Was it just me, or did round-22 of the English Premier League seem like somebody flipped over the table at a poker tournament? Cards were flying everywhere! In all, thirty-seven players were shown yellow and four more were issued marching orders! Two teams finished their matches with only nine men!
Jan Bednarek’s red card was subsequently overturned, but Ralph Hassenhuttl will still be peeved that the PK goal it lead to won’t be, nor will the one that Manchester United scored from open play afterwards with the Saints playing two men short. Still, the score was already 7-0 before all that, so it’s impossible to argue that the call affected anything more than goal-difference.
In other news, the malaise continued at Tottenham where Jose Mourinho suffered his third straight league loss. Spurs are now eighth, so Europe is looking more doubtful all the time despite their game in hand. Pressure is mounting on Mou who definitely doesn’t seem very “special” lately. If he can’t repair the toxic environment and begin winning, it’s hard to imagine that Harry Kane will stick around come summer (assuming Mou even lasts that long).
Elsewhere, Liverpool was defeated at “Fortress” Anfield by Brighton, the second home loss on the trot. The Reds are now in fourth place, seven points adrift of Manchester City, with the Citizens holding a game in hand for good measure. These two clubs face each other on Sunday in a critically-important clash of the titans — don’t miss it!
You also won’t want to miss our Pre-Deadline & Live Chat. The weekend’s one deadline match is AVL - ARS, so be sure to tune in during the countdown hour for its confirmed lineups, as well as all the other team news you need to know ahead of the Fantrax deadline.
Now for the picks.
Robert Sánchez ($7.98, BUR vs BRI): The Clarets are scoreless in their last two, while Sánchez has kept clean sheets in his last four. There are other keepers who are worth owning this week, but given price and potential, he’s the only one I’d think about buying.
Cédric Soares ($2.43, AVL vs ARS): Red cards to two of his teammates extinguished his opportunities to bomb forward against Wolves, but normal service should be restored on Saturday.
Bukayo Saka ($15.96, AVL vs ARS): Saka’s attacking prospects suffered the same fate as Cedric’s, but prior to that he had posted returns of 15+ in six straight matches. I really wish I had hitched a ride on his train before it left the station, but the price of a ticket could still be worth it against a Villa side that plays open football. (D, M)
Lewis Dunk ($10.13, BUR vs BRI): Man of the Match in the win over Liverpool, Dunk has returned double digits in four straight matches and faces a toothless Burnley side next.
Cesar Azpilicueta ($5.83, SHU vs CHE): I’m a little bit leery of the Tuchel lottery here, but so far Azpi’s spot seems secure under the new gaffer. He offers attacking potential and will be eligible for full clean sheet points, unlike many of Chelsea’s other defenders. (But another who will be is Andreas Christensen, who at $1.40 could be a cheap route to a clean sheet with Thiago Silva a major doubt.)
Caglar Soyuncu ($3.61), Ricardo Pereira ($1.40), (WOL vs LEI): The return to fitness of these two men comes just in time, as Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne are both sidelined with hamstring injuries. Soyuncu and Pereira each returned twelve points in the shutout win over Fulham, and they’re locks to return value at their current prices.
Luke Shaw ($9.12, MUN vs EVE): When United brought in Alex Telles, I favored him to start over Shaw, whom I had found mostly disappointing until that point. But Shaw has responded magnificently to the competition for the starting berth at left-back, emerging over the last couple of months into arguably the league’s best player at that position. He was an absolute monster against Southampton, notching two assists and fifteen points in a performance that was cut short at halftime because the game was already put to bed. Lord only knows how many points he might have tallied if he had been on the pitch for all 90 minutes of the 9-0 goal-fest (but we do know he would have at least added clean-sheet points).
Kieran Gibbs ($3.26, TOT vs WBA): The 31 year-old Englishman continues to return double his price despite the lack of clean sheets.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles ($3.15, TOT vs WBA): Likely to slot directly into a struggling Baggies side, AMN won’t have to do much to return value at his current price. (D,M)
Craig Dawson ($5.15, FUL vs WHU): Don’t expect him to continue his goal-scoring form, but against Fulham’s anemic attack there could be clean sheet points this week. And even without goals or clean sheets, I still expect him to return value.
Martin Odegaard ($1.00, AVL vs ARS): Whether he starts from the opening whistle or subs in later, I think Odegaard will see significant minutes this weekend, and that makes him easily worth his $1.00 cost.
