EPL Game Breakdown: February 4th

There’s a big eight game slate this Saturday in the Premier League, and for the purposes of this Game Breakdown article I have chosen the seven games taking place from 3pm onwards to coincide with the timing of the very biggest contests on DraftKings. In this piece you will find a look at current form, formations, set piece takers and one-to-two player picks per team.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you have any specific questions @JamieRHinks.


Crystal Palace vs Sunderland

Selhurst Park, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace Breakdown

Palace ended a long run without a win by overcoming Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday night, goals from Scott Dann and Christian Benteke handing Sam Allardyce his first league win in charge. Even with that win Palace still sit in the relegation zone on 19 points, two points back of a trio of sides including Swansea, Middlesbrough and champions Leicester. Those goals were the first in four games but it was the other end where Allardyce was happiest, the back five and ‘keeper achieving just a second league clean sheet of the season. The recently appointed manager once again played a 5-4-1 formation that utilises attacking full backs in the shape of new signing Patrick van Aanholt and Joel Ward. Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon played out wide with Christian Benteke the lone centre forward. New signings Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho will both be pushing for a start and Jeffrey Schlupp may be fit enough to return.

Crystal Palace Set Piece Takers

Corners – Yohan Cabaye

Penalties – Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace Player Picks

Wilfried Zaha ($7,300) – Did everything but score on his return from the AFCON on Tuesday night. Zaha ended that game with 12.5 fantasy points and is just as matchup proof as he was before he left.

Patrick van Aanholt ($4,700) – Playing against a manager who derided him for much of his time on Tyneside, van Aanholt has something to prove and scoring a goal is never beyond the Dutchman.

Sunderland

Sunderland Breakdown

David Moyes’ Black Cats pulled off one of the surprises of the midweek round of games by earning an unlikely home point and clean sheet against second placed Tottenham Hotspur. That was just a third clean sheet of the season for Sunderland and it was little surprise that the return of Lamine Kone coincided with that. He got the man of the match award and was a colossus in a back three alongside John O’Shea and Jason Denayer. The 3-5-2 system almost mirrors what Big Sam is doing at Palace and new signing Bryan Oviedo will push Javier Manquillo for the left wing back spot this weekend. Sunderland remain rooted to the foot of the table on 16 points and are on a run of five straight defeats away from home, scoring just two goals along the way. Sunderland are also the second lowest shooters in the whole league, only Middlesbrough below them in that category. One quirk here is that the away side has won four of the last five meetings between these two and Sunderland have won on their last two visits to South London.

Sunderland Set Piece Takers

Corners – Seb Larsson

Penalties – Jermain Defoe

Sunderland Player Picks

Jermain Defoe ($6,500) – Three goals in his last three games against Palace, he scored a brace against them at the Stadium of Light in September. Defoe has 12 of Sunderland’s 20 league goals this season.


Everton vs AFC Bournemouth

Goodison Park, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Everton

Everton Breakdown

Ronald Koeman’s side stretched their unbeaten run to six games by drawing 1-1 away at in-form Stoke City, a Ryan Shawcross own goal handing them a point. It leaves them in 7th place, five behind Man Utd and top of their mini league alongside West Brom and Stoke City. At home, the Toffees have lost just a single game this season (0-1 v Liverpool). Koeman looks completely settled on the 3-5-2 formation that has seen them embark on this run, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines playing as wing backs and offering plenty of fantasy value as a result. They rank third for total tackles with 450 for the season so far, and it’s a nice stat to try and open up fantasy value.

Everton Set Piece Takers

Corners – Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley

Penalties – Leighton Baines

Everton Player Picks

Seamus Coleman ($5,600) – It was Coleman’s shot that flew in off Shawcross for the equaliser, which would have been two goals in two games had he been credited with it. The defender has plenty of value playing as a right wing back in this system.

Ross Barkley ($6,300) – Barkley is consistently putting in productive fantasy performances and the game at Stoke was his fifth successive game scoring double digit points. Against a worse opponent in Bournemouth, I expect the run to continue.

AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth Breakdown

Eddie Howe’s side are stuck in quite the rut, and the 2-0 defeat at home to an out of form Crystal Palace side on Tuesday means they have won just one of their last seven in the Premier League. Even then it was only against then managerless Swansea City and that was also their only clean sheet in that run. The problems are very much in defence where the departure of Nathan Ake to Chelsea has seen them concede an average of 2.5 goals per game. Scoring isn’t a problem, and the blank at home to Palace was just first time that has happened for five games.

AFC Bournemouth Set Piece Takers

Corners – Andrew Surman, Joshua King

Penalties – Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas

AFC Bournemouth Player Picks

Ryan Fraser ($5,000) – Fraser averages a decent 9.4 FPPG for the season and added a further 12 fantasy points in the loss to Palace, a performance that included seven fouls drawn.


