We’re back at it again. Another Tuesday/Wednesday EPL bonanza in which Harry Kane could overtake Salah at the top of the scoring chart. But first, let’s review the weekend’s events.
WEEK 16: Fantasy EPL REVIEW
The Manchester derby was full of tension, but all three goals came from defensive miscues. David Silva opened the scoring after having been left alone in the box during a corner kick. Rashford equalized soon after that, when Delph missed the ball and all he needed to do was beat the goalkeeper one on one, which he did routinely. Otamendi’s goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, was no different. Another corner kick, during which Lukaku reacted poorly (like only a forward could) by foolhardily kicking the ball, which deflected of a ManU defender right onto the Argentinian’s foot, who buried it into the net without any hesitation. Both coaches had to make substitutions at halftime due to injuries: Lindelof came in for Rojo, and Gundogan came in for Kompany. City had control over most of the game up to the point when they scored the second goal. Afterwards, Pep decided to strengthen his defense by bringing in Mangala, thus surrendering possession. It could’ve backfired, but luckily for City fans, it didn’t. Now, The Sky Blues find themselves 11 points clear at the top, and it would take a full-scale collapse in order for anyone else to catch them.
Two players who were supposed to be sleepers yet had done very little up until now, woke up and delivered two goals each. Defoe scored both goals in Bournemouth 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace, a game in which Benteke missed a 93rd-minute penalty kick; while Steve Mounie, finally fully healthy, found the net twice in Huddersfield’s 2-0 victory over Brighton. Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool all failed to collect three points. The Blues lost to struggling West Ham, further derailing their hopes of a repeat. Arnautovic scored the only goal in the game. The Gunners rescued a point late versus Southampton on the road. Giroud was the savior once again, having canceled out Austin’s 3rd-minute strike. Finally, The Reds weren’t able to hold onto their 1-0 lead in the Merseyside derby. Later in the contest, Lovren foolishly shoved Calvert-Lewin in the penalty box, and Rooney converted from the penalty spot to give Everton another boost of confidence under new manager Sam Allardyce. The combination of these results benefited Tottenham, who fulfilled expectations at last, defeating Stoke 5-1. Kane did score two, as I predicted, only none of them was from the penalty spot. The other scorers were Son and Eriksen. Stoke’s Shawcross had one of those rare games when a defender finds both nets, his own and the opponent’s.
Elsewhere, Swansea won the clash of bad teams against WBA, with Bony providing the only goal in the 81st minute. Burnley kept another clean sheet, edging out Watford 1-0. I mentioned in the previous article that Arfield will need to step up in place of the injured Robbie Brady, and that he did. Zeegelaar’s first-half red card really doomed Watford. The most entertaining encounter took place at St. James’ Park, where Leicester took home three points in a 3-2 victory over Newcastle. Joselu struck first, then Mahrez equalized, and that’s how it stayed at halftime. Demarai Gray gave The Foxes the lead in the 60th minute, but then Gayle struck back, and they were tied again. A draw was knocking on the door, until Ayoze Perez’s own goal brought silence to the stadium, and gave Claude Puel’s men their third consecutive win.
Week 16 highest fantasy scorers
Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth), Nick Pope (Burnley), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea).
Defenders: Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Scott Dann (Crystal Palace), Alfie Mawson (Swansea), Pablo Zabaleta (West Ham).
Midfielders: Heung-Min Son (Tottenham), Scott Arfield (Burnley), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), David Silva (Manchester City), Dusko Tadic (Southampton), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham).
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth), Steve Mounie, Dwight Gayle (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Wayne Rooney (Everton), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Charlie Austin (Southampton).
WEEK 17: Fantasy EPL PREVIEW
Burnley vs. Stoke
– Let’s get this straight first: Burnley is overachieving! It’s entirely possible they’ll drop off as the season wears on. However, right now, their result-based soccer is producing results. This is another game that should play into their 1-0 comfort zone. Nick Pope is a top-five fantasy scorer among goalkeepers, and he may further strengthen that status after this one. Wood, Gudmundsson and Arfield are currently the main threats. As for Stoke, Berahino might surprise with a good performance, if he gets the chance to start.
