EPL MatchDay 19: News and Notes

Hello everyone!
Welcome to the 19th MatchDay of EPL action and a quick look at the news and notes leading into the midweek slate!

We are finally at the midway point of the season. Boxing Day slates are always exciting; with tons of history we can always look forward to some reliable, Big 6 wins, and some serious mismatches. While this slate there’s an extra game to consider, there’s also an extra-late game which is on neither DraftKings nor Fanduel’s main slate. So, for the time being we can pretend Watford and Chelsea don’t exist and focus on the 8 game Boxing Day slate!

Here’s some useful news and notes for each club involved in this midweek’s Boxing Day slate! Have fun everyone, enjoy, and hopefully see you at the top!

EVERTON

Most Recent Result: 6-2 thrashing last weekend at the hands of the Harry Hotspurs.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Idrissa Gueye (Q), Andre Gomes (P), Richarlison (P).

While on face value Everton is coming into this on a poor run of form, winless in five straight, three of those five were against City, Spurs, and Liverpool, so they can be forgiven on some grounds, but in terms of challenging for European football it’s looking likely once again Everton will fall short. They’ve shown glimpses of brilliance like keeping Liverpool to 90+6, coupled with defeats like last weekend to Spurs or the Liverpool goal, it’s easy to say Everton is lacking defensively. Given that’s never been manager Marco Silva’s strong point, this may be another boring mid-table finish for the Toffee side of Liverpool, and some high scoring games for DFS.

So far this season Everton has conceded 28 goals, but more concerning is the 11 they’ve conceded in their past three games. They’ve also scored 26 over their 18 EPL games this season, scoring in 15 of those as well, so while they have been conceding at a concerning rate they’ve also been scoring as well. One of the biggest concerns for the Toffees has been their keeper Jordan Pickford, whom coming off an excellent World Cup performance currently tops the league in errors that leads to goals. It’s not that Pickford is a poor keeper, he hasn’t been perfect, but the team defense as a whole has been lacking. There has been a serious leadership void in the club, and since the recent decline of Baines the club has completely moved on from the old horses, outside of Coleman of course.

In terms of Boxing Day, Everton has been historically excellent. They’ve kept three straight clean sheets on Boxing Day, including only conceding five total goals in their BD history. Burnley has one of the worst defenses in the league, allowing some of the league’s highest corners and crossing counts, so while Everton’s form hasn’t been great, look for them to capitalize with excellent floors against a poor Burnley side. Even away to Burnley shouldn’t pose that serious of a threat, except maybe to a clean sheet, which this season away Everton has done only once. Feel free to use any form of crossing or set pieces in cash (Digne, Siggy), or shooters in GPP (Richarlison, random value attacking starter) vs. Burnley. But, make sure not to look for a clean sheet from Pickford, it’s highly unlikely and harder to target on the other side.

BURNLEY

Most Recent Result: Last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Nick Pope, Robbie Brady (P), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Q), Steven Defour (Q).

While they aren’t statistically the worst team in the league, Burnley consistently hits lows that very few teams fall to, and in terms of DFS have some of the worst 90min scoring in the league. They love to cross, so they work in DK cash, however the conversion rate into chances, and scoring from 90min players, will always be an issue. Oh, and their defense is #bad.

Over the previous 11 EPL games no team has been as poor as Burnley, winning only once and losing nine of the 11. While Burnley has scored in five of their previous six EPL home games, this season they’ve kept only two home clean sheets, so don’t expect Hart to carry you for a takedown. One of Burnley’s biggest issues has been 90min fitness; they’ve allowed a league high 6 goals after the 90min mark. Burnley should have at least a goal in them, however a 90min game may be hard to come by, as most of their forwards are just as likely to come off as score twice. If they are able to keep Everton under one they stand a chance. If Everton scores twice, this one is over, however, given Burnley offer solid slate-to-slate floors, we don’t need those ceilings for cash.

If you need crosses and decent floors, Burnley is acceptable, but if this midweek you need a GPP ceiling take-down I would look elsewhere, for either site.

In their history, these two sides have never drawn an EPL game, each winning and losing four.

