Does anybody want those last two Champions League spots? In last week’s round of play, twenty-one points were available to the four teams vying for third and fourth place. Shockingly, those Big Six clubs managed to claim a combined total of just four points.
Manchester United, Arsenal, and Tottenham all had double-game weeks. The Gunners and Red Devils each lost both of their matches, while Spurs won one and lost one. Chelsea played only one game, and could only muster a tie with 15th-place Burnley. Just six points separate third-place from sixth with three games remaining, so the race for those last two CL tickets is still wide open.
At the top of the table, Manchester City and Liverpool continue their duel for the title. Both teams have now played 35 games, and City lead ‘Pool by a single point. From here out, dropped points for either side could be fatal.
The relegation picture is becoming more clear as well. Huddersfield and Fulham are already down, of course, and Burnley’s draw with Chelsea took them to the 40 point threshold that is generally considered sufficient to avoid relegation. That leaves Cardiff and Brighton to struggle for that crucial 17th-place finish that brings Premier League survival. Cardiff trail Brighton by 3 points but face just one of the Big Six over their final three matches, while Brighton must face two elite sides.
The run-in is sure to bring us drama and excitement at both ends of the table, then. Would we expect any less from the world’s best, most competitive professional soccer league?
Let’s now turn our attention to the week at hand. After all the recent fixture mayhem, it’s a bit of a relief to have a “regular” game week in store, with each club playing just a single match and no mid-week fixtures. Please note that this round does open tomorrow (Friday), however. Don’t miss the deadline!
Tomorrow’s game also happens to be the tastiest fantasy match-up of the week, with the title-contending Reds hosting the already-relegated Terriers. Join us for our Pre-Deadline Chat for a sneak peak at the lineups so you can max out your exposure to Liverpool players for this delicious mismatch!
Let’s get to the fixtures and picks.
- Tottenham vs West Ham
- Crystal Palace vs Everton
- Fulham vs Cardiff
- Southampton vs Bournemouth
- Watford vs Wolves
- Brighton vs Newcastle
Sergio Rico (FUL vs CAR, $2.84): Cardiff’s offense is the Prem’s second-worst, and they’re particularly bad on the road, where they’ve scored only 11 times this season. Rico should be excellent value for money this week.
Alisson (LIV vs HUD, $16.34): Liverpool boast the league’s best defense, Huddersfield the league’s worst offense. Liverpool’s Brazilian netminder is expensive, but he’ll never be more assured of a shutout victory than he is this week.
Scott Dann (EVE vs CRY, $1.88): The center half has put up double-digits in each of his last three starts. Even if he can’t keep that streak going this weekend, at his price you can hardly go wrong.
Liverpool (LIV vs HUD): I say again, the Reds/Terriers match pits the league’s best defense against the league’s worst offense. Consequently, the likes of Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Virgil van Dijk should be on your radar this week. Liverpool do have a Champions League semifinal leg with Barcelona looming on Wednesday. But they are also two pips off the EPL title, so they cannot afford any stumbles. We should count on Jurgen Klopp to name a strong side despite the temptation to rest his stars against lowly Huddersfield. But be on the lookout for Joe Gomez. He’s fit and cheap, and the home match against the Terriers could be the perfect time to give him his first start of 2019 (while preserving Joel Matip for the very tough Barca match). And again, we get to see the confirmed lineup just before the deadline.
Aymeric Laporte (BRN vs MCI, $9.54): I generally don’t trust City’s offense away from the Etihad, but lately you can trust their defense just about anywhere. They’ve recorded shutouts in 10 of their last 15 matches, and Laporte looks the surest starter among the back four.
Javier Manquillo (BRI vs NEW, $3.05): Brighton are teetering on the brink of relegation, and their offense is among the worst in the league. Manquillo represents an inexpensive route into the potential Newcastle clean sheet.
