As we get closer to Christmas, the Premier League games come thick and fast. This weekend’s biggest clash is the Saturday lunchtime fixture between Man City and Chelsea, the winner likely to finish the weekend on top of the pile. The following article dissects that game as well as the six others taking place on Saturday. If you want analysis, set piece takers and player picks, they’re all in here!
Man City vs Chelsea
Etihad Stadium, 12:30 GMT (07:30 EST)
Man City Breakdown
Pep Guardiola is a one of a kind coach who has embarked on a period of reinvention everywhere he has been. At City things are no different. The latest chapter in his Mancunian Tale took in a trip to sunny Burnley last weekend, his charges coming away with a 2-1 win after Sergio Aguero grabbed a brace. In the process Aguero made it to 10 goals for the season and there is only one man that has reached double figures alongside him – Diego Costa. City’s full backs continue to frustrate fantasy players and the best way to garner points from their side is to pick midfielders and attackers.
The form guide shows that City have won just three of six at home this season, drawing the last three. Things look better when it comes to Saturday’s opponents Chelsea, a team that City have not lost to in four Premier League games. Both last season’s games ended 3-0 to City and what Pep would give for a similar outcome this weekend.
Man City Set Piece Takers
Corners – Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva
Penalties – Sergio Aguero
Man City Player Picks
Sergio Aguero – As we alluded to above, Aguero now has 10 goals this season and scored four times in two league games against Chelsea last season.
Kevin De Bruyne – Every time he plays against Chelsea it feels like he has a point to prove and it adds even more to a player who is at the top of his game right now. De Bruyne also leads the Premier League with seven assists.
For around 44 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 over Spurs, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea looked rattled. Christian Eriksen scored the first goal against their defence since the switch to a back three and everything looked a little bit bleak. Up stepped Pedro to curl the ball home from the edge of the area and that change of momentum was critical. Victor Moses scored the second and Chelsea maintained a one-point lead at the top. They have the joint best defence in the league with Spurs having conceded just 10 goals and are the only team to win 10 games.
Chelsea Set Piece Takers
Corners – Eden Hazard, Victor Moses
Penalties – Eden Hazard
Chelsea Player Picks
Diego Costa – Costa grabbed an assist on the winning goal to make it four for the season and to show that there is indeed more to his game than goals.
Victor Moses – Up for the player of the month gong, Moses scored his third goal of the season on Saturday to seal the win against Spurs. It was a game where he also had five crosses including a couple of corners.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Selhurst Park, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Crystal Palace Breakdown
There are plenty that think manager Alan Pardew has just a couple of games to save his job and the manner of last weekend’s 5-4 defeat to Swansea has a lot to do with that. One thing Palace don’t struggle to do is score goals. The strikes from Wilfried Zaha, James Tomkins, Christian Benteke and a Jack Cork own goal mean they have scored the fifth highest number of goals in the Premier League (21). It’s up the other end where the problems lie and set pieces have been a real issue, Palace conceding 13 goals from set plays already this season. The Eagles still sit atop the crossing table (357 crosses), but have also risen to second in the long ball ranks (979 long balls) to further illustrate the direct style that Pardew has turned to. In their recent history, Palace have just one win in their last nine league games against the Saints and it came last season at almost the exact same time of the year.
Crystal Palace Set Piece Takers
Corners – Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon
Penalties – Christian Benteke
Crystal Palace Player Picks
Christian Benteke ($7,100) – Forget any of his woeful defensive work as it matters very little for your fantasy line-ups. Benteke already has six goals for Palace and averages 3.3 shots per game.
Wilfried Zaha ($7,100) – Get Zaha in your side whilst you can as he will not be here in January due to the African Cup of Nations. For now, he has two goals and five assists this season and has provided one of the two in each of the last five games.
Claude Puel’s topsy turvy first season in England continued last weekend, the 1-0 win over Ronald Koeman’s Everton the first time in five games that his side tasted victory. It was Charlie Austin’s sixth league goal of the season and he has accounted for almost half of their 13 goals. That total is among the lowest in the top flight yet it’s worth remembering that Swansea were one of the Premier League’s worst side for goals before last weekend’s 5-4 win over Palace. Remember that Southampton have a Europa League clash on the Thursday following this game and Puel almost always makes changes in advance of European games.
Southampton Set Piece Takers
Corners – Dusan Tadic
Penalties – Charlie Austin
Southampton Player Picks
Charlie Austin ($7,900) – Austin can be relied upon for that oh-so valuable a commodity in football – goals. Against one of the league’s worst defences, he should be on for at least one goal, maybe more.
Cedric Soares ($4,900) – It was a dark couple of months for fantasy players when Cedric was out injured. Now that he’s back, it has equalled two consecutive clean sheets for Southampton and the Portuguese had 14 fantasy points last time out.