CARDIFF CITY

Most Recent Result: 5-1 loss last weekend to ManUtd.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Joe Bennett, Danny Ward

If there is one thing we can count on, well two, maybe Fulham can come close, but Cardiff is easily the league’s worst away side, and good or bad they always have a result. At home they can get away with being a threat to a clean sheet, but away we can borderline lock in the opposition keeper for at least a win with a few saves. Who are they playing? Palace? What? ……I take that back.

Cardiff has lost 17 of their previous 20 away from home, losing six straight, and they’ve failed to find an away win yet this season. In fact, this season the Welshmen have managed only a single draw away from home, not drawing in seven straight, they’ve conceded the league’s second most penalty shots (only behind Brighton), and the league’s most corners. Cardiff has conceded at least 3 goals in half of their away games this season, and to top it off, Cardiff are equally bad on Boxing Day. They are winless in five straight BD games, last winning a BD game in 2012 (vs. Palace). The one major bright spot for Cardiff is manager Neil Warnock hasn’t lost an away game at Palace in nine straight, however, none of these games came in the EPL.

Like I said, this is one of the league’s worst ever away sides, so while they have been passable at home, away from home they aren’t worth much more than clean sheet busters, and instant targets in DFS.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Most Recent Result: Biggest surprise win of the season, 3-2 victory last weekend at ManCity.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Cheikhou Kouyate, Wayne Hennessey, and Martin Kelly, Christian Benteke.

It’s really hard to comprehend, but Palace is coming into the midweek as one of the hottest teams in the league. They are especially great for DFS as their salaries and ownership usually come at a discount, their role players are playing 90min, and their floor players are finding ceiling/relevance for takedowns in either format.

Out of a total five games in December, Palace has won three. They’ve won back to back EPL home games without conceding, only twice in their history completing three straight (2017, 1992), and they haven’t conceded vs. Cardiff in back to back games. Is this real life? In three of their previous four meetings Palace has won, and in three of Palace’s previous four games they’ve has seen at least 3 total goals. One of the more interesting notes for this game is not only the amount of penalties Cardiff has conceded, but Luka Milivojevic and his scoring is also worth discussing. I’ve been a personal denier for a long time, but since 2017 no Palace player has scored more than Milly’s 17, 13 of which have come from the spot (which is a league high). 4 of his goals this season have come from the spot, and he’s scored 5 in his previous nine games. In terms of season long this is rather old news for Palace; they’ve historically had bad starts to the season, slowly turn it around as the fall goes on, coming into the holidays they go ham, to finish winter they find a way to fall off the face of the earth for a couple more months, and come spring become of the dominant teams again. So, it’s definitely not something to buy into long term, but at this current rate Palace should have little to no issues at home vs. Cardiff.

A clean sheet may be a big ask as Cardiff isn’t inept, because Palace rather is. While this run has been nice, the defensive aspect should come to close sooner rather than later. Since they are at home we can give them the benefit of the doubt for another clean sheet, multiple save victory, maybe I’m being too salary sensitive after years of Palace abuse, but I see this far more likely to end 2-2 than 2-0, even with Cardiff’s insanely bad away record.

This is the first epl game in league history where both managers are 70+ years old. These teams haven’t met since 2014, and they haven’t tied in six straight. four of the six have seen 3+ goals.

MANCHESTER CITY

Most Recent Result: Devastating 3-2 loss at home to Palace.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Eliaquim Mangala, David Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho (D), Vincent Kompany (D).

What a difference a couple weeks make. 10 days ago City were on top of the professional world, however it seems that reality may finally, after years and years, finally be setting in on City. They are obviously incredible and still world class, but it seems the title race may be slipping away, and they may have to settle on European aspirations instead.

City has lost two of their previous three, they’ve conceded in five straight (8 over those five games), and they’ve conceded in seven of their previous eight games. In fact, City hasn’t lost back to back EPL games since 2015, however, one of those were to Leicester, as a lot of this fixture has to do with the time of the year as it does the players in play. While City hasn’t been the City we have come to know and love, they still stand with an impressive history vs. Leicester. City has won three straight vs. Leicester, losing once in their previous seven trips to Leicester, winning four of those seven. Also, City has lost only once in their previous six vs. Leicester in all competitions, winning three of the six. In terms of Boxing Day games, City are equally as excellent, losing only once in their previous 10 (2013), winning eight of the 10, including three straight.

