Hey everyone, and welcome back to another weekend of EPL action. It’s hard to believe we are already five games deep into the season, and this weekend we are looking at what could be and should be the most exciting slate of the season.
There is so much history this slate, it’s bound to be broken. Leicester and Bournemouth have never scored two goals in a game when playing each other, and we are still near guaranteed goals. Chelsea may be walking clean sheets, and there is such a demand for their defensive stack, it’s a super obvious too good too be true (for everyone but me). Huddersfield may be boring, but Palace is everything but, so we can expect something from this game. Though, only the soccer gods know what. Fulham has been scoring on everybody, and ManCity have been conceding to everybody, enough said? If Newcastle and Arsenal both fail to get a gazillion shots off this weekend, then so far this season every stat has been lying. Finally, if ManUtd fail to win (and with Liverpool playing Spurs, three points could mean everything this weekend), and Chelsea win, it’s already getting to a point where unless the sky completely falls off on City and Chelsea, there is no way United will ever catch them. Oh, they are playing the Hornets of Watford. Good luck with that one.
Hope everyone is having a great season so far, and guess what! Champions League is literally right around the corner with some of the world’s biggest games only days away! Get excited!
Best of luck everyone! I wish you nothing but success, and hopefully see you at the top!
Leicester City @ Bournemouth
It's hard not to expect goals in this game. Mind you, if we were to take recent form into question, this weekend Bournemouth could be a complete steal, while Leicester may be a team ripe for a fade. Either way, there's no reason not to expect a goals, just maybe not a lot of them.
It's equally hard not to look at Begovic this weekend as one of the best plays. Him and Diego Rico are an incredible stacking duo, and with Leicester's poor away form coupled with Bournemouth's excellent home form, the writing is on the wall for a 1-0 Bournemouth win. Neither team have been keeping a clean sheet, and while it can be safe to fall on Begovic at home, Schmeichel is someone I will be actively fading. If Leicester was at home, this would be a different question, but away from home, I’m not interested. I'm hoping Ryan Fraser keeps his questionable designation, the longer the better, because he should play, and that should lower ownership outside of cash. Because, I do see both teams scoring. While Jamie Vardy is coming back from suspension, Callum Wilson is towards the top of the league in production, both are viable. Wilson is far more appealing, for either format. That being said, the VardyParty has been far more frequent away from home, and what I like most about Leicester is they tend to lose when Vardy scores first. I’m all for it.
This game shouldn't break the slate, nor should it posses any life changers. It still has more than enough floor to go around, and some guys like Diego Rico and Wilson are borderline must plays, really, in either format.
Players to Target:
Leicester: Chilwell or Pereira, Maddison, Vardy
Bournemouth: Begovic, Diego Rico, Fraser, Callum Wilson
PREDICTION: 1-1. 2-1 either way, 1-0 Bournemouth.
Cardiff City @ Chelsea
This one is almost too straight forward. It’s at the point I'm having trouble trusting Chelsea to properly see this one through.
It's not that I dislike Cardiff, they still have some DFS viable options, but it's that Cardiff isn't/haven't been scoring, and Chelsea is too good at home. With so many people likely to land on City, one of my favourite stacks of the slate is easily a Chelsea team stack. Kepa/Azpilicueta/Alonso/Hazard together is complete flames. If they show up properly (like they have been), and ManCity don't go completely ham (like they haven't been), along with the ownership level at near rock bottom, Chelsea once again make great pivots. I don't mind any of them in cash, but stacking the crew is a GPP script, not cash. The main issue for Chelsea is minutes, as Willian and Pedro will (hopefully) be subbing each other out, leaving way for a 90min Hazard, and Giroud/Morata will continue to committee the forward line. Chelsea predominantly attack on the left hand side, so stacking Hazard and Alonso is easily the sharpest GPP stack of the slate, and can probably be used in cash. Don't get caught up in the ManCity hysteria, they are injured and getting old, in other words, they are not the same City 11 we have known to be perfect in the past. Cardiff aren't completely void, but they have literally everything going against them. Outside last weekend's double vs Arsenal, Cardiff hadn't found the net this season. On top of this, Chelsea are more than capable to shut down any team's production levels, to the point a fade is usually the safest bet, no matter the opposition. Until Hazard starts showing himself to be less in form, it's unsafe to fade him, and safer just to fade whoever he is facing.
