EPL MatchDay 13: Sticks and (not John) Stones

Hello everyone!
Welcome to the 13th weekend of EPL action, and for something a little bit different, another MatchDay Breakdown brought to you by my fine fingers and the great people over @RotoPros.com

This weekend sure is hurting. Coming off the international break a lot of players didn’t even go, let alone were sent home early from light knocks. There were no serious injuries over the break, however there’s still a ton of question marks surrounding the different options, from value to chalk, in either format.

We are also entering another Champions League midweek. Liverpool and Spurs have literally everything left to play for and may get caught looking past the weekend, whereas City has revenge on their mind hosting Lyon, and United can rest easy vs. Young Boys.

While a lot of this depends on who starts and who is out injured, I still think there’s a ton of ownership tanks to maneuver. In particular ManCity, Salah, Chelsea, and Harry Kane all come to mind, but how to work each is in it’s own way a risk we need to take.

I hope to have my 8EST DFS Show back for the midweek UCL, but until then I didn’t want to sell anyone short and went back to the old school Slate Breakdown. Without any further delay, enjoy this one, because it felt good to go back to being a too long didn’t read degen.

Good luck everyone, have fun! And as always see you at the top!

Leicester City @ Brighton & Hove Albion

In the first match of the slate we have Leicester City travelling down to Brighton for what should be an ulta-low scoring, defensive affair.

This game should be defined by what we can expect; needless to say these two sides are more of the easier to script in the league. Brighton defend like mad, and Leicester counter attack. Brighton won’t leave their shell long enough to create a counter attacking chance for Leicester, so Leicester should (once again) struggle to score. Brighton has some of the more serious home/away splits in the league; they were easily last season’s worst away side, however this season they’ve won seven of their past 12 at home. Brighton has lost only once at home this season and five EPL home games since their arrival in the league. Out of those five losses only one came from a non-big six side.

So, we can expect a consistent, hard to break down side from Brighton, but with Leicester all their scripts are out the door. Despite going unbeaten since the sudden death of their owner, even before that Leicester hasn’t been that convincing. As per usual Leicester continue their trend as one of the league’s worst teams for holding leads. A lot of this has to do with the fact Leicester score the vast amount of their goals in the first 30min of games, but the even bigger issue is their inability to keep the ball out of the net. In the previous two seasons, 32 of Leicester’s games have had both teams score, and this is by far a league high and league record. Leicester City has won only once in their previous five, but more worrying is their lack of goals; only three goals over that five game period. Leicester has also had issues going to Brighton, finding only one win in their previous five trips.

Leicester hasn’t looked the same since the injury to Harry Maguire. For most of the season they have been hanging on by a thread, and while the narrative street may be running to an end, Leicester are a team that has been one of the most inconsistent in the league, while Brighton at home presents one of the more reliable. Unless Leicester can find a way to break an early goal, chances are they will fall at some point to a set piece or a Brighton counter attack. That’s why I’m going with a 1-1/2-1 Brighton victory. For awhile now Leicester hasn’t looked up for it, and a Brighton at home is exactly the kind of game to catch up to them.

TARGETS

Brighton

Mat Ryan is very affordable and will see saves. Bruno and Bong make very interesting low-salary defensive punt options, for either format, and Leicester are a crossing team so all of Brighton’s defenders are in play with the CBs making great plays on FD. Brighton are dealing with some injuries, so I don’t mind the idea of Solly March and Anthony Knockaert, despite their horrid minutes. I will be using a fair amount of Glen Murray in GPP. Murray has five goals in five home games this season, and while he hasn’t scored in seven straight vs. Leicester, I’m looking for him to break that streak this weekend. Leicester aren’t the same defense without Maguire, and while I wouldn’t look to this script in cash it’s absolutely something to chase in GPP.

Leicester

James Maddison is coming back form injury, he is an option, though Leicester as a whole are coming back into health, so I’m not sold on his instant 90min impact games. I still think Ndidi is a super low salary, low buy option on DK, and if you are going to use Albrighton make sure it’s exclusively on DK (he may cross the ball 15 times but chances are 14 amounted to nothing on FD). Demarai Gray is someone that interests me on a GPP level, but even then with Leicester so healthy all these 90min games could be really hard to come by. Considering this is Brighton at home and how well they defend exactly what Leicester are trying to do, Leicester as a whole can be safely faded if need be.

