Festive period. Buyer beware. Rotations are coming. With multiple games this week, we put together a short starting 11 into Tuesday’s fixtures. Top games we will be watching this week include: 1) Chelsea vs. Swansea, 2) Arsenal vs. Huddersfield, 3) City vs. Southampton and 4) Liverpool vs. Stoke. Chelsea taking on Swansea is probably the most attractive fixture of the lot.
Up top this week we are opting for Morata (armband), Lacazette, and Wilson. Chelsea and Arsenal probably have the best fixtures this week though we are inclined to give Chelsea a slight edge given their strength as a side. After a 1-1 draw against Liverpool, the side sits in 3rd place, 3 points behind United. Anfield has been an incredibly tough place to score goals and it only required a wonder goal from Willian (and/or a very misplaced cross) to secure one point. We think Morata and Co will have an easy time dismantling a Swansea side which has played poor offensively though managed to keep a clean sheet against Bournemouth at home over the weekend.
Lacazette still makes our squad given the lack of great striker options this week. Arsenal struggled at Turf Moor though managed to secure 3 points from a late Sanchez penalty in the 92’nd minute. Burnley played surprisingly well and have been outperforming expectations this season. At the time of writing, City and Huddersfield have yet to conclude their matchup, though the latter has shown some relative instability after their 4-0 loss at Bournemouth the week prior.
We are sneaking in Wilson as one of Bournemouth’s attacking assets but are torn between selecting an offensive piece or a defensive player. Most players on BOU are priced at an affordable range and the team has 3 upcoming easy fixtures before transitioning to harder matchups. We think it is probably fungible at this point for managers to select between a cheap Bournemouth forward, midfielder, defender, or even goalkeeper. Sprinkling 1 or 2 players (max) gives managers the freedom to free up market cap elsewhere.
In midfield, Gross, Zaha, Sane, and Salah top our list. Pascal must be a mathematician because he continues to defy the odds. Playing on 1) a losing side, while 2) not scoring/assisting, the man still managed to snap up 3 bonus points over the weekend. Underlying stats aren’t there but he continues to surprise to the upside. Zaha didn’t manage to find the net over the weekend (reserved for RLC) but we think he remains the best positioned player in a rejuvenated Palace side. With Bentekers returning to full health, we expect Zaha to be moved off his striking duties (which hurts him) but the side as a whole will play better (which helps his overall assist/upside potential). Sane and Salad still make the list. Both are clinical and continue to play on sides which are offensively driven. It’s surprising to see Liverpool where they currently are given the amount their side presses on the front 3. Klopp also surprised many by benching Mane but Salah is far and away more nailed than any other of the starting XI.
Defensively, Chelsea and Arsenal are big favorites. We think Alonso and Mustafi should be cornerstone premium picks for any manager who had the room to do so. For budget options, Mee is still our favorite of the sub 5MM lot. We also think that City could keep a clean against Southampton BUT their performance over the weekend does give us a little concern. It does seem like Charlie Austin will keep his starting position (and rightfully so) giving the side a offensive angle that they’ve so desperately been lacking for the past 13 weeks.