First and foremost, Merry Christmas everyone: This has been a roller-coaster year, but one we all thoroughly enjoyed (well, at least from the Premier League perspective), didn’t we?
Despite the fact that most of the world is already finished with 2017 and is actively working on those New Year resolutions lists, we are far from being done watching the Premier League contest.
We will enjoy two more game-days in the next six, and this is only to round up 2017. Four days into the new year we will even get one more round (GW 22) to complete the busy festive period. After January 4, we all get some well-deserved rest.
NB: One match (TOT - WHU) has been shifted from GW 21 (2-team blank) to GW 22 (2-team double).
Game week 20 presents us with a tricky calendar, where most of the games look like they can explode in goals:
- Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham home games could all be high-scoring thrashings of minnow opponents... at least that’s how it is on the paper.
- Manchester City and Arsenal away games are against the revival bottom teams, who won’t be parking the bus due to the need to win. This can lead to the high-scoring affair.
- Bournemouth v. West Ham and Huddersfield v. Stoke are both relegation six-pointer battles that can go either way. The games will be mostly around fighting and outmuscling the opponent.
- The remaining three home games of Manchester United, Watford and West Brom against Burnley, Leicester and Everton respectively will be lively, but are hard to predict. Burnley will be parking their injured bus, Watford needs to stop the rot and prove they are a competitive unit, while West Brom at home is always having that 0:0 or 1:0 taste all around it.
Here is the full list of fixtures for the game-day 20:
Tottenham v. Southampton
Chelsea v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Burnley
West Brom v. Everton
Liverpool v. Swansea
Newcastle v. Manchester City
Crystal Palace v. Arsenal
I usually concentrate on opponents first and then review the form of the players to pick. It’s a no-brainer to go the League’s Top 6 this week as the fixtures are hard to ignore. With this in mind, here are the players to bring you the glory in this midweek run of games:
Chelsea team is simply inconsistent, but should have enough quality for the visiting Saints, especially after the Charlie Austin’s injury and simultaneous 3-match ban.
The best in the league facing one of the best defenses in the league. Hope both sides can remain satisfied.
Liverpool’s defending has been widely mocked against Arsenal, but Jurgen Klopp doesn’t seem to care as long as his team can outscore their opponents. Swansea are manager-less and poor in general. Simon is due a clean sheet.
Ben Foster / Jordan Pickford
This pair made it into this list only due to my expectation of a dull 0:0 affair. The Baggies can’t score, Everton is good at defending lately. Enjoy!
Danny Rose / Kieran Trippier
Did I crack Pochettino’s game plan? Naaah, but he keeps rotating his full-backs, what means a start for the English duo. They are up for an explosive performance and this can be the game.
Arthur Masuaku / Angelo Ogbonna
West Ham was left shell-shocked when they let Newcastle score three. Now they are on the road, but I still fancy their chances, as they were brought back to the ground. Don’t buy them though, as West Ham will be blanking the next game week. Keep if you have.
Marcos Alonso / Cesar Azpilicueta / Andreas Christensen
Unless any sudden surprise, Chelsea should be comfortably grabbing this game, clean sheet and all three points. It’s a rotation merry-go-round, but these three should be nailed-on still.
Burnley will be parking the bus, and Chris Smalling might be injured. I see this game as a great clean sheet opportunity and hope the Red Devils don’t frustrate me.
Leighton Baines remains sidelined, and Kenny is a constant goal-threat with his crosses and flank runs. I don’t see any more value in Everton’s defense due to rotation and possible points’ hit.
Shocked to name him, but he has been very dangerous on the corners, and Liverpool should be getting a comfortable clean sheet against the Swans.
Nicolas Otamendi / Kyle Walker
Enough said about Otamendi’s eye for a goal — He almost scored against Bournemouth with a De Bruynesque strike from distance. Same about Walker, who has been quiet recently though, due to the City’s midfield relentless work. Newcastle will give away chances, so both should have opportunities for a solid score. Not to mention that at least one of them must be permanently in your team.
Hector Bellerin / Shkodran Mustafi
Bellerin is getting more involved in the attacking third so should be getting more assists and goals shortly. He grabbed one against Liverpool and will be pleased with his fitness and well-known speed. Monreal went off injured, and I didn’t hear of any updates. Mustafi was making them look solid in the back so far this season and this can be a difference against Crystal Palace. Not to mention he is extremely dangerous on the corners.