FINAL SCORE

1-1 Draw. If it does finish 2-1 (which is the ceiling) chances are it will be won very late, and considering Leicester struggle to score late, chances are even better it will be won by Brighton.

Everton @ Cardiff City

For the second match of the slate we have another what-should-be an easy to script and predict affair between the lowly Cardiff City and high flying Everton.

Much like Brighton, Everton is one of the league’s most consistent home/away split teams. In contrast to this point, Cardiff is easily the league’s worst away team, and that comes rather by default as their only wins this season have come at home. Away from home Cardiff has scored only twice, drawn once while losing four, and while this isn’t their first foray into top flight footy, they have only one win in their past 17 EPL away games. In fact, Cardiff hasn’t beaten Everton since 1956, so while they won last slate, Cardiff hasn’t won back to back EPL away games since 1962. Considering Everton has won six of their previous eight vs. Cardiff (scoring 15 over those eight games) and won four of their past six in the league, it’s hard to imagine Everton not coming out on top. Cardiff is one of the league’s worst defensive sides, and while they have allowed 11 away goals, Everton has scored eight in their past three home games, so the Blue’s form is no question on top. In their history Cardiff City has never beaten a non-newly promoted EPL team, coming away without a win in 16 straight attempts. On the contrary, Everton has won 9 straight EPL home games vs. newly promoted teams, so again, this is looking pretty straight forward.

Albeit, this should be the match to watch out for this slate, but for all the wrong reasons. Well, Everton should win, but the question is with who. The Toffees are dealing with a couple injuries to serious pieces like Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes, so it’s something to watch out for come lineup announcements. Everton manager Marco Silva has consistently used the same formation with all his teams, actually, Everton present the first time he has moved away from three at the back. If in fact Siggy and or Andre Gomes does miss out it wouldn’t surprise me to see Everton see a massive shift in formation, especially with no Siggy. This would move both Coleman and Digne into wing midfielders, and make them ultra-relevant, no matter the salary. In any case, like I said this is something that demands watching, even more than the City/Liverpool/United starting lineups combined. The ownership should be low and it will be something to exploit.

Cardiff is #bad, especially away from home. Everton is #good, but at home they are great. While other games may not have the implied ceiling that their ownerships would suggest, this game should go decently under the radar and present Everton as excellent pivots away from the higher salary, hopefully lower scoring games. The one concern I do have is Everton’s lack of clean sheets, but they seem to have cleaned that up with relevant victories against other, similar bottom dwellers in Fulham and Huddersfield. All the statistics and history suggest an Everton +3-1/3-0 win, and while I think Digne may be a great play this slate, if Siggy misses out, he instantly becomes THE play of the slate.

TARGETS

Everton

Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes are massive pieces for Everton, and in reality massive pieces for your DFS exposure this weekend. Cardiff has allowed teams to cross and shoot at will, so while Siggy will be carrying a decent floor his ceiling doesn’t have an opponent skill cap that he would find in 90% of the league’s opposition. Richarlison is someone that demands exposure either way and is a borderline lock in either format, especially with no Siggy, and a lock in GPP no matter what. Andre Gomes is another player, much like Leicester’s Ndidi, who is a super buy-low, value floor play for cash, and is someone I chart miles ahead of Ndidi, so it will be crucial to see if he plays as he offers insane cash floor value. I don’t like Walcott’s chances at 90min, even with no Siggy. As mentioned though, the real attention will come at the back. While the centrals don’t interest me in either case, the wing backs could become massive plays this slate. With no Siggy involved Digne becomes a must play in cash, and Coleman is probably more suited for GPP, though I have no real issue with either in either, that’s just how they script by default. Honestly, if there’s no Siggy and you fall on both in cash I wouldn’t even worry because Digne’s floor should be downright stoopid.