Maya Yoshida (SOU vs BOU, $6.91): Double-digits in 4 of his last 5 games, and priced very reasonably for the visit of 14th-place Bournemouth.
Kieran Trippier (TOT vs WHU, $11.90): Tripps has put up double-digits in three of his last four games, and he should find joy on both sides of the ball against the Hammers.
Adam Masina (WAT vs WOL, $2.46): Believe it or not, Wolves have scored fewer goals than Palace, Bournemouth, or Burnley. But even if Watford can’t keep Wolves out, Masina should at least return his price.
Luka Milivojevic (CRY vs EVE, $18.70): Double-digits in five of his last six, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets yet another PK in this home match.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (CRY vs EVE, $18.06): Two goals and two assists over his last five games has resulted in double-digit returns in four of them.
Ryan Sessegnon (FUL vs CAR, $7.13): I don’t recommend Cottagers very often, but they host Cardiff this week. Sessegnon’s price tag is attractive, and lately he has been showing us the kind of form that saw him named to the PFA Championship Team of the Year last season — the youngest player ever to achieve that honor. Could be a cheeky play this week.
Ryan Babel (FUL vs CAR, $4.98): Another Cottager? Yep. The fixture his tasty, and Babel has scored three goals in his last five games.
Youri Tielemans (LEI vs ARS, $3.87): This guy almost never fails to at least return his price. He makes an excellent enabler if you’re looking to make room in your budget for some bigger names.
Sadio Mané (LIV vs HUD, $19.02): The fixture is ridiculously tasty, and Mané is white-hot. He has scored seven goals in his last ten league games — and all but one of them came at home.
Roberto Firmino (LIV vs HUD, $12.91): Cheaper than Mané, but enjoys the same delicious fixture as his Senegalese teammate. And he has compiled 60 points over his last 6 games.
Bernardo Silva (BRN vs MCI, $12.16): Double-digits in each of his last four starts, and crucially, two of those were on the road. With KDB crocked, B. Silva should be relatively safe from Pep’s Wonderful Wheel of rotation, too.
Ayoze Peréz (BRI vs NEW, $12.91): The Spaniard followed his goal against Leicester with a hattrick against Southampton. He’ll be brimming with confidence when the Geordies travel to Falmer Stadium.
Nathan Redmond (SOU vs BOU, $10.88): Redmond has piled up 56 points over his last 5 games, and this week he faces a Bournemouth side that has conceded 62 goals this season.
Son Heung-Min (TOT vs WHU, $13.61): It has been a while since Son has had a good Fantrax return, but I just feel like a goal is coming this weekend. Plus he’s suspended for the upcoming CL fixture, so he’s virtually nailed-on to start.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (FUL vs CAR, $14.52): A fourth Cottager! This one has accumulated 45 points over the last 3 games, and this week he will lead the line against a team that will probably be playing Championship football next year.
Jamie Vardy (LEI vs ARS, $14.47): Eight goals in his last eight games; there’s no one hotter in the EPL right now.
Mo Salah (LIV vs HUD, $23.68): Crazy expensive, but it’s Mo Salah at home against Huddersfield.
Salomón Rondón (BRI vs NEW, $10.82): He has been quiet for a while, but the trip to Brighton could present him with a good opportunity to get back on the scoresheet.
Danny Ings (SOU vs BOU, $8.63): Another who hasn’t done much lately, but I like him for the home match against the Cherries.
Andre Gray (WAT vs WOL, $5.68): Troy Deeney serves the final game of his three-match ban this weekend, so Gray is virtually assured of making the S11 against Wolves. He scored last time out and is nicely-priced.
As always, please share your thoughts about my picks — and your picks — in the comments below.
But this week I offer an additional point for discussion. The PFA Team of the Year was announced today. Here’s the 4-3-3 lineup:
- Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aymeric Laporte, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson
- Paul Pogba, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva
- Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero, Sadio Mané
To my mind there are some there who don’t belong, and there are others who were glaringly omitted. What do you think?