Chelsea vs Arsenal:
1st place takes on 3rd place at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea host Arsenal. Although Arsenal slipped up against Watford, losing 2-1 on Tuesday and Chelsea dropped points against Liverpool in their 1-1 draw, both teams have identical records over the last 5 games winning 3, drawing 1 and losing 1 so the form guide favours neither team. The last time these teams met in the league, Arsenal won 3-0 but that was before Conte implemented his now popular 3-4-3 formation. I’d expect a much closer game this time round, if I was a betting man (which I am occasionally) I’d pick Chelsea to win 2-1.
Players to watch:
- Costa (£10.4m) – Costa seems to make a habit of being the focal point when Chelsea face Arsenal whether it’s getting Gabriel sent off, his battles with Koscielny or his valuable goals. 33.2% of FPL players are certainly hoping he can get some goals this weekend and add to his tally of 15 goals for the season. Costa’s managed to get 3 goals in his last 5 appearances although only 2 of them have come in the last 5 Gameweeks. He still remains the league’s joint highest goalscorer with 15 goals so it’s hard to expect him not to score.
- Hazard (£10.2m) – Although you perhaps wouldn’t expect it, Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s highest scoring FPL player this season with 134 points. After getting an assist in the midweek game against Liverpool, he overtook Diego Costa to become the joint 2nd highest scoring player in the whole of FPL. With 3 assists in his last 5 games and Arsenal struggling defensively in Hector Bellerin’s absence, Hazard is certainly capable getting some attacking returns.
- Sanchez (£11.9m) – Still the league’s highest points scorer (166 points) and the league’s joint top goal scorer (15 goals) in the league. Interestingly 11 of his 15 goals have come away from home this season. Sanchez has managed 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games and with Giroud getting substituted at half time due to his ineffectiveness and possible injury, Sanchez is more than likely going to be playing as a striker.
- Walcott (£7.4m) – A bit of wildcard choice, Theo Walcott has only just returned from injury but after scoring a hat trick in his return game in the EFL cup against Southampton and his positive performance in the 45 minutes he played against Watford in Gameweek 23, I feel that Walcott could give Chelsea’s defence a lot of problems. He also scored in the 3-0 victory over Chelsea in Gameweek 6.
Crystal Palace vs Sunderland:
In a game that is considered to be a 6-pointer, both sides will be feeling confident after good midweek results. Crystal Palace beat a toothless Bournemouth side 2-0, whilst Sunderland managed to get a 0-0 draw at home to Tottenham. Neither team has shown great form recently with Crystal Palace only picking up 1 win in the last 5 and Sunderland managing 2 draws in the last 5 games. Both team’s defences have leaked goals this season, Palace have conceded 8 goals in their last 5 games while Sunderland have conceded 11 goals, so I’d expect there a few goals in this game.
Players to watch:
- Zaha (£5.5m) –Zaha is Palace’s highest points scorer with 91 points which is the same amount as Arsenal’s Theo Walcott (£7.4m) and Chelsea’s Pedro (£7.0m). The Ivorian has scored 4 goals and got 8 assists this season and given his price, he definitely provides value for money.
- Christian Benteke (£7.3m) –Benteke scored for the first time in 8 Gameweeks when he scored late on against Bournemouth in Gameweek 23. With Sam Allardyce starting to get his philosophy across to his players and the quality they have out wide (Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend, Schlupp and even van Aanholt), Benteke looks likely to add to his 9 league goals this weekend. It’s also worth noting his upcoming fixtures, his next 4 fixtures are rated 2 or under on FPL’s Fixture Difficulty Ranking chart.
- Defoe (£7.8m) –Jermaine Defoe has scored more goals (12) than Sergio Aguero this season, just let that sink in for a moment. Defoe has scored in 10 games this season and has picked up bonus points in 9 of them with 21 bonus points to his name, you can assume that if he manages to get on the scoresheet then there’s likely to be some bonus points coming with it. He’s got 3 goals in his last 5 games and when he faced Palace earlier in the season, he got his highest Gameweek score of 13 points (2 goals and 3 bonus points).
Everton vs Bournemouth:
Everton host Bournemouth this weekend in a game that I expect to have quite a few goals. Everton have scored 11 and conceded 3 in their last 5 games whilst Bournemouth have scored 9 goals and conceded 10 in that time. Weirdly, when they faced off earlier in the season, there was only 1 goal as Bournemouth won 1-0. Everton are unbeaten in their last 5 games – winning 3 and drawing 2, whilst Bournemouth have won 1 and drawn 2.
Players to watch:
- Coleman (£5.7m) – Coleman has scored 39 points in his last 5 games which averages out to just under 8 points per Gameweek. With 2 assists and a goal in his last 3 games, Coleman is certainly reaping the benefits of Everton’s recent formation change to 3-5-2.