Nicolas Pepe ($5.65, AVL vs ARS): Goals in two of his last three games, and double digits in each. And his price is still attractive. (M, F)
Bertrand Traore ($9.05, AVL vs ARS): Given a breather for a run-out of notorious AEG in the first half of the West Ham game, Traore came on in the second half to put up nine points. He’ll likely get a full shift against Arsenal. (M,F)
Pascal Gross ($8.48, BUR vs BRI): The Seagulls are undefeated (did I really just write that?) since Gross was reinstalled to the starting-XI four games ago, and the German has averaged more than twelve ppg over that span. He should continue to prosper against the Clarets.
Raphinha ($10.70, LEE vs CPL): Still a bargain given the form he is enjoying: two goals and two assists over his last three games. (M,F)
James Maddison ($15.21, WOL vs LEI): Another player who is in the midst of a purple patch, he has attacking returns in six of his last seven games. (M,F)
Ilkay Gundogan ($11.20, LIV vs MCI): He has notched seven goals in his last ten games, and lately the prospect of visiting Anfield isn’t quite as intimidating as it used to be. I like the fact that he’ll also be on penalties for this massively important game.
Allan Saint-Maximin ($4.40, NEW vs SOU): COVID hit ASM hard, causing him to miss nine games (and possible lasting damage) before he returned for brief sub appearances in the last four. Newcastle had poor run of form in his absence, dropping to 16th in the table, tied on points with 17th place Burnley. Steve Bruce needs ASM back in the starting lineup, and the Frenchman could be ready now. And his price won’t set you back very much for the match against a Saints side that just tied their own record for the worst loss in the history of the Premier League. (M,F)
Tomas Soucek ($14.85, FUL vs WHU): With three goals in his last three games, his best Fantrax performances tend to come away from home. This week it’s Fulham at Craven Cottage, so his relatively high price could be worth it.
Jesse Lingard ($1.57, FUL vs WHU): The loanee from Manchester United hit a brace on his West Ham debut, but don’t expect that to become routine. Still, he’s a bargain for the trip across town to face lowly Fulham, worth a punt if you have the mid slot open and need a dime-store enabler, especially in NMA-17 where you have cover.
Ollie Watkins ($13.60, AVL vs ARS): Ollie scored in three of his last four games, and in the one where he didn’t score, he still returned double-digits.
Callum Hudson-Odoi ($5.47, SHU vs CHE): CHO absolutely tormented Tottenham’s Ben Davies yesterday. It’s hard to imagine that Ethan Ampadu will fare any better against Chelsea’s 20 year-old winger, who so far seems to hold a winning ticket in the Tommy Tuchel lottery.
Jean-Phillipe Mateta ($1.00, LEE vs CPL): The 23 year-old Frenchman’s acquisition comes just in time to cover for Wilfried Zaha who is sidelined by a pulled hammy. Mateta netted seven times in twelve appearances for Mainz this season, so he knows how to shoot. It’s always possible that Roy Hodgson could choose to start Christian Benteke or Michy Batshuayi up front, but seriously — would you? Anyway, at $1.00 he’s not much of a risk.
Marcus Rashford ($13.92, MUN vs EVE): Scored a goal and collected 19 points in just an hour’s worth of action against Southampton. Okay, I know: It seemed like even United’s ball boys and back-office staff were scoring against Southampton (everyone except Paul Pogba — Grrrr). But Rashford has as much class as anyone in the side except Bruno, and he costs a lot less than the Portuguese (whom you probably already own at a discount anyway). So Rashford is my pick among United attackers at retail. (M,F)
Callum Wilson ($13.42, NEW vs SOU): Wilson has three goals and an assist over his last three games, and now he’ll entertain a Saints side still reeling from their record-tying 9-0 demolition at Old Trafford.
Michail Antonio ($9.16, FUL vs WHU): Boy, were the Hammers happy to get him back from injury: two goals and three assists over his last five games. And next on the agenda is 18th-place Fulham. I really can’t believe he’s still available for under $10.
Willian Jose ($1.47, WOL vs LEI): The new-boy has now started two games in a row, putting up seven points the first time and twelve the next. He should only improve as he continues to settle in at the Molineux.
Are you investing in the Liverpool-Man City match, or avoiding it? Are you rolling with any new-boys this weekend? Which players are you dropping, and which are you picking up? Please let us know your GW-23 Fantrax thoughts issues in the comments!