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Week 15: Fixture Preview

We look ahead to the week 15 games and pass some thoughts on the options available.

Sunderland v Hull City - Premier League
A greedy striker facing a terrible defence in week 14
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Arsenal v Stoke

At first glance a strong chance of a home win and one by a couple of goals. Arsenal are unbeaten since the opening day of the season and while their performances have often underwhelmed they are second in the table and well within the title hunt. This game may tell us more because on the back of the West Ham win its jut the type of game for them to slip up and drop points.

Stoke have a terrible record in this fixture but go into the game with 4 clean sheets in 7 and 1 defeat in 9 games. In those 9 games they have not conceded more than one goal. Should they survive the early onslaught they can give the Gunners a real game.

The big news will be on the fitness of Stoke central defenders Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi. While they have done ok with them missing you have to feel they need the pair fit for this game.

Alexis Sanchez is the obvious choice. 5 goals and 1 assist in 2 games playing in his new role he is as white hot as you can get. He is now very expensive in both FPL and Fantrax but it’s hard to argue against him being week 15’s most obvious pick. Elsewhere Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown odd flashes in recent games and may have secured the starting spot. A brave manager could take that gamble in Fantrax this week. Finally Arsenal like Liverpool can take turns provide the big attacking returns. Theo scored 2 points n FPL last week and an amazing ZERO in Fantrax, maybe it’s his turn this week, as an owner in FPL I really hope so.

For Stoke it’s hard to like any of their players this week but if Mark Hughes keeps faith with Grant in goal (Butland played for the under 23’s last week) then he can rack up the save points at least in week 15.

Manchester United v Tottenham

Despite the wins not coming you can see the beginning of Jose having an influence on the Red Devils side. Without Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly things have been difficult and Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo have struggled. There have been signs of improvement from the pair who now have a few games together under their belt. It’s hard to see Utd keeping a clean sheet but they don’t look a side that will get beaten convincingly at home any more (hoping I’m not tempting fate with that comment).

Harry Kane is back and will be in many teams this week but I don’t think it is a great fixture for him. I assume he will get a chance or two but not as many as he surely will in the following two fixtures.

I also don’t see the home side ripping apart the Spurs defence but Zlatan is in form and Paul Pogba has lost no self-belief.

If you have Kane or Zlatan in FPL you should hold them and play them but I think putting the captain’s armband either of them is bold.

Liverpool v West Ham United

The reds were comfy on Sunday at half time and as much when they went 3-1 up at Bournemouth. The collapse was rough and showed again the importance of Joel Matip and the distance keeper Loris Karious is off a top keeper.

West Ham meanwhile were mauled for the second game in a row and have concerning injuries to go with their form problems.

Liverpool’s attacking returns were not affected by the absence of Phillipe Coutinho and Firmino, Mane and Divock Origi will believe they can do well again. At least one of that trio will score.

The return of the Christmas Carroll himself give the Hammers the perfect forward to exploit the shaky reds back line. Andy won’t play the whole game but when he is on the pitch he increases Dimtri Payets potential successful cross and assist returns. Talking of Payet he has just the one goal all season but there are signs of him coming back into form. My gut says he scores this week it just a shame he is so expensive a gamble.

Leicester City v Manchester City

City got a lesson last week. Leading 1-0 against Chelsea, KDB missed a sitter and Chelsea went on to tear the City defense apart winning 3-1. On top they have now lost star player Kun for 4 games after his shocking red card. While that’s a nightmare for fantasy managers I bet Pep isn’t as worried as many of you are. Kun is still expected to be sold in the summer no matter what we think about his abilities as Pep refuses to budge on how he wants his players to play football. This period will give him a further chance to show some of his ideas.

The obvious pick up would be Kelechi Iheanacho but after many of Man City’s expected 1st teamers were rested midweek Nacho wasn’t so you have to ask if he will even start at Leicester. Even if he does with Peps constant rotation he could miss the following game.

I do like KDB in week 14 and would not be surprised if he started as a false 9. While he has amazingly been benched in recent weeks I think we may now see him get a run of games. The problem with KDB under Pep has been his output. No goal in 8 games with just 3 shots on target he has no form in the FPL scoring system.

The Leicester of 2015/16 would love playing this City defence and you would have though Vardy, Mahrez and co would score at least a couple on the counter. Problem is they are nowhere near last season both as a team and as individuals. Mahrez has been subbed back to back which may have got the point across to him. Regardless of the form the news that both Mahrez, Vardy and summer signing Slimani will sit out the Champions League midweek game suggests they will start the City tie.

I have zero confidence about the City defensive system and in match between two sides not bang in form I see this as the right match at the right time for the Champs. Leicester have lost just once in 22 league home games and there has been over 2.5 goals in 6 of Leicester’s last 7 games and the same stat applies in 6 of City’s last 7 aways.

Backed by a very vocal crowd I will tip on or both Vadry/Slimani to score this week.

Watford v Everton

A real any result possible game Lukaku is way out of form with no goal in 4 games and just 1 goal in his last 6. He has failed to register a shot on target in 3 of his last 4.

The goals have slowed for Etienne Capoue but in Fantrax he has double figures in 4 of his last 5.

Swansea v Sunderland

The swans defence is none existent with 9 conceded in the last 2 games and conceded 2 or more in 8 of the last 10.

Sunderland has picked up with 3 wins in 4 but have themselves 1 clean sheet in 10.

There should be chances for goals so Jermain Defoe 4 goals, 2 assists in his last 5 and Siggy 3 goals, 3 assists and 24 shots in his last 7 are the two most obvious picks. Both have penalties on top.

Burnley v Bournemouth

There isn’t much between these two but Burnley have lost 3 on the spin and conceded 2 or more in their last 4.

Ryan Fraser 4.65m in Fantrax is your value. Junior Stanislas came off injured against Liverpool allowing Fraser 35 mins in which he sparkled. 23 fantasy points followed and he looked a real live wire so he could start this one.

Hull City V Crystal Palace

Palace stopped a 6 game losing run with a surprise 3-0 home win over Southampton. That was also their first clean sheet this season. Hull lost at Boro and have just 1 win in 10.

Christian Benteke will always score goals wherever he goes but he feeds off supply rather than creating from his own work. With Hull doing little to stop that supply the big man should get chances again in this one and still holds penalties.

Hull do offer fantasy returns, Michael Dawson has 53 Fantrax points in his last 4 games while we all know Robert Snodgrass can explode in that game at any point.

Chelsea v West Brom

8 wins in a row for Chelsea since Conte changed his tactical approach. West Brom meanwhile are up to an eye watering 7th place in the EPL. WBA are not to be underestimated though with just two defeats in 10 coming against Liverpool and Manchester City.

Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses are all great and obvious picks this week.

With WBA know they will play with everyone behind the ball looking to suffocate all that Chelsea flair. The likes of Hazard will have nowhere near the space they had against City last week making it a very different challenge.

Maybe it will be one of those days where the home side need to stay patient with a penalty (Hazard) direct free kick (Luiz) or a scrambled winner (Costa).

Chelsea’s defence is much improved but they still lack concentration at set plays without John Terry’s vocal leadership. WBA are deadly at those and With McCauly and Evans scoring from them it could be Craig Dawsens turn after 5 shots in 4 games suggests the chances are coming.

Southampton v Middlesbrough

This has the look of a tight and tense one to me with the best fantasy returns coming from the defenders.

A Saints clean sheet looks most likely against one of the leagues weakest attacking sides. Let’s go with Virgil Van Dijk to add his 1st league goal of the season.

Fraser Foster may be the best keeper choice in week 1%.