In case you missed it, we’ve had a bit of news in the Premier League this week. After a long run of dismal domestic form, yesterday Tottenham swung the axe on Mauricio Pochettino. He had won only three of twelve games so far this season, leaving his team in 14th place, just six points above the relegation zone. But the rot started as far back as last season. Spurs collected just 25 points from their last 24 league games, and haven’t won an EPL game away from home since January.
Yet despite his recent record, Poch will go down as one of Tottenham’s all-time greatest managers. He steered Spurs to four consecutive top-four finishes, and in June he reached the Champions League final. He shepherded the development of players such as Dele Alli, Harry Winks, and, most notably, Harry Kane. And in what must have been a bitter irony for Poch, the club consistently handcuffed him in the transfer market — his net spend over his entire five year tenure amounted to less than £100M — while simultaneously tasking him with oversight of the club’s state-of-the-art £1 billion stadium project. But although we can debate the fairness of Pochettino’s termination, we can’t pretend it wasn’t predictable. Anyone familiar with the fickle attitude of club owners towards their managers’ recent results should have seen this coming.
And his replacement? None other than “The Special One” José Mourinho. Winner of 25 major trophies, including domestic championships in four different countries and two Champions League titles, Mou is undeniably one of the most successful football managers in the history of the modern game. Yet I don’t know a single Spurs fan who is excited about his appointment. Indeed, few followers of the game find much appeal in either his prickly personality or his famously negative brand of football.
But he is widely regarded as a tactical wizard, and his ability to put silverware in trophy cases is indisputable — something Pochettino was never able to do. Spurs will now hope that their new gaffer can build on his championship pedigree while in charge at Totttenham. Straining under the weight of his massive debt obligations, owner Daniel Levy is critically dependent on the revenue stream generated by the sales of tickets, concessions, and merchandise. Only on-field successes can guarantee that that income will continue to flow, and Levy has tapped serial winner Mourinho as the man to make sure the spigot stays open. Many Spurs fans, however, are worried that instead of the storied “Special One,” they will get the Mourinho who less than a year ago left a smoking crater at Old Trafford.
While it’s entirely possible that Poch might actually feel liberated by his release from a club that consistently refused to back him in the transfer market, and whose players have clearly grown steadily more tired and uninspired, he will surely also be aggrieved by the terms of Mourinho’s appointment. Mou’s salary is rumored to be £15m/year — nearly twice what Poch was earning. And it defies logic to believe that Mou would have accepted the Spurs job without assurances that the club would open up its coffers in the upcoming transfer windows. One can’t help but wonder if things might have turned out differently for Poch if the club had granted the Argentine similar freedom.
But with just three days until Round 13 of the Fantrax campaign kicks off, we need to turn our attention from the drama of real-life EPL management to the reality of fantasy EPL management. Below is the week’s slate of fixtures, followed by my best suggestions for Fantrax managers looking to make purchases this week.
Saturday 23 November 2019
- West Ham vs Tottenham
- Arsenal vs Southampton
- Bournemouth vs Wolves
- Brighton vs Leicester
- Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
- Everton vs Norwich
- Watford vs Burnley
- Manchester City vs Chelsea
Sunday 24 November 2019
Monday 25 November 2019
Orjan Nyland ($1.60, AVL vs NEW): Jed Steer started in place of the injured Tom Heaton when the Villans played Wolves on November 10. But Steer suffered a calf injury in the first minutes of the game and was replaced by Nyland, who made three saves but conceded twice in the 1-2 loss. With Heaton still a doubt and Steer now facing a prolonged injury absence, Nyland could be handed the No. 1 jersey for the home match against the Magpies. Only two teams have offenses that are weaker than Newcastle’s, so if he looks set to start, Nyland is your value play at GK this week. (At $3.98, Heaton is also a good value should he recover in time.)
Nick Pope ($7.67, WAT vs BUR): Pope typically doesn’t score very well away from home. But he makes saves, and this week he travels to Vicarage Road to face the league’s worst attack.
Jordan Pickford ($5.24, EVE vs NOR): Since their epic victory over Manchester City on September 14, Norwich have blanked in five of seven matches and scored only two goals. At $5.24, PIckford looks like a good play this weekend.
Alisson ($5.65, CRY vs LIV): Liverpool haven’t managed a clean sheet since September. But you can bank on win points, and that elusive CS could be in the cards this week too — the Eagles’ offense is the second-worst in the league.
Paulo Gazzaniga ($2.92, WHU vs TOT): Yesterday Spurs finally dismissed Mauricio Pochettino after a dismal run of domestic form that stretched all the way back to last February. But since stepping up to replace an injured Hugo Lloris, Gazza has been excellent in spite of his club’s poor results, and this week he’ll face a Hammers side that has now gone two months without a win in any competition.
Hector Bellerin ($1.60, ARS vs SOU), Kieran Tierney ($1.66, ARS vs SOU): These guys are cheap enablers who this week host a Saints defense that has conceded more goals than any other team in the Prem.
Matt Targett ($6.07, AVL vs NEW): Targett was withdrawn from the Wolves game after suffering a first half concussion. But he has now returned to training and should be set to start against Newcastle’s feeble offense.
Phil Bardsley ($2.27, WAT vs BUR): Bardsley was finally cleared fit to play against WHU and promptly collected 12 points. At $2.27 and facing the league’s worst offense, he’s terrific value this weekend.