Cardiff

Cardiff isn’t completely void of options though this weekend they aren’t the first place I’d look. If anything can be said the Welshmen have vastly improved in recent weeks, so they do hold some validity as GPP clean sheet busters. If Everton roll with three CBs, this is the formation that has consistently sent Marco Silva’s teams into foul frenzied, card filled affairs, so again, don’t sleep on these guys, especially with a banged up Everton. My focus would reside around the DK options at 4-4.3k with Camarasa, Paterson, and Bobby Reid. Paterson has a goal in back to back games, and Camarasa has taken over set pieces…I did mention Marco Silva teams take a lot of fouls, so Cammy is super sneaky this slate for either format. That’s probably where I would cut it though, even with all the crazy implied totals in City, Liverpool, not to mention Everton, I’d still like Etheridge to be sub 4k salary on DK, so he isn’t my favorite value keeper by any means. That being said, Cammy is pretty sneaky, though this weekend his team is lacking.

FINAL SCORE

Everton will score more than twice, Cardiff shouldn’t score more than once, if that. 3-1/3-0 Everton. No Siggy this weekend, please.

Southampton @ Fulham

In the third match of the slate we have what is promising to be the least skilled match of the weekend with Southampton hosting the league’s last place team Fulham.

If you are new to the sport or EPL, let me get you in on a couple secrets. Firstly, Southampton has consistently tied their games to the point they set league records long ago last season, and at this point are basically working on the house money of draws. There is rarely ever a situation to take a keeper in a Southampton game because even in the case Southampton somehow don’t draw and manage a loss/unlikely win, with a goal (conceded) it’s coming off of little to no saves. To give you an idea of how crazy their draw rate is; Southampton has only one win in 14 games vs. Fulham, but hasn’t lost in six straight to the Cottagers. In fact, Southampton isn’t in last place let alone relegation, but they also haven’t won since September. Fulham are not only in relegation but also last place, so it gives you an idea of how Southampton still manage to pick up a point every other game. Six of Fulham’s past 14 home games vs. Southampton, three of Southampton’s previous four in the EPL and four of Southampton’s six in all competitions have all been ties. So, really, you see it coming too. On the other hand, Fulham has lost six straight, and the club hasn’t lost seven straight since 1961.

Fulham has yet to keep a clean sheet this season, and by every definition they have not only been the league’s worst defense, but one of the worst in league history, conceding 31 goals so far this season. In contrast, Southampton hasn’t scored in almost half their games (6 games without scoring) and has scored only eight goals this season. On top of this, the Saints scored more than one goal in a game only once in their past five, while Fulham has conceded at least twice in 14 of their 16 games this season. It’s tough to say who has the upper hand. Personally, I like bad attacks over bad defense, but things may have changed. Over the break Fulham fired their previous manager Slavisa Jokanovic in favor of former Leicester City’s league championship season manager Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri has promised to resolve the issues at the back, and while Fulham has spent more money on staff personnel and new transfers than the big guns, even clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool would be jealous of their bankroll. Coming into London is never easy, and while Southampton won their last trip they haven’t won back to back trips into London since 2014.

Southampton’s issues have unquestionably been conversion, as they took 173 shots so far this season and have only the 8 goals to show for it. On the other hand Fulham has allowed teams to do basically whatever they want, so I find it hard to imagine a clean sheet in this game, while at the same time I’m not sure if it can get past two goals. That being said, their salaries aren’t that demanding and finding one if not both through the same player could open up some serious doors in GPP. I’m not sure what to say here, my gut says 1-1/2-2, but my brain says 2-1 Southampton, just because Fulham has been so poor.

TARGETS

Southampton

It will be interesting to see who Southampton line up as left back. Bertrand has been a mainstay for years and years, so while it’s hard to imagine life without him it’s going to create some serious value vs. a team who can’t stop wing backs from crossing. I don’t mind the clean sheet chase with both McCarthy and Soares, but in any case for cash you can rock either of the wing backs (not both, they aren’t Everton good), but I prefer just the left back, whoever it may be. Hojbjerg continues to be one of the more solid, low-salary plays for cash and can be used as such this slate. When you want to look at Southampton’s poor conversion rates look no further than Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings. Redmond, once again this season, leads the league in most attempts created without a goal or an assist, and Danny Ings has 4 goals and an assist to his name, which is actually the highest team point-share for a team in the league. I think Charlie Austin could be ultra sneaky if he starts as he was robbed of a goal last slate that would have given Southampton a win for a change. But yeah, left back, it’s play of the slate, up there with Digne.

