As many Americans enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend, across the pond, the Premiership’s Week 13 Best XI selections produced some results to be appreciative of as well.
Unlike most of his peers, Simon Mignolet proved to be an ill-advised selection, as he allowed three goals for the second straight game last weekend at Hull City. However, unlike his nine saves last game, the Liverpool keeper managed just a pair of stops versus the Tigers, limiting his fantasy contribution.
Conversely, Week 13’s three defensive selections fared just about as well as anyone could have hoped. Per Mertesacker picked up his fourth consecutive clean sheet, Pablo Zabaleta contributed an assist to go with his clean sheet, and Gary Cahill scored a goal despite conceding once against Southampton.
Looking at the midfield, Yaya Toure dished out an assist and earned clean sheet points, but Philippe Coutinho played just 25 minutes off the bench as Liverpool’s attempt to deploy a more defensive side fell flat Sunday. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey capped his return to Wales with a two-goal effort against his former club Cardiff City, and Ravel Morrison logged an assist after being introduced as a 76th minute substitute for West Ham Saturday.
In attack, a star-studded front line flopped, as the trio of Sergio Aguero, Christian Benteke, and Luis Suarez was held without a single goal or assist in Gameweek 13 despite combining for 14 shots between them.
To summarize, Week 13’s squad scored three goals, three assists, and four clean sheets, making for a productive return.
While those results are fine and dandy, there’s little time to applaud or contemplate the selections, since the Premier League turns around with a full slate of games scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday.
Given the brief layoff and considering another round of fixtures awaits this coming weekend, it’s likely many of England’s managers will rotate their sides to ensure their players stay fresh. It’s advisable to play your squad as you normally would, but since it’s difficult to predict which lineup tweaks managers will make, don’t be surprised if a change or two impacts your squad somehow.
Looking at the matchups, Manchester United-Everton figures to grab the headlines as David Moyes faces his former club, but from a fantasy perspective, many of the other top sides figure to have more favorable ties, like Chelsea against Sunderland.
With some of that in mind, let’s turn to Week 14’s projected Best XI:
Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham) – No team has allowed fewer goals on the road than West Ham this season, with four through 13 games. No team has scored fewer goals at home than Crystal Palace this season, with four through 13 games. On Tuesday, West Ham visits Crystal Palace, making Jaaskelainen a fine keeper selection. Further, the veteran shot-stopper already has seven clean sheets this years.
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) – Riding a remarkable wave of clean sheets, Mertesacker earns his second consecutive Best XI selection this week. The towering German goes against Hull City on Wednesday and the Tigers have scored just five times in six away matches this season, so Mertesacker’s streak of seven consecutive shutouts across all competitions could well continue.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) – Chelsea has struggled away from Stamford Bridge so far this campaign, but Wednesday’s tie at Sunderland doesn’t figure to give them much trouble. The Black Cats sit in second-to-last place, while the Blues mirror them in second-best positioning, so Ivanovic should be able to cope with a Sunderland attack that hasn’t even averaged one goal per game thus far.
Luke Shaw (Southampton) – Incredibly, Aston Villa have been held scoreless in five of their last seven league games. This week, the Villains hit the road to play a Southampton team that is currently unbeaten at home and also holds the Premiership’s best home defensive record, with just two goals allowed. The Saints will be without their starting goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, but the statistics still point in their favor and Shaw offers potential bonus offensive points.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle) – Winners of four-in-a-row, Cabaye’s Newcastle team heads to Wales to play Swansea City this week. Somewhat surprisingly, just one of the Swans’ four wins this season has come at home, so Cabaye could benefit from a more open road contest.
Paulinho (Tottenham) – A London Derby looms for the Brazilian, as Tottenham travel this week to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham team in shambles. The Cottagers just parted ways with their manager after losing five straight and are tied for the most league goals allowed this term. Being so, Paulinho should like his chances of scoring and his 2.9 shots per game help his cause.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) – This selection should be categorized as a risk/reward pick. Walcott has not started since returning to the Arsenal squad following abdominal surgery, but has featured as a substitute in the Gunners’ last three games, including last weekend when he provided an assist minutes into his cameo. Given his importance to Arsenal’s team and the likelihood they rotate their squad, Wednesday’s home tie against Hull City appears to be a perfect opportunity for Walcott to start once again. If he does, the Tigers could have their hands full.
Peter Whittingham (Cardiff City) – With Whittingham’s Cardiff City currently tied on points with this week’s opponent, Stoke City, the midfielder’s cultured left foot could help make a difference in the standings. Whittingham leads his team with two shots taken per game and has three assists to go with one goal this season. Additionally, Stoke’s defensive rock, Robert Huth, just underwent knee surgery, so the Potters, who allowed four goals last time out, may struggle to defend once again.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – As Arsenal’s only healthy front-man, Giroud’s playing time probably won’t be impacted by the upcoming run of games, which bodes well for his fantasy stock. On Wednesday, the Frenchman will go against a Hull City team that has lost five of its six road games this season, making Giroud a hot commodity as he spearheads the Gunners’ potent attack.
Fernando Torres (Chelsea) – Since teammate Samuel Eto’o has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, Torres figures to lead the line for Chelsea come Wednesday. The Blues will take on Sunderland, who are currently tied for the most goals allowed this season. As such, Torres looks a likely candidate for offensive contribution, as his team aims to improve their away form.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – So in Gameweek 13, Suarez was held at bay by a Hull City defense that has excelled at home this season. This week, the Uruguayan returns to Anfield to take on the league’s worst road defense in Norwich City. Along with that, an ankle injury will keep fellow striker Daniel Sturridge out, so Suarez will unquestionably be the focal point of Liverpool’s attacking exploits.
Mertesacker – Ivanovic – Shaw
Cabaye – Paulinho – Walcott – Whittingham
Giroud – Torres - Suarez