While City is still City, they haven’t been 10k worthwhile City, and Leicester has historically kept these fixtures close. While City may provide the odd player of relevance, come lineup lock if you happen to straight fade or miss the City team stacks I wouldn’t get too worked up. They should win, but not by enough to warrant their ownership and salary. Mind you, Aguero scored 4 against Leicester last February, but it’s safe to say that was a different time with different teams.

LEICESTER CITY

Most Recent Result: The lesser known surprise of the season, 1-0 victory last weekend over Chelsea.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Claudio Bravo, Matty James (Q), Daniel Amartey

This one will be incredibly hard to peg, but a lot of it should come down to tempering expectations. A couple weeks ago, for the second straight season Leicester were knocked out of the EFL Cup by ManCity, and for the second straight year it went to penalties finishing 2-1. While the contrasts are extremely obvious, in many ways Leicester is built to play these possession-dominant Big 6 sides, and more often than not they’ve caught ManCity at horrid times of the year.

Leicester has only one win in their previous four EPL games, three of their previous 11, and they’ve won only three of their eight EPL home games. Leicester has come out victorious vs. City in only two of their previous 16 meetings, losing eight of the 16, and the Foxes are winless in five straight vs. the Sky Blues. Leicester are also winless in four straight Boxing Day games, failing to win any since returning to the EPL in 2014. However, Leicester has scored in 15 of their 18 games this season, and since their promotion Jamie Vardy has 28 goals in 46 games vs. Big 6 sides. A lot of this has to do with how Big 6 sides play, and how Vardy/Leicester play the counter, so it’s relevant, but not something to sell the farm on.

Leicester should score, it’ll probably be Vardy, but the latter I’m far less confident about.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Most Recent Result: 0-0 Draw last weekend vs. Huddersfield Town.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Ciaran Clark, Ki Sung-yueng (Asian Cup), Jonjo Shelvey (Q).

Newcastle has been successful despite their absolute lack of scoring and no notable defensive superstars. Generally speaking, they bring opposition teams down to their level, and while that doesn’t always work when it’s lowly sides, up against someone like Liverpool, the Magpies are instant GPP plays and shouldn’t be written off too quickly.

United hasn’t scored in seven games this season while only scoring 14 goals, the league’s second worst attack. Mind you, they’ve lost only twice in their previous eight games, winning four. However, coming up against Liverpool is probably too much of an ask. Newcastle hasn’t won an EPL game @ Liverpool since 1994, and a cup game a year later. Newcastle is winless in 22 straight vs. Liverpool, losing 18 of those 22, drawing the other four. In their previous 10 games vs. the league’s top standing team, whatever team happens to be in first place, Newcastle has lost nine, last winning in 2013 vs. Chelsea. Manager Rafa Benítez has lost three straight at and vs Liverpool, as his former long-time club it’s not something he generally looks forward to.

At this point there’s nothing to suggest Liverpool can’t pull off the perfect season, however, until that actually happens every opposition will instantly sound off as top GPP options, and this slate is no different. All season Newcastle has kept games close, so while Liverpool should win and easily, there’s still lots of DFS relevance for the Magpies.

LIVERPOOL

Most Recent Result: Last Friday, a 2-0 victory over Wolves.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold (Q), Naby Keita (D).

And then there was one.

Following last weekend’s surprises Liverpool remains the only team not to lose yet this season, winning seven straight. Liverpool has conceded a league low 7 goals this season, scoring 39, and in their eight home games conceding only twice, making Anfield a fortress once more. In terms of Boxing Day, Liverpool is near perfect. They haven’t lost an EPL home BD game since 1986 (to ManUtd), winning eight of their previous 11 BD games. Liverpool is also tied with Chelsea’s league record 7 league goals conceded by BD, and this is their second best start in their club history, only behind the Liverpool of 1987, and ahead of the 1949 Reds. Sadio Mane has scored 5 of his 7 goals at home this season, and while Salah has gone back to back home games without a goal, he’s never gone three straight since joining Anfield.

