Where have all the EPL fair weather fans gone? Oh, that’s right! They’re not following the Saturday games because all the big teams are playing on Sunday!
No matter, this gives us as good a chance as any to have a nice, slow day where we can savor some of the lesser teams while also scouting potential under-the-radar fantasy assets.
Let us go then, you and I, to today’s fixtures:
The Early Game
Not quite a tale of two cities so far, as both teams have struggled a bit more than projected but seem to be headed toward better days.
I don’t expect a whole heap of goals here, but I also don’t think it will be a drab 0-0. Stoke’s playmakers will be given room to operate, and Leicester has the pace to capitalize on counterattacks. I would be happy starting the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Mame Biram Diouf for Stoke and Jamie Vardy, Demarai Gray and Riyad Mahrez for Leicester. I’d prefer to avoid any defensive players except for Harry Maguire or Ben Chilwell (assuming his fit for GW11) if he starts in an offensive position for the Foxes.
The Middle Games
Huddersfield v West Brom
Yes, I recognize that this game sounds like it’ll be a cure for insomnia. But no, I don’t think it will be the sleep-inducing affair many are predicting. First things first, West Brom need a win if they are to reach the 40 points that Tony Pulis demands of his teams. Likewise, the Terriers also need to keep accumulating as many points as they can as they keep riding a surprising early season wave of positive results.
While I think it will be a decent game, I don’t see too much in the way of fantasy points to be had except for whomever scores on a header for Albion (good luck guessing correctly) or who from Huddersfield’s midfield will attract points (Aaron Mooy has crossed my mind for Togga Perfect XI this week).
This is a really interesting game, and I can’t wait to watch it. I get the sense that many are predicting a low-scoring draw, but what if we get a fun 2-2 or 3-2 game? Southampton is not the horribly incompetent scoring team we’ve seen so far, and at some point they will regress to the mean, meaning that they will score more than one goal every other game. Burnley is another team that will regress at some point this season, and it may not be pretty when they do. While a Sean Dyche defense will always be tough, I don’t get the sense that they will forever remain a clean sheet machine.
Something’s gotta give with both of these teams, and I don’t think I’m crazy when I say that I fancy Southampton to score an upset here. Also, long live Virgil van Dijk!
Swansea v Brighton
Yet another game that is too close to call! England international striker Tammy Abraham (yes, Southgate called him up for next week’s friendlies) has not only shown a decent goal streak, but he’s also proving to be a fairly decent play maker. It’s the sheer incompetence around him that makes the Swans a boring watch. Starting players such as Tom Carroll and Sam Clucas are very nice and all, but they belong on a team like Norwich or Middlesbrough, not on a team looking to finish above 18th in the EPL.
The Seagulls, on the other hand, have been more fun to follow and more fruitful on the fantasy front than I had expected. I was all-in on Pascal Gross before the season started, and continue to be on the bandwagon. I’m also tempted by the Anthony Knockaert bandwagon, and have also hitched my defensive hopes to the Shane Duffy bandwagon. Duffy has been a master earner of phantom points on Togga, particularly in the “aerial duels won” column, which is my personal favorite differential scoring metric for defenders and forwards alike.
I see no reason not to back Abraham, Gross, Knockaert or Duffy in this one. Both goalkeepers (Lukasz Fabianski and Jonas Lossl) are safe picks as well.
Yet another fascinating matchup, and not just because I’m a Newcastle supporter. I’m starting to develop an itchy need to add Bournemouth defenders to my fantasy lineups. I just have a feeling that the tide is about to turn for blokes like Nathan Ake and Charlie Daniels. The Cherries’ schedule for the next 6 game weeks is a delight, and there could be significant clean sheet bonus points on the horizon.
For the Toon, I’m continuing to monitor Jonjo Shelvey as a Togga option and Rob Elliot is one of the best bargains in Official EPL regardless of position.
The Late Game
Like I said in my opening paragraphs, all the big teams play on Sunday...
Wait, what is that? Why is there an angry mob of crazies dressed in red approaching me? Are they...are they throwing rocks at my window? Yes they are! Run, run!
(Typing while on the run) I think we can expect goals here. Joe Hart is not very good at professional futbol goalkeeping, and the Hammers’ defense is decimated by Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell and Jose Fonte all either out or facing late fitness tests. West Ham pace maker (pun intended) Michail Antonio is also not expected to feature, and I think we can expect a good performance from Manuel Lanzini as he pulls the strings and earns lots of points creating chances, crossing the ball or taking shots on target.
Liverpool, even without Philippe Coutinho or Giorginio Wijnaldum will do well. I am most definitely playing Mo Salah in Togga Perfect XI and would definitely consider captaining him on Official.
And live from your screen it’s Saturday Chat Liiiiiiiiiiiiiive!
How are your fantasy teams looking as we head into the big Saturday matches? Who inspires hope or fear in your heart? Will Abraham or Vardy go nuts with multiple goals, or will their owners go nuts when they blank? Share your GW11 Saturday thoughts in the comments below!