Stoke City vs Burnley
Bet365 Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Stoke City Breakdown
It feels a very long time ago that Stoke were being spoken of as possible relegation candidates and last week’s 1-0 win at Watford, courtesy of an own goal, lifted the Potters up to 11th in the Premier League. After opening up the season by leaking goals every week, their back line has been breached just three times in the last six games and that has been the major reason for their turnaround in form.
Stoke City Set Piece Takers
Corners – Xherdan Shaqiri
Penalties – Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic
Stoke City Player Picks
Xherdan Shaqiri ($7,800) – The Swiss midfielder is Stoke’s creator in chief and a player who manages to chalk up a decent fantasy total every week regardless of his contribution to the score sheet.
Lee Grant ($5,500) – Burnley possess one of the worst away records in the Premier League and Grant is averaging 8.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG) this season.
Sean Dyche was left cursing his luck on Saturday as the town of Burnley’s sunniest winter day ever was on the Saturday when the club had the early slot. It meant the linesman being blinded and subsequently missing a blatant penalty decision in the first half. Another thing that will have annoyed him is the level of defending that allowed Aguero to equalise and then grab a winning goal, all that after Dean Marney had put them ahead. Burnley have been awful away from home this season, scoring just one goal, conceding 14 and losing four of five games.
Burnley Set Piece Takers
Corners – Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Steven Defour
Penalties – Andre Gray
Burnley Player Picks
Johann Berg Gudmundsson ($6,100) – JBG has been putting in double digit fantasy point performances ever since Dyche decided to start him on a regular basis. So long as he is not out injured, Gudmundsson is the Burnley pick who makes the most sense.
Andre Gray ($5,500) – Dyche hinted at making a shake up to his team for this very game and the return of Gray, who scored 25 goals last season, would appear to be on the cards.
Sunderland vs Leicester City
Stadium of Light, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
The David Moyes project is in full swing on Wearside and they came very close to taking a point from Anfield last weekend by simply defending for their lives for the entire game. In the end it all came to nought as the Black Cats lost 2-0. Swansea’s win meant that Sunderland dropped back to the foot of the table, but a win coupled with losses for Hull, Swansea and Crystal Palace should be enough for them to see them out of the drop zone this weekend. If you’re expecting goals from Moyesy’s boyesys then don’t as you’ll be disappointed. The Black Cats have managed just 12 in total this season, one more than the worst total in the league that belongs to Hull City.
Sunderland Set Piece Takers
Corners – Patrick van Aanholt
Penalties – Jermain Defoe
Sunderland Player Picks
Jermain Defoe ($6,500) – Defoe has four goals in his last four home appearances for Sunderland including two in his last two.
Victor Anichebe ($5,500) – Anichebe loves playing in a Moyes side and is linking up incredibly well with Defoe, so much so that his value has sadly increased. Even so, you’re getting a striker who has three goals in his last three games.
Leicester City Breakdown
Claudio Ranieri’s team are in full second season syndrome mode, in so much that they are actually doing a worse job than Chelsea at being the reigning champs. The 2-2 draw against Middlesbrough last time out was achieved through two penalty kicks, one for each of Algerian pair of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani. Leicester City have not won on their travels this season and have lost five of their six away games. It leaves them just two points above the relegation zone. On a brighter note, Jamie Vardy had three goals in two appearances against Sunderland last season and the Foxes have not lost to Sunderland in the four games since they were promoted to the top flight in 2014.
Leicester Set Piece Takers
Corners – Riyad Mahrez
Penalties – Riyad Mahrez
Leicester Player Picks
Riyad Mahrez ($8,500) – It’s now four double digit fantasy point games in a row for the Algerian and that run includes three goals and one assist.
Islam Slimani ($6,900) – Mahrez’s counterpart got the equaliser last weekend and that was his second goal in as many games for the Foxes.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Swansea City
White Hart Lane, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Spurs can take plenty of heart from their narrow 2-1 loss to Chelsea last Saturday evening and the fact that they played so well without the likes of Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld shows they do have a certain amount of depth. Christian Eriksen scored the only goal in that one and looked back to his normal self. Spurs still possess the joint-best defence in the Premier League having conceded just 10 goals. The worry for manager Mauricio Pochettino is the recent form and they are on a run of just one win in six games. Even then it was a narrow one against West Ham. Spurs have won all five clashes between the two since Swansea were promoted in 2011 and have not lost to the Swans in 11 games in all competitions.
Tottenham Set Piece Takers
Corners – Christian Eriksen
Penalties – Harry Kane
Tottenham Player Picks
Harry Kane ($8,700) – Kane has burst back onto the scene after a long-term injury and has scored three times in the Premier League since his first game back, which was against Arsenal on November 6th.