Liverpool is too strong, and while Newcastle isn’t completely void of options (for either format), Liverpool trounce every stat. With City and Chelsea on the decline, Liverpool will look to continue this excellent run of form with an easy victory over Newcastle, and Salah should be one of the top high-salary targets of the slate.

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

Most Recent Result: 0-0 draw last weekend vs. Newcastle.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Aaron Mooy, Adbelhamid Sabiri, Tommy Smith, Daniel Williams, Robin Van La Parra (D), Jonathan Hogg (D).

It’s tough; we have to maneuver through the concept that Huddersfield consistently present some of the slate-to-slate better cash options, but they have the league’s worst attack and one of the worst home/away road splits to be found.

Huddersfield has only one away win all season, losing five, and conceding 17. They’ve also only won twice all season, losing five straight. In their previous 10 vs. United, Huddersfield hasn’t scored in seven of those, scoring only 4 goals over those 10 games. So, not only are they in poor form, but they have little history on their side, and they’ve been a nightmare away from home. With all the things going for United, it’s a hard sell to trust any Town in GPP. However, for cash they will always provide value, we just need their salaries to stay low. Until Mooy comes back and Philip Billing costs +6k on DK, there’s little and no reason not to use Billing as one of your biggest locks of any slate. Last slate wasn’t an anomaly, so if Huddersfield find any kind of ceiling, it’s probably coming through him.

Huddersfield will be pushed to their limits for any kind of result, and while United may be reborn in attack, they are still conceding, offering Town some non-forward upside as well.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Most Recent Result: Last weekend’s 5-1 victory over lowly Cardiff City.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling (Q), Scott McTominay (Q), Antonio Valencia (D), Marcos Rojo (D).

So, how massive has the Mourinho firing been? Last weekend’s 5-1 win was the first time United has scored 5 since Sir Alex retired. That’s how big. Best game in six years big.

United has won only twice in their previous seven EPL games, however they haven’t lost to Town @ Old Trafford since 1930, covering six straight hostings, winning five of the previous six. In fact, United hasn’t lost at home game to a Yorkshire side since 1986, covering 32 straight games, winning 26 of the 32 games. What’s been so unlike United this season has been the amount of goals they’ve been seeing; in their 18 games they’ve seen 64 goals (34f, 30a), which is the second highest total in the league (behind Cardiff). In terms of Boxing Day, United hasn’t lost one at home since 1987, covering 17 straight games, winning 14 of the 17. In fact, covering Sir Alex’s 21 years as United’s manager, in all 21 of those seasons United were in the top 6 come BD, this is the third time in the six seasons since Sir Alex left that United has sat outside. After not scoring for 19 straight games, Jesse Lingard has four goals in his previous four games. While all of the United attack is viable for either format, his discount in salary and ownership make him someone to watch.

Ownership will be the big key for United. If they are playing 90min and their salary isn’t the most expensive of the slate, there’s nothing to consider for me. It’s not like we haven’t seen City stacks a mile away and they still hit like the hammer of Thor. I’m not concerned about ownership, you can’t own Spurs, City, Liverpool, AND United. Quick mafs; people will be scared off the ownership that won’t amount. Don’t be fooled, because of the amount of star power in this slate, ManUtd is still a buy-low situation.

BOURNEMOUTH

Most Recent Result: 2-0 victory over a 10-man Brighton.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Adam Smith, Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Simon Francis (D).

This is another side that is hard to peg, Bournemouth is a half decent team with incredible DFS options, however after a blazing hot start they’ve run into repeated walls coming in the form of Big 6 sides. Their Euro football hopes are no longer, they aren’t good enough yet.

Bournemouth has won only once in their previous three, last weekend, and they’ve won only twice in their previous eight EPL games. In their eight away games Bournemouth has conceded 14 (scoring in five of the eight), and they’ve shown a knack for conceding against Big 6 sides. However, in particular, Bournemouth has been overly poor vs. Spurs; failing to find a victory since 1957, and losing five of their previous six meetings. On top of this, Bournemouth avgs. 2.5+ conceded goals per game vs. Spurs, so by all definition they will need to equally fill the net to stay relevant. The obvious issue is they are coming up against one of the league’s hottest teams, and while they should be good for a goal, they’ll probably need three to counter their defensive issues.

