With a welcome return to Premier League action this weekend @IPredictAPayet reveals the teams with favourable fixtures ahead and names their players to target
Liverpool (SOU, CHE, stk, bha, EVE)
Maybe I’m slightly biased in picking out my own team as having a few winnable games coming up but I think I’ve got a point. Since the mauling at Wembley at the hands of Spurs, Liverpool have comfortably dispatched Huddersfield before cutting West Ham to ribbons on the counter attack before the break.
The Reds have endured a mixed international fortnight, with Sadio Mane’s now customary injury being the headline. However, Egypt kindly let star man and national hero Mo Salah have a week off while the usual air miles picked up by Brazilian pairing Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were reduced significantly thanks to a Tuesday night return from Wembley. A home tie against an uninspiring Southampton side should be a nice way to get back into a rhythm.
Out of the next five fixtures, four are against struggling opposition. With Liverpool’s track record in recent years, most fans will look ahead to Chelsea’s visit to Anfield with more optimism than the other games but Southampton, Stoke City, Brighton and Everton represent opposition that should give plenty of opportunity for Liverpool’s big FPL hitters to fill their boots.
In draft terms, the likes of Coutinho, Firmino, Salah and Mane will almost definitely be owned (if not, is anyone else in your league?) but now would be a good time to sniff around for a trade or two ahead of a nice run of fixtures.
As for those who aren’t owned, full back Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez & Trent Alexander Arnold represent very good value and plenty of chance for a big haul or two. Moreno seems to have the left back position nailed down and his offensive contributions always lead to a good opportunity for points. Nathaniel Clyne’s extended absence means the right back spot is up for grabs. Gomez has got the nod so far this season but his international exploits may mean Alexander Arnold, the more attacking of the two, gets his chance this weekend.
Chelsea (wba, liv, SWA, NEW, whu)
Arguably another obvious pick, the reigning champions will be licking their lips at the prospect of a nice run of fixtures. West Brom look (uncharacteristically) like relegation fodder at the moment and Chelsea will be expected to run out comfortable runners this weekend.
A trip to Anfield (a winnable trip to Anfield) is the only potential banana skin in a kind run that includes welcoming Swansea and Newcastle United before a London derby at West Ham.
With Eden Hazard on the brink of getting back to his brilliant best, Conte’s men will look to kickstart another run similar to the one that propelled them to the title last season. The only thing stopping them at the moment is the constant flow of injuries that they seem to be cursed with, something they luckily avoided in last season’s success.
Crucially, N’Golo Kante returned before the international break, freeing up the big hitters to work their magic and score the points for us.
Hazard and Alvaro Morata are simply must owns in the official game. If you can trade for them in a draft game, go for it (I took part in a mid season draft this week and took Hazard in the first pick of the first round) but you will, no doubt, have to pay a big price to secure their signatures.
More gettable targets for a trade are Spaniard pairing Marcos Alonso and Pedro. Ninety Nine percent of Alonso’s OFPL owners will have kissed goodbye to last year’s attacking defensive revelation many gameweeks ago and plenty of draft owners have been left regretting a hastily planned 3rd/4th round pick. Apart from his double against Spurs early on, Alonso has struggled to find the net or even assist this season and Chelsea’s defensive frailties have only served to decrease his value.
Having said this, he is still a very enticing fantasy option. He’s still one of Chelsea’s most advanced attackers and the return of Kante will only encourage him to make even more of those surging runs into the opposing box. There’s no doubt Alonso will produce a big haul in the coming weeks so maybe it’s time to get back on the bandwagon before it starts rolling again.
As for Pedro, his playing time is incredibly inconsistent but Chelsea are a much better team when he plays. The tricky Spaniard provides the perfect foil for Hazard and showed exactly what he’s capable of with a stunning goal and equally exquisite assist three gameweeks ago. I write this as a man who has just traded Pedro away and is wondering whether that was in fact the right choice.
Bournemouth (HUD, swa, BUR, SOU, cry)
After a torrid start to the season, Bournemouth are showing shoots of revival with some solid performances in recent weeks. A typically dogged display away at Newcastle was rewarded by a stoppage time Steve Cook winner (no, he wasn’t in my team either) to add to another success on the road against Stoke City.
Eddie Howe’s side had been all but written off as relegation fodder a few weeks ago but snatching all three points at St James Park will have sparked much warranted optimism ahead of an appetising run of fixtures for The Cherries.
Hosting Burnley at the end of this month looks like the hardest assignment in the next five, which tells you exactly how kind the fixture computer has been to Bournemouth for the next few weeks. Their two away games in that spell are against the current bottom two. Throw in a south coast derby with struggling Southampton and you could say that if you found that a Bournemouth fan had programmed that fixture computer, you wouldn’t be too surprised.
You’d be forgiven for previously scrolling past Bournemouth’s defence when looking to strengthen your fantasy roster but now they are starting to look like a must own budget option. Charlie Daniels has great attacking potential (as always) and will surely get ample opportunity to bomb down that left flank in coming weeks, while Steve Cook and Simon Francis scored 23 and 31.75 (thanks to an incredible 16 aerial duels won) respectively in Togga in their last outing. All three are likely to be available in your draft league and are well worth a pick up, with Nathan Ake is also a solid option.
In terms of offensive potential, Bournemouth are slightly more limited. Jermain Defoe continues to frustrate the living daylights out of fantasy managers looking for a sneaky differential but that’s nothing compared to the heartache suffered by Josh King owners, especially draft managers who will have had to use an early pick to get him. The latter continues to suffer from niggling injuries this season but if he does manage to pass any fitness test in upcoming weeks then he’s a must start. Definitely due a goal.
My (not so) sneaky pick would be Callum Wilson who is looking sharp after returning from his lengthy lay off. Like Defoe, Wilson knows where the goal is but is much more mobile and will be involved in the majority of what The Cherries do going forward. I’d be amazed if Wilson doesn’t notch his first Premier League goal since January in the next few weeks.
Please note, Bournemouth’s next fixture after this run of five is a trip to Old Trafford. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Crystal Palace (EVE, STO, bha, wba, BOU)
Crystal Palace are not a good team. They do, however, have some favourable fixtures to look forward to which is what this article is about.
To be fair to them, Palace have started to stutter in to life after a nightmare start, but it is still only a stutter at this stage as four points after 11 games is still absolutely woeful.
The fans (who I think are the best in the league) will be satisfied by the battling performance last time out against a Spurs side fresh from demolishing Real Madrid and it could have been so much better had Wilfried Zaha managed to steer the ball into an empty net.
Their horrible start has included games against Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea so the next five fixtures will be welcome relief for a defence that has been overworked so far this season.
Having said that, I’d still avoid Palace defenders at all costs. Yes, they kept out Harry Kane, but that back four (Sakho included) belongs in the Championship and I can still see them shipping goals against the weaker opposition that they are set to face.
It’s the front three/four that interest me. Yohan Cabaye has started to look like that creative genius Newcastle were so desperate to keep and has scored double figures in Togga on four occasions, creating 19 chances for his team mates.
Andros Townsend also leads the way in successful take ons out of anyone in the league so manages points without converting them to goals or assists a lot of the time (luckily for him), while Zaha is, quite frankly, their best player by a long way.
You’d be paying a high price for Zaha but the other two should be available for trades in draft leagues at a low price, as should the returning Christian Benteke who could explode in to life in the next few weeks (he can’t be any worse than he has been, at least).
If it’s going to happen for Crystal Palace this season, it’s got to happen now so it may pay dividends for your fantasy team to own a part of the latest Premier League “Great Escape”.
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