EPL Game Breakdown: December 17th

After an exciting midweek round of games, the Premier League is back once again this Saturday and there are six games on tap. The following article goes through each game one-by-one, giving a rundown on recent form, set piece takers and player picks for each team. As always, hit me up on Twitter @JamieRHinks if you want any more advice.

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea

Selhurst Park, 12:30 GMT (07:30 EST)

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace Breakdown

Palace boss Alan Pardew looks close to the end after a last gasp 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Wednesday night, James McArthur scoring their only goal. Whilst refereeing decisions have been to blame over recent games, Palace are also suffering from their inability to close out games and once again conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes. The Eagles have still scored the fifth highest number of goals (28) in the Premier League and you can target their attacking players every week of the season as a result. Jason Puncheon is available for selection following his suspension on Wednesday.

Crystal Palace Set Piece Takers

Corners – Jason Puncheon

Penalties – Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace Player Picks

Wilfried Zaha ($7,600) – Pardew deployed Zaha as a centre forward against Man Utd and his impact was diminished as a result. Even so, he still got to seven fantasy points, and given his form this season, the Palace winger is always worth a look.

Martin Kelly ($3,800) – Kelly had a very busy night against Man Utd, making six tackles on the way to seven fantasy points. Expect him to be just as busy against Chelsea and to provide some cheap points once again.


Chelsea Breakdown

Antonio Conte’s men made it 10 straight wins by overcoming Sunderland 1-0 on Wednesday, Cesc Fabregas grabbing a rare goal after being drafted in for the game. That run of victories has been a direct result of Conte’s change of system to a 3-4-3 and in that 10-game stretch they have conceded just two goals. They have also kept a total of nine clean sheets this season, the highest of any Premier League side. Eden Hazard missed the Sunderland game due to a knock and there are still doubts over whether he will be ready to return here. Nemanja Matic could also come back in for Fabregas for this game.

Chelsea Set Piece Takers

Corners – Cesc Fabregas, Pedro

Penalties – Eden Hazard

Chelsea Player Picks

Eden Hazard ($10,000) – Hazard is rated highest by WhoScored.com’s Opta-based ratings for a reason and already has eight goals this season. He also averages 16.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG), the most of any Chelsea player. If he plays, he’s always a decent option.

Diego Costa ($9,600) – Joint top scorer with 12 goals, Costa faces one of the league’s worst defences. The centre forward still had seven points in the win over Sunderland and that was despite him not scoring a goal.

Middlesbrough vs Swansea City

Riverside Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)


Middlesbrough Breakdown

It’s not too early to trot out the relegation six-pointer cliche, and this game is exactly that. Boro boss Aitor Karanka will be hoping his charges can bounce back from a 3-0 humiliation at home to Liverpool on Wednesday that means they’ve still won two of eight games on home soil this season. As Wednesday once again showed, Boro struggle to score goals and have just 13 in total. They’re a side that likes to get stuck into the opposition and have made more tackles than anyone else (337). Alvaro Negredo returned from injury in midweek, but Gaston Ramirez did not play, and it’s touch-and-go as to whether he will be fit to face the Swans.

Middlesbrough Set Piece Takers

Corners – Adam Forshaw, Viktor Fischer, Stewart Downing

Penalties – Alvaro Negredo

Middlesbrough Player Picks

Victor Valdes ($5,100) – Swansea have a rotten away record and it’s something that Valdes can take advantage of by bringing your line-ups a win and clean sheet.

Adam Forshaw ($4,600) – Forshaw has been handed the corner taker’s job by Karanka and ended up with eight fantasy points against Liverpool as a result. He has also had some other decent totals in recent weeks and will give you salary relief elsewhere.

