EPL Game Breakdown: March 4th

After a shortened slate last weekend due to the EFL Cup Final, every side plays this weekend, and there are seven games this Saturday. The following article focuses on the six games taking place in the main 3pm (10am) slate. It looks at every team in minute detail including current form, set piece takers and player picks.


Leicester City vs Hull City

King Power Stadium, 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST)

Leicester City

Leicester City Breakdown

Sacking Claudio Ranieri as manager had the desired effect, the Foxes beating Liverpool 3-1 thanks to a brace from Jamie Vardy and one from Danny Drinkwater. Those goals, which were their first in the league in 2017, had more than a hint of 2015-16 about them and lifted the champions to 15th place and two points clear of the drop zone. Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare returned to the 4-4-2 formation that did Leicester so well last season, and the average position of Vardy showed him taking up that familiar position on the shoulder of the last defender. If they continue in that vein, Vardy will be a threat every week.

Leicester City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton

Penalties – Riyad Mahrez

Leicester City Player Picks

Jamie Vardy ($5,900) – Three goals in his last two games in all competitions tells you all that you need to know.

Danny Drinkwater ($3,400) – Another who has returned to form, Drinkwater has a goal and assist over the course of the last two matches.

Hull City

Hull City Breakdown

Hull showed just how wasteful they can be in front of goal, just one of their 10 shots landing on target in the 1-1 draw with Burnley. That was Tom Huddlestone’s second half penalty. A win, against a team with just one point away from home in Burnley, would have taken them out of the bottom three and instead they sit a point away from safety in 19th. Even so, there’s hope in the fact that Hull have picked up more points (eight) in six games under Marco Silva than they did in 18 games under Mike Phelan (seven). The Tigers are rotten away from home, and their solitary win came back in August. Profligate striker Dieumerci Mbokani will miss this one as he is out for six weeks due to a hamstring injury.

Hull City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Kamil Grosicki

Penalties – Tom Huddlestone

Hull City Player Picks

Kamil Grosicki ($6,500) – Grosicki’s 12 crosses and five shots for 15 fantasy points show how potent he can be for fantasy managers.


Stoke City vs Middlesbrough

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

Stoke City

Stoke City Breakdown

Last weekend’s 4-0 loss at Tottenham was a reminder for manager Mark Hughes as to just how far they are off the very best teams in the Premier League. On the side of it, Stoke are in no danger of relegation any time soon as they sit some 11 points clear of the bottom three. Things get far easier this week against a Middlesbrough team that has not won in some time and has an attack that is not even close to Stoke’s, let alone Tottenham’s. The Potters are unbeaten in seven games at home; however, just three of those have been wins, and they have scored more than one goal on two occasions in that run.

Stoke City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Charlie Adam, Joe Allen

Penalties – Charlie Adam

Stoke City Player Picks

Joe Allen ($5,600) – Stoke’s top scorer on six goals, he also averages 2.8 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game.

Lee Grant ($5,400) – Grant still managed five saves in the 4-0 loss at Spurs and this weekend is up against the Premier League’s worst attack.

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Breakdown

Boro’s woeful run of form continued last weekend, the 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace condemning them to a ninth straight game without a win in the top flight. It was the third straight game that the Teessiders have failed to score in, and their total of 19 goals in 26 games is the worst of any team. Whilst Middlesbrough do have one of the best away defences, having conceded just 14 times all season, Aitor Karanka’s men have won only once and lost five of the last six on their travels.

Middlesbrough Set Piece Takers

Corners – Gaston Ramirez, Adlene Guedioura

Penalties – Alvaro Negredo

Middlesbrough Player Picks

Fabio ($4,300) – The Brazilian’s 3.1 tackles per game is the most of any Boro player, and he always manages to put in a decent number of crosses too.

Victor Valdes ($4,300) – Boro have the joint-fifth best defence in the league, and it’s something that plays into the hands of Valdes’ fantasy potential.


Swansea City vs Burnley

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

Swansea City

Swansea City Breakdown

Paul Clement’s side showed all their battling qualities at Stamford Bridge last weekend, going down 3-1 to Chelsea after Fernando Llorente’s header put them on level terms for almost half an hour. The Swans are now just two points ahead of the relegation zone but have won their last two home games, and their two losses in the last five have been against top four opposition (Chelsea and Man City).

Swansea City Set Piece Takers

Corners – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Penalties – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Swansea City Player Picks

Gylfi Sigurdsson ($9,300) – Sigurdsson has five successive double digit fantasy games for Swansea, scoring or registering an assist in all five.

Fernando Llorente ($5,200) – Llorente made it nine goals for the season in Saturday’s loss to Chelsea.

Burnley

Burnley Breakdown

Burnley doubled their point tally away from Turf Moor last weekend, the 1-1 draw at Hull City just their second away point of the season. Michael Keane scored their only goal of the game, and they have a nine-point cushion on the bottom three as a result. Even with that point, the Clarets are yet to win an away game in the Premier League this season and will be missing Ashley Barnes for the trip to Wales due to the red card he received late on against Hull City.

