Premier League action is back this Saturday before taking a week off for the FA Cup, and there are six games on the main slate. This article goes through each game one-by-one and provides form, set piece takers and player picks.
Middlesbrough vs Everton
Riverside Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Middlesbrough slipped to just a point above the drop zone after last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur, and that made it no wins in seven games in the Premier League. Aitor Karanka’s team simply don’t score enough goals and have just 19 strikes to show for the season after 24 games. Boro had no shots on target against Spurs and have had the lowest number of shots in the Premier League this season (217). After tweaking his formation for a few games, Karanka seems to have settled on a 4-3-3 formation that utilises plenty of pace out wide in the shape of Adama Traore. In terms of injuries, George Friend and Gaston Ramirez are close to a return this weekend.
Middlesbrough Set Piece Takers
Corners – Stewart Downing, Adlene Guedioura
Penalties – Alvaro Negredo
Middlesbrough Player Picks
Adama Traore ($5,000) – Traore looks to be a permanent fixture in the side and has 9.75 FPPG over his last four Premier League games.
Fabio ($4,200) – The Brazilian full back scored 9.75 fantasy points against Spurs and often gets close to 10pts despite the fact he is yet to score or earn an assist this season.
Ronald Koeman’s Everton side quite literally hit Bournemouth for six last weekend when a four-goal show from Romelu Lukaku powered them to a 6-3 win. James McCarthy and Ross Barkley got the other two goals and they sit just seven points off the top four, an unlikely but not insurmountable margin. Everton are the Premier League’s in-form side after their latest win made it seven games without a loss and are looking strong right now. Koeman changed the formation ever so slightly in that game, playing a 4-3-3 that saw the fantasy value of Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman drop, but the latter still managed an assist.
Everton Set Piece Takers
Corners – Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley
Penalties – Leighton Baines
Everton Player Picks
Romelu Lukaku ($8,700) – His four-goal effort means that the Belgian centre forward is the Premier League’s top scorer on 16 goals.
Ross Barkley ($6,800) – Ended Saturday’s game with a goal and an assist, and has hit double-digit fantasy points in six consecutive games.
Man Utd vs Watford
Old Trafford, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Man Utd Breakdown
United made easy work of Leicester City last Sunday, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata all scoring in a 3-0 win that made it 15 games unbeaten in the Premier League. The win was an important one as it followed three consecutive draws, and that goes a long way to explaining why Jose Mourinho’s team still sit in sixth, two points off fourth. No side has drawn more times at home than United’s six. The United boss played a 4-4-2 on Sunday, Mkhitaryan and Mata out wide and Ibrahimovic up front alongside Marcus Rashford. United have a busy couple of weeks coming up with Saint-Etienne visiting Old Trafford on the Thursday following this game. Expect rotation.
Man Utd Set Piece Takers
Corners – Juan Mata
Penalties – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Man Utd Player Picks
Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($9,700) – Ibrahimovic made it 15 goals for the campaign by scoring the opener against Leicester.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan ($7,800) – The Armenian helped himself to a goal and an assist on a 23.75 fantasy point day.
Watford are alive and breathing once again after they made it four games unbeaten by overcoming Burnley 2-1 on Saturday, Troy Deeney scoring and M’Baye Niang registering his first for his new club. It leaves the Hornets on 30 points and they will know that a couple more wins will see them safe. After winning at Arsenal just a couple of weeks ago, they will carry plenty of confidence to Manchester. Mazzarri has settled on a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 formation in the last two games, and will likely play a five-man midfield in this game and leave Deeney to plough a lone furrow up front. Watford have scored two or more goals in three consecutive games for the first time in the Premier League and will hope to welcome back Nordin Amrabat from injury.
Watford Set Piece Takers
Corners – Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue
Penalties – Troy Deeney
Watford Player Picks
M’Baye Niang ($5,100) – Celebrated his home debut for the club by scoring a goal and assisting Deeney’s strike.
