Welcome back! Sorry for the lateness of the post this week, I have been struggling through a bit of travel sickness but finally recovered enough to get back into the action! It was at least nice to have the Capitol One Cup distraction midweek to ease the passage of time until kick off for Week 17. It was fantasic to see Liverpool not succumb to their recent failures in the Champions League and Premier League to oust Bournemouth 3-1 in the Capitol One Cup. I wouldn't jump to say this was a turning point as Liverpool were strong favorites, but any boost of confidence will be great for the Reds heading into their vital weekend clash with Arsenal at Anfield. The win also sets up a very testing semi-final match up with Chelsea, as Mourinho looks to emulate his first ever trophy win when his Chelsea side won the Cup over Liverpool in 2005. Tottenham have the more favorable draw against Sheffield United which could see a potential London Derby for the final.
Lets take a quick look at Week 17's upcoming fixtures:
QPR v West Bromwich Albion
West Ham v Leicester City
Tottenham v Burnley
Liverpool v Arsenal
Stoke City v Chelsea
Of the above teams, Man City, United, West Ham, Tottenham, and Chelsea all have the stand out fixtures. While Swansea City should edge Hull, and Southampton v Everton sees two sides incapable of keeping a clean sheet as of late so expect goals. I am much more concerned with the Liverpool v Arsenal show down at Anfield as a win for either side will be a huge shot in the arm for each respective team's campaign. But I'd be weary adding in more players from either side beyond Sanchez at discount and possibly Sterling if you took him on the Barndoor. Newcastle v Sunderland is the Tyne - Wear derby and has a potential to see a mass of Yellow Cards and fouls, if not a Red for Cattermole (come on you know it will happen!) so this is one to also be avoided. That being said, with the amount of tasty fixtures available to us, you shouldn't have too much trouble fitting a few players from each fixture into your squad for Week 17.
Okay let's get onto the picks!
T. Courtois - Early indications say the young Belgian star will be fighting to regain fitness and return to face Stoke City. Given the fact that Chelsea play on Monday, this affords Courtois every opportunity to prove he is ready and return Petr Cech back to warming the bench. If I had to guess, I would say Courtois returns and I am willing to take the gamble with a cheap backup goalkeeper in case Mourinho decides to give him one more week to recover. I expect a Chelsea clean sheet away to a very up and down Stoke City squad regardless.
Hugo Lloris - Tottenham haven't exactly hit expectations this season under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, but with a fine win over Newcastle in the Capitol One Cup and Burnley next on the ticket at White Heart Lane, a win seems likely on the cards. Although Tottenham's home form has been great this season, Burnley have found it even harder to score on the road, so a clean sheet looks a distinct possibility. Lloris is nicely priced at 8.49mil and should return in between the posts for Michel Vorm who played mid week. The price is right for those who wish to swap the French #1 for Petr Cech and are unsure if Courtois is ready to make his comeback against Stoke City.
Adrian - The West Ham shot stopper is facing the new ¨Derby County¨ of the Premier Legaue as Leicester City come to visit Boleyn Ground. Although the Foxes proved tougher opponents than Man City expected last game week, West Ham have been flying high under Big Sam and I just can't see Leicester City turning their season around in this match. At 9.07mil, Adrian is another decent option for a win and a few potential saves as the Foxes struggle to score on the road.
Joe Hart - It was tough not to recommend David De Gea in place of Joe Hart, but I tend to give more priority to home match ups rather than away. Don't get me wrong, De Gea certainly deserved his MoTM performance against Liverpool, but City's defense is simply stronger player for player at this point and you never know when United will give away a sloppy goal. That being said, Joe Hart is my premium pick of the week at 12.22mil, and even without their captain, Vincent Kompany, I feel City have a strong chance of the clean sheet plus win against Crystal Palace at the Etihad. If you find yourself with the funds, the England #1 could be your man.
Carl Jenkinson - As pointed out in previous weeks by our estute followers, Jenkinson has equaled his counter part, Cresswell, in phantom point production for West Ham. With a streak of 12pts, 6pts, 12pts, 11pts in his past 4 game weeks, (keeping only 1 clean sheet), the former Arsenal full back looks primed to fire again this game week. With West Ham facing a goal shy Leicester City at home, 9.74mil seems a relative deal if you failed to get Cresswell at 1mil and are looking for some Hammer's defensive cover.
