Merry Christmas! Santa will have known whether you were naughty or nice this year, and dished out your presents accordingly. But, naughty or nice, the Fantasy Football Gods care not. The only way to appease them is through diligent work and insightful analysis, so onward we look to the next set of bookmaker odds in the hope of finding some festive Fantasy cheer.
Defensive returns seem to be the hardest area to predict recently, with just 4 teams (Swansea, West Ham, Tottenham and Watford) keeping clean sheets last weekend. As a result, our selections do not require much reviewing, as they (Butland, Dann, Koscielny, Jones) amassed a grand total of 6 points. The Premier League’s Boxing Day football feast often serves up plenty of goals, so we look to see, now more than ever, if the bookies can lend us a helping hand..
|Team||Clean Sheet Odds||Implied chance|
Manchester City lead the rankings this weekend with a 52% of keeping a clean sheet when they welcome Sunderland to The Etihad. Pellegrini’s men, however, have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 6. As City are a completely different defensive unit without captain Vincent Kompany, who remains an injury doubt, in addition to the fact that Sunderland have scored in their last 3 away games (vs Chelsea, Arsenal and Palace), we recommend looking elsewhere for defensive points.
Chelsea (47%), Tottenham (45%) and Swansea (43%) complete the top 4. Chelsea start life under Guus Hiddink with a home tie against high-flying Watford. Will Chelsea regain their famous defensive solidity under a new manager, or will the red-hot Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney spoil the party? The Hornets have won 4 on the trot and have scored 9 goals during that run. Spurs, with the joint-best defense in the league (14 goals conceded), will be confident of another clean sheet when they face Norwich. The Canaries, despite beating United last time out, have blanked in 2 of their last 3 away games. Swansea, fresh off the back of the a first league clean sheet since September, welcome West Brom to the Liberty, with The Baggies having scored just 6 times in 8 away games so far this season and shorn of the services of Salomon Rondon through suspension.
With Manchester United (38%) wobbling since being struck by defensive injuries and facing a trip to The Britannia where Stoke’s (30%) record reads; Played 8, Scored 8, Conceded 9, we’re finding this one hard to call, so we turn our heads towards Arsenal (33%). The Gunners have 2 clean sheets in their last 3 games in all competitions and travel to the South Coast where Southampton (23%) lie in wait. The Saints are definitely in a bit of a rut, having only scored 1 goal across their last 3 home games.
With away games against some of the biggest names in the league, the bookies don’t fancy Leicester (17%), Watford (13%), Norwich (11%) or Sunderland (7%) to register shutouts. Given the lack of clean sheets in recently and the expected traditional Boxing Day goal-fest, we’re recommending doubling up on defenders from North London this week.
Our recommendations for your back line this week; Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Kyle Walker, Toby Alderweireld.
It was once again this year’s consistent players; Riyad Mahrez (15 points), Odion Ighalo (13) and Romelu Lukaku (6), who turned up last gameweek and helped out our attacking numbers. With that in mind, consistent performers will be the theme of our attacking selections this weekend.
|Player||Goalscorer Odds||Implied chance|
|Kevin de Bruyne||2.88||34.72%|
Sergio Aguero is the bookies’ favourite this weekend, with the Argentine given a 61% chance of finding the net by the odds compilers. City are a powerhouse at home, scoring an average of over 2.5 goals per game, and, with Sunderland having the worst away defence in the league (24 goals shipped in 9 games), their talisman will certainly fancy his chances. Has he been consistent this season? No. Do we have other in-form options available to us? Plenty. So the answer to whether we select him should be a clear no. Although, if I recall correctly, he did do ok at home against that other team from the North East…
Romelu Lukaku (44%), Jamie Vardy (34%) and Odion Ighalo (23%) have all been outstanding this season, scoring goals for fun, and consistently. They all, however, face different levels of difficulty this weekend as they continue their quest for the Golden Boot, according to the bookies. Big Rom takes a trip to Tyneside, where Newcastle’s dodgy defence will hold no fears for a man who has bagged in each of his last 7 games. Current top-scorer Jamie Vardy will visit Anfield in the hope that he can net his 16th of the season. The Reds are struggling lately, having conceded 7 goals in 3 games, and, in our opinion, will struggle to keep Leicester, who have the best away attack in the league, under wraps. Odion Ighalo faces the toughest test of the three as Watford make the journey across London to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have been far from their best, both at home and away, this term, whilst the Hornets have quietly, in the shadow of Leicester, worked their way up to 7th spot, 1 point off of the Champions League places. Will Saturday bring a return to the norm? Or will Ighalo, after netting a brace against Liverpool last time out, pile further misery on the Blues, who have kept clean sheets in less than 25% of their games this season?
If it’s consistency we want, then we can look no further than Mesut Ozil. Despite only having a 17% chance of scoring against Southampton, the assist-machine (15 so far this league campaign) is racking up Fantasy points and is a solid pick, regardless of his opponent. Riyad Mahrez (29%) is another extremely consistent performer this season and has scored 6 in his last 3 games. With the Algerian wizard and the aforementioned Mr Vardy coming to town, we’re predicting a torrid time for Steve McCLaren’s defenders come Saturday afternoon.
Elsewhere, the bookies strongly fancy Harry Kane (54%) to rediscover his scoring touch against Norwich, whilst Pedro (34%) is an intriguing option having scored in the first game of the post-Mourinho era. Andre Ayew (29%) has been Swansea’s most consistent player this season and will likely be their best chance of breaking down a West Brom team with the joint-best away defensive record in the league.
Our recommendations for your attacking line-up this week; Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero, Jamie Vardy, Mesut Ozil, Pedro, Riyad Mahrez, Andre Ayew.
Our recommendations for your captain; Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.