Following a long international break, we return to GW12 with a fresh set of eyes. As with always, we recommend holding all transfers to Friday evening, particularly given mid-week changes. We’ve already seen several injuries, side changes, including Aguero fainting in the dressing room. Top matches going into this week: 1) City looking to face Leicester, 2) Liverpool host Southampton, 3) Chelsea visit West Brom, and 4) United host Newcastle. We also have the north London derby featuring Arsenal vs. Tottenham.
Up top, we are opting for full premium. Stacking the top 3 with over +30MM in value, there will certainly be managers who are going to balk, but we think this do-able given the emergence of relatively useful mid-priced midfielders. Firstly, Lukaku. Rom and United have fallen somewhat out of favor as their neighbors put away +3 goals a week on average. At this point, United’s chances of winning the league have already been taken down to less than 7% (implied) by the bookies. At the same time, Lukaku’s ownership is so high that many managers feel as if his differential factor is almost worthless. We still do think Lukaku is the best captain choice this week going into a declining Newcastle side while playing at home. United also face Brighton and Watford in subsequent matches WITH the upside of Paul Pogba’s imminent return.
With uncertainty around Aguero, we’re opting for Jesus to start this week. A healthy Gabriel is the most logical option up top while supported by Pep’s roulette wheel. As with every other City asset, hold and pray is better than swap and spray. In our experience, it has been easier to stick with a couple of players rather than trying to chase who will likely start. City’s form has been undeniable with the squad undefeated in the last 9 matches, scoring at least 3 goals in 7/8 matches, and have seen +2.5 goals (the sides) per game in 8/10 matches which is a fantasy delight. In the event that Aguero does start, we expect Jesus to be subbed on and make a relatively (+30min) reasonable appearance.
Harry Kane will make our squad this week though Morata has the slight edge in terms of the matchup (Chelsea face WBA). Tottenham are on a strong run of form having come off strong wins against Real, Palace, and Liverpool (though losing to United). Harry Winks, Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are expected to return to full flight, helping strengthen the side. Arsenal on the other hand have been shaky in defense and have seen Koscielny struggle with an Achilles injury. Welbeck, Iwobi and Mustafi have all been questionable and will need late assessments.
In midfield – we went for a series of mid-priced options which we think have the ability to rack up points like other 8MM+ category players. Choupo-Moting, Richarlison, and Gross are all affordable options with the first two having the most potential. Choupo-Moting is often used as Stokes main attacking piece and is involved in most offensive moves. Richarlison is an incredibly cheap forward who is currently classified as a midfielder. Gross plays on a less exciting squad and the underlying stats don’t support his returns, yet as a 4th or 5th option, he is far and away better than Tom Carroll or Jack Cork. Salah, whom we’ve been positive on since the beginning of the season, remains in our squad as Liverpool face Southampton. We’ve seen over 2.5 goals scored in Liverpool’s last 3 games, of which, Salah has been a main contributor. Liverpool are undefeated in their last 7 home matches and this shouldn’t be any different.
As for cleans this week, we think Liverpool, Burnley, Chelsea, City, United, and even Crystal Palace are potential shouts for differential defenders. Liverpool plays a Southampton side that has failed to score. Shockingly, Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 7 home matches. Burnley have been incredibly steady defensively and have seen under 2.5 goals scored in 11 of 13 home games. Chelsea have won 6 of their last 7 away matches while City will likely use their offensive firepower to prevent the Leicester from even making attempts on goal. United face Newcastle who recently have steadily slid down the premier league table after a short stint of brightness. We even think Palace have a small chance of keeping a clean this week given how poorly Everton have performed away. Everton have been losing at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 7 away matches.