Mangala - City's 32 million dollar recruite has had an up and down season so far but is currently the cheapest way into Man City's defense. At only 7.61mil, Mangala has started to show the start of some consistency in his fantasy production by not getting needless cards or fouls. Week 16 saw the City center back return a decent 11pts and I expect a similar point production against Crystal Palace. The price is right for the gamble at least.
Kyle Walker - Returned to action against Swansea City in Tottenham's 2-1 away victory and is nicely priced at 6.18mil after commiting a few fouls and earning a Yellow Card in the process. Ill chalk this up to brushing off the rust. Tottenham, however, have one of the picks of the fixtures for Week 17 facing a goal shy Burnley side at White Heart Lane. Walker was rested for Spurs mid week Capitol One CUp clash and should return to the starting lineup at the weekend. We all remember Walker from seasons past hitting the upper portion of premium defenders so buy in now before his price rises.
John Terry - With all the Chelsea defenders similarily priced around 11mil, call this pick more of a hunch rather than an obvious selection. Stoke City are a physical side and Terry always seems to flourish against such sides. This just feels like a match in which Terry heads into the back of the net from a Fabregas set piece doesn't it? Either way, if Chelsea keep the clean sheet, any one of their defensive line should return good value.
K. Trippier - A shock clean sheet and a return to a decent haul of phantom points saw Trippier return value with 13pts in Week 16. I don't expect the clean sheet at White Heart Lane, but Spurs have been giving up chances and Trippier could be in for some potential attacking returns. Getting up into the premium pick category at 11.22mil given his 3 week run of double digit returns, I expect more of the same in Week 17 as Trippier looks to add to his already impressive 156pts overall.
N. Taylor - Swansea were a bit unlucky not to secure at least a point against Spurs in Week 16 and should find Week 17 a bit easier against a stuttering Hull City. Taylor has been quietly putting in a good fantsy shift with 98pts already accrued overall and is very reasonably priced at 6.92mil. If you don't have many funds left for the stronger picks, Taylor should be your man.
Yaya Toure - A disappointing showing against Leicester City in Week 16 which only garnered a measly 4pts, I expect Yaya to bounce back at the Etihad as City host Crystal Palace. The Ivorian seems to be like Hazard in the way both seem to produce their best performances at home. With penalty duties in Aguero's absence and a thunderous free kick, Yaya is the first player in my team sheet for Week 17, regardless of his 12.93mil price tag.
David Silva/James Milner/Samir Nasri - Manuel Pellegrini has stated that he will trial all three of the fore-mentioned players in the false 9 role during this week's training sessions. This makes one of these 3 players extremely valuable in Week 17. I have already listed each player in order of my preference this week. David Silva is my first option, having a longer history of producing good fantasy returns over the others and is thus the safer option regardless of placement on the field. That being said, if I were Pellegrini I would be looking to utilize Milner as the industrious false 9 given his physicality and relentless work rate. Milner would fit the perfect mold to not only hold up the ball, bring the midfield into the play, but also make the tireless runs that will allow Silva and Toure to exploit the channels created. At 9.47mil, 8.82mil, and 7.15mil respectively, you shouldn't have trouble fitting in at least one of these players for Week 17 to pair with Yaya. Regardless, I will be watching any news on which one will be potentially utilized as the false 9 and follow accordingly.
Cesc Fabregas - The Spanish midfielder is back from suspension and witll be looking to continue his incredible return to the Premier League with the Blues against Stoke City. Although he played mid week, Chelsea, as mentioned above, have an exta day fo rest as they don't play until Monday. It's time to dust Fab4 off from the bench and return him into your starting 11.
Eden Hazard - I'd be wary of the young Belgian star given his performances on the road haven't equaled his performances at the Bridge, but if anyone will unlock a stubborn Stoke defense it will be him. 17.48mil is too expensive to buy at retain, but if you have been holding him at discount you may feel Hazard is worth the gamble coming off his 21pt performance in Week 16. We can all remember Chelsea's 7-0 thrashing of Stoke just 4 seasons ago and the current league leaders don't look like dropping points again any time soon.
D. Tadic - This isn't so much a recommendation as it is my thoughts on what has been a very productive fantasy player this season. I am sure much of us would be signing a different tune had tadic converted the penalty last game week, but as it stands he didn't and has thus faced a dwindling point production in recent weeks. With only 4pts, 5pts, 4pts, and -3pts in his last 4, Tadic has fallen way off from his 10pt average. This begs the question: To keep or to drop? Many of us in the Live Thread last game week decided the time might be up for our golden new boy, but as many of us hold him at under 7mil, who is a better replacement? I can't see anyone that can replicate his point production over the current season at that price so I am opting to not drop but bench the Saints playmaker. To me it makes sense to keep him as your first midfield sub at least until Southampton navigate through their rough fixture patch. Let's be honest, what Southampton have done best this season has been to beat teams in the mid to lower half of the table, so I expect Tadic to regain his form some time in the near future and get back to his normal productive self.