- Lukaku (£9.6m) – Lukaku has scored 2 goals and got 1 assist in his last 5 games. Facing a porous Bournemouth defence who Lukaku is fully capable of bullying, he could get himself amongst the goals.
- Stanislas (£5.3m) – Stanislas scored the winner last time Bournemouth faced Everton. Although he has a habit of not always completing 90 minutes, he still usually gets at least 60 minutes and with 2 assists and 1 goal in his last 5 games, it proves he doesn’t even need a full game to get attacking returns.
Hull vs Liverpool:
Hull boss Marco Silva will be happy to not be facing Man Utd after already facing them 3 times in the last month. Both teams picked up draws in Gameweek 23 with Hull getting a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford and Liverpool getting a 1-1 draw against the league leaders Chelsea. Oddly enough, they are also in similar form, Hull have 1 win and 2 draws in the last 5 games whereas Liverpool have 1 win and 3 draws in their last 5.
Players to watch:
- Jakupovic (£3.9m) –Last week I said that he could get a double digit points haul against Man Utd and that’s exactly what he did – keeping a clean sheet, 1 save point and getting 3 bonus points. Hull have looked much better under new manager, Marco Silva and their defence has already improved greatly. With Liverpool still not being back to their best, Jakupovic could get a clean sheet, if he doesn’t then there’s always the opportunity for him to rack up the save points.
- Firmino (£8.4m) – With Coutinho and Mane returning to the Liverpool starting 11, Firmino will be back playing as a striker. He’s already scored 2 goals in his last 2 games and with Liverpool’s “holy trinity” back together for the first time in 10 gameweeks, Liverpool will be looking far more dangerous than in recent weeks.
Southampton vs West Ham:
Jose Fonte is going to be the main focus of this game, with the Portugese defender making a somewhat controversial move to West Ham in January. He’ll be playing for a West Ham team that has seen a turnaround in form recently winning 2 of their last 5 games which has catapulted them away from the relegation zone and safely into mid-table and above Southampton. Although they suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Man City in Gameweek 23, I’d expect a much improved West Ham side this weekend.
Southampton have been poor in the league recently, losing 4 of their last 5 games. However, they’ve played really well in the EFL cup, knocking out Arsenal and Liverpool in the last 2 rounds. This Jekyll and Hyde form really makes it difficult to work out which Southampton team will turn up and it’s even harder to pick their players for our FPL teams. One thing I can safely say is that after losing Fonte through transfer and losing Van Dijk for 2 or 3 months due to injury, Southampton are far less likely to be keeping clean sheets. But it does provide FPL players in budget options in Yoshida (£4.2m), Stephens (£4.0m) and possibly Gardos (£4.0m).
Players to watch:
- Gabbiadini (£6.5m) – Last week I suggested that Shane Long could get on the scoresheet and I was correct, however I also said that his place in the team may not be permanent due to new signing Gabbiadini (£6.5m). Claude Puel has said that Gabbiadini will feature this weekend and I imagine that Long will be the one to lose his place. With Gabbiadini being an unknown quantity at this point, he could turn out to be dangerous.
- Carroll (£6.3m)– Carroll has scored 3 goals in the last 5 Gameweeks and is facing a Southampton backline that’s only played a handful of games together, he could get amongst the goals this weekend.
- Antonio (£7.0m) – Antonio didn’t produce in the last Gameweek from an FPL standpoint but he was up against a Man City side who were after blood. He’s still West Ham’s highest points scorer with 111 points, scoring 8 goals and getting 5 assists in the process with 4 of those assists coming in his last 5 games. Given their fixtures going forward (including games in Gameweek 26 and Gameweek 28), Antonio is a player worth looking at for the next 10 to 12 Gameweeks.
Watford vs Burnley:
This game is the frontrunner to be last on Match of the Day this weekend with 13th place Watford vs 9th place Burnley. Watford have turned a corner recently and are unbeaten in their last 3 games, beating Arsenal 2-1 most recently in Gameweek 23.
Burnley have been in great form… at home, their away form has been atrocious – losing 9 and drawing 1 of their 10 away games in the league this season. They’ve also only scored 4 goals on their travels.
Players to watch:
- Deeney (£6.6m) – Deeney scored in midweek against Arsenal making it his 2nd goal in 2 games. Facing a Burnley side that has conceded 22 goals in 10 games away from home this season, Deeney could do some damage.
- Gray (£6.2m) – Andre Gray has scored 4 goals in his last 5 games and Watford have only kept 4 clean sheets all season and only 1 of them has come in their last 5 games.
