Gameweek 18: Fixture Breakdown

Our PlayON Pro and 2014 Fantasy Premier League champion Tom Fenley focuses on three stand-out fixtures ahead Boxing Day and picks out some key players to consider for your FPL and PlayON squads.

 

Sat 26 Dec 2015 – Premier League

Man City v Sunderland 15:00

 

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City’s defeat at the Emirates was a fifth match in a row they have failed to win on the road, they are a different proposition at the Etihad however with seven wins in nine at home, whilst scoring over 2.75 goals on average in front of their own fans.

Vincent Kompany has been passed fit and his influence is clear, with City keeping eight clean sheets in the Belgian’s nine league appearances. Without their captain, they’ve conceded in every match. In midfield Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure look to be sound picks, the latter scored the consolation against the Gunners and also provided an assist in their last home match – the narrow 2-1 win over Swansea. The return of Sergio Aguero, who played 62 minutes against Arsenal, brings the Argentine into our consideration again despite having scored in just three of eleven league outings.

Even though Manuel Pellegrini has admitted the forward is unlikely to play the full 90-minutes, the five goal haul against Newcastle demonstrated what the frontman is capable of and remains a stand-out option despite the chance of limited pitch-time.

After picking up two wins in late November, Sunderland have lost three successive matches and after the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea have now conceded the most goals (33) in the division. The Black Cats have leaked 12 goals in their last four away trips so it could be a matter of damage limitation here.

Sam Allardyce is likely to have a pragmatic approach to a busy festive schedule and is therefore unlikely to instruct his squad to expend a lot of energy in a difficult fixture, especially with a winnable home tie against Aston Villa coming up. Duncan Watmore has emerged as a budget option, some promising performances on the right wing suggesting the youngster is one-to-watch for the New Year, while Jermaine Defoe has scored in two of his last three away appearances.

 

Key Players

Vincent Kompany – Defender –  FPL £6.2, PlayON £8.3

Sergio Aguero – Forward FPL, £13.1 PlayON £15

Duncan Watmore – Forward FPL £4.3, PlayON £6.3

Jermaine Defoe – Forward FPL £5.1, PlayON £7.6

 

Tottenham v Norwich 15:00

 

A.F.C. Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

 

After three matches without a win including the 2-1 loss to Newcastle in their previous home game – only their second defeat of the season – the 2-0 victory at Southampton pushed Spurs into fourth spot ahead of a fixture that should allow them to consolidate that position. Four of their six clean sheets this term have been at White Hart Lane so defensive assets are worth considering, especially when facing a Norwich side that are the worst in the division over the last four Gameweeks for goal attempts (14) from inside the box.

Dele Alli re-affirmed his status as an alternative to Christian Eriksen, a goal and assist at St Mary’s showing the budget midfielder offers considerable value. After blanking for three weeks, Harry Kane grabbed a goal against the Saints – possibly indicating the beginning of a run much like his seven in four matches earlier in the season.

Norwich’s surprise 2-1 win at Old Trafford was only the second time they’ve picked up all three points over the last twelve matches, the result looks even more impressive following four losses in a row away from Carrow Road. The recent 1-1 draws against Everton and Arsenal suggests the Canaries are improving their resilience, though Alex Neil’s side have conceded in every away tie so are likely to need their attacking players to step-up once again to secure a point in London, they have lost nine and drawn six in their last 15 Premier League trips to the capital.

Striker Cameron Jerome had his best performance of the season at United netting a third goal and serving up a first assist of the term. In midfield, Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond are the main threats while Russell Martin’s three goals earlier in the campaign makes the full-back the go-to defender, though overall Norwich assets are unlikely to be popular picks this week.

 

Key Players

Dele Alli – Midfielder FPL £5.2 PlayON £7

Harry Kane – Forward FPL £9.7 PlayON £11.3

Wes Hoolahan – Midfielder FPL £4.8 PlayON £7.2

Cameron Jerome – Forward Fpl £4.5 PlayON £8

 

Southampton v Arsenal 19:45

 

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Ronald Koeman appeared to have established Southampton as a solid top-half side but a dismal run continued with the 2-0 loss to Spurs meaning they are down to 12th place having picked up just a single point over their last five matches.

The Saints have scored just twice over that period and their main striker Graziano Pelle’s form has dropped off considerably, scoring just once in eight appearances. The Italian may even be rested with Shane Long pushing for a start. Sadio Mane has also netted just once in eight despite plenty of chances. It’s difficult to foresee a positive result here then and Maarten Stekelenberg is likely to have a busy afternoon, the Dutch keeper should replace Paulo Gazzaniga after returning to training.

Conversely, Arsenal are seeking a fourth consecutive win, the 2-1 defeat of Manchester City a significant boost to their title ambitions. Their last away match, at Villa Park, provided a third clean sheet in five on the road, making Laurent Koscielny and Hector Bellerin viable selections against a blunt Southampton attack.

Mesut Ozil assisted both goals at the Emirates to maintain a run in which the German has scored or assisted at least once in all of his last eleven league outings. Aaron Ramsey also continues to impress while Theo Walcott’s goal agains City means there is a wealth of midfield talent to pick from. Olivier Giroud provides another option after scoring in a third successive game, the Frenchman’s tenth goal of the season.

 

Key Players

Maarten Stekelenberg – Goalkeeper FPL £5 PlayON £6.5

Sadio Mane – Midfielder FPL £7.7 PlayON £10.3

Mesut Ozil – Midfielder FPL £9.9 PlayON £12.7

Olivier Giroud – Forward FPL £9.1 PlayON £12.6

 

Challenge me to a one-on-one this week with PlayON and follow me on twitter @tomfenley.

 

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