Also, if you're playing on FD, you aren't tripping out, the jerseys are basically identical. It took me a solid 5min to see it.
As I said, Chelsea make a world class City pivot. Don't be afraid to look past a ManCity stack clouded by minutes and injuries. Instead, look to a Chelsea stack that is predictable, and comparatively unowned. Don't let me down now, Chelsea.
Players to Target:
Cardiff: Joe Ralls (Cash Only)
Chelsea: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Alsonso, Hazard
PREDICTION: Chelsea should score at least twice, Cardiff won't score more than once, if that. 3-0/2-0 Chelsea.
Crystal Palace @ Huddersfield Town
I honestly don't know what to say. Well, I know what I want to say, fire up the Palace like it's your job, kids. Issue being, you're probably gonna get fired, and get zero references.
I've made a business out of not going against Huddersfield at home, when applicable. They are not only a better home team, but their defense first mindset is hard to break down. Mounie seems to be producing at level of a competent DFS attacker, and Huddersfield have been making more crosses, meaning more points. Their corner and set piece game suck, not because of poor quality, but because it’s piratically non-existent; leading the league with the least amount of corners, and Huddersfield players are one of the least fouled. So, not only do they look to stifle other team's floor, but also don't create their own. Huddersfield are missing their team captain and defensive midfielder, Jon Hogg, so Aaron Mooy is forced to play more defensive (ruining his day), and Billings pushes up (making his, and yours). Palace are quicker than a light switch from going between world class and world asses. Don't get me wrong, I love Palace, and I think they have some super viable options. Zaha is one of my favourite plays of the slate, and Milivojevic has been taking mass amounts of set pieces. Wan-Bissaka is an excellent option, and depending on which Hennessey shows up, you may even get a keeper show for a discounted price. As usual, the game will rely on Zaha and his capabilities. He should be well rested, and be in top form against a Huddersfield side with no interest outside of defending. I really don’t see them stopping Zaha from a brace.
Huddersfield can hold them off, but it only takes a moment for Zaha to change the game. Since the Huddersfield defenders aren't perfect, and weaker on the Zaha side of the field, I dunno….. Did I mention Zaha yet? Game on.
Players to Target:
Palace: Hennessey (GPP), Wan-Bissaka, Townsend, Milivojevic, Zaha
Huddersfield: Billings, Mounie (GPP)
PREDICTION: Hard to say. 2-2/1-1 seems most likely.
Fulham @ Manchester City
This isn't so much about who will win, but which City players we can rely on for either raw points, or finding value.
City and Ederson have conceded in three straight games to three teams that have zero business scoring goals. Especially Huddersfield, but Wolves and Newcastle should not be scoring on the league's best team. One of the big issues is salary, and without a clean sheet, there is no way Ederson will win you a weekend. On top of this, Kepa is facing a team that has only scored in one game this season, so if you want points, you should spend up to Kepa, because by all definition, City are probably conceding again. To be fair, without his goal, Walker would have been closer to a 5fpts, which lines up with his past floors. This means we can expect a 5-8fpts from Walker, and from that salary, there's no way. One thing that will be crucial this weekend is how City line up their mids, or more importantly their midfield subs. The main issue with City in DFS this season has been their inconsistent minutes. If all these names are missing, guys like Mahrez or David Silva may be seeing 90min, which would make them ultra viable. Aguero has been unstoppable at home, and it would be unwise to fade him as well, and getting Aguero and Hazard into the same card isn’t impossible. Now, Fulham. Where to begin? They are actually a half manageable side when the conditions approve it, but this slate, that won't be the case. However, I still do expect a goal, and while I would count it as 1) Mitrovic, 2) RSess, 3) Schurrle, they represent nothing more than a one-off in the hopes of finding a low owned goal. City should score enough to make a Bettinelli pick completely wasted, and enough constant pressure to avoid looking for any kind of crossing output from the Fulham defenders and wingers.
Fulham are decent, but they aren't good enough to hang with these kind of big boys. If ManCity are missing guys, especially from them bench, you have to take them for the full 90min games.
