The countdown to game week 2 brings us to the Pre Deadline chat. Hopefully your decisions are not as tough as last week, but a few statistics on a few of this week’s matches may help if they are.
Swansea v Manchester United
- There have been fewer than 2.5 goals in 7 of Swansea’s last 8 home games.
- Swansea have won their last 3 home games.
- Romelu Lukaku’s debut featured 3 key passes plus 2 goals on 5 shots.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan provided 2 assists v West Ham after providing just 1 in his previous 24 league games.
- Paul Pogba has scored 3 times in his last 4 games for the United.
- Manchester United have kept 3 clean sheets in a row.
Paul Clement is looking an excellent appointment for Swansea. After previously working under hall of fame manager Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich (talk about gaining experience) he has taken on the role as Swansea manager with very positive early results. You can be sure Clement will set up his side in a well organised shape, sit a little deeper, close the ball down better, and bite in the tackle a little more than West Ham United did at Old Trafford.
As good as United looked, West Ham were awful, particularly in their defensive jobs. Basic defending was an issue for most of the Premier League, but the Hammers made it too easy too often for Jose’s attacking unit. Maybe we are about to see ruthless Red Devils once again, full of goals and attacking verve, but we should be wary until the evidence shows them to be consistent. Still, I think it’s correct to expect a ManU win, though the margin is unlikely to be as clear cut as game week 1 and the chances created may fall.
Lukaku is still the play in FPL, but he may be overpriced in Fantrax. Perhaps it’s Rashford’s turn for the goalscoring headlines. He certainly offers some value.
Southampton v West Ham United
- Southampton have failed to score in their last 6 home games.
- There have been over 2.5 goals in 6 of West Ham’s last 7 away games.
- The Saints dominated Swansea in game week 1 and launched an incredible 29 shots, WOW. Unfortunately, too many went into orbit, and only 2 (TWO) of the 29 were on target.
- In game week 1 Manolo Gabbiadini had 5 shots, Nathan Redmond 4 shots and 5 key passes. Dusan Tadic had 4 shots with 2 key passes, and James Ward Prowse 4 shots with 3 key passes.
Looking ahead, Southampton simply cannot play that well again and not hit the target more often. To their advantage they face a West Ham side that showed very little in game week 1, sit bottom of the table, and have a manager under a little pressure. The Saints will score, and, like London buses, when one comes along so will a steady supply. If you are reading this Gabbi, I kept my cool, I didn’t sell you, I didn’t chase points by buying Huddersfield hot thing Steve Mounie. My Italian friend, you owe me!
Burnley v West Brom
- Burnley have conceded at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7.
- WBA have conceded at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 away games.
- Sam Vokes has 6 goals in last 6 games.
If there’s a game that at first glance looks a potential nil-nil in game week 2 it’s this one, with both sides built on being organized and prioritizing protection of the goal. However, we have the stats that tell us to expect a different outcome. Burnley are looking around for a new forward, but Vokes has that first team spot nailed in right now and is in the form of his career. If there are to be goals from WBA, then Jay Rodrigez, who had 5 efforts on goal in game week 1, may be the best option for the Baggies.
Liverpool v C Palace
- Palace have failed to score in 5 of their last 6 games.
- Liverpool have scored 3 or more in their last 3 games.
- Mohamed Salah had 5 shots on goal in game week 1, scoring once and assisted once (in FPL).
- PVA had 3 shots and 4 Key passes.
Palace were a side better away from home in 2016/17, and the very early evidence is that they’ll struggle at home once more. The question then is: Can they do better away?
Liverpool found last season’s weaker sides difficult to beat, and ‘Pool have started 2017/18 the same, dropping 2 points at Watford last week.
The loss of Wilfried Zaha to injury is a big blow for the Eagles, but they have options. Andros Townsend maybe the man to step up and fill the playmaker role for Palace at Anfield.
Palace won this fixture last season when we didn’t expect them to do so, but they’ll start as big underdogs once again. Anything is possible in this game, but the stats and evidence from our eyes tell us there will be goals at both ends.
Stoke City v Arsenal
- Arsenal have won 6 league games in a row and scored at least 2 goals in each of them.
- Granit Xhaka had 4 shots, 2 assists and 5 key passes in the dramatic 4-3 win over Leicester City.