Jose Holebas ($4,300) – Holebas returned to the side by grabbing an assist…and a booking, of course.
Stoke City vs Crystal Palace
Britannia Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
Stoke City Breakdown
After a promising run of four games unbeaten, Mark Hughes’ team are now without a win in three fixtures following a tight 1-0 loss at West Brom on Saturday. The Potters still sit in 11th place in the Premier League, a full nine points off the drop and are unbeaten in six home games in the top flight. Hughes is continuing with a 4-2-3-1 formation that is getting stronger by the week as more players return from injury. Peter Crouch is leading the line well but both Mame Biram Diouf and Wilfried Bony will be pushing for starts after returning from the AFCON.
Stoke City Set Piece Takers
Corners – Charlie Adam
Penalties – Charlie Adam
Stoke City Player Picks
Peter Crouch ($5,000) – Still in a rich vein of form (four goals in six PL games) and gets to face one of the Premier League’s worst defences this weekend.
Erik Pieters ($4,500) – Pieters has 10.5 FPPG over the last two including four tackles won per game and a smattering of points in other scoring categories.
Crystal Palace Breakdown
The way Palace disintegrated before half-time in last week’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at home to Sunderland will have Sam Allardyce doubting whether he can get this team out of the rut they’re in, and ultimately secure Premier League survival. They have earned four points from a possible 21 since Allardyce took charge and kept a single clean sheet in that time. The manager should take heart from the fact that all four points have come away from home, but those four goals on Saturday mean Palace have now conceded 45 for the season. Palace started last Saturday’s game in a 5-4-1 formation that changed to 4-4-2 in the second half but it’s expected that the manager will revert to 5-4-1 for this game.
Crystal Palace Set Piece Takers
Corners – Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon
Penalties – Yohan Cabaye
Crystal Palace Player Picks
Wilfried Zaha ($7,300) – Even on an ugly afternoon for Palace, Zaha scored 9.5 fantasy points and he is their biggest threat going forward.
Christian Benteke ($6,600) – Benteke had a team-high eight shots in the loss to Sunderland and scored 10 fantasy points.
Sunderland vs Southampton
Stadium of Light, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
David Moyes got his biggest win by some margin since taking charge of the ailing Rokerites, the 4-0 win at Palace coming courtesy of a Jermain Defoe brace and strikes from Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong. Sunderland remain bottom of the league but are level on points with Palace and just two points off 15th placed Middlesbrough. The win came off the back of a six-game run where Sunderland picked up just two points, but the return of Kone from the AFCON seems to have worked wonders as they have not conceded in those two games. Moyes played a 3-5-1-1 formation on Saturday, new signing Bryan Oviedo taking to his new side like a duck to water as a left wing back. Central defender Papy Djilobodji is still suspended for this one, and there are doubts about John O’Shea, Adnan Januzaj and Jack Rodwell.
Sunderland Set Piece Takers
Corners – Adnan Januzaj
Penalties – Jermain Defoe
Sunderland Player Picks
Jermain Defoe ($6,500) – Improved to 14 goals for the season on Saturday and scored 26.5 points in the process.
Adnan Januzaj ($4,200) – Even though he is questionable for this clash, I think Januzaj should be considered thanks to the two assists he picked up last weekend to make it three for the season.
Saturday’s 3-1 loss to West Ham was the fifth time in six games that Claude Puel’s side have tasted defeat, and it has seen the Saints slip to 13th position. The inexplicable drop in form has coincided with a long-term injury to Virgil van Dijk and the departure of Jose Fonte to West Ham, and to say their defence is struggling would be an understatement. Manolo Gabbiadini scored on his debut after transferring from Napoli and played as the centre forward in a 4-3-3 formation that saw Sofiane Boufal return after the AFCON.
Southampton Set Piece Takers
Corners – James Ward-Prowse
Penalties – Dusan Tadic
Southampton Player Picks
Manolo Gabbiadini ($6,700) – Scored 19.5 fantasy points on his debut and is facing the league’s bottom side in Sunderland.