Burnley Set Piece Takers

Corners – Robbie Brady

Penalties – Andre Gray

Burnley Player Picks

Robbie Brady ($6,300) – Fantasy football’s Robbie Brady is back! The Irishman had 10 crosses and an assist to hit 18 fantasy points last weekend.


Watford vs Southampton

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

Watford

Watford Breakdown

Walter Mazzarri’s side earned a point at home to West Ham last weekend, Troy Deeney scoring an early penalty that was eventually cancelled out at the other end. Watford have kept just a single clean sheet in the last 16 games but have lost just one of the last six at home (1-4 vs Tottenham). Mazzarri has switched to a 4-3-3 in recent weeks; however, the injury to Mauro Zarate could force him to flip back to a three centre back system. Left back Jose Holebas picked up his 12th yellow card of the season, a category in which no other player has hit double figures.

Watford Set Piece Takers

Corners – Tom Cleverley

Penalties – Troy Deeney

Watford Player Picks

Troy Deeney ($5,400) – Deeney has three goals in his last four games for the Hornets.

Southampton

Southampton Breakdown

Claude Puel’s team were terribly unlucky to not take Manchester United to extra time in the EFL Cup Final last weekend, Manolo Gabbiadini’s two goals not enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat. As for league form, Saints sit in 13th place and arrested a three-game losing run away from home by beating Sunderland 4-1 last time out. A win here will take them into the top half, 33 points and almost certain safety.

Southampton Set Piece Takers

Corners – James Ward-Prowse, Dusan Tadic

Penalties – Dusan Tadic

Southampton Player Picks

Manolo Gabbiadini ($8,100) – It’s now five goals in three games for the Italian striker who also averages 4.25 shots per game.

Cedric Soares ($5,300) – The Portuguese full back has double figures for fantasy points in three of the last four games.


West Bromwich Albion vs Crystal Palace

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

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion Breakdown

The Baggies came from behind to win 2-1 against Bournemouth, Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson both scoring to lift them to 40 points, in the process cementing eighth place in the Premier League. With 12 games remaining, Albion are just nine points away from their best ever top flight total of 49 points. Tony Pulis’ team have won four straight home games, losing just one of the last five at The Hawthorns. Their record against teams in the bottom half of the table has seen West Brom pick up eight wins and a draw in nine games, and for that reason, it’s tough to look past them again this weekend.

West Bromwich Albion Set Piece Takers

Corners – Chris Brunt, Matt Phillips

Penalties – Nacer Chadli

West Bromwich Albion Player Picks

Chris Brunt ($6,100) – Brunt has been one of the fantasy football finds of the second half of the season, and the Northern Irishman put in another nine crosses in last week’s win.

Nacer Chadli ($5,300) – The Belgian international has a goal or an assist in each of the last three games.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace Breakdown

Sam Allardyce picked up a priceless second win in charge of Palace last time around, Patrick van Aanholt’s first goal giving them a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough. It was also a second clean sheet under Allardyce’s stewardship, and that already doubles the number former manager Alan Pardew managed in the opening to the season. Scoring goals has been a real problem since Allardyce’s arrival, the Eagles registering just four times in the former England manager’s nine games. As a comparison, in the previous 17 games they scored 29 times.

Crystal Palace Set Piece Takers

Corners – Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye

Penalties – Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace Player Picks

Andros Townsend ($6,700) – Townsend now has five consecutive double digit fantasy point games and is repaying Allardyce’s faith.


Liverpool vs Arsenal

Anfield, 17:30 GMT (12:30 EST)

Liverpool

Liverpool Breakdown

Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Leicester on Monday made it five losses out of seven in all competitions, and Philippe Coutinho’s goal was a small positive for them to take from the game. On home soil they have lost just one of the last six games and eased to a 2-0 win over Spurs last time out, something that will give them confidence ahead of facing another top six side in Arsenal. Liverpool remain the Premier League’s joint top scorers (55 goals) but 33 goals conceded is very much middle of the pack.

Liverpool Set Piece Takers

Corners – Philippe Coutinho, James Milner

Penalties – James Milner

Liverpool Player Picks

Philippe Coutinho ($9,400) – Scoring 29 fantasy points across a range of different categories on Monday night, including one goal, was very impressive considering Liverpool lost 3-1.

Sadio Mane ($7,900) – Arsenal couldn’t cope with Mane at the Emirates back in August, and this could be the game where we see him return to form.

Arsenal

Arsenal Breakdown

Arsenal had the day off last weekend, and their last competitive match was the 2-0 win at lowly Sutton United in the FA Cup. A win at Anfield would take them level on points with rivals Tottenham, but the Gunners’ recent away form is concerning as they have won just one of the last five games. That game was also the only away clean sheet that Arsenal have kept in that five game period. Arsenal play Bayern Munich on the Tuesday following this match, and there’s always the chance that manager Arsene Wenger will change up his team as a result.

Arsenal Set Piece Takers

Corners – Mesut Ozil

Penalties – Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal Player Picks

Alexis Sanchez ($10,400) – In the Premier League’s top five for both goals (17) and assists (eight).

Mesut Ozil ($7,200) – For all the criticism that comes his way, the German international has still managed to hit double digit fantasy points in four of the last five games. Be sure to double-check his status before the game, as he’s come down with an illness.