The fixtures just keep coming, so let’s jump right in. Here’s what’s in store for the weekend, along with a list of the players I like:
Chelsea vs. Southampton
Watford vs. Huddersfield
West Brom vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool
Nick Pope (Burnley): The fairy tale continues for the young netminder. Brighton will be on their front foot at home, but their offense is not prolific, so I see an opportunity for Pope to register a few saves on his way to yet another victory and clean sheet.
David de Gea (Manchester United): The best goalkeeper in the English Premier League travels to struggling West Brom. Saves, a clean sheet, and a victory should all be in the cards.
Adrian (West Ham): David Moyes has focused on tightening West Ham at the back, and they’ve now put together two clean sheets in a row against Chelsea and Arsenal. My hat is off to you if you were brave enough to pick Adrian against either of those two powerhouse clubs, but no such courage is required to bring him in for the away trip to Stoke this weekend. He’s a great budget play if you need funds elsewhere.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester): Chilwell has started the last 4 games for Leicester, and the Foxes have won every one of them. Does that mean he continues then, or does it mean he’s due for rotation? I don’t know, but if he starts he’s value for money at his Fantrax price at home to Crystal Palace.
Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal): Rested against West Ham, he should be fresh and ready to go against a stumbling Newcastle side. He doesn’t score as well in Fantrax as he does in other formats, but this week he’s a decent option across all platforms due to the certainty of his start and the weak opposition.
James Tarkowski (Burnley): My single best fantasy move this year was picking up Tarkowski at 1.81 in Fantrax: The centerback is averaging 8.5 ppg in that platform and plays every minute of every match. And Ben Mee has been cleared fit for the weekend, so Burnley will have its first-choice pairing of center backs on the pitch. Prospects look good for a clean sheet.
Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham United): Ogbonna anchors the center of WHU’s defense, where he racks up points for blocked shots, interceptions, clearances, etc. Under David Moyes Ogbonna is now adding clean sheets to his fantasy returns too. Chances are good for a third cleanie in a row at Stoke this weekend.
Daryl Janmaat (Watford): Janmaat raised a few eyebrows when he suddenly reappeared in Watford’s S11 last weekend. Smart fantasy managers pounced then, but the rest of us missed out on his midweek goal against Crystal Palace on Tuesday. It’s not to late to get him in now though. The wingback won’t be eligible for clean sheet points in Fantrax, but his attacking returns should be enough to pay the bill when Watford host Huddersfield.
Phil Jones (Manchester United): Jones is fit again, and West Brom are unlikely to pose much threat to MU’s goal line. If you can afford him the center back is a good bet to repay your investment this weekend.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester): It seems the Mahrez of yesteryear is back: The Algerian has notched in each of his last two games, and three of his last four. Leicester will be looking for a result against Palace, and right now Mahrez looks like his side’s most consistently dangerous threat.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal): He’s been quiet for a few games, but the German does his best work at home. This week the Gunners host struggling Newcastle, who will be without their hot-headed midfield enforcer, Jonjo Shelvey, who was shown his second red card of the season yesterday. The conditions seem right for Ozil to break out this weekend.
Pascal Gross (Brighton): Brighton’s string-puller was spared against Tottenham yesterday. Having not tasted victory in over a month, Chris Hughton will have to go for a result against Burnley on Saturday. The routes to glory will go through the German playmaker.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea): The festive period so far has not been kind to the Belgian blue-chip. But Chelsea are coming off a stinging loss to West Ham and will be looking to make amends in front of their fans at Stamford Bridge. I’m staying the course, and you should too.
Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva (Manchester City): There is little to say about this pair that hasn’t already been said. They’re both world-class footballers, and although both could use a rest, it’s difficult to imagine either of them riding the pine at home against Tottenham.
Coutinho (Liverpool): He was rested over the weekend, so he should be nailed on against Bournemouth. He exploded for massive fantasy returns in the away fixture against Brighton two weeks ago, and this match seems like it could go the same way for him.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton): Everton have strung together a 4-game unbeaten streak, so it appears that Big Sam Allardyce has righted the Toffees’ ship. It is no coincidence that at the same time, Siggy’s fantasy returns have been steadily trending upwards. With a home fixture against his former club Swansea on tap, it may finally be time for fantasy managers to climb aboard the Siggy train again.
Shinji Okazaki (Leicester): Okazaki exploded against Southampton yesterday. His tally of 2 goals, an assist, and 5 shots on target resulted in one of the highest single-game fantasy returns of any player this season. Was it a one-off? Probably: He’s registered a double-digit Fantrax return on only one other occasion this year. But he’ll surely be carrying a ton of confidence into the home tie with Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal): With Olivier Giroud pressuring Alexandre Lacazette’s place in the S11, I’ll pass over both of the Frenchmen in favor of the Gunners’ Chilean workhorse. Arsenal haven’t won yet this month, and neither has Sanchez scored. I think both those things change on Saturday.
The young Brazilian should have room to operate against a Huddersfield side that has given up 29 goals this campaign.** Edit: Richarlison was withdrawn in the final moments of the Crystal Palace match and is now a serious doubt for the weekend with a groin injury.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City): Although Kun went the full 90 yesterday while Jesus was rested, I don’t see Pep sitting Aguero against Tottenham. Spurs are tough opponents, and the match will be hotly-contested, but City are almost unplayable right now, and Aguero can score against anyone. Hold him if you have him.
Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth): Defoe started on the bench against Manchester United after his brace against Crystal Palace, but he still managed two shots on goal during his brief 12-minute cameo. Bournemouth will take the game to Liverpool, and Defoe will be a firecracker.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Liverpool are desperately in need of a win, and Klopp won’t have the luxury of resting his hottest player this weekend. Salah blanked yesterday against West Brom, but he typically performs well away from home, and I expect him to get back on the board on Sunday.
What players are in your thoughts for this weekend? Worried about a rest for one of your fantasy studs? Can Tottenham finally stop City’s record-breaking unbeaten string? Join us to discuss in the comments below.