PlayON Pro and 2014 Fantasy Premier League champion Tom Fenley analyses the three stand-out fixtures ahead of the Premier League weekend and picks out some key players to consider for your FPL and PlayON line-ups.
Sat 19 December, 2015
Everton v Leicester City, 15:00
Gerard Deulofeu – Midfielder – FPL £6.4, PlayON £7.8
Romelu Lukaku – Forward – FPL £9.2, PlayON £11.5
Riyad Mahrez – Midfielder – FPL £6.9, PlayON £9
Jamie Vardy – Forward – FPL £7.6, PlayON £9.1
The Toffees have drawn three league matches in a row, including a 1-1 stalemate with Crystal Palace in their last match at Goodison, which was salvaged by a late Romelu Lukaku goal to rescue the point. Previously at home, the impressive 4-0 victory over Aston Villa and 6-2 win against Sunderland may have reflected their opponent’s brittleness more than Everton’s ability to secure wins.
In Lukaku, however, they have a striker that has found a consistency and in current form will scare any defence – having scored ten goals in ten matches. Behind the reliable Belgian is his rising star Gerard Deulofeu providing the assists, eight in that ten-game run, demonstrating a growing understanding that should be providing more victories. Roberto Martinez will be concerned about their defensive record as they face table-toppers Leicester after picking up just a single clean sheet in ten fixtures, with the duo above and Ross Barkley vying for attentions it looks set to be another week to avoid the Toffees’ defensive assets.
Leicester, on the other hand, can’t stop winning. The 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the King Power Stadium was their tenth of the campaign and their sixth win in seven outings. The Foxes also have an outstanding pair of players that are providing the overwhelming bulk of goals and assists. Jamie Vardy’s record run may have been ended at Swansea but 15 goals in 16 league games makes it clear the frontman is a threat at any ground.
Riyad Mahrez’s numbers are even more impressive, netting eleven goals and serving up seven assists after playing over two hundred minutes less than his team-mate. Claudio Ranieiri’s side arrive on the back of two 3-0 away victories, though the competition, Newcastle and Swansea, are not currently at Everton’s level.
The Foxes are likely to find it harder on Merseyside having conceded in every earlier away trip and crucially, they’ll be missing their defensive linchpin Robert Huth through suspension.
Sun 20 December, 2015
Watford v Liverpool, 13:30
Allan Romeo Nyom – Defender – FPL £4.6, PlayON £6.8
Odion Ighalo – Forward – FPL £6, PlayON £7.8
Jordan Henderson – Midfielder – FPL £6.5, PlayON £9.5
Philippe Coutinho – Midfielder – FPL £8.5, PlayON £11.8
The Hornets are in a remarkable run of form for a newly-promoted club. Five wins in seven matches with their only defeats coming to top-four sides Manchester United and Leicester City over that period.
In Odion Ighalo and Tory Deeney they have one of the best strike partnerships in the league, the former has already netted ten times this campaign and will be looking to score in a fourth consecutive match. Deeney’s five goals so far have arrived over the last seven fixtures and between them they have ten assists in that run.
The London club’s early season points arrived from a defensive platform that has now delivered seven clean sheets and they are still displaying that resilience with back-to-back shut-outs. Allan-Romeo Nyom is our pick from the back-line, the full-back is their highest scoring defender in FPL and picked up an assist and all three bonus points in the 1-0 win at Sunderland.
Liverpool’s renaissance under Jurgen Klopp stalled somewhat with the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle and a late goal was needed against West Brom to save a point at Anfield. The away victories at Manchester City and Chelsea promised much for the Reds but defensive errors, especially at set-pieces are preventing momentum being established. The return of Jordan Henderson should provide a welcome boost in midfield, while Philippe Coutinho has now started a match and should be approaching the fitness levels required to unlock a stubborn Watford defence.
Up front, Christian Benteke continues to look like a misfit in the fluid attacking play favoured by his team-mates, while the defence has sorely missed Mamadou Sakho who has a slim chance of making the squad this weekend.
Mon 21 December, 2015
Arsenal v Manchester City, 20:00
Mesut Ozil – Midfielder – FPL £9.8, PlayON £12.7
Aaron Ramsey – Midfielder – FPL £8.1, PlayON £11.9
Kevin De Bruyne – Midfielder – FPL £10.9, PlayON £13.3
David Silva – Midfielder – FPL £10, PlayON £13.9
The Gunners have put their customary poor November – where they picked up just two points from three league fixtures – behind them with back-to-back wins, lifting them up to second in the table. They have dropped points just once in their last five at the Emirates, scoring eleven goals in those matches whilst only conceding three.
Aaron Ramsey has filled in for Santi Cazorla and showed signs of returning to the form of 2013/14 that made him an absolute must-have in fantasy teams. The Welshman has two goals and an assist in those two recent victories. At Aston Villa, Olivier Giroud maintained his excellent goals per minutes ratio with a seventh league goal in ten appearances, while Mesut Ozil extended his extraordinary assisting streak with a 13th of the campaign.
City may have won their last two matches at the Etihad but, worryingly for Manuel Pellegrini, they are without a win in four on the road. Whilst two of those results were goal-less draws, they conceded six times in the other two games including four at White Hart Lane. More than anything it’s the one goal scored in that timeframe that looks woeful for a team supposedly challenging for the title.
The possible return of Sergio Aguero should raise spirits and will provide fantasy managers with a typical headache when selecting fantasy teams in the weeks to come. For Monday’s fixture it may be too early to include the Argentine, especially with David Silva failing to have his usual impact over recent matches, following an injury ravaged season.
In defence, Vincent Kompany is unlikely to feature while midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was rested against Swansea so is worth considering.