Fulham

It’s hard to say what Fulham will accomplish this slate. You could tell last game they were absolutely scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas, so it’s no surprise Ranieri was brought in. It’s also hard to say how long it will take to right this ship that may be downright sinking. The Cottagers seem incapable of getting a clean sheet this century, as even with a new manager that doesn’t fix the lack of skill coming from their backline. That being said, if there was one GPP script nobody will have bought into it’s a Fulham clean sheet and Mitrovic with a pair. For a couple of months it has felt like Fulham has been asleep at the wheel, so a manager change may be what someone like Mitrovic needed to start finding his form once more. For the time being I wouldn’t venture too far past Ryan Sessegnon, maybe if Seri starts I would consider the small frenchman, but Schurrle’s salary is borderline absurd (especially without 90min), and nobody else draws much relevance. You can fade these guys and hope for a 1-1 boring no ceiling script, that’s probably a safer play, even at home.

FINAL SCORE

1-1 Southampton. Either Ings or Austin for Southampton, and an OG goal for Fulham.

Manchester United @ Crystal Palace

In the fourth match of the slate we have Palace making the trip from London to face Manchester in what will be the first time I recommend taking United players in ages. Yeah, that’s right, play Utd.

For their midweek UCL game this Tuesday ManUtd host Swiss side Young Boys. Their group isn’t exactly salted, but at the same time YB are the weaker of the quad, and even if United and Juve were to lose (unlikely), United would still have the final match to settle a progression directly through a result vs. Valencia. So, United aren’t exactly forced to look ahead and should be very focused on this weekend’s fixture.

So, interesting stat, Palace has never recorded an EPL victory vs. United. These two sides have met 18 times with United outright winning 15 of those. United has won 11 straight vs. Palace, so needless to say, out of all their history this is by far United’s most successful EPL fixture. Palace hasn’t scored an EPL goal at Old Trafford since 1989, totaling a run of 10 straight games. However, United has only one clean sheet this season, conceding a massive 21 goals. In fact, outside of all non-relegation bound teams, United has the worst defensive record in the league. United’s eight straight EPL games of conceding is their longest such run since 1999, so going up against Palace is a great chance to right these issues. United has won three of their last five, so while they haven’t been perfect, by all definition they are still more than capable of dealing with Palace and their current lack of form. Palace is winless in seven straight, having lost five of those seven, and are on a three game losing streak. What was once a team that only needed Zaha has become a team struggling to cope with a non-100% Zaha. Unsurprisingly, for most of the season Zaha has been dealing with injuries so Palace is once again in the relegation discussion.

In 10 of United’s previous 12 EPL games, three of Palace’s previous six EPL away games, and four of the previous six meetings between these teams have seen more than three goals. But, at the same time there is nothing to suggest both teams are scoring in bunches, other than United having a lack of clean sheets, Palace hasn’t been relevant either.

What do these four teams have in common? Fulham, Huddersfield, Cardiff, and ManUtd? Well, other than the previous three dominating the current relegation discussion, no teams have spent more time/game minutes in a losing position than those four. This basically spells out United conceding early and coming back to win games. So, we are really presented with the question of “can united survive the early stages” to “potentially taking the lead”? If so, they are very viable options as Palace is just as likely to fold and sink than to fight back. However, you can also hedge on the script Palace scores early and United are forced to score multiple in order to win; which they really should win. It’s hard to predict a Palace win, that’s why I’m calling at least a 2-1 win for United.