- Alexandar Laccazette had 3 shots (2 on target) in game week 1, and he scored on debut.
- Mesut Ozil had 6 key passes in game week 1 with 3 shots attempted.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had 6 shots, 2 key passes, 2 tackles won and 3 interceptions.
Ozil is a player that not everyone enjoys/rates; even many of his own Arsenal fans criticize him. Perhaps it’s because he has such clear talent but either doesn’t always provide results or at times makes it look all too easy. The fact is, whether he’s popular or not, his vision and passing range is such that any attacker is happy to see him on the field. Cristiano Ronaldo voiced his displeasure when Real Madrid announced their decision to sell Ozil, and Ronny doesn’t give credit easily.
While Xhaka got the assists, nobody provided more key passes than Ozil in week 1. He plays further forward and simply is a much better player than the Swiss man. At some point, Ozil will turn potential to points.
Meanwhile, the Ox was fantastic on the ball, and despite rumours that he wants a move, put everything into his performance. You can see why he is a fan favourite, and I cannot see him losing his post against Stoke.
Arsenal were terrible with their defensive organization/individual decisions against Leicester, and Koscielny isn’t back for this game to help. Still, Stoke looked toothless, and surely the Gunners will improve.
Sead Kolasinac isn't a central defender, and it showed, but he also showed he can be a great attacking wing-back. When the captain is back and Arsenal perhaps add another defender, the Tank may become a fantasy must. For this week, he is expected to maintain his position in the back 3, but he could still return anything from a goal to an assist to -- maybe just maybe -- a clean sheet. [Ed. Note: Fantrax might not credit a wing-back with CSD points. YMMV]
Tottenham v Chelsea
- Tottenham have won their last 14 league home matches, scoring at least twice in 12 of those. [Ed. Note: Home now moves from White Hart Lane to Wembley.]
- Eriksen 6 shots, Kane 6 shots against Newcastle.
- Kane has never scored a goal in August in what is a now an 11 game sequence.
Which stat catches your eye the most, Kane not scoring for 11 games or Spurs winning 14? Tottenham have a title-winning starting 11, and their options are always of interest to fantasy managers.
I suppose the evidence suggests Kane isn’t a great pick this week, but then again he registered the most shots last week, suggesting that the England front man can finally end his August hoodoo.
Manchester City v Everton
- Man city scored at least 2 goals in each of their last 6, winning the last 5.
- Shots attempted against Brighton - Gabriel Jesus 4, KDB 4 and Kun 2.
- David Silva had 5 key passes in the win over Brighton
- KDB had no key passes and no successful crosses all game.
A number of players have concerns over the fantasy returns of KDB after his week 1 blank. That eye-catching stat — no key passes and no crosses — raises further doubts about his potential. Maybe he is saving them up for the home game with Everton, or maybe his role in this season’s side will see him be the man who assists the assister. Game week 2 is big both for him and for FPL managers’ free transfer decisions for game week 3.
The big news for many FPL managers is the injury to Wilfried Zaha. At his price of 7m, there are not a huge number of options. Some managers are preferring to take a cheaper player like Mooy/Loftus Cheek, looking to hold the money for investment in the next few weeks. Alternatively, Willian and Aaron Ramsey have their fans.
West Ham have fantasy favorite Michail Antonio back available for the game at Southampton. There were time over the last two seasons when he became a player who could provide consistent fantasy points and have the odd explosive week besides. He will need some time to settle back into 1st team football, but West Ham may endanger the opposition goal a little more in game week 2 than they did at Old Trafford last week.
News that Siggy has finally moved to Everton and that Fernando Llorente isn’t ready to return means you may expect consecutive Man Utd clean sheets.
Nathaniel Clyne is still out so Trent Alexander-Arnold should start once again.
Jermain Defoe looks fit to start against Watford. Last week’s showing should see him licking his lips for a home debut goal as Bournemouth look to bounce back.
Anthony Knockaert got minutes back in the side against City and will be expecting to start against Leicester. Knockaert has the look of a very good fantasy player and could be the stealth Zaha replacement.
Chelsea will be likely missing Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Pedro and Bakayoko for the super tough trip to Wembley. However, Alvaro Morata is expected to start; will it be enough?
More team news will follow (in comments) as we get it.
How are your week 2 squads looking? What are your big decisions? If you have Zaha in FPL what are you going to do? Let’s chat!