We’re at the halfway point of the season (for most teams at least), which besides being a time for much pundit reflection also means that many players are over the first yellow-card accumulation hurdle.
The “Super Game Week” was a roller coaster, especially right at the start as some matches were postponed and others added late. Some managers benefited richly, but others didn’t. One who didn’t do so well was Frank Lampard. He’s beloved of Chelsea faithful, but he worked for Roman Abramovich who went to the Donald Trump school of “Your fired!” management (or might have taught at the school for all we know).
The two teams from Manchester emerged sitting one and two in the table. Both have great match-ups for this week too, going against the bottom two relegation-fodder clubs in the league: Manchester United hosts Sheffield Wednesday (how did they get into the league?), and Manchester City visits West Brom. As a side note, the Citizens host Sheffield Saturday; talk about bottom-feeding! However, Kevin De Bruyne will miss the feeding frenzy as he is out hammied for a month+.
Game-Week 20 Schedule:
[ Note: The top two matches are currently scheduled to kickoff together, so we should see FOUR confirmed lineups (Palace, West Ham, Newcastle & Leeds) in the countdown hour before our deadline :) ]
Tuesday, January 26
- Crystal Palace vs West Ham
- Newcastle vs Leeds
- Southampton vs Arsenal
- West Brom vs Manchester City
Wednesday, January 27
- Burnley vs Aston Villa
- Chelsea vs Wolves
- Brighton vs Fulham
- Everton vs Leicester
- Manchester United vs Sheffield United
Thursday, January 28
- Tottenham vs Liverpool
Ederson (WBA vs MCI, $13.59) City is rolling defensively. Ederson has kept his opponents scoreless in eight of his last nine starts. Those are really impressive numbers facing 19th place West Brom.
David de Gea (MAN vs SHU, $8.87) Not quite as good as his cross-city rival, but he’s cheaper and still putting up solid numbers. He’s hosting the lowest-scoring team in the league.
Nick Pope (BUR vs AST, $15.42) Nick Pope is the best English keeper, in my humble opinion. He has been remarkable recently for Burnley. The Clarets haven’t always kept clean sheets, but they also haven’t given up more than one goal since November 28th. Pope is also back to making saves, which Burnley will need against Villa, and which could add up quickly on the stats sheet.
John Stones (WBA vs MCI, $7.43) I hope you got Stones on the barn door before his price went up. What a game week he had! I hope you heeded my advice (I myself did not...) and had him in your squad last week. If not, he’s worth buying now. Since his return to the lineup, the Citizens have been excellent defensively.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (WBA vs MCI, $2.60) With Kyle Walker a doubt, Zinchenko has been racking up minutes and making the most of them. He’s not a sure thing, but he is affordable and potentially worth the risk with the match-up.
Harry Maguire (MAN vs SHU, $12.47) I’ve already mentioned Sheffield United’s defensive woes, and Man United’s much improved back line. I’m paying a little more for a sure starter in Maguire if I can. Otherwise, you are taking a bit of a risk with the slightly cheaper Obi Wan, but I want a United defender in my lineup (daredevils may buy Eric Bailly at $3.80, perhaps in NMA-17 where we have cover).
Paul Pobga (MAN vs SHU, $8.51) United’s success and Pogba’s turn of good form go hand in hand. He is scoring goals, creating chances, and even making defensive runs. He is the engine right now for Man U, and I expect that engine to purr (maybe roar) against last place Sheffield United. I’m going to assume you have or are looking at Bruno Fernandes each week.
Phil Foden (WBA vs MCI, $8.15) I’m not 100% sure that Foden picks up the slack in De Bruyne’s absence, but I do think he gets more playing time and involvement. He has been a creative force when he sees the field. City had a plethora of opportunities to score and really should have run it up against Villa. There are other options here, and I’m paying attention who takes the corners and set pieces vacated by KDB. [ Gundogan took the last PK and was successful. ]
Emile Smith Rowe (SOU VS ARS, $3.24) This is a value buy. The Gunner’s midfielder has been starting and producing. You’re going to get good value with a chance at a big game.
James Maddison (EVE vs LEI, $13.27) Maddison has scored in three straight games. It’s not easy competition, but he also is involved on set pieces and each attack. We will have to see what effect Jamie Vardy’s absence has in (no longer) stretching defenses. But Maddison is a high floor, high ceiling kind of play. His price is still reasonable.
Michail Antonio (CRY vs WHU, $7.99) West Ham has missed Antonio. His return to the starting lineup has seen a goal in each game and three wins in a row for the Hammers. The Eagles conceded a soft four in their last game. With service and support from Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek, Antonio is an excellent option at an excellent price (and can slot in as a forward if need be).
Raheem Sterling (WBA vs MCI, $11.55) West Brom ships goals in supertankers. Even without the Belgian play-maker, Sterling & Co will have lots of chances on goal. I wouldn’t bet against him tricking a hat.
Anthony Martial (MAN vs SHU, $9.11) I’m most confident of Martial getting the start with Marcus Rashford an injury doubt. In his previous game against Sheffield United this season, Martial recorded a goal plus an assist.
Patrick Bamford (NEW vs LEE, $15.11) He’s been a little cold lately, but I’m not sure many are looking his way right now. The Magpies are struggling, having lost four straight. Also, Leeds put five by them in December.
Are you stacking up on the Manchester match-ups? We have no Spurs or Liverpool players recommended for the first time in a long while! Did I miss something? Competition is tight at both ends of the table, and each game matters. Please comment below for your thoughts. And while you’re here, please share how you did in the crazy TGW we just endured!