We are officially into double figures of Gameweeks in the English Premier League as the table opens up with only a point separating the top five teams. Some of the big clubs have stuttered in the past few weeks, which allowed others to capitalize and catch up to the leaders. One such team is Chelsea, who went through a renaissance period with three wins on the trot after a change of formation, including an impressive 4-0 mauling against Manchester United. They will travel to St Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton.
Rock-bottom Sunderland will host Arsenal on Saturday’s lunch-time fixture, which the Gunners is hoping to further compound David Moyes’ misery after being held to a goalless draw against Middlesbrough at The Emirates last week. Meanwhile, league leaders Manchester City will face a tough test to end their 3-game winless streak when they face West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. A straightforward fixture is on the cards for Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, who will be away to Crystal Palace and at home to Leicester City respectively.
Without further ado, here are the 5 players that should be on your radar for the week:
Sunderland vs Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The German playmaker has been known as more of a creator *cue the How may I assist you memes* instead of a goal-scorer, but the trend has reversed this season with five goals in his last six matches in all competitions. This is due to Alexis Sanchez’s new role up front, which allows Ozil more mobility and freedom in the opposition penalty box. Compared with the previous season, he had more touches in the box (from 3.6 to 5.8) and efforts (from 0.9 to 1.1). As a result, his conversion rate has increased to 25% from last season’s 12.8%. A visit to Sunderland might be extremely profitable for Ozil, as David Moyes’ side has yet to register a clean sheet this season.
Manchester United vs Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Some FPL managers prefer to rely on a big name goalkeeper for consistent point returns, while the rest are content with a cheap option to free up funds for the attacking department. If the latter is what you are looking for then Tom Heaton (4.6 million) is the perfect candidate to fill in the spot. He is currently on top of the goalkeeper standings on 39 points. Burnley might not be a side that can keep clean sheets week in, week out, but most of his points translate from saves made. The England international has now made more saves (47) and returned more save points (12) than any other goalkeeper, which makes him a reliable figure even in harder fixtures.
Middlesbrough vs Adam Smith (Bournemouth)
Bournemouth defenders are currently in the spotlight after registering their third clean sheet in the last four matches at home, including a resilient showing to deny Spurs last week. Skipper Steve Cook, along with full-backs Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith currently sit among the top seven defenders in FPL so far. Smith got the nod ahead of the trio due to his position which allows potential points from an assist or two, while he is also cheaper than his opposite flank partner Daniels (4.7 million to 5.0 million). He also looks set to further profit from the Cherries’ upcoming fixtures against Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Stoke City.
Crystal Palace vs Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
It is a no-brainer to include either one of Liverpool’s attacking midfielders in your line-up, considering their easy run of fixtures all the way up till GW 18. Coutinho has been the most popular option by far, and it is easy to see why. Consistency is almost identical to the form of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana, but it is the manner that the Brazilian playmaker delivers the points. He has been their main creator so far and he is also in charge of set-piece duties, giving him another outlet to outscore his teammates. Budget is also to his advantage as Coutinho (8.4 million) costs less than Mane (9.0 million) and Firmino (8.5 million), while producing 10 more points than both of them. A leaky Crystal Palace side will be the perfect venue for him to add on to those points.
Southampton vs Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The Belgian playmaker enjoyed a good start to the season, with 2 goals and an assist in the 1st three fixtures. He then drew blanks in the subsequent 4 GWs, which caused a huge exodus in light of Chelsea’s stuttering form. However, with a bit of a tinkering to the formation by Antonio Conte, it seems that Hazard is back at his best as he notched 4 goals in as many games for both club and country. A run of three successive wins without conceding a goal has put the Blues back at the forefront of the league, and Hazard might just benefit with a more advanced role to influence games.