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Fantasy EPL: Round 23 Review / Round 24 Preview

After an exciting Round 23, the news of the week has been Manchester City’s decision to quit its pursuit of Alexis Sanchez, allowing Mourinho to make his move. Now, it looks like the Chilean is on his way to the other Manchester team. Rumors have Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the the other way as part of the deal. Personally, although I realize soccer is a business, I can’t fathom any scenario in which Wenger hands Sanchez over to Mourinho. Meanwhile, Walcott completed his transfer to Everton, and, in a much less-heralded move, Alex Pritchard joined Huddersfield from Norwich. As we’re looking forward to the next round, we should see plenty of fantasy points from reliable sources. Yet, there’s one less reliable source that I would like to bring your attention to, and his name is Manuel Lanzini.


Manchester City has an Achilles heel. Its name is Anfield Road. Even in a season as dominating as this one, City’s players couldn’t surmount that challenge, consequently recording their first league loss of the campaign. The Reds were on a mission, and the mission was showing that Coutinho was just another member of a great squad. Oxlade-Chamberlain really stepped up overall and also scored the first goal of the game with a piercing solo effort. However, that goal was canceled out by an equally impressive maneuvering by Leroy Sane. The Citizens tried to dominate possession as always, yet The Reds’ constant pressing paid off, rattling City’s composure to its core in an eight-minute match-defining span. First, Firmino overpowered Stones and beat Ederson with a sleek finish, then Mane increased the lead with wonderfully took left-footed strike from just outside the box. And finally, Ederson’s awful clearance landed right on Salah’s foot, and he quickly converted the gift into a 4-1 score. Pep’s men didn’t give up, managing to grab two goals back through Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan for a final result of 4-3. Seldom do games match expectations, but with Liverpool, it tends to happen more often than not.

Tottenham and Manchester United were convincing at home, keeping clean sheets in 4-0 and 3-0 victories, respectively. Harry Kane with two goals, Heung-Min Son with a goal and an assist, and Paul Pogba with two assists are the players worth emphasizing. Courtois kept a clean sheet, as well, but the strikers couldn’t find the net in a 0-0 draw with Leicester. There were two more home clean sheets – Crystal Palace’s 1-0 victory over Burnley (Bakary Sako) and West Bromwich Albion’s 2-0 win over Brighton in which WBA’s central defenders, Evans and Dawson, brought the three points. The sixth home win in this round came in Bournemouth, where the hosts, led by Callum Wilson (goal and assist), turned the score around versus shorthanded Arsenal. Bellerin was the goal scorer for The Gunners.

Elsewhere, Newcastle failed to overcome Swansea in 1-1 tie (Joselu and Jordan Ayew), whereas Watford saved one more point in the late stages of a match, this time against Southampton. The Saints led 2-0 at the half (both goals scored by Ward-Prowse), but failed to hold the fort, as Gray and Doucoure evened the scoring at 2-2. The only road win came in Huddersfield, where Moyes’ West Ham is slowly climbing the table and trending up. Arnautovic (goal and two assists) and Lanzini (two goals) were the players of the game.

Round 23 highest fantasy scorers

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), David De Gea (Manchester United), Ben Foster (WBA), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham).
Defenders: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Jonny Evans (WBA), Craig Dawson (WBA), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Crystal Palace), Serge Aurier (Tottenham), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Marko Arnautovic (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Heung-Min Son (Tottenham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Paul Pogba (Manchester United).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Jordan Ayew (Swansea).


Brighton vs. Chelsea

– The main news here is that Pedro, and more importantly Morata, will miss the encounter due to their dismissals in the FA cup versus Norwich on Wednesday. Despite not losing, The Blues have lost their killer instinct and will need to find it soon in what is shaping up to be a tense race for Champions League spots. Morata’s red card could be a blessing in disguise, as he’ll have time to rest, relax and reflect in preparation for the second half of the season. In general, I expect a tight affair, as this is one of those matches (against top teams) circled on Brighton’s schedule. With Fabregas questionable, I’m looking for Hazard, and possibly Willian, to step up.

Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace

– Alexis is on his way out; therefore, it’s safe to say he won’t suit up. Ozil is doubtful, while Koscielny and Monreal are still questionable. Ramsey is back, and he could be back in the starting lineup, which otherwise, should be similar to the one in Bournemouth. I’m looking at him, Iwobi and Lacazette as the players who can lift Arsenal’s fallen spirits. Palace can definitely feel The Gunners’ current vulnerable state and will try to take full advantage, although too many injuries might prevent them from doing so.

Burnley vs. Manchester United

– On December 26 (three rounds ago), Burnley left Old Trafford undefeated (2-2). Is it time for revenge, or is it time to show that result wasn’t a fluke? I think that by now we’ve all understood that Burnley is for real. However, they’ve been slumping lately, and that doesn’t bode well for their chances on Saturday. United is a different team with Pogba in the lineup. As long as he’s there, they have to be considered the favorite in these types of matches. With Ashley Young, it’ll be interesting to see whether he regains his starting role, since The Red Devils haven’t conceded in the last three matches with Luke Shaw as the starter.

Everton vs. West Bromwich

– Just as we thought Everton was finding its groove, three consecutive losses and two draws before that (Cup loss to Liverpool not included) have them scrambling for something positive. West Bromwich’s may turn out to be exactly that. Tosun was inserted right into the starting lineups at Wembley, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Theo Walcott there now, as well. As for WBA, a rare win in the previous round is all good, but when the goals come from defenders, it immediately puts things into perspective. Both Hegazi and Dawson are questionable with knocks. I expect an Everton win.

Leicester vs. Watford

– Two entertaining and unpredictable squads face off here in the city of Leicester. Vardy and Mahrez continue to be the torchbearers for The Foxes (with some help from Albrighton). Richarlison’s fire has subsided. Along with the plentiful injuries, we have seen Watford saving points, rather than winning them. I anticipate goals on both sides, with The Blue & White ending up on top.

Stoke vs. Huddersfield

– Mark Hughes is gone. In his place comes Paul Lambert, who has been trusted with the role of saving Stoke’s dreadful season. Players tend to be refreshed by such changes. That, along with the fact Huddersfield is coming to town, should be enough to see The Potters through. Shawcross, Pieters and Glen Johnson are all questionable, with the first two expected to play. Some tweaks are likely, so it’s somewhat risky to pick Stoke players this weekend, despite the juicy matchup. Huddersfield is slowly, but surely, fading away.

West Ham vs. Bournemouth

– Like I said several articles ago, Lanzini is West Ham’s creative force. He connects all of the dots, and with Arnautovic’s help, he has resurrected a lost squad, turning Moyes into a savior in the process. All three natural strikers are hurt and questionable, yet that didn’t stop The Hammers from finding the net four times last weekend. Bournemouth, led by Callum Wilson’s resurgence, is on a similar run. Therefore, we’re suddenly looking at an enticing contest.

Manchester City vs. Newcastle

– There couldn’t have been a better matchup for City in order to bounce back from Liverpool’s defeat. The entire team should have a good fantasy day, but David Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Kevin De Bruyne are the ones I see as standing out.

Southampton vs. Tottenham

– I can’t say anything I haven’t written before. I really like the makeup of this team, but as long as Pellegrino is at the helm, I can’t see Southampton getting out of the whirlpool. It’s worth mentioning that Aurier has taken the starting role away from Trippier. Otherwise, Kane and Son are firing on all cylinders, and are the obvious go-to guys.

Swansea vs. Liverpool

– Can The Reds stumble after the show they put on at Anfield? I certainly hope not, even though this has all the makings of a trap game. Firmino, Salah, Mane and “Ox” are now the four musketeers who need to lead the team to glory. Andrew Robertson looks mighty impressive on the left defensive wing. His competitiveness and relentless spirit remind me of Jamie Callagher. Moreno has his work cut out for him when he comes back from his injury. Van Dijk, Can and Henderson are all questionable.

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