Christian Eriksen ($8,400) – Back to his fantasy best, Eriksen had a goal and 12 crosses against Chelsea to reach an impressive 28pts. Swansea’s defence shipped four last weekend and an Eriksen/Kane stack could well be the best basket to put your fantasy eggs in.
Bob Bradley finally earned his first Premier League win last weekend and the manner of it will not matter one jot. Swansea ended the game against Palace with five goals courtesy of a brace apiece from Leroy Fer and Fernando Llorente, Gylfi Sigurdsson grabbing the other. It was the first time the Welsh club tasted victory since the opening day of the season, but the fact they conceded four goals means they possess the second-worst back line in the top flight.
Swansea Set Piece Takers
Corners – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Penalties – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Swansea Player Picks
Gylfi Sigurdsson ($8,600) – The Icelandic midfielder plays against his old club Spurs and he comes into the game with a goal or an assist in each of the last four games for his club. Oh, and he had a mammoth 38.75pts against Palace.
West Bromwich Albion vs Watford
The Hawthorn’s, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom Breakdown
The good ship Tony Pulis suffered a breach when he lost a high-profile court case this week but the good ship West Brom is in no such trouble. The Baggies sit in ninth place in the Premier League and are unbeaten in three games following the 1-1 draw against Hull City last weekend. Gareth McAuley scored West Brom’s only goal in that one to make it to three for the season. West Brom failed to beat or score against Watford last season, but the Hornets have a new manager and Pulis’ luck could change as a result.
West Brom Set Piece Takers
Corners – Matt Phillips
Penalties – Craig Gardner
West Brom Player Picks
Matt Phillips ($6,700) – Phillips is on fire of late and has hit double digit points in all of his last three games. The Scot also has three assists and two goals in that run.
Nacer Chadli ($7,500) – Chadli returned from injury for the first time since the end of October as a second half substitute against Hull City and the Belgian forward already has four goals and two assists after just eight appearances in the navy and white.
If it’s predictability you want then Watford are not the team to follow. Just when we thought manager Walter Mazzarri was guiding Watford onto the straight and narrow they succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Stoke City courtesy of an own goal from Heurelho Gomes. They still sit in an impressive eighth place but their run of W-D-W-L-W-L shows just how hard it is to predict what they are going to do.
Watford Set Piece Takers
Corners – Roberto Pereyra, Jose Holebas
Penalties – Troy Deeney
Watford Player Picks
Roberto Pereyra ($5,900) – With Watford’s other attacking players misfiring in front of goal, Pereyra has been the only one putting in fantasy performances of note and is averaging 15.5 FPPG over the last two.
Etienne Capoue ($6,500) – Capoue continues to confound all his critics by putting in decent fantasy performances and the Frenchman has hit at least 10 points in all of the last four games.
West Ham vs Arsenal
London Stadium, 17:30 GMT (12:30 EST)
West Ham Breakdown
The London Stadium gets its first taste of a London derby in the Premier League when Arsenal are welcomed by West Ham boss Slaven Bilic. After a run of reasonable results, West Ham have hit another patch of poor form and have not won in four straight games following last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Diafra Sakho scored that goal and there are rumours that Andy Carroll will be fit to return this weekend. Carroll scored an eight-minute hat trick in last season’s game at Upton Park and Bilic didn’t lose either time the two sides clashed.
West Ham Set Piece Takers
Corners – Dimitri Payet
Penalties – Mark Noble
West Ham Player Picks
Dimitri Payet ($8,600) – At a price that is lower than we’re used to, Payet put in a shift last weekend as he scored 17 fantasy points. That performance included an assist on their only goal and he averages 16.8 FPPG this campaign.
Andy Carroll ($5,500) – Scorer of that quick-fire hat trick in last season’s match, Carroll is nearing a return and will want to hit the ground running.
Arsene Wenger’s side remain the Premier League’s only unbeaten team away from home and are just three points behind leaders Chelsea after beating Bournemouth 3-1 last Sunday, Alexis Sanchez scoring twice and Theo Walcott getting the other. Arsenal have not tasted defeat since the opening day defeat to Liverpool and look in better shape than they have done for some time.
Arsenal Set Piece Takers
Corners – Mesut Ozil
Penalties – Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal Player Picks
Alexis Sanchez ($9,700) – His brace against Bournemouth made it eight Premier League goals for the season and he will be licking his lips prior to a match-up against a poor, poor West Ham defence.
Mesut Ozil ($9,000) – Ozil didn’t require a goal or an assist to reach 12 fantasy points last week and he scored against West Ham in last season’s 3-3 draw.