Kevin De Bruyne / David Silva / Leroy Sane / Raheem Sterling
City are class, so you must own at least two of them. Kevin is a premium fantasy player with a premium price tag, but is still bit inconsistent (telling you like a Fantasy player, who overreacted after yet another Hazard’s blank and acquired the Belgian one week ago). Sterling is having a season of his life (must own). David Silva is back after his mysterious personal absence (am heavily considering him for De Bruyne). Leroy Sane is world class but pushed a bit too wide since the unfortunate injury to City’s main left back Mendy. Predict Pep’s lineup and then pick your pair.
Mohamed Salah / Philippe Coutinho / Sadio Mane
Salah is a must have if you haven’t figured that out yet. Buy him, save the changes and select only 10 players for the rest of the season. Isn’t this a fairytale?
Coutinho and Mane are rotation risks, but, if I were Klopp, I would take the most out of the Brazilian if he really could be Barcelona-bound in January. Mane is equally threatening and, with both Coutinho and Salah are owned all around the League, is the differential pick of the three.
World-class, though again inconsistent and often unfavorably positioned due to Morata’s absences. Morata is back versus Brighton, which should help the Belgian show his real worth and pay back all you frustrated managers. I fear him paying the revenge this time.
Son / Eriksen
Tottenham is hosting Southampton and will want to finish a great year with fanfares and plenty of goals. If anything good happens for Harry Kane and Co, it will be supplied from one of these guys.
West Ham’s summer acquisition is finally showing why he was considered to be a game-changer when the Hammers signed him. He tripled his numbers of shots, scored three goals in four games, and plays as a striker (and is classified as such in some other fantasy formats). I fancy Arno’s chances against Bournemouth in what will be a relegation six-pointer. Again, West Ham blank GW 21 but will repay you with a DGW in GW22.
If United manage to crack Nick Pope and his backline, Pogba will probably be instrumental. He got back from his unlucky suspension and is yet to return some great points. He is due.
Very similar to Pogba’s perspectives, Alexis is only owned by 2.6% and will sky rocket your standings should he perform. The Chilean is yet to show his level this year. He scored even less than Ramsey, who has missed the last three games. I feel he will remind us of his level very soon. Why not at Palace this Thursday?
You either love him or hate him. No way around it. I currently have to hate him, as I preferred the balance in my team to his boom-or-bust instability. He is the best striker in the league (sorry Kun Aguero) and will be facing Southampton on Tuesday. My January 1 wildcard team have him.
Alvaro is my favorite, but he needs to perform. He missed a game against Huddersfield due to some back problem, got an unnecessary yellow card and accumulation suspension in the Cup, so I see him overdue for a brace or hat-trick. Chelsea host a spirited Brighton side the Bridge and will be bombing the parked bus. With all his struggles, this premium striker is nicely priced, and the home fixtures against Brighton and Stoke are tasty. Grande Alvaro, vamos!!
Aguero was great against Swansea, but should be benched against Newcastle. I’m making this statement, hoping that I cracked Pep’s rotation game. In addition, the Brazilian looks more motivated to me, bringing some extra spark to the already stellar City team. The rumours about Aguero’s future and desire to leave aren’t helping the cause and irritate Pep.
Arsenal showed their fragility at the back while flexing muscles in attack. Lacazette was on fire and should have scored himself. Giroud’s injury finally contributed to the Frenchman staying on the pitch for the whole game, and he obviously enjoyed it. I sensed his hunger and would prefer him to most strikers in the game (besides Kane, Morata). Crystal Palace are letting the goals in, so I cannot believe they can keep Arsenal goalless this Thursday.
Depoitre / Steve Mounie
I still don’t get all the buzz around the Huddesfield’s attackers, but it is real. They have a favorable run of games and cost you a penny. The next two games are at home and can get them some points. One of the Huddersfield guys can be a nice and cheap third striker if you sold Calvert-Lewin for example.
This is my line-up, as I remain unchanged so far for the game day 20:
Jones / Otamendi / Christensen
De Bruyne / Sterling / Salah / Coutinho / Loftus-Cheek
Morata (C) / Rooney
I have a weak bench but am unwilling to take the hits to fix it. Both Free Hit and Wild Card chips are long gone, so I have no business to take care of. The next ten days will be full of rotation, but my thinking is that you can’t ignore your star players completely, and they will still deliver over the course of the next three games. I’m worried by Rooney’s illness and may switch him for some premium striker. In this scenario De Bruyne will probably have to go to raise cash.
Is your bench strong enough to cover the rotation mind games? Are you owning the League’s hottest assets in Sterling, Salah and Kane? What is your team plan for the upcoming final festive game stretch?
Let’s chat and thank you for reading us, as always!