Hull City vs Liverpool

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

Hull City

Hull City Breakdown

The arrival of Marco Silva as manager has done wonders for the fortunes of Hull City who came away from Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night. The Tigers are still in the relegation zone on 17 points and have won only one of Silva’s games in charge, but when you consider two of those three have been against Chelsea (L 0-2) and the United game, it’s an admirable record. Silva sets Hull up in a 4-5-1 formation that includes two defensively-minded wide players who turn it into a back six at times. Lazar Markovic played on the right hand side and it’s likely that new signing Kamil Grosicki will take the left sided role. That clean sheet at Old Trafford was just Hull’s second of the season, and the 47 goals that they have conceded is second only to Swansea City. Markovic cannot play in this game as Liverpool are his parent club

Hull City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Evandro, Sam Clucas

Penalties – Abel Hernandez

Hull City Player Picks

Evandro Evandro ($4,100) – Takes the corners and has scored eight and nine points on his two Premier League starts so far. Good value at such a lowly price.

Harry Maguire ($3,600) – Managed to hit double digit points in his last two league starts and has good cross category performance for a central defender.

Liverpool

Liverpool Breakdown

The month of January is over, and Liverpool will be breathing a huge sigh of relief as a result. Jurgen Klopp’s side were lucky to draw 1-1 against Chelsea, Georginio Wijnaldum scoring their goal, and January was a month where their only win was against League Two Plymouth Argyle. It’s a surprise that their four-game winless run in the league hasn’t done them more damage as they sit on 46 points, just a point off Spurs in second and the Reds’ 52 goals is still the best in the division. Sadio Mane returned off the bench in that draw against Chelsea, and his return will give the entire team a boost. The fantasy value of the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana immediately rise as they have not been at their best since Mane left to play in the AFCON.

Liverpool Set Piece Takers

Corners – James Milner

Penalties – James Milner

Liverpool Player Picks

Roberto Firmino ($8,300) – Firmino shines when his teammate Coutinho is in the side and had two goals in the league game against Swansea that preceded the one against Chelsea.

James Milner ($7,800) – Hull concede a lot of penalty kicks, and Milner’s value rises even further than it already is when that is thrown into the bargain. I won’t be surprised to see double digit points at the absolute minimum.


Southampton vs West Ham United

St Mary’s, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Southampton

Southampton Breakdown

Claude Puel’s side have been on a stinking run of form, and that continued on Tuesday night when a 2-1 loss to Swansea City saw them drop to 12th place, just eight points clear of the relegation places. Saints have lost five of their last six games and kept just a single clean sheet in that time. Goal scoring has been a real issue for them all season long, and the signing of Manolo Gabbiadini for big money from Napoli is supposed to remedy that. Southampton lead the league in crossing with 620 crosses for the season, and I think that’s a good way to target their players from a fantasy point of view. Virgil van Dijk remains a huge absence for Southampton, and Puel confirmed he will be out for up to three months and that Ryan Bertrand could deputise in central defence. Sofiane Boufal returned off the bench against Swansea and could start here.

Southampton Set Piece Takers

Corners – Dusan Tadic

Penalties – Dusan Tadic

Southampton Player Picks

Dusan Tadic ($6,600) – Had a very poor game against Swansea, but in the two league games before that hit double digits for fantasy points and is starting to get back to his best.

West Ham

West Ham Breakdown

The Hammers went down to another heavy defeat to top six opposition, Man City winning 4-0 at the London Stadium. That came after a two-game winning run that lifted them up to the cusp of the top half of the Premier League and Bilic’s side currently sit in 11th on 28 points. Leaking goals has been a problem all season long, and to that end they have conceded 40, the sixth-highest figure in the league. The departure of Dimitri Payet has given various other players a lift, and Robert Snodgrass should make his full debut after coming on as a sub against City.

West Ham Set Piece Takers

Corners – Robert Snodgrass, Manuel Lanzini

Penalties – Mark Noble

West Ham Player Picks

Robert Snodgrass ($7,900) – In his final five games for Hull, Snodgrass averaged 18 FPPG and should act as the Payet replacement for West Ham where fantasy points are concerned.

Andy Carroll ($6,000) – Southampton are bereft of their best central defender in van Dijk and it plays right into the hands of the big Geordie.


Watford vs Burnley

Vicarage Road, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Watford

Watford Breakdown

Walter Mazzarri’s Watford side surprised everyone on Tuesday night when goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney put them 2-0 up within 13 minutes at the Emirates against Arsenal. It was a lead they kept, and it gave them a first league win in some eight games to push the Hornets on to 27 points. Mazzarri changed things up and played with a 4-2-3-1 formation that included as many as four natural central defenders forming the back line. New signing M’Baye Niang played on the left side and Daryl Janmaat on the opposing wing with Valon Behrami playing off Deeney as a number 10. The formation could change against Burnley as Jose Holebas is due to return from suspension and Christian Kabasele should recover from his injury.

Watford Set Piece Takers

Corners – Tom Cleverley

Penalties – Troy Deeney

Watford Player Picks

Etienne Capoue ($5,500) – The goals dried up long ago for the French midfielder, but he put up a second double digit fantasy showing in the space of three games against Arsenal and didn’t need a goal or assist to do so.

