After a confusing GW2, we look upon GW3 with fresh spirits and renewed hope for the weekend.
Things we liked from this week 1) United are still firing on all cylinders, 2) there is opportunity at Huddersfield, and 3) Southampton can score (surprisingly). Unfortunately, the list of things we didn’t like is considerably longer including 1) Crystal Palace are still bad, 2) Liverpool/City should have put up big numbers but severely underperformed, 3) Tottenham playing at home = Tottenham playing away, 4) Chelsea, and 5) West Ham are awful (but Chicharito has some value…somewhere).
Forwards; Lukaku, Gabbiadini, Kane (c). First, we will start with Kane. We haven’t included him in our side the last two weeks. It’s time.
Burnley. Obviously disappointing first two weeks. Twitter is melting down and it’s not because of Trump. Yes, Harry hasn’t scored in two weeks. Yes, he is the most expensive player in the game. Everyone has gone to great lengths to explain away the Kane drought. We have heard everything from ‘new stadium’ to ‘Harry Kane cannot score in August’. But this is about to change with a miracle called Burnley. We still think this is the best fixture of the weekend. Tottenham should do very well against a travelling Burnley which has had difficulty defending. A side that loses to WBA at home, should have reason to worry. Kane will show up. For owners of him, don’t drop him. For owners of other players thinking of bringing him in, we think it’s worth a shout. Tottenham are still top 5 in both shots per game and shots on target per game. Harry Kane currently leads the league in shots per game at an average of 7. That is nearly 2x every other listed name.
Lukaku. Should be self-explanatory at this point but he is the mainframe centerpiece in the United offense. A less stellar performance last weekend but still, reaching the back of the net has owners happy and pushes those who don’t have him to pony up and make transfers. To be clear, we still think owners of Kane are better suited captaining Kane given the differential in ownership and better upside with Harry from a relative/ranking/managerial perspective. If you want to move up, move out of Lukaku is probably the way to go. If you want to be safe, find a way to have Kane and Lukaku on your squad. Captain Harry for the points. Come back and blame us if it doesn’t work out. Outside of that, Lukaku/United are still showing favorable fixtures and mauling teams. We won’t see 4-0 every week. 2-0 will do nicely.
Gabbiadini. Southampton are a team which gets you excited because the players are cheap and have upside but leave you chronically depressed when they underperform. Southampton 3-2 West Ham. Gabbiadini scored and the side won. That is something to cheer about. At the same time, Southampton played 57 minutes of this game with an extra man. They were already carrying a 1-0 lead and should have been 2-0 up ahead of the 45 minute mark. Somehow they let up and almost let WHU walk away with a draw sans Charlie Austin coming in to save the day. We’d probably prefer to keep Tadic as Saints exposure in the midfield (on pens/nailed) vs. Gabbi but there are far better midfield choices hence we are almost forced with keeping Gabs for a week. Alternative striker swaps: Mounie (this week) and Benteke (gross but Palace home vs. Swans).
Midfield: Ince, Mkhitaryan, Mane, Alli. From hardest to explain to easiest. Ince is a 6.0MM midfielder who plays on a newly promoted side (currently 2nd in the EPL). Huddersfield play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ince being the attacking midfielder right behind Mounie (striker). From a heat map/perspective, he might as well have 50% overlap with Mounie. Huddersfield play Southampton at home but then have WHU (A), Leicester (H), and Burnley (A), which are somewhat kind fixtures. For those looking to strengthen other parts of their squad, Ince looks like a potential option (I’d say better this week versus the Atsu, Richie’s, etc of the world).
Mkhitaryan, Mane, and Alli. What can be written about something which should almost be self explanatory. Mhki & United. We’ve talked about this ad nauseam the past two weeks and see no reason to make changes. Mhki is the most forward playing United midfielder. He will be involved in a lot of their attacks (4 assists already). Everyone chasing points via Pogba are probably short-sighted given the difference in positioning between the two players. Pogba has scored and has racked up points nicely. At the same time, he is a holding midfielder with more flexibility than his peer Matic. Mkhi still has the edge up front and in front of goal over the long term.
In what should have been complete wreckfest, Liverpool only managed to scrap together a 1-0 against Palace. Mane picked up a sloppy goal from an assist off a Palace defender. A win is a win. In any case, he is still probably the best attacking asset on that squad though Salah is a reasonable consideration. They play Arsenal this week and will need to field a strong XI.
Alli and Tottenham play Burnley. Alli is still more of a goal threat vs. Eriksen. Spurs were unlucky not to walk away with a win last week given their statistical dominance of the game. 19 total attempts vs. 9 at Chelsea. 68% vs. 32% possession comparisons.
For cleans this week: United, Southampton, Palace, and Tottenham are our favorite picks. United have yet to be scored on, and have almost used their offence to preoccupy any attempts by opposing teams to even render a shot on goal. Southampton/Palace are more questionable choices though we have said that we still like Soton fixtures to come and DO believe that Palace at home this week have a reasonable chance of keeping a clean sheet against a Swansea side which is 4th worst in the league in offensive statistics. Shots per game: 4.5 for Swansea. Dead last in the EPL. Enough said. We also like Davies this week simply because he plays for Tottenham, but otherwise any Tottenham defender as a proxy will also do fine.