It's a weekend dominated by two headline derbies. In North London, the in-form Spurs will attempt to overcome a rampant Arsenal side in a fixture brimming with net-bulging potential. Later on Saturday, the Merseyside derby pitches resurgent Liverpool against Roberto Martinez's Everton, who themselves appear to be a turning a corner. Over the last four years both fixtures have averaged more than 3 goals and not once in that time has either tie ended goalless. The big question this week is where will the inevitable goals come from?
GW 24: Independent Scout Picks
Today’s FPL managers are awash with raw data, player statistics, and key performance indicators. Like Neo with his Matrix, we stare at the fantasy football code, comprised of points per game, minutes in the penalty box, shots on goal, and a thousand other fields from which to draw our reality. It’s logical, strategic, and often effective. But it’s not very romantic, and can begin to feel a lot like work. This week, we set down our scientific calculator, toss out the spreadsheets, and like the scouting dinosaurs of the Oakland A’s before Billy Beane’s data revolution we embrace the oldest tool of all; our gut.
Arsenal looked the finished article against Aston Villa and Man City and head to White Hart Lane on Saturday as favourites for the three points with the bookies. Our instincts tell a different story. While Arsenal are clearly in excellent form with perhaps the most talented attack in the league, Mauricio Pochettino is a canny operator and can thwart Arsene’s advances. We keep faith in the reliable Harry Kane and tip Nacer Chadli to make it back in the team and provide a telling contribution.
Of all the players on show in the Merseyside derby, it’s Philippe Coutinho that takes our fancy. Daniel Sturridge was back with a bang last week, but it will surely take time before he is consistently hitting those heights. Raheem Sterling is another consideration but his profligacy in front of goal is enough to put us off this week. If we had a fourth striker spot it would go to Romelu Lukaku who bagged a brace in this fixture last season.
In goal, we think Newcastle’s Tim Krul can resist the Potters attack, who arrive on the back of a 3-1 drubbing of QPR. The Magpies were effective against Hull last week, suggesting John Carver may just be finding his stride.
Jeffrey Schlupp is our man at the King Power stadium. Playing out of position on the wing he has looked more dangerous than his returns to date would suggest. Alan Pardew’s early surge may also be running a little low on steam.
We’re backing Mourinho to keep the faith in young Kurt Zouma, who will be given the seemingly simple task of extending Villa’s barren run. And it’s impossible to look past Eden Hazard for attacking returns, with Diego Costa out of the picture and Cesc Fabregas seemingly set for a stay in the physio room.
Swansea were fortunate last time out, with an uncharacteristically conservative display paying dividends against the Saints. They will surely play a riskier game against Sunderland at home, opening up space for both Patrick van Aanholt and Jermain Defoe to exploit in a reprise of last week’s link-up play.
The banker bet in this week’s fixture list must be Man City’s home tie against Steve Bruce’s hapless Hull. Sergio Aguero has returned with a whimper from injury, but can regain his confidence with a starring role this week. David Silva is another likely beneficiary of the many opportunities that will fall the way of the home side.
The January transfer window and player injuries help us unearth some more low-ownership opportunities for worthwhile punts in Gameweek 24.
Aaron Lennon, Everton, £6.2m, 0.6% ownership: Lennon can make an instant impact against the visiting Reds if Martinez chooses to unleash him down the wing. At £6.2m he could be another great option in the mid-priced midfielder bracket.
Marouane Fellaini, Manchester United, £6.3m, 0.4% ownership: Fellaini has often played second fiddle to some of United’s silkier midfield options this season, but we can see Louis Van Gaal deploying the battering ram to great effect against big Sam’s physical West Ham side.
Stephen Ireland, Stoke City, £4.7m, 0.1% ownership: If Stoke do breach the Newcastle back line there’s a good chance that Stephen Ireland will be involved. He was the main string-puller against QPR last week in Bojan’s absence and garnered two assists for his efforts.
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