Tom Cleverley ($4,300) – Another player flying under the radar is Cleverley, who has two games in a row with 10 fantasy points after grabbing an assist in both matches.

Burnley

Burnley Breakdown

Burnley are in unchartered territory after a ninth home win of the season, 1-0 against Leicester courtesy of a Sam Vokes goal, lifted them to 29 points and 10th position in the top flight. Only Chelsea and Tottenham boast a better home record than the Clarets, but the bad news is that the next game is away from Turf Moor, and their away record is the worst in the top flight. Just one of those 29 points has come on their travels, and a return of four goals from 10 games is pitiful. Sean Dyche was busy on deadline day and could hand debuts to Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood here.

Burnley Set Piece Takers

Corners – Steven Defour, Robbie Brady, Joey Barton

Penalties – Andre Gray

Burnley Player Picks

Robbie Brady ($4,600) – Any time you can get Brady at such a discount, I think he’s worthy of a strong look.

Tom Heaton ($4,300) – The Premier League’s saves leader made another five against Leicester and now has 98 saves for the season.


West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City

The Hawthorns, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion Breakdown

Forget games that Tony Pulis has against any other sides he used to manage. This is the Tony Pulis Derby and comes after the Baggies earned a battling point at Middlesbrough, James Morrison getting Albion’s goal in a 1-1 draw. Pulis’ current side are flying high in eighth place and have lost just one of the last five games. At home, Albion have won five of the last six games and the only loss was a 2-0 reverse against Man Utd. Jonny Evans is still yet to return from his calf injury, Brendan Galloway and recent signing Marc Wilson are also likely to be out.

West Bromwich Albion Set Piece Takers

Corners – Chris Brunt

Penalties – Nacer Chadli

West Bromwich Albion Player Picks

Chris Brunt ($5,400) – Brunt, who has been handed the corner duties, has hit double figures for fantasy points in three of the last four games and averages 10.5 FPPG for the season.

Ben Foster ($5,100) – Foster has a good look at a clean sheet and is averaging five saves per game over the last four appearances.

Stoke City

Stoke City Breakdown

After a horrible run where it felt like Mark Hughes couldn’t buy a win, Stoke are now unbeaten in four following the 1-1 draw against Everton, Peter Crouch scoring his 100th career goal. The Potters sit just behind West Brom in 9th place on 29 points and are very middle-of-the-road for both goals scored (29) and conceded (35). Stoke’s back four has become fairly settled in recent weeks with Phil Bardsley and Erik Pieters flanking Bruno Martins-Indi and Ryan Shawcross. That won’t change any time soon, unless Glen Johnson and Geoff Cameron make their respective returns.

Stoke City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Charlie Adam

Penalties – Charlie Adam

Stoke City Player Picks

Peter Crouch ($5,000) – Four in five games for the veteran frontman, Crouch is rediscovering his scoring touch!

Marko Arnautovic ($5,800) – Has hit double digit fantasy points in two of the last three games for the Potters and grabbed the assist on Crouch’s latest goal.


Tottenham Hotspur vs Middlesbrough

White Hart Lane, 17:30 GMT (12:30 EST)

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur Breakdown

Spurs weren’t the only top four side to slip up on Tuesday night at Sunderland, and the 0-0 draw didn’t even cause them to drop out of the top two places in the Premier League. They can reinforce that position with a resounding win over Middlesbrough and are likely to do so as Spurs are the Premier League’s only unbeaten side on home soil. Mauricio Pochettino’s team have conceded just five times (league best) at home and are on an eight-game unbeaten run at any venue. Tottenham lead the league in shots per game (17.6) but one worry will be the possible absence of Danny Rose, who limped off at the Stadium of Light. Hugo Lloris also missed that game.

Tottenham Hotspur Set Piece Takers

Corners – Christian Eriksen

Penalties – Harry Kane

Tottenham Hotspur Player Picks

Christian Eriksen ($9,900) – Eriksen’s 17 fantasy points in the draw against Sunderland go to show that he can produce points even on an off-day.

Harry Kane ($9,400) – With 13 goals already this season, it would hardly be a surprise if Kane hits a couple of goals to make up for Tuesday’s poor showing.

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Breakdown

Boro’s 1-1 draw against West Brom leaves them precariously placed just two points away from the relegation zone and the Premier League’s lowest scorers need to start hitting the back of the net. Their total of just 19 goals is less than one goal per game, and it’s a huge reason why they have not won in six games. Manager Aitor Karanka reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation against West Brom, and his constant tinkering is likely to also have an adverse effect on the side. George Friend and Gaston Ramirez are both expected to miss this game due to respective injuries.

Middlesbrough Set Piece Takers

Corners – Adam Forshaw, Adam Clayton

Penalties – Alvaro Negredo

Middlesbrough Player Picks

Adama Traore ($4,800) – Touted for a move away from Boro to Chelsea in the window, the rapid winger has 10 FPPG over his last three Premier League starts.

Antonio Barragan ($3,900) – Barragan had an exceedingly busy night against West Bromwich Albion in midweek to reach 14 fantasy points, and he should be busy again against Spurs.