This week in Talking Points we look at what to look out for in game week 12 to be prepared for the early game week 13 transfer. We look at the teams with a good run of games and the teams with a tough run of games, and we consider the implications of last weekend’s formation changes and if these will be repeated this weekend. All the while we chat about this weekend’s action in our comments section.
The Reds claimed top spot before the international week and with the upcoming schedule it’s theirs to lose. In the next five fixtures, Liverpool face Southampton (A), Sunderland (H), Bournemouth (A), West Ham (H) and Middlesbrough (A).
The Liverpool defence has kept only one clean sheet this season and given their focus is constantly on the attacking prowess and getting forward, you shouldn’t bet on them keeping many more anytime soon.
In midfield the fantastic four keep on producing and by now you should own at least one, possible two or three if you are that confident. Here are some stats to make up your mind:
- Sadio Mane has scored five goals in his five Premier League appearances at Anfield.
- Philippe Coutinho has been involved in eight goals in his past seven league appearances for Liverpool (three goals, five assists). He also scored a stunning goal for Brazil in the World Cup qualifier against Argentina.
- Roberto Firmino has scored five times and assisted three goals in his past seven league games for Liverpool.
- Adam Lallana has five league assists this season, with only Kevin de Bruyne providing more (6).
Claudio Ranieri’s side have clearly been focusing on the Champion’s League this year and one point from their final two matches will guarantee them a place in the knockout stage. Given this scenario, they can now focus on the Premier League again where a favourable schedule against Watford (A), Middlesbrough (H), Sunderland (A), Man City (H) and Bournemouth (A) awaits.
Leicester lost their first home game in the Premier League since September 2015, having previously gone 20 unbeaten (W13 D7). Christian Fuchs stands out as the Leicester defender of choice, because he can chip in with a goal or assist.
In midfield and attack we don’t recommend buying anyone at the moment as Ranieri keeps on rotating his squad. Mahrez is the best scoring midfielder with a goal and two assists while Vardy did slightly better up front with two goals and two assists. Monitor them over the upcoming games and consider again if they pick up some form and the squad selection stabilises.
The Saints face a difficult home game against league leaders Liverpool this weekend but afterwards, it’s smooth sailing for the South Coast Side, with games against Everton (H), Palace (A), Middlesbrough (H) and Stoke (A).
When all fit, the Southampton defence is stable and doesn’t give away many chances. They have kept three clean sheets so far this season and we can see them adding a few more in the upcoming games. Virgil Van Dijk is the standout option as he’s simply the best defender and also carries an attacking threat on set-pieces. He scored from a corner in Southampton’s 2-1 Europa League victory over Inter Milan.
In midfield the broken nose injury to Tadic may be a blow if he is deemed unable to play. On the other hand, it might give Boufal a chance to impress who should perform excellently in the same position. Monitor to see where he fits in and if he can pick up some form. Up front no English player at a Premier League club has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Charlie Austin (8, level with Theo Walcott). Don’t hesitate to buy him if you’re looking for a cheap striker.
The Hammers have not reached the heights of last year and it’s doubtful that the next four games against Spurs (A), Man Utd (A), Arsenal (H) and Liverpool (A) will help them do that. 4 games later, the schedule gets better with a home game against mid-table side Burnley.
West Ham have been dreadful in defence although a switch to a 3-4-3 formation made them more stable in recent games, we still wouldn’t recommend any Hammers defenders at the moment. In midfield Payet has displayed great individual form but unfortunately there is nobody up front who can put away the chances he creates. Ayew might solve this problem but we’re yet to see this in practice. Antonio chipped in with an assist after five consecutive blanks but there are better options elsewhere at the moment. Reconsider for GW16.
Boro surprisingly drew at Manchester City last GW with a 90th minute header from De Roon and will look to repeat this kind of performance in the upcoming games against Chelsea (H) and Leicester (A). After that an easier home fixture against struggling Hull awaits before two more difficult encounters with Southampton (A) and Liverpool (H).
Our advice for Middlesbrough is very simple, hold defenders but sell any midfielders and attackers. The defence has kept three clean sheets so far this season and players like Gibson and Friend also chipped in with goals and assists. Bench them for the difficult upcoming games but definitely play in GW14 against a struggling Hull.
The Toffees face an easier home fixture against Swansea this week but after that they have a more testing set of games against Southampton (A), Man Utd (H), Watford (A) and Arsenal (H).
Everton started the season fantastically but tailed off since the away defeat at Bournemouth. Stekelenburg saved two penalties this season but his mistakes also directly led to goals, proving that he is inconsistent. Overall, the defence only kept two clean sheets and despite the favourable formation for wingbacks, there haven’t been many returns for Coleman while Baines has struggled with injuries. Stay away from the defence for now.
In midfield it’s been a similar story. Rotation makes it difficult to pick a player although Bolasie made a case for himself with four assists and a goal this season. He links up very well with Lukaku up front and we can see this continue for a good while. Keep Lukaku but don’t buy if you don’t own him.
Other Talking Points
- Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has picked up a “low grade muscle injury” on international duty with Chile. Monitor the news for updates on his return date. Attacking full back Hector Bellerin will be out for 4 weeks following an injury against Spurs.
- Tottenham have stayed unbeaten in their opening 11 top-flight games for the first time since 1960-61 – which is when they last won the title. The return of Kane is a positive but due to the injuries in key positions (Alderweireld, Dembele, Alli and Eriksen) and a mixed bag of fixtures (Chelsea and Manchester United away in the next four), we recommend to hold for now and consider Spurs again from GW16 when they have a favourable run of fixtures.
- Robert Snodgrass has now been directly involved in 50% of Hull’s 10 goals in the Premier League this season (four goals, one assist). Hold but don’t buy.
- Adam Smith has provided more assists this season than any other Premier League defender (3). Buy him after his ban if you’re looking for a nailed on cheap defender with attacking potential.
- Defoe has netted 11 away goals in the Premier League in 2016, a haul bettered only by Sergio Aguero with 15. Hold but if you’re looking for cheap striker we feel Austin is a better option at this moment.
- Crystal Palace have gone 16 Premier League games without a clean sheet, the longest run without a shut-out of any current top-flight side. Sell all Palace defenders.
- City have drawn three consecutive home Premier League matches for the first time since November 2009 under Mark Hughes. They also failed to keep a clean sheet in nine of their 11 league matches this season. Look for other options in defence.
- Since his debut in September 2015, De Bruyne has provided 19 assists for Man City in all competitions; six more than any other City player. Consider him for your midfield if you don’t own Aguero up front, but don’t double up at this moment.
- Diego Costa has had a hand in more goals than any other Premier League player this season (9 goals, 3 assists) but unfortunately he picked up a groin injury on international duty. Monitor how this evolves and consider him when he’s fit again.
- Hazard is the form player in midfield and is worth picking up. Consider getting a Chelsea defender for GW15 when Chelsea start a very favourable run of fixtures.