It hasn’t even been a week since the final whistle blew on the most recent EPL game, but due to the festive period’s fixture density, that now seems like an eternity ago.
Much has happened since then. Bristol heaped further insult upon an already miserable Huddersfield side by crashing them out of the FA Cup, while Fulham were downed by Oldham. More surprisingly though, Leicester was eliminated by Newport County, and Liverpool’s run ended at Wolverhampton. A silver lining for fantasy managers is that Jurgen Klopp’s lineups will now become a little less vulnerable to rest and rotation.
There was also action in the Carabao Cup, where Tottenham defeated Chelsea in the first leg of their semifinal tie. Manchester City and Burton will play the first game of the other semifinal match-up later today.
The January transfer window is also open, of course. So far, we’ve seen Bournemouth bring in Dominic Solanke (transfer) and Nathaniel Clyne (loan) while shipping Jermain Defoe on loan to Rangers. Huddersfield have picked up Jason Puncheon on loan, and West Ham have signed Samir Nasri on a free.
But so far the biggest buy is Chelsea paying $73M for Christian Pulisic only to immediately loan him back to Borussia Dortmund for the remainder of the season — news we can’t use. The exciting American is likely to start for Chelsea next year and will enter the league at Fantrax’s default price. One to watch, to be sure, just not yet.
But right now we need to turn our attention to the week at hand. Below are the fixtures, followed by my picks. Please note that WHU v ARS is the one early game, so we will have confirmed lineups for those two squads ahead of the Fantrax deadline. Log in to NMA’s Pre-Deadline Chat for the scoop.
Saturday 12 January
- West Ham v Arsenal (Lineups at deadline)
- Brighton v Liverpool
- Burnley v Fulham
- Cardiff v Huddersfield
- Crystal Palace v Watford
- Leicester v Southampton
- Chelsea v Newcastle
Sunday 13 January
Monday 14 January
- Manchester City v Wolves
Neil Etheridge ($7.40, CAR v HUD): The Filipino netminder chose to forgo the Asian Cup so that he could continue to contribute to Cardiff’s survival bid. The Bluebirds will have no better chance to pick up points than when a dire Huddersfield side come to visit on Saturday. The Terriers are last in the league for goals scored.
Kepa Arrizabalaga ($12.47, CHE v NEW): Newcastle sport the EPL’s second-worst offense. But Kepa is probably going to need a clean sheet in order to return value.
Tom Heaton ($1.75, BRN v FUL): Heaton is 2-0 since replacing Joe Hart, conceding only one goal. He’ll wear the shirt again this weekend then, and only two teams have scored fewer goals than Fulham. At his price (rising fast!), Heaton presents fantastic long term value (at least until he is challenged by Nick Pope, that is).
Andrew Robertson ($12.96, BRI v LIV): Alberto Moreno got the start for the FA Cup loss on Monday, so Robertson should be rested and ready to reclaim the left back position. Against Brighton, a clean sheet is a real possibility, and Robertson should post attacking returns as well.
Fabian Delph ($4.57, MCI v WOL): He got plenty of rest serving his 3-game suspension, and now that he’s eligible again, I’d expect Pep Guardiola to put his fresh legs to use on Monday. For $4.57, you could do worse. (Eligible as D or M)
Phil Jones ($2.66, TOT v MUN): There will be no clean sheet for United in this one. But Jones will pick up enough phantoms to make your investment worth it, and his wallet-friendly price frees up cash to spend elsewhere.
Matt Targett ($4.49, LEI v SOU): Targett is flourishing in Ralph Hassenhütll’s system. He’s averaging almost 8 ppg since the new manager took over, and he’s done it without any clean sheet points (he lines up as a left mid, so he’s not eligible for them). Caveat: If/when Ryan Bertrand becomes fit again, Targett will have competition. (Eligible as D or M)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles ($2.24, WHU v ARS): AMN has started three of Arsenal’s last four league games (and gone the full 90 in each). Over those three starts, he has scored one goal and averaged 7 ppg. West Ham’s defense is mediocre, so if AMN looks set for another start this weekend, he could be a slick differential that will only set you back a little more than $2.
Johan Berg Gudmundsson ($11.05, BRN v FUL): Fulham leak goals, and Robbie Brady’s suspension means that JBG will face reduced competition for corners and free kicks. I really like him this week.
Gylfi Sigurdsson ($16.79, EVE v BOU): Siggy is Everton’s most creative player, and only three teams have conceded more goals than Bournemouth.
