As we near the halfway point of the 2018-19 Premier League season, news broke yesterday of the campaign’s third manager-sacking, and this one was a biggie: Now joining Slavisa Jokanovic and Mark Hughes in the unemployment line is none other than the self-appointed “Special One”, José Mourinho (and I can’t say I’m the least bit sad to see him go).
Chris has already posted a terrific analysis of Mourinho’s death spiral at United, so I won’t delve into it again here.
But I will say that the failures of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, and now José Mourinho reinforce the fact that it was Sir Alex Ferguson who was “The Special One”. Not only was SAF a tactical wizard who cultivated his club’s young talent, but he was also a first-rate man-manager who deftly supervised celebrity players such as Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Sir Alex and Mou will both be long-remembered at Old Trafford, but their legacies will be very different.
But on to matters at hand. Below are the fixtures, followed by the picks. Please note that we have a Friday game this week, so the deadline comes on that day, NOT Saturday. We will have lineups for Friday’s game before the Fantrax deadline locks though, so be sure to join us for the Pre-Deadline Live Chat for a sneak peek at the squad sheets for Wolves and ‘Pool.
- Arsenal vs Burnley
- Bournemouth vs Brighton
- Chelsea vs Leicester
- Huddersfield vs Southampton
- Manchester City vs Crystal Palace
- Newcastle vs Fulham
- West Ham vs Watford
- Cardiff vs Manchester United
Ederson (MCI v CRY, $14.03): A home match against Crystal Palace should be a no-brainer. But City have an irritating habit of conceding goals against weak sides. If you’re paying retail, you won’t get your money out of him if he lets one by.
Alex McCarthy (HUD v SOU, $3.43): Southampton’s win over Arsenal was a massive statement from new manager Ralph Hassenhüttle. It’s still early days, but if the Saints can sustain the momentum, McCarthy’s fantasy value could spike. He is just one stop shy of 5th place for saves amongst EPL netminders, and this week he squares up to the league’s worst offense.
Bernd Leno (ARS v BUR, $5.82): His howler over the weekend led to the goal that brought Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten streak to an end. But he’ll start with a clean slate on Saturday, and only three sides have scored fewer goals this year than drop-zone dwellers Burnley. (Here’s the blunder in case you missed it:)
Nacho Monreal (ARS v BUR, $6.34): The loss to Southampton was Nacho’s first 90 minute shift since returning from injury. He put up 9 points even though the Gunners shipped three goals. This week he could add clean sheet points to his total.
Laurent Koscielny (ARS v BUR, $1.00): The match against the Saints was also Koscielny’s first full game since rupturing his Achilles last spring. He was only able to generate a single point, but his production should improve against Burnley. He costs a buck — what do you have to lose?
Leon Balogun (BOU v BRI, $3.01): Shane Duffy is suspended for one more match, so Balogun is assured of one more start. He has averaged 7 ppg in the two full games he has deputized for Duffy, with clean sheets in neither.
Fabian Delph (MCI v CRY, $4.78): Oleksandr Zinchenko played 90 minutes in last night’s shootout win over Leicester in the Carabao Cup, so I expect Delph to line up at left back this weekend. He’s averaging 5.75 ppg, picking up 7 against Everton without a clean sheet and despite a yellow card. (Eligible as D or M)
Fabian Schär (NEW v FUL, $5.72): Double-digits in both of his last two games, and averaging almost 8 points overall, he looks like a great pick for the visit of the league’s worst team.
Matt Targett (HUD v SOU, $4.05): Like Schär, Targett has registered double-digit returns in each of his last two outings and has an average ppg that exceeds his price. And this week he travels to Huddersfield to take on the league’s weakest attack. His place in the S11 will come under threat when Ryan Bertrand returns to health, but Bertrand has not even been fit to make the bench yet. Targett should be good to go for at least one more week.
Nathaniel Clyne (WOL v LIV, $1.00): Clyne filled in at right back for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the win over Manchester United, racking up 8 points without a clean sheet. Although Jurgen Klopp is pleased with TAA’s recovery, he said yesterday that “Wolves might be a little early” for him to return. You’ll be able to preview Klopp’s lineup before the Fantrax deadline to see whostarts. If Clyne continues to deputize, then he’s an excellent bargain-basement option for your GW 18 squad.
Lucas Torreira (ARS v BUR, $12.48): Torreira has returned fewer than 9 points just one time in his last 8 games. He also has 2 goals and an assist in his last four. Despite Arsenal’s fluid attack, Torreira is the only midfield Gunner I like.
