The Surgeons are back to provide a preview of the action and predicted scorelines for this weekend along with some tips for the Fantasy Premier League.
West Brom @ Spurs
Key Factor: Complacency. Spurs come off an impressive win against the league leaders thanks to excellent scouting by Pocchetino. Chelsea’s short right side of the defense was exploited mercilessly by high crosses after attacks down the right to draw the taller left side of the defense away from the penalty area. West brom is a different test with the tallest backline in the league. Hitting Pulis’ team on the break will be key.
Southampton @ Burnley
Key Factor: Cedric Soares. Burnley is a tough place to go. Ask Liverpool. Cedric‘s return is welcomed in light of the turmoil beset by club captain Jose Fonte‘s transfer request this week.
Scoreline: Southampton 1 – Burnley 0
Key Factor: Robert Snodgrass. Eddie Howe’s team has battered far better opponents recently and one would assume they should batter a Hull team with injuries to Craig Dawson and Curtis Davies. That said the Bourmites are poor on the road getting thrashed at bottom dwelling Swansea in their last outing. With Hull’s new boss Marco Silva in the dugout for his first Premier league game Snodgrass will find a way to get something out of the game or possibly win it.
Scoreline: Bournemouth 1- Hull 1
Stoke @ Sunderland
Key Factor: Jordan Pickford. The loss of their star stopper for 6 weeks looms large though he may not have been needed much in this one. Both teams lay in the bottom half for clear chances created.
Scoreline: Sunderland 1 – Stoke 0
Arsenal @ Swansea
Key Factor: Olivier Giroud. Giroud trolls would not care but the frenchman has scored 12 goals from his last 17 shots on target in all competitions, and his minutes per goal ratio in the Premier League is better than Diego Costa’s and Sergio Agüero’s.
Scoreline: Arsenal 3 – Swansea 0
Middlesborough @ Watford
Key Factor: Jose Holebas. In a game destined to be decided by a set piece Holebas’ ‘delivery looks key to any team scoring in this one. Boro’s 10.5 minutes per chance created is last in the league.
Scoreline: Watford 0 – Boro 0
Crystal Palace @ West Ham
Key Factor: Dimitri Payet. What a twat! Payet has declared himself too good for West Ham totally out of the blue leaving the Hammers scrambling for a replacement in January. Payet leads all players in chances creates(73). The next player De Bruyne has 58. The frenchman has been that good. This was a blow large enough to level that spanking new stadium and would demoralize the team for a few games.
Scoreline: Crystal Palace 1 – West Ham 1
Chelsea @ Leicester
Key Factor: Marcos Alonso/Gary Cahill. A very tricky game for Conte‘s men. The customary Leicester game plan to sit deep and hit quickly is the kryptonite to Conte‘s high press which aims to release Hazard, Pedro and Costa into space. Chelsea probably will score but there is danger at the other end as Leicester customarily launch their counters into space on the left of the defense where coincidentally the slower Chelsea defenders reside. Matic and Kante‘s protection will be key to a Blues victory.
Scoreline: Chelsea 1 – Leicester City 1
Manchester City @ Everton
Key Factor: Morgan Schneiderlein. With Idrissa Gueye away at the African Nations Cup and Barry lost a step (or five), Schneiderlein‘s combativeness will be key to marshaling the waves of City attacks. How effective will he be having not started a league game for United all season though? Perhaps not much.
Scoreline: City 2 – Everton 1
Liverpool @ Manchester United
Key Factor: Matip. Matip won’t be the only factor but with Klavan showing notable fatigue over the past few games the Cameroonian’s return would help repel a United attack in much different song than what they faced at Anfield early in the season. Added to that Mourinho’s recent comments have revealed a level of insecurity about his timid posture in the big games. Accordingly we suspect United attacks the Pool back line with numbers in significant portions of the game given the lack of pace in Liverpool’s counterattack with Mane absent. United have their own problems at the back with Rojo and Bailly absent which leads us to think this one will have goals.
Scoreline: Manchester United 2 – Liverpool 2
Fantasy pick of the Week: Junior Stanislas. If you have Aguero then you certainly need a cheap 4th striker. Janislas fits the bill with set pieces in his locker, part of an attacking side and priced at just 5.1M compared to the likes of Matt Phillips and Robert Snodgrass.
Fantasy Drop of the Week: Marcos Alonso. This one rings strange but there’s a logic here and mini-league champions make the ballsy moves. The logic? Nathan Ake’s early recall certainly HAS to be for a reason and informed pundits are suggesting he may have a lingering injury. Added to this we think there are better big hitter options at the back available for less money with better fixtures in both the short and long term; namely either of the Spurs full backs.