TARGETS

ManUtd

I want to play De Gea, I really do. My concern is; say it’s the Palace scores and United comes back script. He’s going to need an absurd save count to keep pace with other keeper values/salaries, so it’s not really on. Say Palace completely fold and sink early and it’s a 3-0 United win, De Gea will be lucky to see three saves, max. From his salary on DK that will not win you a GPP and isn’t a script to chase in cash. I love the idea of Ashley Young in either format, but considering United’s clean sheet issues I’ll keep him to cash where/when I can afford him. Considering United’s injury issues Young could see a massive minutes and set pieces uptick. Without Pogba it’s tough, because ManUtd is not the same team. However, my hope is there’s Pogba and no Mata, making Young a stone cold lock on his set pieces exposure. If Mata is in I wouldn’t mind pivoting to Dalot if he starts, which he should be. However, my two main focuses will be on the health of Anthony Martial and Lukaku. Lukaku has an incredible record vs. Palace; with 6 goals in eight games including both fixtures last season, he could be primed to go off if his hammy issue heals up. Martial has six goals in five, count them five straight EPL games, and his salary in no way represents that consistency. Only three other United players have ever scored in six straight, and you don’t have to be a footy genius to take a guess they are basically three of the most historical United players, if not English league players, to ever play the game. Wait and see who they start, thankfully it’s not the late hammer game, but Martial is someone I really want to get in some GPPs this weekend. Jose Mourinho has lost only once in 51 normal kick-off Saturday games, albeit that one loss came back in 2015 with Chelsea, and it was at home against Palace.

Palace

Borderline void of options. If you think Palace will score early and lose late, or potentially do the stoopid, than Wayne Hennessey is always worth a stoopid consideration. If United come into this came super patchwork on injuries than it becomes more favorable, but I’d rather not get stoopid. Really, the only guy that makes any sort of sense to me is Milivojevic, I think he`s valid for either format. I’m not sure Zaha is fully up for it at the moment, and Milly is the only guy who seems worth a shake. It also doesn’t hurt his DK salary is borderline cash lock status, but as a whole I’d probably only use him in GPP; the only way I see Palace scoring without a healthy Zaha is from a penalty, and seriously, what’s more United right now than them taking a PK within 10min, and coming back to outright win in the final 10min? GG.

FINAL SCORE

2-1/3-1 United, though I wouldn’t mind a 1-0 Palace, or just a clean sheet either way.

Watford @ Liverpool

In the fifth match of the slate we have the first real midweek UCL implication team with Liverpool travelling to London for a game against Watford.

If their last UCL meeting wasn’t big enough Liverpool travel to France to face PSG in what can only be described as the biggest Euro game this season to date. A Liverpool loss and a Napoli win (likely) and Liverpool are donezo. So, needless to say there’s every reason Liverpool are looking past this weekend as their entire Euro season rests on beating PSG. Yeah, only beating PSG, in Paris.

Conceding away from home this season has been one of Liverpool’s bigger issues. Liverpool has conceded in four of their six EPL away games, and Watford are coming into this on the back of 10 goals over their six EPL home games. However, considering Liverpool hasn’t conceded more than once in 15 straight games we can safely look at Watford as clean sheet busters and nothing more, that is, unless Liverpool fail to score. In the 22 times these sides have met in the EPL it has never ended as a scoreless draw. Liverpool is still unbeaten in 12 straight games and has only dropped points to other Big 6 sides. Liverpool is looking to start the season 13 games undefeated for the first time since 2007. However, all this being said, I’m rather reserved about a Liverpool onslaught. Mind you, it’s great we get them in a non-late hammer game, so we don’t have to worry about random starters. At the same time they haven’t really been the “wow, glad I stacked Liverpool” team their salaries demand. Outside the thrashing of Cardiff, most Liverpool games were pushed to get three goals. One Salah goal and your in an ownership mess. Two Salah goals and you can make separation. Three Salah goals and you are very thankful you took him. While he is obviously and always a high demand in cash, he’s not scoring more than two goals at his best ceiling. Can he? Sure, but it hasn’t been happening for a long time. Liverpool require the rest of the slate to finish both below their ceilings in GPP and floors in cash in order to be relevant. With all the production set to happen I don’t see that taking place this weekend. To be blunt, Everton should outscore Liverpool. Will they? That’s up to you to decide, but they should, and from these salaries it demands a pivot in GPP and serious consideration in cash.