Djibril Sidibe ($3.94, EVE vs NOR): Norwich are dire, and Djibril costs less than $4 and averages nearly 5 ppg. Enough said.
Dejan Lovren ($3.06, LIV vs CRY), Joel Gomez ($1.60, LIV vs CRY): Joel Matip is definitely out this weekend, and Sky Sports is reporting that Andrew Robertson is set to miss the Eagles match as well. Joel Gomez seems to have recovered from a knock suffered on international duty, so he could fill in for Robertson on the left, which would leave the path clear for Lovren to continue in the center. Gomez and Lovren are both cheap routes into a Reds’ defense that will welcome Palace’s milquetoast attack this weekend. Follow team news here.
Serge Aurier ($5.66, WHU vs TOT): Spurs are in chaos right now, but West Ham’s form is terrible and Aurier’s average return exceeds his price. But will Aurier remain the first-choice right back under José Mourinho? Fortunately, we won’t need to guess. We should have Tottenham’s confirmed lineup before the Fantrax deadline passes, so you’ll have time to make the adjustment if it turns out that Mourinho names Kyle Walker-Peters ($2.89) or Juan Foyth ($1.60) instead.
Jack Grealish ($14.51, AVL vs NEW): He has missed the last couple league games with a calf injury but returned to training over the international break. He’s a little expensive, but he has put up double digits in four of his last five starts, and this week he hosts Newcastle.
Gylfi Sigurdsson ($12.11, EVE vs NOR): The horror injury to Andre Gomes has eliminated some of Siggy’s competition for a berth in the S11, and Norwich are a shambles right now. Siggy is also the favored penalty-taker when he’s on the pitch, and takes other set pieces as well.
David Silva ($11.16, MCI vs CHE): With Bernardo Silva suspended, David Silva’s prospects for the S11 are rather positive. And Chelsea’s defense isn’t exactly as tight as a drum.
Giovanni Lo Celso ($2.14, WHU vs TOT): Lo Celso is beginning to come into his own, starting both of Spurs’ last two games and scoring in one of them. Check in to our Pre-Deadline Chat for Spurs’ confirmed lineup — if Lo Celso is in it, he makes a good enabler for the trip to face the Hammers.
Robert Snodgrass ($8.81, WHU vs TOT): Snoddy has scored a goal in each of his last two home games, and this week he welcomes an out-of-sorts Spurs side to the London Stadium.
Dwight McNeil ($12.82, WAT vs BUR): McNeil is in the midst of a purple patch, registering a goal or assist in three of his last four games. And this week he squares up to 18th-place Watford, who concede an average of two goals per game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($18.91, ARS vs SOU): He’s expensive, but this week he welcomes the league’s most porous defense to the Emirates. If you can find a way to fit him in, he could reward you quite handsomely.
Alexandre Lacazette ($10.38, ARS vs SOU): If you don’t have the juice for PEA, then consider his strike partner. He costs almost 50% less than PEA, and tends to score better than Nicolas Pepe.
Chris Wood ($11.65, WAT vs BUR): After missing two games due to a hammy, Wood got right back to business against the Hammers, returning a goal and 21 points. That’s five goals in his last five games then, and this time around he faces a Watford side that has conceded 23 goals and sits just one point off the bottom of the table.
Richarlison ($17.51, EVE vs NOR): His goal against the Saints was his first in two months, and he’ll be looking to build on that when he hosts the bottom-dwelling Canaries this weekend.
Divock Origi ($4.14, CRY vs LIV): With Mohamed Salah nursing a nagging ankle injury that he aggravated in the Man City game, Jurgen Klopp may decide to hand a start to Origi. The 24 year-old Belgian has shown us what he’s capable of, and he could be a slick differential play that could also free up a lot of budget for upgrades elsewhere.
Anthony Martial ($9.54, SHU vs MUN): Martial’s average ppg is just short of his price, and he’s a lock to start. Sheffield United’s defense is tight, but if any of United’s players can unlock it, it’s Martial.
Lys Mousset ($5.85, SHU vs MUN): This guy has registered double-digits in three of his last four and has a very favorable upcoming run of fixtures. Priced under $6, the risk is low and the upside is high. I’m probably going to bring him in.
Raul Jimenez ($14.60, BOU vs WOL): Jimenez is finally finding his mojo after a slow start, scoring three times and assisting twice in his last five games. He also assisted once and scored twice in Mexico’s 3-0 win over Panama on Friday. His price has climbed along with his returns, but he’s still a decent play for the trip to Dean Court.
As mentioned above, the early game with confirmed lineups this week will be West Ham vs Tottenham. If you are considering ANY Tottenham assets, it will be crucial to check in to our Pre-Deadline Chat ahead of the deadline. With Mourinho now in charge, relying on assumptions about Tottenham’s S11 could be a risky endeavor for fantasy managers in all formats, but at least we playing Fantrax can get a free peek at Mourinho’s first week.
Who else is begging to be bought in Fantrax? Are there any other screaming bargains just returning from injury or playing for someone recently injured? And who deserves to be sold? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
How do you feel about Tottenham’s sacking of Pochettino and the appointment of Mourinho?
This poll is closed
Pochettino should not have been sacked
Pochettino needed to go, and Mourinho IS the right guy to replace him
Pochettino needed to go, but Mourinho is NOT the right guy to replace him