International breaks. As Fantasy managers, we hate them. Firstly, we are forced to sit idly by, twiddling our thumbs as our beloved game is put on hiatus, and we find ourselves wondering what to do with our weekends. Secondly, they are a Fantasy minefield. Injuries and late returns from long haul trips can, in an instant, wreck even the most well structured of teams and carefully thought out plans. So it is with unbridled joy that we say goodbye, and good riddance, to the last international break until February 2016 and welcome back the game we love!
Gameweek 12 (if we can remember that far back!) saw our recommendations amass 58 points, a juicy 13 points above the average for the week. Our success was built on solid foundations at the back, where 3 of our 4 picks kept the clean sheets we asked of them; David de Gea (6 points), Vincent Kompany and Virgil van Dijk (8 each). Only Alberto Moreno (1) failed to oblige as Liverpool suffered a surprising 2-1 reverse at Anfield against Alan Pardew’s men. As always, we start our analysis of the bookies odds in defence, where we’ll look to build a similarly solid platform for Gameweek 13…
|Team||Clean Sheet Odds||Implied chance|
This week sees the most definitive split in the clean sheet rankings this season, with 9 teams given a 39% chance or more of keeping their opponents at bay, whilst the other 11 teams have a 25% chance or less. Defensive form and fixture both have their parts to play in this split, and we start at the top with the latter.
Chelsea, the undisputed cornerstone of Fantasy defences in seasons past, have just not been at the races this year. Languishing 16th in the table, with 23 goals conceded and just 2 clean sheets in 12 games, we may be somewhat surprised to find them with the best chance of a clean sheet (48%) this weekend. The reason for that is the fact they enjoy a home clash with Norwich. At first glance, this tie has Chelsea clean sheet written all over it, but a closer look at the stats and the alarm bells start ringing. Chelsea have conceded 10 goals in 6 games at The Bridge this season, and Norwich have scored in all-but-one of their away games (against Southampton when they had 10 men). Whilst Chelsea’s 2 shutouts have come at home, there is no denying that they are in the midst of a dire struggle and we think there is better defensive value on offer elsewhere this weekend.
The aforementioned Southampton (47%) provide one option. 2 clean sheets on the bounce is an encouraging sign as they entertain a Stoke side who have scored just 2 goals in their last 4 Premier League games. Virgil van Dijk (goal threat) and Ryan Bertrand (assist potential) are the prime picks here for a team with both the form and the fixture to provide defensive returns.
Crystal Palace (46%) are another side who fall under the “fixture” category this weekend. They host Sunderland on Monday night, who have blanked in 3 of their last 6. Palace have kept just 3 clean sheets this season, and we wouldn’t normally recommend any defenders from an Alan Pardew side, but the visit of the Black Cats and the attacking threat posed by Scott Dann (2 goals and 1 assist this season) promotes him into our thinking.
Defensive form = Manchester United (45%). Louis van Gaal has turned United into a defensive juggernaut, albeit a boring one. After 4 clean sheets on the bounce, and 8 in total in the league, the Red Devils travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford, who have also been impressive at the back, but have struggled up front with just the 11 goals this term.
Rounding off the “top 9”, Arsenal (45%) make the journey to The Hawthorns to tackle a West Brom side who are the joint-lowest scorers in the division (10 goals), Everton (also 45%) take on an equally toothless Aston Villa (also 10 goals scored all season), well-oiled Tottenham (42%) welcome a Dimitri Payet-less West Ham to White Hart Lane, with Manchester City (40%) hosting Liverpool and an out-of-form Swansea (39%) entertaining an equally out-of-form Bournemouth.
Our recommendations for your back line this week; Petr Cech, Marcus Rojo, Scott Dann, Ryan Bertrand.
3 goals and 3 sets of bonus points were the sum of our attacking returns last time out as Romelu Lukaku, Jamie Vardy and Philippe Coutinho netted 8, 9 and 10 points respectively. As a result, this is where we are targeting improvement for the coming gameweek, and, with the majority of fixtures being regarded as one-sided by the bookies, it is no surprise that we find an abundance of candidates who look like profitable investments this weekend…
|Player||Goalscorer Odds||Implied chance|
|Kevin de Bruyne||3||33.33%|
Harry Kane, with 5 goals in his last 3 games for Tottenham, tops the rankings with a 50% chance of finding the net against a West Ham side without a clean sheet in 7. The England marksman has found his form lately he’ll be looking to continue that in Sunday’s London derby. Not much more needs to be said here.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s late kick off at The Etihad provides us with a wealth of options. Sergio Aguero (49%) and Daniel Sturridge (26%) are both proven goalscorers on the cusp of returning from their respective injuries, whilst their deputies, Wilfried Bony (41%) and Christian Benteke (27%), are more than capable of making the net bulge in any game. Given the uncertainty over who will start, it may be wiser to look to the midfield for points in this game, where Philippe Coutinho (16%) is the form man with 3 goals in his last 2 games. Raheem Sterling (30%) will be eager to prove a point against his old club, whilst Kevin de Bruyne (33%) netted over the international break for Belgium.
Olivier Giroud (47%) is also in form with 3 goals in his last 4 league games and will continue to spearhead the Arsenal attack in Theo Walcott’s absence. However, he faces a tough task against a notoriously well-drilled West Brom defence, although they have been more susceptible than usual at home this season, conceding a league-high 12 goals. Alexis Sanchez (41%) has looked a little jaded lately, and as a result doesn’t tempt us this week.
Jamie Vardy (43%). What can we say. Score against Newcastle on Saturday and he equals Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games. He’s a slight injury doubt, but nothing can seem to stop the England striker at the moment, be that pain, broken bones, or an opposition defence. His form and hunger are undeniable and we certainly won’t be betting against him. In a game where goals are expected, consideration should be given to Riyad Mahrez (30%) who has also been in terrific form this season and scored for Algeria in midweek, whilst Ayoze Perez (also 30%) has been ticking over nicely with 3 goals in his last 6.
Nobody enjoys home comforts more than Graziano Pelle (42%), who pretty much exclusively scores at St Mary’s (5 of his 7 league goals this season have come at home, 11 of 12 last season). Whilst Stoke have improved defensively of late, they’ll be hard pushed to contain the Italian frontman or his livewire of a teammate, Sadio Mane (34%). Meanwhile, Everton welcome Aston Villa to Goodison Park on Saturday, where in-form strike duo Romelu Lukaku (45%) and Arouna Kone (36%) will be looking to pile the misery on Remi Garde and his charges.
Elsewhere, Willian (28%) is Chelsea’s most enticing prospect against Norwich given his free-kick duties and steady points production of late, whilst Andre Ayew (30%) will be hoping to rediscover his, and Swansea’s, early season form as they welcome to The Liberty a Bournemouth side in freefall and dismantled by injuries. Down in South London, Yannick Bolasie is beginning to find some form after netting for both club and country recently.
Our recommendations for your attacking line-up this week; Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Jamie Vardy, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Willian, Yannick Bolasie.
Our recommendations for your captain; Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.
Victory is a Fantasy football and anytime goalscorer betting enthusiast. Enjoys SSS – statistics, strategising and spreadsheets. Follow his tips on Twitter.