Watford isn’t void of options neither. Much like some of the other teams discussed their home/away splits are quite pronounced, and they are coming into this winning five of their last seven EPL home games. Much to Liverpool’s away conceding issues, Watford has scored 10 in their previous six home games and have been shut out only once. This isn’t something I would jump at for cash, but in GPP we are looking at a serious chance of Watford scoring, which makes for some interesting GPP pivots onto the 90min attacking options. There are concerns around Watford as well. Watford has recorded only one victory in their previous six vs. the Reds, and over those six games Liverpool has scored a massive 17 times. In all competitions Liverpool has won nine of the previous 11 between these two, and to counter Watford’s home scoring record, Liverpool has shut them out in seven of the last nine meetings. When kicking off against either the 1st or 2nd place team Watford has lost 15 of their previous 17 attempts, so this isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but should produce a goal for the Hornets. Considering Liverpool doesn’t allow a lot of set pieces nor corners there shouldn’t be a floor to attack, but chasing one off’s for a GPP goal seems like the best way to use Watford. The big question for Watford is Holebas, and in reality, the Hornets’ result rest on his crossing. Liverpool excel at preventing chances, but when pressed can allow too many and concede. That’s all we really need from Watford; one goal to ruin the clean sheet ownership and in return make a low owned salary pay off. If you passed over Holebas in cash for Digne (only suggested if no Siggy) it’s not the biggest leak, but ideally you’d probably want both. Taking Salah and Holebas isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s something you could get away with in cash. For GPP, unless you see Liverpool being shut out don’t take Holebas, no matter his goal upside. If he has no clean sheet he has a limited ceiling (that is unless the whole slate shuts down and lets him win).

This is a case where I can’t see a clean sheet, but at the same time I only see goals paying off for Watford. Liverpool will win this with 2/3 goals, and Watford should score once, maybe twice if they are super on point. Worst case 2-2, biggest ceiling 3-0 Liverpool, tops.

TARGETS

Watford

I won’t be looking too far on this one. Holebas works in cash, not in GPP. The reason for this is he has too much -EV production; whether it be fouls, cards, or a lack of clean sheet, he doesn’t add up as a true ceiling play. Could he go out and get 18fpts with an assist? Absolutely he can, but the only way that pays off is if nobody comes close to either his raw points of 18fpts, nor his value of roughly 3x. Any number of people pass him and he is GPP irrelevant. Given his track record and the fact they are playing Liverpool he checks all the boxes for a lack of ceiling. But, come on, who doesn’t love near double digits crosses in cash? You really need him to hit home in order to pay off on FD, so don’t be trapped into think that’s a price difference to attack. The question for Watford is who gets the 90min, because that is what will be key for a Watford selection. Don’t get me wrong, you can fade them in GPP on the script of being a clean sheet buster, nothing more, and hope a sub gets the goal. Pereyra is supposed to get 90min, but lost it last slate. Deulofeu got a deserved 90min for the first time all season, but took it from Pereyra. Troy Deeney didn’t get 90min coming back from injury, but he’s healthy now, so…we still haven’t mentioned Gray or Success. Anyways, I’ll probably take the route of the fade, but if I was to hitch my trailer somewhere it’d probably grab onto Deulofeu, he’s got the quality to score on Liverpool.

Liverpool

It’s hard not to look at the Liverpool attack, though you can be applauded for passing on the Liverpool defense. The likelihood they concede is pretty high and they will still draw ownership. Alisson is far more likely to finish with 8-10fpts than break the slate. Salah has 5 goals and an assist in his previous two vs. Watford, so needless to say he can be thanked for the massive score differential mentioned earlier. However, if I was to go anywhere on Liverpool it’d be Bobby Firmino. Firmino has 4 goals and 4 assists in his previous five games vs. Watford, and considering Salah has only half-recently joined from Roma and Firmino has been there longer, Bibby F may be the more consistent GPP option than the smaller sample-sized Salah. I think Firmino makes an excellent GPP pivot from Salah, and is one of my favorite GPP forwards this slate.

FINAL SCORE

3-1 Liverpool. Hopefully 2-1. Bobby Firmino with multiple points and is the “wish I played him” player of the slate.

West Ham United @ Manchester City

In the sixth game of the slate we have league leaders Manchester City making the trip into London to face West Ham. There’s not much left to say about West Ham that hasn’t been said already, for years. ManCity host French side Lyon on Tuesday, so with revenge on their mind you can’t blame them for slightly looking past this weekend. However, I wouldn’t blame you if you looked past this one too.

