Welcome to the final edition of The Weekly Shop for this season as we cast an eye over our partner game FanDuel’s player list to pick out some of the key players primed for last-day action.
Before analysing which prospects are set to deliver healthy points returns this Sunday, we ponder a few of the main fixtures that will provide some of those assets.
Motivation is always a worry on the final day, but there will be plenty of it on display at Anfield when Liverpool host Middlesbrough. The visitors should be overworked at the back – ideal for defender points – against a hungry Liverpool side with Champions League qualification in their own hands.
Similarly, Watford at home to Manchester City is another defence versus attack scenario – City have the motivation and the talent, while Watford are plagued by injuries and will surely be stretched at the back. That could equate to lots of potential clearances, blocks and interceptions (CBI) from the Hornets’ backline, and chances and goals generated by City attackers.
Manchester United versus Crystal Palace is a dead rubber. But Jose Mourinho, his eyes firmly set on Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final, seems intent on fielding a number of youngsters at Old Trafford and that should mean bargains aplenty in the United ranks.
We’ve a very obvious bargain bucket option available later in this piece, but if you really want to shell out big money for a keeper, there are some stand-outs.
Lukasz Fabianski (£7.4m) has three clean sheets in his last four, and four in six at the Liberty, as Swansea City prepare to host West Brom. The Pole is top for saves over the last six matches with 26 and looks good value against a Baggies side that have blanked in three of their last four away trips.
Arsenal have kept four consecutive clean sheets at the Emirates as they continue their unlikely push for a Champions League berth, making Petr Cech (£7.7m) well worth a look. He’s made 24 saves in his last six matches and the Gunners’ opponents, Everton, have failed to score at both Swansea City and West Ham in their last two away trips.
At least the Toffees have been well served by defender Phil Jagielka (£9m), who is second only to West Ham’s James Collins for CBIs (72) over the last six fixtures. He’s also won 15 tackles and, with three goals and a pair of assists in the last seven, has amply demonstrated his threat at the other end of the pitch as well.
Arsenal’s need for a win should keep Jagielka busy – his 31.7 points per match average over the last six is an outstanding return for a centre-half.
Two other defenders on their travels need mentioning.
Bournemouth’s Steve Cook (£8.8m) will drop in on Leicester City with the second best CBI record in away matches this campaign – he has 223 in 18 matches and he’s made 29 tackles for good measure.
Calum Chambers (£8.5m) makes the trip to Liverpool as the fourth best defender for average points this season (20.89). Boro have conceded at least three times in each of their last three away matches and with Liverpool needing to win to clinch a top four spot, they will be going at the visitors from the off.
Champions Chelsea could well be set up with the FA Cup final in mind, meaning that midfielder Cesc Fabregas (£11.5m) is likely to start the Stamford Bridge trophy presentation match against Sunderland.
The Spaniard came off the bench against Watford on Monday to score the winner and remind us all of his fine form – he has five assists and a pair of goals from his last seven starts to go with a goal and an assist from his two most recent cameos.
Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson (£13.4m) can’t be ignored either. Among midfielders, only Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho have a better average than the Icelander’s 24.95 points per match this season.
Throw in a couple of assists and a goal over his last four and Sigurdsson has the form, plus a good home fixture against West Brom, to continue that impressive scoring consistency.
Talking of Philippe Coutinho (£13.8m), the Brazilian is finishing the season with a bang. Two goals and an assist at West Ham last weekend made it six strikes and two assists in his last eight matches. He’s also recorded 16 goal attempts over the past four, which is top among midfielders.
Man City and Arsenal join Liverpool in needing goals on the final day, so we can’t look past the key attacking assets of all three sides.
An outlay of £11.9m for Kevin De Bruyne looks decidedly reasonable, seeing as the Belgian has two goals and three assists in his last three matches and Man City travel to a Watford side shorn of much of their first-choice defence.
Gunners playmaker Mesut Ozil (£12.6m) is another demanding consideration. The German has two assists and a goal from a late-season flourish of form. He’s also top for chances created, with 28 over the last six matches.
Up front, it’s difficult to ignore Man City’s Gabriel Jesus (£13.4m), whose unbelievable start to his career in England has involved six goals and three assists in just seven starts. That gives him an eye-popping 35 points per match average and Watford look ripe to provide him with more of the same.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez (£13.4m) could be on for yet another big haul – the Chilean has netted four times from 15 goal attempts over the last three fixtures – while Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge (£10.2m) has the potential to be a great final-day differential.
The England international was back in favour and among the goals as Jurgen Klopp opted for a front two and midfield diamond against West Ham. The formation produced four goals and should the Reds’ boss repeat the trick against Boro, Sturridge looks well-priced to cash in.
