We focus on three stand-out fixtures ahead of gameweek 15 and also pick out some key players to consider in our FPL and PlayOn squads.
Sat 5 Dec 2015 – Premier League
Arsenal v Sunderland 15:00
Arsenal have failed to win in three and Arsene Wenger faces selection issues due to several injuries limiting the manager’s options. Following the 1-1 draw in the North London Derby and the 2-1 defeat at the Hawthorns, a trip to promoted Norwich was a good chance to get a win. Instead, the Gunners were held to another stale-mate and to make matters worse Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and potentially Laurent Koscielny all joined the much missed Francis Coquelin on the side-lines.
On a positive note, Olivier Giroud has averaged a goal every 88 minutes over the last 10 league matches, and Mesut Ozil has been in the best form of his Arsenal career – with 9 assists over the last 8. They still have quality, but will it be enough to breakdown a reinvigorated Sunderland?
Predictably Sunderland have seen an upturn in results, based primarily on increased defensive resilience, since the appointment of Sam Allardyce. Three clean sheets over the last five matches have seen them rise up the table, with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park and the late 2-0 victory over Stoke highlighting their new found solidity.
Allardyce has been employing a 3-5-2 formation that has seen Patrick Van Aanholt and fellow wing-back Billy Jones score two goals and serve up two assists between them over the last 5 matches. Could they be worth selecting in kinder fixtures? Joint top-scorer Jermaine Defoe may not recover from a hamstring injury, so Steven Fletcher will likely be leading the line at the Emirates.
Olivier Giroud, For Fpl 8.9, PlayOn 12.4
Mesut Ozil, Mid Fpl 9.3, PlayOn 12
Steven Fletcher, For Fpl 5, PlayOn 7
Billy Jones, Def Fpl 4.4, PlayOn 6.1
Chelsea v Bournemouth 17:30
Jose Mourinho’s side are starting to show signs of returning to their usual levels of solidity in defence after their first back-to-back clean sheets of the campaign. That result saw them keep out a Spurs side that had scored 13 in their previous 4 matches. Kurt Zouma looks the safest pick in defence, having started 11 of their last 12 league match-ups. He is also usually the cheapest route into their back-line.
The goalless draw at White Hart Lane also re-affirmed that the Blues are struggling to find the net – with only one shot on target and a single goal scored over their last three. The visit of a Bournemouth team that have conceded 18 goals in 6 games means there is no room for excuses this weekend and players such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have the chance to kick-start their so far dismal seasons.
That aforementioned defensive record for Bournemouth will be worrying Eddie Howe. His porous back-line has dropped them into the relegation zone and it’s easy to overlook their rearguard for selection in our fantasy teams.
There have however been encouraging performances further forward, as three goals in the last ten minutes against Everton saw them come from behind twice to earn a 3-3 draw. Two early goals at Swansea in their previous outing demonstrates that they may yet have the firepower needed to stay in the division. Junior Stanislas bagged two against the Toffees and has impressed of late, while Dan Gosling and Matt Ritchie are also viable options in midfield. Josh King appears to have nailed down the forward role ahead of Glenn Murray and has a goal and an assist over the last two.
Kurt Zouma, Def Fpl 5.4, PlayOn 7.9
Eden Hazard, Mid Fpl 10.9, PlayOn 14.3
Junior Stanislas, Mid Fpl 4.2, PlayON 6.8
Josh King, Mid FPL 4.6, For PlayON 6.8
Sun 6 Dec 2015 – Premier League
Newcastle v Liverpool 16:00
Back-to-back clean sheets in weeks 11 and 12 pointed towards an improvement in the Magpies’ concentration, but they have since conceded 8 goals in their last two outings. A promising start at Selhurst Park, where Papa Cisse opened the scoring after 10 minutes, quickly turned into another woeful display as the Eagle’s put 5 goals past Steve McClaren’s men. Newcastle appear unable to respond when going behind and have lost 10 points after going ahead – the worst record in the division.
There’s therefore little to interest us here in fantasy terms. Daryl Janmaat is the only defensive player worth considering due to his occasional attacking returns. In midfield, top-scorer Georgiano Wijnaldum has regressed with only a single assist in five, while Ayoze Perez is a potential forward budget option. Neither inspire much confidence.
Liverpool on the other hand arrive on the back of their best performance of the term. The 6-1 win in the League Cup at St Mary’s indicated that some Reds assets should be included in our line-ups this week. Jurgen Klopp was not only able to start Daniel Sturridge for the first time in his tenure but also introduced Jordan Henderson, back from injury, and rested Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Christian Benteke.
The issue now is who to pick from a host of options, especially when the usual go-to player Phillipe Coutinho is a doubt to start. A 5th clean sheet of the season against Swansea suggests a defender is a sensible choice. Alberto Moreno has flourished under Klopp and his attacking forays combined with a budget price tag make the Spaniard a sound choice. In midfield a fresh James Milner has scored penalties against the Swans and Bordeaux in recent weeks, while we were promptly reminded of Daniel Sturridge’s pedigree after two well-taken first half goals against the Saints.
Alberto Moreno, Def Fpl 4.9, PlayOn 7.2
Daniel Sturridge, For Fpl 10.1, PlayOn 12.5
Georgiano Wijnaldum, Mid Fpl 6.9, PlayOn 9.9
Ayoze Perez, For Fpl 5.1, PlayOn 7.9