Players to Target:
ManCity: Mendy, David Silva, Mahrez (if 90min), Aguero
PREDICTION: at least 3 goals for City, no more than one for Fulham.
Arsenal @ Newcastle
If there was to be a bold prediction to come from this weekend, it would be that even with a City and Chelsea studded slate, Arsenal vs. Newcastle will be the highest scoring game of the weekend, and it shouldn't even be close.
I would love to sit here and tell you things like Arsenal this, or Arsenal that, but the truth is they haven't been at any kind of heights in a long time, and a trip up to Newcastle is never an easy task. One thing we can prepare for is a ton of shots. Newcastle has taken the fourth most shots so far this season, and Arsenal have taken the third most shots. Newcastle allow a ton of shots, and even more crosses (the third most crosses allowed), while Arsenal is midrange. After a very slow start, Arsenal have really picked it up in the past couple of weeks. Wins against West Ham and Cardiff may seem unimportant, but Arsenal battled to victories in each, and coming off an 0-2 start, things could have just as easily been 0-4 if they hadn't gotten switched on. That's the thing here. Outside of Hazard and Alsonso, Chelsea are not switched on. Outside of Aguero, City are not switiched on. ManUtd aren't switched on period, and could see a massive blow with a loss this weekend. Arsenal are chugging along nicely, with three goals in back to back games, and an affordable Lacazette is super in-play if he starts, because Aubameyang is showing me he may have a use in season long, but not DFS. Newcastle are a competent enough team, it's that they only have a couple different gears, and both the gears are easy to predict. If Arsenal can disrupt Rondon from getting the ball, Newcastle can't get forward. If Arsenal can disrupt Newcastle from getting crosses in, they have literally no other way to get the ball into the box. Like I said, capable enough, decent team, but when you only have two gears, a team with an unlimited bankroll can shut that down with nothing more than a wisp of an idea. On top of this, Rondon probably won't see 90min, and Newcastle love to sub out those guys doing well....wait, so does Arsenal. Ummm...
All that said, expect goals. Both teams love to shoot, and while Arsenal may provide us with both quantity and quality, look for Newcastle to reply on almost every (second) chance they get.
Players to Target:
Arsenal: Cech (Cash), Guezdouzi, Mkhitaryan (GPP), Lacazette
Newcastle: Rondon (GPP)
PREDICTION: 4-3 Arsenal. Both teams should score more than once, probably at least twice each. Shots for days, massive point totals, floor, and hopefully a sneaking ceiling.
Manchester United @ Watford
In what could be the most exciting casual game of the weekend, we have the late hammer of late hammers in the faltering United side of Manchester travelling to London.
Since Mourinho has taken over, ManUtd haven't scored more than two goals in a game. That may be a slight hyperbole, but chances are if you look back, it's single digits. They do not play to crush a DFS slate, so even by default, we can safely fade almost the entire team in every GPP setting. Even better, they are playing like garbage, so we get to fade massive salaries with little risk. Watford on the other hand are playing like they've never have, and absolutely crushing DFS metrics in the process. Foster makes saves, their defenders cross, their mids shoot, and their forwards score. At home, they have been excellent for quite some time, but it's only amplified that they are running for an undefeated start, where with a defeat, ManUtd will have lost the title before September is even out. So, while we can't expect a lot of goals from ManUtd, Lukaku could still find the net easily enough. Watford should be scoring three though, even against ManUtd. That's the point, ManUtd haven't been themselves, but there should already be questions around if themselves were good enough in the first place to play this defensive style. It’s not that ManUtd are bad, they are world class, it’s that they don’t play to win, they play to not lose. That’s a massive difference.
By all definition, if ManUtd don't find a result, this will spell the end of Mourinho at ManUtd. Honestly, I don't hope for this very often, but the sooner the better, so United can get back to their ways of actually scoring goals and trying to win games. This "beat everyone 2-0/2-1" won't fly in Manchester, and this weekend could change everything.
Players to Target:
ManUtd: Cech (Cash), Sanchez (GPP), Lukaku
Watford: Foster, Holebas, Pereyra, Deeney
PREDICTION: 2-0 Watford. Please. Please.