This is a very interesting matchup of managers. West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini was the City manager before Pep, and while he can’t be thanked for their overall success he is not that different in style. In fact, of all EPL managers to handle at least 50 games these two match up as the highest scoring managers in league history (Pellegrini 3.21 goals/game, Guardiola 3.33 goals/game). So, even before we consider the outlay of this match we know it’s two managers who aren’t afraid to score goals.

West Ham is still making history in their new London stadium and one of those pieces of history would be handing City their first ever loss on that ground. City has won six straight at the new London ground, scoring 13 goals over that period. City has won 10 of their 12 games this season and away from home has conceded only one EPL goal. In 12 straight City hasn’t conceded more than once, so much like Watford, if the Hammers are to find the net chances are it’ll be as CS busters, not slate breakers. There are still some lights that shine towards a City slamming as they have scored at least four goals in back to back games vs. West Ham. Only once in league history has a team done that in three straight; Chelsea on Bolton back in 2011. So, if you were to jump on the usual City stack it’s not the worst idea, and arguably better than the Liverpool route. One of the more interesting notes is City has won five straight away games in London. To give you an idea of how complicated that is, no team has won six straight away trips into the big city since Portsmouth managed the feat….in 1951. City are special, I’m sure this weekend will help cement that.

If there was one team that had little to no trust in any industry, site, nor format, it’s West Ham. What a nightmare. One game they are scoring four, the next the conceded it. The Hammers have allowed a gazillion shots this season, so there’s that as well. West Ham hasn’t won back to back home games since 2016, so a win this weekend would be massive on multiple fronts. In their previous 15 attempts vs. the league’s best team (whatever team that may be at kick-off) West Ham has walked away with the spoils only once.

However, there are some things pointing to not only West Ham keeping this close, but City not going…well, City. So far this season West Ham has kept games vs. big 6 sides incredibly close. In three games vs. Chelsea, Spurs, and ManUtd, West Ham conceded only twice. So far this season, four of City’s five away games has seen less than three total goals (usually all three to City), and since the start of last season, half of City’s away games have featured only a trio of goals. Three of the six previous Hammer home games this season have also finished with three or less goals, so, there’s lots to suggest this won’t be the goal fest that many people will be expecting.

In any case it’s hard not to foresee another City victory. If anything West Ham may keep it half close and even reply once, but from a meta standpoint making sure to get City into your cards this slate will be crucial. Their three goals should overshadow the Liverpool production and maybe, just maybe, from a lesser ownership. Be warned though, from their salaries 3-0 probably won’t win you a GPP, but pieces of it sure will help.

TARGETS

West Ham

It’s really hard to go with Fabianski even from that salary. If he let’s in anything more than two he’s in trouble because chances are City won’t push this with their midweek aspirations. That being said, if you feel West Ham will keep this either under two or Fabz will make at least six saves, you can safely fire him up in either format as a solid, low salary/value floor keeper. Arnautovic’s salary is a little too goal dependent for me, however Felipe Anderson is the person I would turn to for Hammers’ exposure. FA has goals in back to back games, and only seven Brazilians in EPL history have scored in three straight. It’s no Martial getting in with Eric Cantona but it still has it’s merits for GPP. He’s been the one bright, albeit inconsistent, spot for West Ham this season, and that’s where I’d draw my line.

ManCity

Hard not to look right at every City player across the board. I’m not crazy about West Ham’s shot counts so Ederson isn’t really it for me this slate. I wouldn’t mind John Stones/Lapotre as one off’s in GPP. It’ll be interesting to see who City put as their left back, and if it’s Delph or Danilo you should really fade them, they are worth three crosses max. I’m not too sure how the minutes will pan out for the wingers, but for the central mids I have no issue looking at David Silva in either format for 90min. In his 11 career games vs. West Ham Silva has 4 goals and 4 assists. The Hammers have been his most fertile opponents and I think he’s probably going to be the least owned of the bunch. I wouldn’t talk you out of Sane/Mahrez/whoever is starting and taking the corners. West Ham give up a ton of free kicks and corners, hence my David Silva uptick, and probably Mahrez as well. Mahrez cash, Silva GPP. Frankly, Silva may be my play of the slate, but don’t tell anyone.