It’s hard to say if Bournemouth will score many, but they should score once. Callum Wilson is third in the league with 5 away goals, so while I wouldn’t hedge on a Bournemouth win, a Wilson goal isn’t that much of an ask.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Most Recent Result: 6-2 victory over Everton.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Jan Vertonghen, Serge Aurier (D), Dele Ali (D), Mousa Dembele (D), Eric Dier.

Don’t look now, Harry Kane is heating up because people are around him. Nobody should be surprised.

Spurs is coming into this one on the backs of three straight wins. They’ve played a league low seven home games, winning five of the seven, keeping only two clean sheets at home. Spurs has played 15 straight EPL home games without a draw, and without a draw yet this season they are currently on the league’s second longest run of such fashion, the longest since 1983. Harry Kane is also coming into massive form; he’s scored against nine different teams this season (tied with Salah), and in his previous five vs. Bournemouth he has 6 goals and an assist. Kane with 8, Salah with 6, and Wilson with 5 lead the league in away goals, and while Son is shortly heading out for the Asian Cup, he’s scored 5 goals in his previous six home games, so, he also draws serious consideration. For the most part it will be safer to fall on Spurs recent form.

Bournemouth hasn’t been good away from home, and especially bad against stronger opposition. The clean sheet may once again elude Spurs, but their goal scoring should not.

ARSENAL

Most Recent Result: Last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Burnley.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nacho Monreal, Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck, Konstantinos Mavropanos

When we are looking for teams that have been massively unpredictable, there are few that match up with this season’s Arsenal. Going from looking like the league’s best to one of the league’s worst, from slate-to-slate it can be frustrating trying to peg the Gunners.

Arsenal has conceded in every away game this season, however they’ve also scored at least twice in each (8) away game, no team has scored at least twice in nine straight away. Arsenal has scored 15 away goals this season, however they’ve also only won once in their previous four away. In five of their previous six meetings, Arsenal has scored twice, winning five of those six meetings. In their previous 10 meetings, Arsenal has kept a clean sheet six times, only conceding 6 goals over those 10 games. Since February, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored twice against six different opponents, the next closest has three different teams. And in terms of Boxing Day, Arsenal are incredible, losing only once in their previous 16 BD games, winning 10, last losing a BD game in 2016.

So, the Gunners should win this, but, and this is a massive but, Brighton has been so good at home/Arsenal defensive has been so bad away, there is still some warrant to Brighton. It may take some luck for the Seagulls, but Arsenal shouldn’t be losing this one.

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION

Most Recent Result: 2-0 loss to Bournemouth.
Notables Missing This Weekend: Lewis Dunk, Jose Izquierdo, Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Finishing off the main slate we have Brighton.

The Seagulls have lost three straight, not losing four straight since 1982. Much like Huddersfield, Brighton has one of, if not the heaviest home/away splits over the previous couple seasons, however, a lot of that is by default. Brighton has won only four away games since promotion (two years ago), but at the same time they’ve lost only twice this season at home, to Spurs and Chelsea, both by a 2-1 scoreline. From their eight home games this season, Brighton has found 14 points from the possible 24. More importantly, Brighton has won three straight at home vs. Arsenal, so while Arsenal may impose a bigger figure, Brighton are not to be overlooked. However, Brighton hasn’t won a Boxing Day game since 2005. While they are excellent at home, this time of the season historically hits them hard. Glen Murray has scored seven of his eight goals at home this season, and considering Arsenal has been so suspect at the back, Murray makes for one of the more interesting GPP plays from this midweek slate.

I like Brighton to ruffle some feathers; Arsenal could be here for the taking, especially travelling down to the south coast. It will take some luck, but Brighton could be worth a result this week.

There has been no draws in their previous seven meetings. Arsenal holds the upper hand winning four to Brighton’s three.