Cedric Soares ($5,100) – Soares maintained his season average of 9.3 FPPG by scoring 10.5 fantasy points in the loss to West Ham.
West Ham United vs West Bromwich Albion
London Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)
West Ham United
West Ham United Breakdown
West Ham once again showed they are more than a match for every side outside the top six by hammering Southampton 3-1 at St Mary’s last Saturday, Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble scoring their goals. It lifted the Hammers into the top half and on to 31 points, a figure that at this stage of the season almost definitely secures their top flight status for another season. Cheikhou Kouyate returned to the side last weekend, and it was something West Ham needed given the injury to Angelo Ogbonna
West Ham United Set Piece Takers
Corners – Robert Snodgrass
Penalties – Mark Noble
West Ham United Player Picks
Andy Carroll ($6,200) – The towering centre forward has four goals in his last four Premier League appearances.
Robert Snodgrass ($7,900) – Slowly playing himself into his new team, Snodgrass scored eight fantasy points on his first start in Claret and Blue.
West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich Albion Breakdown
Tony Pulis’ West Brom side kept just their second clean sheet in 12 games to stay in eighth place after a 1-0 win over Stoke City courtesy of a James Morrison goal. This is unchartered territory for the Baggies, who are just 11 points off the top four and five clear of ninth placed West Ham. Pulis played a 4-2-3-1 like usual last time out, new signing Jake Livermore putting in a man of the match performance in front of the defence alongside Darren Fletcher. Jonny Evans has still not been able to return from a niggling calf injury, and Claudio Yacob is a doubt following the appendicitis that kept him out of the win over Stoke.
West Bromwich Albion Set Piece Takers
Corners – Chris Brunt
Penalties – Nacer Chadli
West Bromwich Albion Player Picks
Chris Brunt ($5,500) – Brunt had nine crosses and 8.25 fantasy points against Stoke and the left back will likely have a busy afternoon against the West Ham wide men.
Nacer Chadli ($5,000) – Chadli made his first contribution to the goal or assist column (one assist) in some time and scored 8.75 fantasy points in the process.
Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur
Anfield, 17:30 GMT (12:30 EST)
This week’s marquee matchup takes place at Anfield, the home side now out of the top four following last week’s disastrous 2-0 loss at Hull City. It means that Jurgen Klopp’s side are without a win in five top flight games, and another loss here would almost certainly see them slip behind hated rivals Manchester United. Liverpool are almost back to full strength following the return of Sadio Mane, and, as a result, it’s hard to see why things are still going so catastrophically wrong.
Liverpool Set Piece Takers
Corners – James Milner, Philippe Coutinho
Penalties – James Milner
Liverpool Player Picks
Philippe Coutinho ($8,400) – Coutinho still managed 13.25 fantasy points against Hull and that was despite being on the losing side.
Sadio Mane ($7,900) – Mane showed enough cross category performance to score 8.25 fantasy points on his return to the starting XI and should only improve.
Tottenham Hotspur Breakdown
Really and truly, Spurs look the only side equipped with the tools to get within touching distance of Chelsea at the summit and recorded a straightforward 1-0 win over Middlesbrough last time out thanks to a Harry Kane penalty. Tottenham are still yet to lose a home game all season, and their two losses is the lowest of any side in the Premier League. Eight draws is the joint-third highest figure and goes to show why the margin between them and Chelsea stands at nine points. Spurs have conceded the least number of goals (16) and are on a nine-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur Set Piece Takers
Corners – Christian Eriksen
Penalties – Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur Player Picks
Christian Eriksen ($9,500) – Eriksen put up 18 fantasy points last weekend, and it was the second consecutive game where he has reached well above 10pts.Harry Kane ($8,900) – Scored on this ground last season and helped himself to 17 fantasy points last time out against Middlesbrough.