Swansea City

Swansea City Breakdown

Any hopes of a third win for recently appointed boss Bob Bradley were extinguished by a 13-minute Salomon Rondon hat trick of headers, showing once again that the Swans struggle against an aerial threat. Wayne Routledge did score a late consolation but it was their sixth away loss of the season and the Welsh side have not won away from home since the opening day. Only Hull City have conceded more goals than Swansea’s 34 goals, and until they start defending with a bit more conviction, this team look like fighting relegation all season long.

Swansea City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Penalties – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Swansea City Player Picks

Gylfi Sigurdsson ($9,000) – Never let a matchup scare you when it comes to the Icelandic midfielder. Gylfi scored 15.5 points in the 3-1 defeat to West Brom and didn’t have a goal or an assist.

Stoke City vs Leicester City

Bet365 Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Stoke City

Stoke City Breakdown

After being reduced to 10-men early on against Southampton, manager Mark Hughes was happy with how his side defended to grab a valuable point on home soil. Marko Arnautovic is suspended here as a result of that dismissal. What that game did show was how valuable goalkeeper Lee Grant is becoming; plus, they have lost just one of the last six games at home. Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa are both carrying knocks, but Hughes is confident that both will come through today’s training session.

Stoke City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Xherdan Shaqiri, Charlie Adam

Penalties – Charlie Adam

Stoke City Player Picks

Lee Grant ($4,900) – Grant reached 13 fantasy points in the 0-0 draw against Southampton and is averaging three saves per game.

Xherdan Shaqiri ($7,600) – Leicester do not travel well and Stoke’s most dangerous threat is the diminutive Swiss international.

Leicester City

Leicester City Breakdown

The reigning champions remain just four points off the drop zone following the 1-0 loss at Bournemouth, their seventh away loss of the season, and they have picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium. Just six of their 21 goals have come away from home, and, until that form changes, there’s no reason to back them away from home. Danny Drinkwater returns from suspension and Kasper Schmeichel is getting closer to a return.

Leicester City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Riyad Mahrez

Penalties – Riyad Mahrez

Leicester City Player Picks

Riyad Mahrez ($8,800) – Mahrez kept his run of double digit fantasy points games going by scoring 10 points in the loss at Bournemouth.

Jamie Vardy ($6,800) – Vardy scored in both games against Stoke last season and is getting close to being at his best once again this time around.

Sunderland vs Watford

Stadium of Light, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)


Sunderland Breakdown

Sunderland became the latest side to taste defeat against Chelsea, but David Moyes’ side came close to ending their 10-game winning run as a late save from Thibaut Courtois was all that stopped the Black Cats grabbing a point. Moyesy’s men won the two home games before that; however, they do have the worst home record in the Premier League. They are rooted to the foot of the table and know that a win will not take them out of the relegation mire. 10 of their 14 goals have come on home soil this season, and that’s something to look at with optimism if choosing Sunderland players.

Sunderland Set Piece Takers

Corners – Adnan Januzaj, Seb Larsson

Penalties – Jermain Defoe

Sunderland Player Picks

Jermain Defoe ($7,200) – Three goals in his last four home games, he also had an assist against Hull City and is still a dangerous finisher in and around the six yard box.

Victor Anichebe ($6,500) – Missed the game against Chelsea, but in the two games before that had 13.5 FPPG.


Watford Breakdown

The Hornets put up very little fight in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at Man City, which saw them drop into the bottom half of the Premier League. Worryingly, they have now conceded 28 goals and are on a run of three successive defeats away from Vicarage Road. Interestingly they have the worst disciplinary record in the Premier League with 38 yellows and three reds, and this is something to take into account due to the penalties these both carry. 14.7 fouls conceded per game is also the worst of any team. Roberto Pereyra and Stefano Okaka are both out injured.

Watford Set Piece Takers

Corners – Jose Holebas

Penalties – Troy Deeney

Watford Player Picks

Nordin Amrabat ($6,300) – Amrabat scored an impressive nine fantasy points in the loss to Man City and the way he plays is well suited to fantasy scoring.

