Heading into GW8, fixtures that stick out include 1) Chelsea on the road at Palace, 2) Arsenal visiting Watford, 3) Tottenham at home to Bournemouth, and 4) City at home to Stoke. Unsurprisingly, much of our team this week will draw from these select fixtures, which are expected to be one sided affairs.
Forwards: Kane, Jesus, Lacazette. Up top, very little deviation from the norm. At this point in the season, it is clear that Kane, Morata, Lukaku, Jesus/Aguero, and Lacazette have established themselves as capable heavy hitters and are starting to justify their premium price tag. With those big 6 firing on all cylinders, we expect most teams in the league to start two of six power players each week. Vardy and Firmino are discount options though the latter has been underperforming significantly. Historically the concern with Vardy is that Leicester, as a team, are much weaker than their peers and as a result, are less likely to produce big haul 3-0 or 4-0 score lines. Opting for a 3-power-forward strike force is certainly doable but at the cost of being forced to start two sub-5.5MM midfielders (where there is very little choice for good options; arguably none).
Kane and Tottenham will host Bournemouth at home. Irrespective of superstition, Bournemouth have generally been bad at the back and will give Tottenham plenty of opportunity to score. Jesus & Co were fortunate to grab 3 points over the weekend during their visit to Stamford Bridge.
City remains dominant without Kun and are still favorites to win the league. With moderate fixtures against Burnley and WBA in forthcoming weeks, we find good reason to keep Jesus in the squad and expect his starting position to be nailed with Aguero sidelined.
Lacazette was unfortunate not to score in GW7, hitting the woodwork in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Brighton. Wenger has continued to clip 3 points here and there, administering a silent blow to his critics. Arsenal now sit on even points with Chelsea in the league though consensus perception would have you think that Chelsea would be far and above. Arsenal still have a nice run of fixtures in the near-term with Watford, Everton, Swansea before running into City and Tottenham. Lacazette is starting to jive with the side tactically and we expect his performance to improve overtime as Ozil works his way back into the side.
Lacazette scored a nice brace last week with a goal in open play and a wonderfully taken penalty. With him and Sanchez on the pitch, it is clear now that Lacazette is on pens, which gives his fantasy outlook a positive boost. Arsenal are up against Brighton this week (who played well against Newcastle) and will look to continue to relieve the pressure on Wenger. With a win here, and a Chelsea loss to City, there are scenarios where Arsenal and Chelsea could be in the same spot in the table after this weekend. Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in their last 6 home matches. They have generally played well at home and have even managed to keep 6/8 cleans.
Kane. Tottenham travel to play Huddersfield. Harry Kane has really shown that he is much more comfortable on the road than at Wembley. Tottenham have scored at least 2 goals in their last 5 away matches. Huddersfield, on the other hand, started the season extremely bright but have recently failed to win a game in their last five competitive matches. We do not expect any major changes to the spurs side. Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli both sat out the squads midweek 3-0 win over APOEL and will be set to play. Christian Eriksen also missed the Champions League encounter presumably to ensure that he is fit for the weekend.
In midfield, Alli, Willian, Sterling, and Stephens are our picks for this week. Eriksen and Alli remain top picks for anyone looking to pickup Tottenham coverage. Despite the difference in YTD statistics, we continue to believe that Alli is more of a goal threat in any given game. In their matchup against Huddersfield, Alli was unlucky not to score after hitting the woodwork. Bournemouth have lost their last 3 away matches while Tottenham have won their last four matches in all competitions. This should be a layup fixture for Spurs.
With Morata suffering from injury and N’Golo Kante sidelined, we think Willian could emerge as a sneaky option this week in a thin Chelsea offense against a struggling Palace side. Danny Drinkwater also remains a doubt which leaves very few options in the midfield. Our guess is Conte will opt for Batshuayi/Hazard up top, leaving Pedro/Willian as attacking midfield assets. In that scenario, Willian is an extreme discount option into a side that should comfortably walk away with a win. Crystal Palace have lost their last 8 matches and failed to score in each game. Chelsea have won 8 of their last 9 away matches and should win convincingly this weekend.
We expect City to line up this week in a 4-3-3, with Sane-Jesus-Sterling up top. Sterling, the cheapest of the three, has been incredibly efficient from a minutes/fantasy points perspective (5 goals/388 minutes). City at home should be another dominant performance (note: City have won their last 8 matches with an average of +3 goals per game). Stoke are still dealing with a series of injuries including Ngoy, Ireland, Haugaard, Shawcross, and now potentially Joe Allen. Stephens is our budget option this week with Brighton facing up against Everton. Brighton have played well at home while Everton have failed to win their last 11 away matches.
In defense this week, cleans galore are expected across Arsenal, Chelsea, City, and Tottenham. Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in their last 4 matchups while Watford have failed to win at home 5 times in a row. Watford have been modest with offensive statistics raking 13th in the league for shots per game. Chelsea face an abysmal Palace side without Benteke, Wickham, and Loftus-Cheek. A potential return by Zaha may give the side an emotional boost.
Few changes are expected at Stoke with the exception of Jese, who was not present for Stoke’s 2-1 win over Southampton due to personal reasons. Tottenham will face a Bournemouth side with King and Fraser potentially missing. For more reasonably priced defenders, we recommend Southampton assets (Yoshida/Cedric/Bertrand). Of all teams going forward, Southampton have 1) Newcastle, 2) WBA, 3) Brighton, 4) Burnley, before facing off against Liverpool. 75% of these matchups could easily see clean sheets.