Richarlison ($16.45, EVE v BOU): Everton’s danger man should terrorize a Bournemouth defense that has conceded 18 goals in its last 6 games. (Eligible as M or F)
James Maddison ($14.71, LEI v SOU): Maddison was rested for the trip to Goodison Park on New Years Day, and he made only a substitute appearance in the FA Cup loss to Newport County on Sunday. Leicester’s string-puller should therefore be well-rested for the visit of the 18th-place Saints. (Eligible as M or F)
Roberto Firmino ($12.22, BRI v LIV): Liverpool followed the league loss to Manchester City with a defeat at Wolves in the FA Cup. Jurgen Klopp needs to break the skid, so he’ll go at Brighton hard. With 4 goals in his last two EPL games, Firmino represents the best combination of form and price among the Liverpool midfielders. (Eligible as M or F)
Kevin De Bruyne ($1.83, MCI v WOL): One of the world’s top footballers is fit again and available for a tenth of his actual value. If you’re not buying a healthy KDB at $1.83, you really need to ask yourself why.
Son Heung-Min ($14.88, TOT v MUN): If you’ve been living under a rock lately, let me bring you up to speed: This guy is on fire. He has notched 8 goals and 4 assists in his last 9 league games. In Friday’s FA Cup win over Tranmere he tendered a Man-of-the-Match performance that included a goal and two helpers. Son also started yesterday’s Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea, so there are legitimate concerns over tired legs. But I think Mauricio Pochettino will want to field his best side for this important match, and Son is certainly one of Poch’s best 11. Further, it would be cruel to name Son to the bench after the Korean delayed his departure to the Asian Cup so that he could be available for this game. Caveat: After this match, Son will probably miss the next three. (Eligible as M or F)
Christian Eriksen ($12.30, TOT v MUN): A bit cheaper than his Korean teammate, Eriksen is also enjoying a purple patch of form. With all the (deserved) attention that Son has been getting lately, you may not have realized that Eriksen has scored or assisted in 7 of his last 9 games. But now you do.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($19.69, WHU v ARS): Arsenal’s Gabonese striker has rippled the back of the net 7 times in his last 9 games. Against a West Ham defense that has kept only one clean sheet in their last 7 games, PEA could make it 8 in 10 this weekend.
Ashley Barnes ($7.73, BRN v FUL), Chris Wood ($5.24, BRN v FUL): Burnley are only 2 points above the relegation zone, so they’ll want to take full points from the home match against the league’s worst defense. Barnes and Wood are both in fine form: Barnes boasts a goal and an assist over his last two games, while Wood has scored two goals over that time frame. Either would make a good, cost-effective forward option this week.
Aleksandar Mitrovic ($15.04, BRN v FUL): Mitrovic has returned double digits in each of his last three games. The match with Burnley will be crucial to Fulham’s survival hopes, and I expect both sides to go at each other hard. That could auger well for Mitrovic, who is now Fulham’s undisputed spot-kick taker. Caveats: Burney’s defense has firmed since Heaton took over in goal, and the match is at Burnley’s Turf Moor.
Mo Salah ($23.52, BRI v LIV): His price is high, but he has returned 20+ points in four of his last six games, failing to clear that bar only against the two Mancunian clubs. He did not come on until minute 70 in the cup loss, so he should be hungry to resume feasting when ‘Pool go to Brighton to dine on Seagull.
Sergio Aguero ($15.79, MCI v WOL): Wolves can be tough to break down, but Aguero has back-to-back goals in his last two games, plus he and City are especially potent at home.
Harry Kane ($22.19, TOT v MUN): King Kane has 5 goals in his last 4 league games, also scoring in the FA Cup game on Friday and the Carabao Cup game yesterday. I wouldn’t bet against him on Sunday.
Jamie Vardy ($11.30, LEI v SOU): Leicester’s pacy hitman is very reasonably-priced for the visit of drop-zone dwelling Saints.
Marko Arnautovic ($11.88, WHU v ARS): Arnie notched a brace in his last league game, and the Gunners defense that he’ll face on Saturday is a shambles. He was withdrawn from the FA Cup match against Birmingham as a precaution after complaining of back pain, but not before scoring in the second minute. If you’re worried about his fitness, fear not — we’ll have confirmed lineups for WHU and ARS before the Fantrax deadline.
Callum Hudson-Odoi ($1.00, CHE v NEW): Hudson-Odoi has been one of the few bright spots in Chelsea’s attack lately, having started — and impressed — in both of their recent cup fixtures. With Olivier Giroud, Álvaro Morata, Pedro, and Willian all failing to fire, and with the siren song of Bayern Munich playing in the background, Maurizio Sarri could decide that this is the weekend to hand the 18 year-old his first EPL start. If you’re down for a punt, CHO could pay off big against the Geordies if he gets the nod (or even if he just comes on as a sub).
Happily, it appears that a mild weekend is in store for England, with no threat of weather cancellations. So who’s on your radar this week? Any big names you’re avoiding? Come on in and share your ideas with us.
Which of these inexpensive squad players with hyphenated last names is a better Fantrax option for Game Week 22:
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