FINAL SCORE

3-0 City, probably should’ve been 4-0 but because of an offside goal called back. Can West Ham score? Sure, let’s say 3-1 max.

Tottenham Hotspurs @ Chelsea

In the final, late hammer game of the slate we have two London based, powerhouse teams in Chelsea making the quick trip over to Wembley to face Spurs.

In terms of midweek, we have one side in Spurs who have absolutely everything riding on a home game vs. Inter, while Chelsea have everything salted and are probably more likely to call up the RotoPros staff to finish off their Euro group stage campaign than look past this weekend. Needless to say Spurs are being forced into the age old debate of “League over Silverware”, and Chelsea may pounce all over their debate.

If there was one team we could predict pre-Christmas to be the Champs it would be Chelsea. They have been nothing short of flames so far this season, going undefeated in 18 games all competitions. More impressively the Pensioners have won 14 of those 18 games, really taking home the points across all leagues. Chelsea has won seven of their eight away games this season, and while Spurs have won a respectable nine of their 12 games, in their history at Wembley Spurs has only found six wins from a possible 27. Chelsea has won only twice in their previous 12 trips away to Spurs, however most of these were at White Hart Lane as Chelsea has gone four wins from a possible seven vs. Spurs at Wembley. In fact, Chelsea has the league’s best record vs. Spurs at Wembley, better than any other active EPL club. Chelsea has kept Spurs off the EPL score sheet a club record 21 times, mind you, Spurs has gone 16 straight games without a draw (12 wins, four losses), so while they may fail to score, a 0-0 draw is almost certainly not an option.

As mentioned, Chelsea’s four of the previous seven trips to Wembley ending in victory is a league best, and considering Spurs has already lost this season to ManCity and Liverpool at home, losing to Chelsea doesn’t seem like that much of an ask. So far this season Spurs has lost four of their seven games vs. other big 6 sides. While I wouldn’t put it by them to keep it interesting, I would be very surprised with any other result than a Chelsea win.

TARGETS

Spurs

There are three main people I would look to target on Spurs; Dele Ali, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela. Now, it’s hard to say who will get what minutes, but Dele Ali has a great record vs. Chelsea, Lamela has been nothing short of a statistical/analytical god this season, and Moura should be massively low owned. Now, we are obviously forgetting about Kane and Eriksen, which is quite intentional. Ownership be damned, if I’m going to play Spurs I’m not jumping on board with those two. Mind you, Chelsea has been a disaster against set pieces this season, so I think Eriksen has some relevance, but this weekend nothing about Kane interests me. Given they are the late game we can probably safely fade them for a lack of ownership in the first place, but considering that, I would rather take Dele Ali’s 5 goals in four games vs Chelsea over Kane’s boring, maybe gets a penalty shot script.

Chelsea

I think there is a ton to target on Chelsea. Kepa below 5k is always intriguing, and considering it’s against Spurs at Wembley it’s worth a shot in some GPP. I’d probably keep him as a one off though unless I was taking both Alonso and Hazard. That’s the big deal here; the left side for Chelsea. When attacks are broken down into right, left, or middle, (ideally, 33% each way for a well rounded attack), Chelsea use a whopping 40-60% of their attacks down the left hand side, by far a league’s most extreme on any front. Not to mention this hasn’t changed from manager or season, last year it was Willian pulling the strings from the left, this season it’s Hazard and Alonso. Morata has been nothing short of inconsistent DFS garbage all season and his international performances over the break did nothing to change that notion. I think Hazard makes for a super sharp play; without Trippier Spurs will struggle to keep up, as Aurier will do nothing but foul all game. If in fact Spurs even slightly look past this, Chelsea could break the slate. Just because they are the late hammer doesn’t mean you should sleep on them. In terms of salary, Hazard is the most expensive for a reason. We get him for a slight relative discount on FD, but in terms of locks for the slate none are more solid than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

FINAL SCORE

Chelsea should take this one handedly and maybe even help some people come from behind for a late hammer takedown. I think a lot of people will be expecting a cancel out game, where in fact Spurs has shown little to no ability to consistently keep clean sheets, and Chelsea has been dreadful defending set pieces. 2-1/4-1 Chelsea win, Hazard either does great to breaks the slate.