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Fantasy EPL: Week 8 Review / Week 9 Preview


Last weekend was, most of all, another show of force by Manchester City in an utter demolition of Stoke, led by an ever more impressive Kevin De Bruyne. The “silent assassin” doesn’t find the score sheet often, but there is rarely a goal-scoring play in which he’s not somehow involved. The only troublesome fact for City is that, like most of Pep’s teams, this one also has a problem keeping clean sheets, and it is something that can come back to haunt them eventually.

Then, there were the two shockers (which I partially predicted). First, Chelsea fell to bottom dweller Crystal Palace, and then, later on, Arsenal was embarrassed by Watford. The second one was especially painful, as it came on an injury-time rebound winner by Tom Cleverley. Watford has made a habit of scoring late recently. This loss puts further pressure on Wenger, and begs the question: ‘Why, oh why, did you decide to extend your contract and continue the torture?’

What was proclaimed as the game of the week, ended up in a scoreless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United (another correct prediction from last week’s article). Klopp’s lads were better, if not superior, yet failed to capitalize on their chances, consequently missing a golden opportunity to catch up with the top of the table. Other than that, we had four more draws and two clean sheets victories by Tottenham and Swansea. Eriksen was the difference in a surprisingly tight affair at Wembley, while Tammy Abraham bagged a brace to topple Huddersfield. Burnley once again failed to deliver on its home ground and had to rescue a point versus West Ham. Antonio and Wood were the goal scorers for each side. Everton was on the brink of yet another disappointing loss, but Rooney converted a 90th-minute penalty kick in a 1-1 tie. Southampton simply can’t get it going. They had to come back twice at home against Newcastle, and if not for Gabbiadini, they probably would’ve lost. Lastly, Monday hammered the last nail in Craig Shakespeare’s coffin. The Leicester manager was sacked after his team not only didn’t manage to win but underperformed once more. Mahrez canceled out Chadli’s free-kick magic for a final scoreline of 1-1.

Week 8 highest fantasy scorers

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Joe Hart (West Ham), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham).
Defenders: Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham).
Midfielders: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Tom Cleverley (Watford), Nacer Chadli (WBA), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City).
Forwards: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Tammy Abraham (Swansea), Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton).


West Ham vs. Brighton

– This game is an excellent opportunity for West Ham to start moving forward. Andy Carroll will be suspended due to his red card in the previous match, therefore Diafra Sakho should start. The Hammers are fully fit for the first time in a while. I expect Lanzini to have a good Friday, while Antonio and Chicharito remain a threat to score on any given day, even when they’re slumping. As far as Brighton goes, they’ll be a tough out for any opponent until season’s end. Gross, Propper, and Hemed, when he comes back from suspension, are and will remain the players to own from this team (albeit with fringe fantasy value).

Chelsea vs. Watford

– This is where Watford’s last-minute heroics dissipate. The Blues will be hungry after the loss to Palace and a mid-week let down versus Roma in the Champions League (3-3). Unfortunately for the Yellow & Black, they are the prey. Conte’s men are tired, but with Morata back in the fold, and Hazard gaining confidence with each passing game (scored twice against Roma), a convincing victory looms.

Huddersfield vs. Manchester United

– The Red Devils are officially back. Under Ferguson, they were known for getting results even when they weren’t at their best, scraping victories sort of speak. Their fans call it resiliency and perseverance, their adversaries call it luck. Regardless of what it is, Manchester United has recaptured it at least. After Southampton, Liverpool and Benfica, Huddersfield is next on the conveyor belt. A team that has scored only one goal in the last five fixtures shouldn’t be an obstacle, although I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park. I look for Lukaku and Mkhitaryan to make the difference.

Manchester City vs. Burnley

– Well, well, well. Will City fall victim to Burnley’s road invincibility? I, personally, don’t think it’ll happen. The Citizens are riding the crest of a wave right now, and are simply too good for an outfit such as Burnley. After beating Chelsea and manhandling Stoke, they overpowered undefeated Napoli as well. Jesus, Sterling, Sane, De Bruyne, everyone’s morale is sky high. I expect them to have another good day at the office.

Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace

– Will the win over Chelsea be the turning point for Crystal Palace this season? It might, but odds are they improve enough to avoid relegation, nothing more. Newcastle tends to use the atmosphere at St. James Park to its advantage, and I believe that’s what happens on Saturday. I also predict that both teams will find the net.

Stoke vs. Bournemouth

– Taking everything that Bournemouth has shown this season into perspective, it’s unreasonable to support them or any of their players in fantasy. Until they show some signs of life, I’d rather avoid them altogether. That’s what I’ll do here, instead focusing on The Potters. They’ll be looking for redemption after a devastating loss last weekend. Other than the obvious choices of Jese and Diouf, we could see the name of whoever starts alongside them on the score sheet at the end of the game. Whether that’s Choupo-Moting or Berahino, we’ll have to wait and see.

Swansea vs. Leicester

– Manager-less Leicester will travel to Wales to take on a Swansea team coming off a comfortable victory at the same stadium last week. Renato Sanches is still questionable to return. Tammy Abraham on the other hand, has been better than advertised. Chelsea could really have used him this season, considering the lack of front-line firepower. There are two ways this contest can unravel. Either Leicester gets a breath of fresh air and use it to propel themselves to victory, or the lack of a disciplinarian on the sidelines leads to disarray on the field. No matter what occurs, I believe this fixture ends in a draw.

Southampton vs. West Bromwich

– A battle of EPL’s two most unpredictable teams, each of them can beat anyone on any given day, and also lose to anyone on any given day. The difference between them is that they have opposite strengths and weaknesses. The Saints play attractive soccer with a vulnerable defense, while WBA’s defense is the one which keeps it in games. Now that Chadli is back, they’ll be more dangerous. What I said about Gabbiadini turned out to be true. If only Romeu were to be replaced by Ward-Prowse, and Southampton might start moving in the right direction. Redmond has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy thus far. This might be the game where he scores his first goal in this campaign.

Everton vs. Arsenal

– I’ll keep it short here. Don’t trust Arsenal. Don’t trust Everton either. Likely a draw.

Tottenham vs. Liverpool

– Liverpool converted all chances they missed against Manchester United on Tuesday in Slovenia, with seven goals against Maribor. Tottenham managed to leave Santiago Bernabeu unbeaten but has been much less convincing at “home” than away this season. It’s going to be an intriguing fixture, which The Reds might, perhaps unexpectedly, dominate, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll leave with three points. Coutinho is back to his old self, while Dele Alli is in Kane’s shadow at the moment. Those are the players I see as keys to success in this round’s last game.

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