As a writer I’m perpetually striving to keep abreast of new trends, so it was with great fascination I observed Chelsea’s ‘less is more’ approach to playing football against Man City on Sunday. As someone very much down with the kids, I subsequently asked my editor Del what he thought about this week’s preview comprising a mere three-word directive: “Pick good players”. Pointing to a picture of Arsene Wenger, he told me I was on my final warning. So it’s the regular waffle as ever this week.
Unless you’ve been living under the rock, or meandering aimlessly in Chelsea’s midfield, you’ll be aware that Gameweek 31, the week after next, is a blank gameweek with just eight teams in action. You’ll also hopefully have a plan in place regarding your transfers in/out or prospective Free Hit chip use. But for those undecided, some of the GW30 picks below will have one eye on GW31.
Not only have Leicester won their last three matches at the Hawthorns, but Mahrez has scored three and assisted two in his last six against West Brom. Now back in the Leicester fold and fresh off his superb 97th minute equalising free kick against Bournemouth, Mahrez’s return coincides with an enviable fixtures run for the Foxes, who only have Arsenal and Tottenham left to play in the top six.
OK, so it’s hardly inspiring advocating the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer and two-time Golden Boot winner, but in the highly unlikely scenario that you don’t have Kane, consider this: Bournemouth have kept just one clean sheet in 16 league games, and Kane has an outrageous six goals in four appearances against the Cherries.
Few Chelsea players came away from the Etihad with any credit in GW30, and Hazard didn’t either, but fair play to the Belgian, he at least battled vigilantly despite ludicrous long balls from his team-mates who expected him, at 5’6, to outjump the 6’2 Aymeric Laporte. Moreover, against a Crystal Palace side cruelly denied a share of the spoils against Man United, the wounded Eagles could fall foul further against Hazard who has registered attacking returns in three of his last four.
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After claiming Arsenal lacked ‘cojones’ in October following Watford’s 2-1 win over the Gunners, Deeney’s ovation at the Emirates may just be more entertaining than the last two weeks of ArsenalFanTV. But Deeney has an impressive record against Arsenal, netting in consecutive league games, and the Watford talisman will be out to rub further salt in Arsenal’s wound, as well as backing up his bravado. Deeney, owned by less than 1% of managers, is also in action in GW31.
Rajiv van la Parra
Another with less than 1% ownership, Huddersfield’s winger is enjoying his best form of the season with two goals in three – albeit the first of those was a penalty scandalously snatched from Stevie Mounie, who was on for a hat-trick. Irrespective, at £4.8m, van La Parra is a attacking threat with consecutive home games approaching against relegation rivals, including in GW31.
Everyone knows Arsenal are as effective away from home as Arsene Wenger is in planning for retirement, but the Gunners remain a force at home, losing just twice all season, to top two Man City and Man United. Aubameyang hasn’t exactly wowed since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, but with less than 5% ownership and two goals in four, the Arsenal forward is a curious pick, and they’ve now played all the top six twice bar an upcoming trip to Man United.
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