Stuart Downing - The former Villa and Liverpool man has had something of a second coming under Big Sam at West Ham which has vaulted him into the upper reaches of premium midfield picks. Relishing his new role behind the striker, Downing's point production has seen a huge boost that leaves him with a season average of 12pts per match. At 13.60mil, he is expensive but worth every penny as Leicester City visit in Week 17. A must have for your starting 11.
C. Erikson - How frustrating is it when you pick a player with an easy match up the previous week, he does nothing, but returns after you drop him to explode with 25pts in the next week? Stand up Mr. Erikson. The only bright spot in Tottenham's midfield this season, albiet a bit inconsistent, he will set you back 14.14mil currently. If you grabbed Erikson on the barn door then you are feeling pretty happy right now however as Spurs will face Burnley at home. I expect Erikson should be in fine form to continue off the back of his stellar performance in Week 16 and 3 assists in the Capitol One Cup midweek.
Juan Mata - Van Gaal's all out attack proved a smart, if not ambitious move which saw United throttle Liverpool 3-0 at Old Trafford and the Spanish play maker was right in the mix. If you think the same will unfold away to Villa and were smart enough to take Mata on the barn door, there is no reason to think he can't continue his fine form. Remember this is the same man that previously won Chelsea's best player for two season running.
D. Sahko - Since returning from a lengthy injury layoff, Sahko has been right back into the action registering 16pts and 8pts including one goal from the bench in his past 2 game weeks. West Ham's star forward should be fully fit to face the Foxes in Week 17 and at 10.91mil should be in your team. I don't see Andy Carroll being a long term investment and the better option is to take the more proven, consistent player this season.
H. Kane - The young Spurs striker continues to get the backing of his manager and continues to deliver the goals. With another goal in Week 16 and mid week in the Capitol One Cup, Kane's performances are getting hard to ignore. Already at a staggering 11.97mil for such a young striker, Kane owners will be rejoicing if they bought in early (here's looking at you KM!), but the visit of Burnley to the Lane is almost too much to pass up even at his current price. Performing at a much more consistent rate than Soldado, Kane offers a good differential with a paltry 1.87% ownership. I just wish I bought in earlier and could break away from my discounts on Costa and Sanchez.
Wayne Rooney/Robin van Persie - Both United strikers found the back of the net against Liverpool and both strikers face a not so daunting trip to Villa. If you bought in at their barn door price or had them last game week, no need to change now. You know what each player is capable of, you just hope United can keep their all out attack running for a seventh game running.
Sanchez/Costa - Locked into everyone's team at this point, I just wish I could get away from the latter not the former, as his production has dropped. But I can't forsee that happening any time soon. Keep the band wagon running!
Charlie Austin - Back from suspension and will be eager to return to his goal scoring form against a faltering West Brom side. Certainly missed in the 3-1 loss to Everton, Austin still represents good value this game week as the only consistent fantasy producer for QPR. Many of us who jumped on the band wagon during his hot streak have now jumped off, but a home match could be the perfect way to re-introduce QPR's top striker.
W. Bony - Having a stellar season for Swansea that has seen his stock rise (especially for Liverpool who are reportedly edging towards a 15-25mil move), albiet the downside is his price has as well. With another goal against Spurs in the 2-1 loss, Bony helped himself and fantasy managers to a fantastic 21pt haul. With Hull City next up, I expect Bony to return value yet again.
Well that does it for me and another Kellz Player Picks! I hope this will be valuable information to help solidify your Week 17 squads. I am currently sitting on: Courtois, Mangala, Walker, Bertrand, Yaya, Downing, Silva, Fabregas, Sanchez, Sahko, Costa w/ Tadic, Okore, Kelly and Jones on the bench. I quite like the team so far, but barring news from City on which player may take the False 9 role, I may be switching Silva to either Milner or Nasri. I also like the coverage Downing gives me so I may consider a straight swap of Sahko to Kane as the lad is hot right now and should look to continue against Burnley. Much to decide before the deadline!
How are your teams shaping up for Week 17?