Jose Holebas ($5,300) – A big threat from set pieces due to his excellent deliveries, Holebas already has two goals and three assists this season.

West Ham United vs Hull City

London Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

West Ham United

West Ham United Breakdown

West Ham dragged themselves four points clear of the relegation zone by beating Burnley 1-0 on Wednesday, Mark Noble scoring the rebound after his penalty was saved by Tom Heaton. It means that the Hammers have lost just one of their last five games at their new home, the London Stadium, but have scored just eight times in eight games. Even after what was their fourth clean sheet of the season, West Ham have conceded 31 goals and have the joint-third worst record in that regard. James Collins may be fit enough to return in this game but Diafra Sakho is unlikely to be available for selection.

West Ham United Set Piece Takers

Corners – Dimitri Payet

Penalties – Mark Noble

West Ham United Player Picks

Dimitri Payet ($9,100) – Payet reached 14 fantasy points against Burnley despite not scoring a goal or laying on an assist. It’s big time performances like that that make him nearly matchup proof most weeks, especially against a team as poor as Hull City.

Andy Carroll ($6,300) – In his first start since the opening day of the season, Carroll had a huge six shots (two on goal) and ended up scoring nine fantasy points.

Hull City

Hull City Breakdown

Hull City’s defence is now the worst in the Premier League after a 3-0 loss to Spurs dropped them to 19th position in the top flight. Mike Phelan’s team have not won in five games and have lost six games in a row away from the KCOM Stadium. On that run, the Tigers have scored just two goals and it has been a struggle in front of goal all season long. Only Middlesbrough and Burnley have fired off less shots than the 153 shots that Hull City have managed, and if you don’t shoot then you can’t score. Dieumerci Mbokani is available once again and provides them with another option up front.

Hull City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Robert Snodgrass

Penalties – Robert Snodgrass

Hull City Player Picks

Robert Snodgrass ($8,100) – Snodgrass is by far Hull’s biggest threat, and he even managed 8.75pts in a 3-0 loss to Spurs. West Ham’s defence is not strong and Snodgrass can always be considered for a line-up spot, especially against a poor back-line like this.

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United

The Hawthorns, 17:30 GMT (12:30 EST)

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion Breakdown

The way that Albion beat Swansea 3-1 on Wednesday night was classic Tony Pulis as Rondon’s hat trick of headers played to their strengths and kept them in seventh place in the table. The Baggies have lost just one of the last six games, and it is the same story when just home games are taken into account. Pulis’ team have scored 23 goals this season, which is the seventh best total in the Premier League and reflects an attacking side of play that we have rarely seen from a team managed by the Welshman. Jonny Evans should shake off a calf injury to face his first club.

West Bromwich Albion Set Piece Takers

Corners – Matt Phillips

Penalties – Nacer Chadli

West Bromwich Albion Player Picks

Matt Phillips ($6,900) – Phillips picked up his fifth assist of the season and it meant a double digit fantasy point return for the fifth time in six games.

Chris Brunt ($4,900) – Two assists in the win over Swansea, Brunt will be busy on the defensive side of things against an attacking Man Utd team.

Manchester United

Manchester United Breakdown

Jose Mourinho’s United team made hard work of a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring the decisive goals. That win means United are on a seven-game run without a loss and only Chelsea are on a better run of form in that regard. United have a nice array of statistics for fantasy managers too. They rank third for tackles (308), fourth for shots (260) and fifth for shots on goal (88). Eric Bailly sustained an injury at Palace and is expected to be out and his name joins a list that includes Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Manchester United Set Piece Takers

Corners – Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata

Penalties – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manchester United Player Picks

Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($8,800) – As he showed with the late strike on Wednesday, you can never count out the Swede’s scoring threat and he now has nine goals for the season.

Paul Pogba ($7,500) – Pogba averages 11 FPPG and his one goal and one assist performance against Palace was worth 25 fantasy points.