David Brooks (BOU v BRI, $11.54): Home to Brighton, the obvious choice amongst the Cherry midfielders would seem to be Fantrax stud Ryan Fraser. But at a price of $19.02, I think Fraser’s risk of underperformance is just too great. Therefore, I favor the more moderately-priced David Brooks this week. The right-winger should have a good chance to put up returns that exceed his price when Brighton visit. (Eligible as M or F)
Solly March (BOU v BRI, $10.92): The English winger has become Brighton’s danger man recently, accruing 52 points in his last four games. (Eligible as M or F)
Roberto Firmino (WOL v LIV, $10.19): Sadio Mané and Xherdan Shaqiri have higher ceilings, but if you catch them on the wrong day they can leave you with next to nothing. On the other hand, Firmino is the steady-Eddie in Liverpool’s attack: double digits in four of his last five games. But any of these three players is a good option if he starts; join us for the Pre-Deadline Live Chat to preview Liverpool’s lineup before the deadline. (All three are eligible as M or F)
Raheem Sterling (MCI v CRY, $20.27): Many fantasy managers gasped on Saturday morning when they saw that Sterling was only named to Pep Guardiola’s bench. But those who frantically shipped him out before the deadline probably ended up regretting it — he came on as a sub and scored. In last night’s Carabao Cup match, he played only the last 30 minutes (while Riyad Mahrez went the distance), so Sterling looks a sure starter this weekend. (Eligible as M or F)
Leroy Sané (MCI v CRY, $15.80): Sané took no part in last night’s tournament action, so he should be rested and ready to go for the visit of the Eagles. He’ll be a handful for Palace to contend with. (Eligible as M or F)
Kevin De Bruyne (MCI v CRY, $1.00): No, that’s not a misprint; KDB is $1. He started last night’s Cup tie and scored City’s only goal from open play. But he was withdrawn on 70 minutes, so he could very well find himself on the pitch for the opening whistle again on Saturday. He may not be ready to go the full 90, but for $1.00 he could still do plenty of damage even if his minutes are managed. (Hint: They will be). If you need a reminder of his quality, here’s the goal from last night:
Anthony Martial (CAR v MUN, $11.23): His late cameo against Liverpool signaled that he should be fully fit for the trip to Cardiff. He’s tied for fourth among the league’s top scorers, and is far and away United’s most dangerous player. (Eligible as M or F)
Paul Pogba (CAR v MUN, $12.99): Feel like rolling the dice? The Red Devils are under new management, and one has to think the new gaffer will reinstall Pogba to the S11 — United did not pay a club-record fee for him to ride the pine. The Frenchman hasn’t put in a full shift since December 1 due to his feud with José Mourinho, but with his nemesis now sacked, I bet Pogba would love to embarrass Mou by tendering a man-of-the-match performance this weekend.
Son Heung-Min (EVE v TOT, $10.50): Son headed into the Burnley game averaging nearly 20 ppg in his four previous matches. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, he was only named to the bench against the Clarets. He’s a great play if he looks set to be reinstalled to the S11 for the trip to Goodison Park. Pay attention to today’s Carabao Cup lineup for clues. (Eligible as M or F)
Abdoulaye Doucouré (WHU v WAT, $9.56): West Ham are resurgent lately, but that’s mostly because of their offense, not their defense. Doucouré looks set to benefit from the Hammers’ inconsistent D — He has scored or assisted in each of his last three games.
Robert Snodgrass (WHU v WAT, $9.67) Snodgrass has exploded recently, registering 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games. That has resulted in a mind-blowing 54 Fantrax points over that period, yet he’s still very reasonably-priced for the visit of Watford.
Danny Ings (HUD v SOU, $12.89): Ings announced his return from injury with a brace that helped sink Arsenal. Two games before getting hurt, he also scored against Manchester City. He won’t need to slay any giants when the Saints play 19th-place Huddersfield this weekend.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS v BUR, $18.19): The league’s joint-top goal scorer plays Burnley at home this week. Yes please.
Callum Wilson (BOU v BRI, $15.80): Although Wilson wasn’t 100% recovered from a hamstring injury, Eddie Howe was forced to bring him on against Wolves in an unsuccessful attempt to salvage points at Molineux. Follow Howe’s lineup for tonight’s Carabao Cup match for hints on Wilson’s status for the weekend. If he’s fit he’s a great choice for the visit of Brighton.
Mo Salah (WOL v LIV, $21.94): Salah does just fine away from home (his last road trip produced a hat trick), and his 5-point performance against United has trimmed his price a bit. There’s never a bad week to own him, but this seems like an especially good one.
Sergio Aguero (MCI v CRY, $16.11): Kun is back! The Argentinian started the Carabao Cup match last night and played 75 minutes before Gabriel Jesus relieved him. If Aguero starts against Crystal Palace, he could be a terrific value at $16, even if he is again withdrawn before the final whistle.
Salomon Rondon (NEW v FUL, $7.69): Four goals and an assist in his last six matches, and welcoming the league’s worst defense to St. James Park this week. He’s your value play at the forward position for GW 18.
Harry Kane (EVE v TOT, $21.10): King Kane boasts four goals and two assists in his last seven games. Everton’s defense can be hard to unlock, but Kane has proven over and over again that he can score against anyone. He reportedly had a cold and didn’t train yesterday, but if that keeps him out of tonight’s Carabao Cup match it will only mean that he is even more rested for the trip to Everton on Sunday.
Andy Carroll (WHU v WAT, $1.00): He may start or he may not, but he will play this weekend. And when he is on the pitch he will be the focus of West Ham’s attack — he was openly demanding service from his teammates when he subbed in against Fulham. His productivity is inconsistent, and he may not last 5 minutes before breaking down again, but his ceiling is high and he won’t need to do much to reward your $1.00 investment.
Are you investing in dollar-store players like Andy Carroll, Kevin De Bruyne, Nathaniel Clyne and Laurent Koscielny? Which of the big salaries such as Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane are in your squad? Will you avoid Manchester United players this week, or does Mou’s departure increase their appeal? Please join us in the comments below!
PS: Don’t forget that we have a Friday match, which means the deadline is a day early! (But at least we get to see Klopp’s starters)