perhaps, but a game against Palace here will not be easy and they themselves managed a late victory over Watford on Tuesday evening. This probably isn’t the week to side with Leicester players given this tough home game is being followed by another against Man Utd. Certainly one to put on the radar – but at £8.5m it is hard to justify.
Arsenal Vs. Newcastle
This is arguably the tie of GW18 but the Gunners find themselves in poor form having only scored 2 in their last 3 games and a run of 1 defeat and 2 draws. That being said, there should be a good display here and Arsenal’s home form is pretty darn good if you take out the Man Utd game.
Lacazette was rested in midweek with just an 8 minute run out so he should be back in from the start against Newcastle. Jack Wilshere grabbed his first Premier League start in an Arsenal shirt for two seasons and by all accounts put in a really good performance at West Ham – another to watch for now perhaps but at £5.4m could be an interesting cheap option in midfield.
We expect a clean sheet for the home side here so an Arsenal defender is a good pick but they don’t have the easiest of fixture lists over Christmas so we wouldn’t go all in on them.
Brighton Vs. Burnley
Brighton have had a tough time of it of late whilst Burnley on the other hand have been grinding out some excellent results. Neither of these sides are prolific in front of goal and although Burnley are the most likely to get a clean sheet it would not be a surprise to see a 0-0 here.
Chelsea Vs. Southampton
Chelsea answered their critics with an emphatic 3-1 thumping of Huddersfield – a trip that other top teams have found very difficult to navigate. They made it look pretty effortless and without Morata up front they looked pretty dangerous. Willian was the main man and although Hazard was brilliant he didn’t return the points.
This game against the Saints should be more of the same, as the visitors come off the back of a heavy home defeat to Leicester. It looks like Morata will not feature again and so it will be interesting to see which approach Conte goes for. He could well opt to play a striker but the front three rotation of Pedro, Willian and Hazard was so successful he could stick with the same system.
Hazard may have blanked last week but he is still the main man and warrants a place in your team, if you fancy a risk then Willian is also an excellent option. Chelsea aren’t keeping many clean sheets at the moment so it is not the time to be banking on their defence – just yet anyway!
Stoke Vs. West Ham
How football can change so quickly. David Moyes is getting all the plaudits at the moment after 3 good performances from his reinvigorated West Ham side, whilst Mark Hughes is the favourite to be the next manager sacked in the Premier League.
West Ham look very decent under Moyes and it is defensively where they have impressed most. The standout player in terms of value is Masuaku who costs just £4.4m and has played every game since Moyes’ arrival. He looks dangerous playing as the left wing back and with 2 clean sheets against Chelsea and Arsenal there is every reason to think that run will continue against Stoke.
Beware the blank GW22 but aside from that their fixtures are all good up until their double gameweek 22.
Man City Vs. Spurs
This is going to be a fascinating encounter but we just don’t see Spurs getting close to Man City. To be honest, we don’t see anyone getting close to them. City have so much squad depth that they should be fresh and ready for this game – something that Spurs didn’t look in a limp 2-0 win over Brighton in midweek.
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We expect the exact same line up for City as they played at Man Utd and there are two players that need your attention – KDB and David Silva. Silva is the key – at £8.2m he is simply a steal. 4 goals in 3 games means he is in the form of his life and his tally for the season reads 5 goals and 8 assists. If you are holding on to Sane then swap him – it is a no brainer.
Kane has every chance in this game and is not one to sell (yes we are sticking by our guns on this one) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 3-1 home win.
West Brom Vs. Man Utd
West Brom did very well to keep out a Liverpool side who had scored in every league game this season except against both Manchester clubs. They could well keep out United in this one with Paul Pogba still serving out his suspension. They just don’t score many goals without the Frenchman in the side and this is probably not going to be pretty to watch.
Lukaku got back on the scoresheet against Bournemouth and he likes a game against the Baggies but we won’t be betting on an away win here.
Bournemouth Vs. Liverpool
We can see Liverpool turning up here but it won’t be easy and they find themselves under a bit of pressure after two home draws in games they were expected to win.
We won’t be looking to captains in this game but Klopp should have his team fired up. Bournemouth contained Man Utd pretty well at Old Trafford and at home they should have an easier job on their smaller pitch.
Again, perhaps a fixture to avoid in GW18.
Everton Vs. Swansea
It was a shame that Swansea had to play City straight after getting a good win over West Brom last weekend and this should be a much easier encounter. But we have been impressed by Everton since Allardyce took the reigns and a couple of players stand out.
Jonjoe Kenny at £4.3m is a rock bottom priced defender who we tipped a couple of weeks ago. His last four games read 11, 5, 2 and 6 points and he looks like a good little player. His manager has put his faith in him and I have done the same – and this looks like another excellent chance of a clean sheet at least.
Wayne Rooney is the other standout player. We tipped him as a replacement for Morata in GW17 and he obliged with a goal and 2 bonus points. He gets around the pitch which means he does pick up those BPS and with 5 goals in his last 4 games he has another excellent chance at home to Swansea. At £7.4m it would be rude not to back him – he is also a rather decent captain pick for gameweek 18.
So, lots to think about this week and if you are wondering why we left out the Watford Vs. Huddersfield fixture – well it’s because we don’t really fancy any of them.
We will be back on Friday with the captain picks and don’t miss ‘The Last Word’ which is out 90 minutes before the deadline on Saturday morning.