Spurs, meanwhile, have little to play for but pride – and Harry Kane’s (£13.4m) quest to win back-to-back Golden Boots.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are away at a Hull City side with no need to keep things tight now that they’re relegated. Kane has the highest points per match average (29.75) of any striker and over the last four matches also leads the way for shots (19) and efforts on target (10).
We’re going big on defenders in this section as there’s bargains to be had from players likely to be kept very busy, and therefore scoring points, on the final day.
Joel Pereira (£4.0m) is, perhaps, the FanDuel budget gem of the season, even if it is for just the one match. Mourinho has indicated he will play in goal against Palace and should he come good on that promise, that’s quite the price for a keeper in front of a defence that’s kept 16 clean sheets this season.
If you insist on spending more in this bracket, Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet (£7.1m) has three successive clean sheets, and four in five, under his belt. Visitors Boro shouldn’t offer too much of a threat at Anfield – only Hull have managed fewer than the 10 away goals scored by Steve Agnew’s men.
John Terry (£7.4m) is worth a shout should he get his final Stamford Bridge hurrah against Sunderland. A goal last time out helped him score 29.25 points and he would surely be targeted at any set-plays to mark his send-off with another.
West Ham’s James Collins (£7.6m) looks underpriced for what coud be a busy afternoon involving plenty of aerial battles at Turf Moor. The defender is top for CBIs over the last six matches, with 76, helping him to a respectable 21.8 points per match average in that time frame.
Mourinho won’t play all the kids at Old Trafford, so Chris Smalling (£7.6m) could well feature. He recorded 15 clearances and scored 24.25 points last time out, and now has 71 CBIs over his last six starts. Facing up to Christian Benteke should keep him busy, adding to his appeal. Axel Tuanzebe, meanwhile, only picked up 4.75 points at Spurs and with his price now upped to £7.2m, looks a risk too far.
Watford have just the one recognised centre-back fit for the visit of a goal-hungry Man City. That could make Adrian Mariappa (£7.8m) an essential buy. He has 67 CBIs and 18 tackles over his last six starts, bringing in a 20-point average along the way. He should have his work cut out against Jesus and co.
If Cedric Soares fails to recover from the knock he picked up last night, that could open the door for Jeremy Pied (£6.8m) to make his second Southampton start in three matches. He’s unlikely to be troubled by a toothless Stoke City attack, but does like to get forward. Similarly, West Brom’s Marc Wilson (6.4m) will prosper if Gareth McAuley again misses out. Neither defender has great FanDuel pedigree, but the prices…
Two other defenders to consider are Swansea’s Kyle Naughton (£7.8m), who has produced 20+ points in three of his last five starts, and Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell (£7.2m). He earned 22.25 points against Man City last week, filling in for Christian Fuchs at left-back as the Austrian moved to the centre in place of the injured Robert Huth. We’ll know more about the big German’s fitness following tonight’s King Power clash with Spurs.
In midfield, Marten De Roon (£7.8m) has an 18-point average over his last five Middlesbrough starts, making ten tackles in the process. He could be very busy shielding the Boro rearguard against Liverpool.
Palace’s Luka Milivojevic (£7.8m) offers a more rounded package – he scored 28.75 points last time out with a converted penalty and seven other actions, and offers the potential for both attacking threat and defensive points at Old Trafford.
That match could well involve two of Jose’s Juniors – Scott McTominay (£5m, and listed as a midfielder) and Demitri Mitchell (£6.5m, listed as a forward). Should they start, they’re unproven but incredibly cheap.
The veteran delights of Charlie Austin (£6.2m) could be yours for a similarly knockdown price if he makes the XI against Stoke at the St Mary’s Stadium. His goalscoring pedigree is not in doubt, coach Claude Puel’s selection policy less so – Austin was given a four-minute run-out against Boro last weekend but didn’t get off the bench in the stalemate with Man United last night.
Top pick among the cheaper strikers therefore goes to Sam Vokes (£8.2m). The Burnley frontman has four goals in as many starts and would hope to prosper against a West Ham outfit that might have picked up a second away shut-out of the campaign at Stoke the last time they travelled, but conceded 10 in the four matches prior to that.
I’ll be back before the weekend with the FanDuel Focus, where I’ll run through my strongest XI for the round and take a look at the upcoming contests on offer.
Before I go, an early heads-up on a special final Gameweek contest we have brewing for Sunday.
The FanDuel final fling “Beat the Scout” contest has been set up to allow the opportunity to take on a combined Mark and Jonty XI If you register, deposit funds and beat them, you’ll enter a draw for £50 in cash – not credit – cold hard cash. Registered users can also take part so, if you’re a FanDuel veteran, be sure to take your opportunity to embarrass Mark and Jonty.
Full details will follow in tomorrow’s Focus article but, if you want in on the action now, get your team sorted here.
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