Captains across the board failed to pan out in week 17. With popular picks like Kane, Salah, Hazard (Morata), and Firmino unable to deliver, top managers were highly dependent on their midfielders and cleans for outperformance.
Heading into GW18, our main concern is rotation risk. With 3 premier league games across the course of 7 days, managers will look to rest key players while ensuring that their starting XI can still get the job done.
This week we are focused on: Arsenal vs. Newcastle, Chelsea vs. Southampton, West Ham vs. United, and Bournemouth vs. Liverpool.
Lacazette (c), Aguero, Lukaku are our favorites for strikers this week. Lacazette gets the armband given 1) the lack of other alternative choices, 2) easy fixture, and 3) high probability of starting given mid-week rest.
Lacazette and Kolasinac both were rested in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with West Ham in midweek. Our main concern with Arsenal is a potential shift to 4 at the back given the absence of Rambo. Mustafi has also been absent for the last three matches but is nearing a return (which could see a strengthened Arsenal defense allowing for a more offensive formation).
Newcastle have also struggled steadily and will be without their enforcer Jonjo Shelvey who picked up a red card at the end of Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat to Everton on Wednesday. Newcastle have lost 7 of their last 8 matches. Newcastle have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3 away matches.
We are torn with the Aguero pick but given City’s strength as a team and their disgusting unbeaten record, we will opt for him in this ‘derby’ against Tottenham.
Guardiola is still without Benjamin Mendy, John Stones and Vincent Kompany, but in all honesty he doesn’t seem to need them. We generally like to avoid clashes between power teams but in this instance City at home does give them a relevant edge. Man City have scored at least 2 goals in their last 10 matches.
Lukaku is still one of the most owned, hated, and overrated players in the league, yet we are including him given United’s easy fixture this week against a leaky WBA. While Paul Pogba is still serving his final game suspension, United should easily win this fixture given WBA’s lackluster offense and defense. West Brom have failed to win their last 15 matches while failing to score in 5 of their last 7 matches.
In midfield, we are opting for Hazard, Salah, Choupo-Moting, and Lanzini. With Morata’s status unclear, Hazard remains the top pick in the event he is used as a forward. Southampton have actually played pretty poorly on the road, failing to win their last 5 away matches.
Salah remains one of the best signings by any club and will be kept in our squad as Liverpool face Bournemouth. We do think there is a risk he is rested and were surprised when he overcame a slight muscle problem to play 90 minutes in Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with West Brom in midweek.
Choupo-Moting and Lanzini are our value picks this week. There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Stoke’s last 7 home games and this matchup against West Ham will be no different.
For cleans this week, we think Everton, United, Liverpool, and Arsenal have the best odds. Swansea have lost their last 5 away matches while Everton have won their last 3 home matches.
Allardyce is unlikely to change things at the back given Everton’s improved defensive showings. West Brom have failed to score in 5 of their last 7 matches which gives United a good chance of production here.
Bournemouth have failed to win their last 5 matches and will likely struggle against Liverpool.