The long dragged out Gameweek 26 is going to test our patience.
I have listed the games below just to give us all a recap of how long we’re going to have to wait for our points tally to increase over the 10 day stretch.
- Saturday 8th Feb – Everton v Crystal Palace & Brighton v Watford
- Sunday 9th Feb – Sheffield Utd v Bournemouth & Man City v West Ham
- Friday 14th Feb – Wolves v Leicester
- Saturday 15th Feb – Southampton v Burnley & Norwich v Liverpool
- Sunday 16th Feb – Aston Villa v Spurs & Arsenal v Newcastle
- Monday 17th Feb – Chelsea v Man Utd
I had reasonable success last week with my Pick of the Bunch article and I am hoping to achieve similar results.
Manchester City v West Ham
Casting our minds back to the opening game of the season, we’ll all probably remember the 5-nil hammering City dished out at the London Stadium. We saw a Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) hat trick that day who has now been ruled out for a couple of weeks. We also saw Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) miss from the penalty spot. VAR welcomed itself to the 2019/20 season and ordering a re-take (due to Rice stepping in to the box), resulting in Aguero finding the net at the second time of asking. He was eased in that day just playing 21 minutes or he would have hauled I’m sure.
With Sterling injured, my main focus here is on the display of Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) that day. He was unplayable for the whole 90 minutes and was rewarded with 14 points for his three assists and bonus contribution. Since then he has added a further six assists and seven goals to his attacking returns and that’s without participating in the four Gameweeks 9-12. He’s produced five double digit hauls already this season which is an excellent return for an £8.5m midfielder.
West Ham have conceded nine goals in their last three Premier League matches. Man City will be hurting after last week’s defeat and I fear for the Hammers this weekend. Some might feel like I’m being kind, but I believe West Ham could get a goal and I’m looking at Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m) to be involved. His sweet left foot deliveries against Liverpool caused several problems and they was fortunate to get away with the clean sheet that night. Though he was at it again last weekend and was the highest scorer of the week with a massive 18 points.
My prediction is that it would be nothing but a consolation and City could win this 4-1. Aguero, Mahrez and Kevin de Bruyne (£10.7m) will be far too much to handle. The latter should find the space and freedom to attack more frequently as this game goes on, though any three of these City stars could haul. My selection is going to be Mahrez. He should be more than cemented with the already confirmed injury of Sterling and I think he’s going to have a very good day at the office.
Norwich v Liverpool
The 2019/20 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season began on a Friday night with these two teams giving us a five goal thriller. The 165,505 teams who took an early gamble on Divock Origi (£5.2m) enjoyed a goal and an assist that night, as did Mohamed Salah (£12.7m). It was also that evening that Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) drew our attentions. He was unfortunate not to come away with more than the one goal. By Gameweek 6, after destroying the Man City back line, he was owned by over three million FPL teams. Dare I remind us all that this was the start of an eight match goal drought.
I can’t see Norwich getting out of the situation they find themselves in (seven points from safety with an inferior goal difference of -23). Liverpool sit high flying at the top of the league with an incredible +45 goals for what it’s worth.
On to the game held a week on Saturday. I’m not going to be too clever about this. There will only be one outcome resulting in three points to Liverpool. How many they score is the tricky prediction. I hope Sadio Mane (£12.2m) plays a big part here. If he gets an hour or so under his belt he’ll be ready and raring to go to face Atletico Madrid just three days later. Mane versus Salah can create a huge difference in Mini League rivalry and overall ranking, and it’s only good for the game. Roberto Firmino (£9.7m) is showing fine form at the moment though Klopp could feel the need to rest at least one of his stars here. My instinct is Firmino could make way for Origi. He did the business in the reverse fixture and Bobby is essential to the outcome of the Champion’s League fixture.
Here’s how Klopp tackled his last two CL games when playing the weekend prior: –
07/12/19 Bournemouth 0 – 3 Liverpool Joe Gomez (£5.3m) replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) from the start and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.2m) also entered the line-up in place of Mane.
Both Alexander-Arnold and Mane returned to the starting 11 three days later in the 2-0 win at Salzburg.
23/11/19 Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool This time it was Salah’s turn to be given a rest for the Ox, just a few days before they drew 1-1 at home to Napoli.
Klopp’s tendency to not rip his team up from week to week is proving a golden strategy in comparison to Pep’s antics. My prediction is going to be a 3-0 victory for the visitors. My captain will be Salah as I believe his goals will keep coming, though do not be surprised to see a return of Mane involved at the business end of the pitch.
Southampton v Burnley
My third game is a visit to St. Mary’s for Burnley. The reverse fixture saw an emphatic 3-0 win for the home team with an Ashley Barnes (£6.1m) brace making the headlines. The stats read a much closer game but hey ho.
Southampton are a much bigger force than they were back in the Summer, and a lot of that can be put down to Mr Danny Ings (£7.0m). I had him in my team in the opening week as I felt he was going to punish his former team. He didn’t, though that feeling is much stronger approaching this game.
Sean Dyche will have his defence well aware of Ings, but surely, that can be said about every manager in the Premier League who comes up against him? Ings matched Salah’s four attempts on goal in the Gameweek 25 clash and he was a handful as expected. Anyone who watched the FA Cup tie on Wednesday evening would have witnessed another excellent display with a classic and typical Ings goal cutting in onto his right side before slotting home with ease. It looked effortless as it often has this season. Nahan Redmond (£6.2m) set that goal up with an outstanding piece of play. He got his second double digit haul against Crystal Palace in Gameweek 24 and looks like he’s found form. Words I’ve found myself saying before so I won’t be lured in. For those feeling ‘punty’ the iron could still be hot. My set and forget keeper Nick Pope (£4.7m) has served me so well in the last three games pulling off 16 saves, one being from the spot and collating 28 points. If he can keep Ings out he could end up with a bumper score yet again, but I can’t see it.
Chris Wood (£6.2m) is only owned by 2% of the FPL world. He’s already equaled his last two seasons goal tallies with 10 goals and looks in menacing form. He could well find the net again here but I believe the service will come to Ings and he will find the net (possibly twice). If Liverpool and Man City didn’t have the fixtures they had, I’d expect him to compete highly in the Captain’s Poll.
2-1 to the Saints.
Just before I sign off, I mentioned the word ‘punty’ when talking about Nathan Redmond. I believe Newcastle are going to cause a minor upset on their travels to Arsenal a week on Sunday. After this potentially tricky tie, Newcastle’s fixtures are excellent on paper with games coming up against Crystal Palace, Burnley, Southampton, Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham. These seven matches look tasty on paper, even more so if they put in a good performance at The Emirates. I think Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m) is going to be a cult figure with the Geordies and I predict the start of a purple is upon us. Anyone feeling punty?
Good luck to all with the longest Gameweek in history.