Well the first Winter break certainly came with some surprises. Not sure my nerves could have taken all of that in a single weekend! To review….
- Manchester City and West Ham got rained out, ruining everyone’s day… until being rescheduled, then getting the 2-0 win, saving the game-week for many of us who had Kevin De Bruyne waiting in the wings.
- Then Manchester City received a 2 year ban on all European competition… which means 5th place on the table grabs the last Champions League spot and an extra team gets Europa League (unless the Citizens unexpectedly win their appeal).
- Liverpool needed Sadio Mane to come off the bench to save their game against last place Norwich (what a ball by Jordan Henderson). This may be sacrilege to some, but the feeling that Liverpool was still going to win somehow felt much like the Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United teams of long ago. You just knew the goal was coming.
- For Tottenham, Toby Alderweireld scores on both ends, Son misses a PK, then scores on the rebound, before he secures all 3 points off a horrible Aston Villa error in the 94th minute. (And now Son is diagnosed with a broken arm!)
- Arsenal score 4 AND keep a clean sheet! Ozil scores his first goal of the season. Lacazette scores for the first time in 2020... as a sub. Pepe becomes relevant. (Yes, yes it was at home against Newcastle, but let us Gunners enjoy it for a little while).
- Manchester United win at Chelsea in a game marred by more VAR controversy.
- Don’t you just love this game!
- Chelsea v Tottenham (early game; XIs available before the deadline)
- Burnley v Bournemouth
- Crystal Palace v Newcastle
- Sheffield United v Brighton & Hove Albion
- Southampton v Aston Villa
- Leicester v Manchester City
- Manchester United v Watford FC
- Wolves v Norwich
- Arsenal v Everton
- Liverpool vs. West Ham
A Quick Overview
Leicester v Manchester City. 3rd vs 2nd. Somehow this seems less dramatic than it should.
Chelsea v Tottenham. 4th vs 5th. Chelsea are coming off a tough home loss, while Spurs have half of their 43 goals out with injury.
With perhaps as far down the table as 8th place now getting a place in Europe, games like Everton vs Arsenal have a little more intrigue.
At the bottom of the table, West Ham, Watford, and Norwich all face top teams on the road (Liverpool, Manchester United, and Wolves respectively, meaning these are good match-ups too). Any points from these three games could be massive in the relegation battle.
[NOTE: Prices listed below are NMA Fantrax 11 league barn door costs; YMMV.]
Alisson ($13.74, LIV vs WHU): Liverpool at home. Nuff said.
Vicente Guaita ($8.92, CPL vs NEW): Newcastle are really bad on the road. So bad even Arsenal kept a clean sheet against them. Guaita is good for some saves. He is a differential pick this week.
David de Gea ($7.50, MUN vs WAT): 2 straight shutouts against two solid teams and now a good match-up against Watford. United have been inconsistent for sure (losing 2-0 to Burnley 3 games ago), so this could be a trap game. But DDG is certainly an option for the week.
Pepe Reina ($4.25 BOU vs AVL): He is the best of the worst choices. He will have a chance at saves. 7 last game (plus the PK save) and 4 the previous. I’m not saying you SHOULD, I’m just saying you COULD.
Virgil van Dijk ($13.42, LIV vs WHU): His price is just easier to swallow than that of Trent Alexander-Arnold and slightly better than Andrew Robertson. But the more Liverpool defenders you can have the better. They are coming off a mid-week Champions League loss, but I don’t think that much changes for them.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka ($12.00, MUN vs WAT): He assisted on a goal last week and they have straight clean sheets. United have a good match-up against Watford and he’s the best way to get in on this.
Matt Targett ($9.30, SOU vs AVL): Targett has hit double-digit points in 3 of his last 5 games with no clean sheets, goals, or assists. He is racking up the phantom points.
Willy Boly ($3.92, WOL vs NOR) Get him. Consistent and always a potential for a goal, plus his match-up is good. His first two games back were 10 and 9. And they play Norwich who have 2 goals in 5 games. If it weren’t for VAR, there would be a goal in there too.
Kyle Walker-Peters (1.57, SOU vs AVL): His service was a bit inconsistent last weekend, but we know he has the pace and ability to make things happen. At this price, he may be worth the gamble.
Jack Grealish ($20.74, SOU vs AVL): This guy is about as a sure a thing as there is. Can you even imagine how bad Aston Villa would be without him!? I think he has the best matchup of the other top 5 midfielders and if I had to choose, this is where my money would go.
Sadio Mane ($17,62 LIV vs WHU): He came on as a sub to win it for Liverpool last weekend, but had been a little cold previously. West Ham do not defend well and Mane can score in bunches. Keep an eye on injury reports; he came off at half during Tuesday’s Champions League game.
João Moutinho ($14.25, WOL vs NOR): He is the guy behind Raul and Traore having good seasons. He was rested most of last game, and he was missed. He takes set pieces. Norwich is a good team to play against at home to get things going again.
Wilfried Zaha ($13.72, CPL vs NEW): He can torment teams when he is the mood, and it seems a lot of players are in the mood when home against Newcastle. Zaha also makes those around him better, so Christian Benteke ($2.92) is an interesting differential pick.
Ryan Fraser ($9.44, BOU vs AVL): Check out his last 5 games. Ok, I’ll do it for you… 9, 15, 9, 4, 9. Those are solid numbers. He is back to accumulating the little things that add up. No goal since September and no assists since November is a bit troubling, but still he is earning his keep.
Mesut Ozil ($4.35, ARS vs EVE): He scored. Yes, he actually scored! Can he do it again though? At that price, he may be worth it. Everton have been playing well, but they haven’t kept a clean sheet in 4 games.
Giovani Lo Celso ($2.55, CHE vs TOT): With Son out, someone needs to come to fill the gap. Mourinho will have to some shuffling with so many injuries, which could open up space. He took some set pieces when he came in last game, but proceed with caution, as he’s not a guaranteed starter either.
Bruno Fernandes ($1.00, MUN vs WAT): 7 and 11 points in his first 2 games, plus a good match-up. Looks like he was good buy for United and should be a good buy for you this weekend.
Ondrej Duda ($1.00, WOL vs NOR): He is still valued at $1. He earned 6 vs Liverpool, so I’m beginning to believe this is floor, but the ceiling is much higher.
Mo Salah ($18.65, LIV vs WHU): He was disappointing last week, but Liverpool simply dominate at Anfield, and so does he. He has 6 goals in last 5 home games. Did I mention they are also playing West Ham?
Raul Jimenez ($17.47, WOL vs NOR): It has been two games without a goal. I think he’s due against the last place team in the EPL. Adama Traore, who is a few dollars less, is another good option.
Anthony Martial ($11.92, MUN vs WAT). I’m thinking United will build on their win last weekend. He’s much more affordable than other options and has a high upside.
Steven Bergwijn ($1.00, CHE vs TOT): It’ll be interesting to see how Son’s absence affects those around him. But Bergwijn has 13 and 14 points in his first 2 games.
How’s your team looking? There are some good low options to allow for the big names with solid match-ups. Who else are you considering?