West Brom vs Stoke:
The Tony Pulis derby takes place this weekend when West Brom take on Pulis’ former club, Stoke. Sitting 8th and 9th in the league table and both teams in good form, I’d expect a close game. West Brom have 3 wins and a draw in their last 5 games whilst Stoke have managed 2 wins and 2 draws.
Players to watch:
- Brunt (£5.0m) –Chris Brunt has been amazing this season getting 3 goals and 3 assists. All of Brunt’s attacking returns have come in home games this season and with 3 of their next 4 games being at home (and definitely playing in Gameweek 26 and 28), he’s a must have in FPL teams.
- Phillips (£5.9m) – Phillips has got 9 assists this season, the joint 3rd highest in all of FPL. 3 of these assists have come in the last 5 games.
- McAuley (£4.9m) – McAuley is the 2nd most owned defender in FPL, this is mostly down to his ability to score goals, scoring 4 goals already this season. He’s managed to get a goal, an assist and a clean sheet in his last 5 games.
- Crouch (£4.8m) – The big man can’t stop scoring at the moment! With 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games he’s become the league’s most in form strikers. How long he can keep this up for is anyone’s guess, with Saido Berahino getting some minutes in the last game and Bony returning from AFCON soon, Crouch’s games could be limited.
Tottenham vs Middlesbrough:
Two of the draw specialists go head to head when Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham host Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough in the late game on Saturday. Tottenham have drawn 8 of their league games whilst Middlesbrough have drawn 9 games this seaon, they also both have clean sheet totals with 10 and 7 clean sheets respectively. Based on those stats the game should be a 0-0 draw but I can’t see it happening! Middlesbrough have struggled to score goals this season with only 19 goals being scored – the lowest amount of all teams in the Premier League. Tottenham, on the other hand have scored 12 goals in their last 5 games. The form guide suggests a Tottenham win as Tottenham are unbeaten in their last 5 games with 3 wins and 2 draws, meanwhile Middlesbrough have struggled with them only managing 3 draws and no wins in that time. If I was to bet on this game, I’d go for a 2-0 win to Tottenham.
Players to watch:
- Kane (£11.2m) – Although he blanked against a defensively poor Sunderland, Kane is still in pretty good form with 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.
- Alli (£8.9m) – Alli has attacking returns in 4 of the last 5 Gameweeks, racking up 44 points in that time (an average of 8.8 points per game).
- Walker (£6.2m) – Middlesbrough are the lowest goalscorers in the league with only 19 goals. With a record like that you can’t imagine them scoring against a Tottenham side has kept 10 clean sheets this season. Walker has managed at least 6 points in each of the last 4 Gameweeks and has 2 assists in that time which now puts him at 6 assists for the season.
Man City vs Swansea:
Man City host a resurgent Swansea team this weekend with the Swans winning 3 of their last 4 games. Their form is actually better than Man City’s with City only winning 2 and drawing 1 of their last 5 games. However, after demolishing West Ham 4-0 in midweek Man City look more like the team from the start of the season.
Players to watch:
- Sigurdsson (£7.3m) – Sigurdsson seems to have found his old form recently with 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games. With 7 goals and 7 assists for the season, he has found himself involved in 50% of all of Swansea’s goals.
- Sterling (£7.7m) – With 7 assists in his last 8 games, Sterling has provided a constant flow of points over the last couple of months.
- De Bruyne (£10.5m) – The league’s leading assist maker this season with 12 assists which makes him the 5th highest scoring midfielder only behind Sanchez, Hazard, Alli and Eriksen. With 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 2 games and interestingly Guardiola has returned to the 4-1-4-1 formation that won them the first 6 games of the season. In that time KDB notched up 6 assists and 2 goals. With the fixtures that he’s got coming up, the Belgian is certainly worth considering.
Leicester vs Man Utd:
Leicester haven’t scored a goal in 2017 so far and have conceded 7 goals in their last 3 games. It’s safe to say that Ranieri’s team is struggling at the moment. The current champions only have 1 win and 1 draw in their last 5 games and are slipping closer and closer to the relegation zone.
In their last 5 games, Man Utd are unbeaten with 2 wins and 3 draws. For a team that is competing or a top 4 place, that isn’t a great form. In that time Utd have scored 6 goals and conceded 3, so there hasn’t been lots of goals in their games as of late.
Players to watch:
- Valencia (£5.5m) – With Phil Jones possibly injured, Valencia is the only nailed on defender for Man Utd. Leicester are yet to score a goal in 2017 so there’s a good chance of Valencia keeping a clean sheet. Considering how much he likes to get forward, there’s always a chance of him getting an assist.
- Ibrahimovic (£11.7m) – Although his form has slowed down slightly recently, Ibrahimovic is still a worthwhile choice with 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 games and being Utd’s main attacking threat. Taking his fixtures for the next 10 or so Gameweeks into account, I’d suggest he’s worth keeping for those who own him.