Crystal Palace vs. Watford
– Watford has been dealing with injuries and suspensions all season long. The latest “victims” are Femenia (injury) and Zeegelaar (red card). Janmaat and Holebas should see the field from the first whistle and have some sneaky value, although I doubt there’ll be a clean sheet. The Hornets’ hopes will rely on Deeney and Richarlison. It might astonish you to hear that Crystal Palace hasn’t lost in its last five games. Behind an improving defense and a growing camaraderie, they should extend that streak to six. Benteke will certainly look to redeem himself for Saturday’s missed penalty.
Huddersfield vs. Chelsea
– After a while, Huddersfield won. The joy will not last long, though, as Chelsea will be desperate to rebound from the demoralizing West Ham defeat. Some rotation by Conte is to be expected, although a shallow bench does not allow too much movement. My intuition is telling me to take my chances with Bakayoko and Alonso.
Newcastle vs. Everton
– These are two teams heading in opposite directions. Benitez’s Newcastle is spiraling down, while Allardyce’s Everton is healing and elevating. Dwight Gayle is catching fire and is the player to own from The Magpies. Remarkably, Calvert-Lewin has been the most consistent Everton performer this season and has the most fantasy points behind Rooney. Ritchie and Sigurdsson could also be influential in what should be a high-scoring affair.
Southampton vs. Leicester
– These are two very similar squads. Demarai Gray’s insertion into the starting lineup has seemingly injected some positive energy, and Leicester is playing with renewed aplomb. Tadic has been The Saints’ bright spot in a dark season thus far. Austin has outplayed Gabbiadini and Long, earning a spot in the starting eleven during three of the last four games. However, a Wednesday match could signal a potential opportunity for either the Italian or the Irishman.
Swansea vs. Manchester City
– After a crucial victory against their city rivals and main title contenders, this is going to be a relaxing jog for The Citizens. It often occurs that such a mindset leads to nonchalance on the field. Nevertheless, I believe City’s quality will see them prevail fairly easily. I also expect to see Aguero, Danilo and Bernardo Silva on the pitch from minute one. Kompany’s muscle injury will keep him out of the contest, with Mangala taking over his duties.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich
– Klopp’s rotations up front appear to be taking a toll on Liverpool’s consistency. Five players: Salah, Firmino, Mane, Coutinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, and four spots available. Instead of going with the combo that works best, he’s always leaving one odd man (of his choice) out. Playing Ox in place of Firmino might have cost him the game against Everton. In my opinion, Oxlade-Chamberlain should be the odd man out, unless/until someone gets hurt. What will the German coach decide? We’ll see. Regardless of that, Salah and company should provide you with another at least solid fantasy performance. Andy Robertson played the entire 90 minutes for the second game in a row in place of the injured Alberto Moreno. He’s a player worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Manchester United vs. Bournemouth
– Mourinho hates losing. No wonder he decided to create a post-game scuffle in order to interrupt City’s perhaps season-defining party. The frustrations boiled over, but after he lit the fuse and the bomb exploded, the ground has been wiped clean and he can start fresh. Therefore, sorry, Bournemouth, but you’re about to get hammered. I anticipate Mata and Lindelof being in the starting lineup, and it also wouldn’t surprise me if Ibrahimovic is there as well. Rashford is the real deal. He’s my favorite fantasy option from this team.
Tottenham vs. Brighton
– In the Champions League, Pochettino replaces Trippier and Davies with Aurier and Rose. Since it’s a midweek matchup, the same scenario will likely be followed. I don’t think Ryan will need to take the ball out of his net five times, but I’d be crazy not to trust Kane and his scoring prowess. A clean sheet is also lurking (Lloris).
West Ham vs. Arsenal
– Can The Hammers make it two in a row against its city rivals? David Moyes must have been delighted with the result against Chelsea. As unlikely as it seems, it’s not out of the question the confidence boost will help engulf Wenger’s lads, too. Ramsey suffered a knock and could be rested. Xhaka might also give way to Coquelin, while Giroud will hope to get what he deserves. Javier Hernandez is back, yet Moyes decided to play with Antonio as the false nine versus Chelsea. It worked, so it’ll be interesting to see where (and whether) the Mexican fits into the manager’s plans in the near future. Lanzini is the creator, and if I had to choose one player to own for fantasy from West Ham’s roster, it would be him.