The fixture turbulence of the last two weeks has passed, and GW 36 finally returns us to normalcy: twenty teams playing ten games over one weekend.
Here is what’s on the schedule, as well as the names I think you should be considering:
- Liverpool vs Stoke
- Crystal Palace vs Leicester
- Huddersfield vs Everton
- Burnley vs Brighton
- Newcastle vs West Brom
- Southampton vs Bournemouth
- Swansea vs Chelsea
Loris Karius (LIV vs STK, $5.65): A win is nearly assured, and the price is right.
Martin Dubravka (NEW vs WBA, $1.95): Newcastle are in good form, and even though West Brom have improved under Darren Moore, Dubravka’s price mitigates risk.
Alex McCarthy (SOU vs BOU, $1.00): Mark Hughes considers this a must-win game. Priced at a buck, McCarthy won’t even have to win to serve his purpose as an enabler.
Mamadou Sakho (CRY vs LEI, $5.38): Sakho rarely needs a clean sheet to return value.
Ben Chilwell (CRY vs LEI, $6.97): Chilwell is putting up solid numbers on a consistent basis. There’s no reason to think that will change this week.
Terence Kongolo (HUD vs EVE, $3.59): His average return is twice his price.
Seamus Coleman (HUD vs EVE, $3.54): Another whose average return is twice his price.
Leighton Baines (HUD vs EVE, $6.33): He’s been in fine form since returning from his calf injury. Able to generate points at both ends of the pitch, his average is equal to his price.
Paul Dummet (NEW vs WBA, $4.59): West Brom have caught some giants off guard since Darren Moore took over. But Newcastle are still not safe from relegation, so they’ll not be sleeping for the visit of the Baggies. Dummet’s average is higher than his price, and he should be value for money on Saturday.
Kieran Trippier (TOT vs WAT, $6.65): Tottenham have been eliminated from all competitions except the league, and they need to make certain that they do not get pipped by Chelsea in the race for the top four. They’ll put out a full-strength side on Monday, and I expect Trippier — whose average is just shy of his price — to be in it.
Sadio Mane (LIV vs STK, $11.61): He can be sloppy in possession and wasteful in front of the net. But he can also slice defenses to ribbons, and Stoke leak goals. If you don’t want to pay up for Mo Salah, then Mane is a much less expensive route into the Liverpool attack.
Wilfried Zaha (CRY vs LEI, $10.77): Crystal Palace are still fighting for Premier League survival, and they’ll be looking to ambush a complacent Leicester side who, over their last three games, have lost to Newcastle and Burnley and drawn with Southampton.
Luka Milivojevic (CRY vs LEI, $11.88): See above. Also, Palace will be going hard at Leicester’s defense, and Milivojevic is on pens.
Johan Berg Gudmundsson (BRN vs BRI, $11.08): It doesn’t matter if he’s home or away, or whether the opposition is strong or weak: He’s put up double-digits in six of his last eight games.
Dusan Tadic (SOU vs BOU, $9.03): The home match against the Cherries is critical for Soton, and Mark Hughes will have to aggressively pursue a win. Tadic’s fantasy returns could prosper accordingly.
Ryan Fraser (SOU vs BOU, $9.50): He’s averaging more than 12 ppg over his last four games, and this week he visits a Southampton side whose attack will be pressing hard. That could open up the game for Fraser and Bournemouth.
Kevin De Bruyne (WHA vs MCI, $18.56): He’s not cheap. But City are so fluid and clinical, and West Ham are only six points above the relegation zone. Your money seems safe here.
David Silva (WHA vs MCI, $13.57): Does KDB’s price tag make you nervous? Then go with his cheaper Spanish teammate instead.
Dele Alli (TOT vs WAT, $11.59): Cheaper than Son Heung-Min, and more assured of a start.
Christian Eriksen (TOT vs WAT, $17.89): Yes he’s expensive, but since January 31 he’s put up single-digit Fantrax scores only twice. The other eight games have all been double-digits.
Mo Salah (LIV vs STK, $27.71): We haven’t seen prices this high since Gareth Bale wore a Tottenham jersey. But that’s because Salah has rocketed himself into the same orbit as players like Ronaldo and Messi. You hate to pay that much, but you also hate the thought of going without him for a home game against Stoke, even if his minutes might be managed ahead of the second leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal next week. And if you still hold him at his pre-season $9.18, well... please don’t gloat.
Roberto Firmino (LIV vs STK, $15.52): If Salah’s price turns you off, then Firmino is an excellent — and more affordable — alternative.
Jamie Vardy (CRY vs LEI, $12.98): Palace will chase a result harder than Leicester will, but I still have a feeling that Vardy will score in this one.
Ayoze Perez (NEW vs WBA, $7.95): Perez’s returns have exceeded his price for four straight games. He should make it five in a row this week when rock-bottom West Brom visit.
Salomon Rondon (NEW vs WBA, $9.77): West Brom are fighting to the bitter (but almost inevitable) end, and Rondon has been emblematic of the team’s suddenly indomitable spirit. He has either scored or assisted in five of his last six games.
Jay Rodriguez (NEW vs WBA, $8.39): Like his teammate Rondon, Jay Rod is also in fine form. He has bagged three goals in his last five games.
Olivier Giroud (SWA vs CHE, $5.23): The Frenchman’s spectacular goal in Sunday’s FA Cup semi against Soton put Chelsea into the final, and two weeks ago he notched a brace off the bench. He’s been starting alongside Alvaro Morata since then, but my choice between the two is Giroud. At his bargain price he is nearly a must-have this week.
Gabriel Jesus (WHU vs MCI, $9.18): Three goals in his last five games, nailed-on to start, and almost half the price of Raheem Sterling. He may not be on pens anymore after missing against Swansea, but given City’s form and the opposition they face, it’s almost inconceivable that he won’t produce this week. (Note: Ederson may actually take the next City PK. Not kidding.)
Alexis Sanchez (MUN vs ARS, $14.55): He’s not cheap, and Arsenal won’t be easy, but if you believe in the “player facing his former team” dynamic, then Sanchez might be a fun punt. He’s certainly begining to hit his stride in a Red Devils shirt, having registered a goal and three assists in his last three league matches, as well as rippling the net for one of the two goals in the FA Cup win over Spurs.
So that’s my list of suggestions for you to consider this week. Are you getting out your checkbook to buy the incomparable but lavishly-priced Salah? Are you taking a flyer on Sanchez against his former team? You’ll notice I’ve left out Harry Kane — have you? Tell us whom you’re thinking about in the comments below, and as always, best of luck this week!