When Premier League play resumes Saturday, it will have been 10 days (even more for those that were postponed) since the last Premier League matches. That does not mean nothing has happened. FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League have kept players busy in the meantime. Some players have been given extra rest with the time between Premier League matches, while others have seen extra duty with midweek European ties. It all sets up to be a very interesting Gameweek 27.
Gameweek 26 was very defensive for the Bargain Bin. Unfortunately, not everyone participated to their fullest ability. Danny Rose suffered a late knock and was forced to miss out on Tottenham’s clean sheet against Norwich City. Adrian and James Tomkins both kept clean sheets, but unfortunately for Tomkins, it was a different West Ham defender that pitched in with a goal.
Offensively, the Bargain Bin players were very active, but ultimately came up just short. Nikica Jelavic and Kenwyne Jones took a total of seven shots combined, but neither were able to convert as both teams were held scoreless. In addition, Kevin Nolan decided to take a week off from scoring despite West Ham putting up two goals in their victory, although he did pitch in with some clean sheet value.
With some of the big names playing midweek matches or having unfavorable matchups, it may be a good idea to have or use a low-cost bench option as insurance. With that being the case, here are the Bargain Bin players for Gameweek 27:
Simon Mignolet is like Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to playing at home and on the road this season. In Premier League matches at Anfield, Mignolet has a better save percentage (by 10 percent) and is allowing an average of one fewer goal compared to matches played on the road. Sunday he will get a home match against Swansea City. The Swans rank 16th this season in road goals scored, averaging just 0.7 goals per away match. In matches against teams ranked 16th or worse in road scoring (Swansea City, Hull City, Norwich City, Cardiff City, and Crystal Palace), Liverpool have allowed just three goals in four matches (one goal in three separate matches and a clean sheet in the fourth match). It is the clean sheet here that is important, and looking at the numbers a little deeper reveals Mignolet’s chances are actually better than what's on the surface. Each of the three goals that he has allowed in those matches against the teams struggling to score on the road have come late in the match when Liverpool were up significantly. In fact, the smallest lead Liverpool had at the time of allowing the goal was 3-0, leading one to believe this may be linked to a lapse in concentration late in games where the outcome is basically decided. Swansea City are a much better team than any of the other low-scoring offenses, so the score should be much closer. With a closer score, the Liverpool defenders should be more focused and Mignolet should benefit by keeping a clean sheet.
Martin Skrtel seems to have found the correct goal to score on. Earlier in the year, he had some mistakes that led to own goals which cost fantasy owners significant value. He seems to have righted the ship and has since started to assault his opponents' goals. His chances of keeping a clean sheet are good this week, and if any defender from Liverpool were to get involved offensively, Skrtel would be the choice.
Bacary Sagna and Arsenal had a midweek Champions League match against Bayern Munich, and will stay at home on the weekend for a home match against Sunderland. Sure, Sunderland have scored on the road recently, but those matches were against Newcastle, Fulham, and Cardiff City. Those teams currently rank 13, 20, and 14 respectively in home goals allowed. In the nine away matches before their recent offensive explosion, Sunderland managed to score just three goals. Arsenal’s defense is much better than any opponent Sunderland have faced on the road this season, and the Gunners' back four should be up to the task of keeping Sunderland from scoring.
Chris Brunt is this week’s answer to the question, “Who is the player on the squad playing Fulham that has been leading his team in shots recently?” Since the calendar switched to 2014, Brunt has taken more shots than any of his other teammates. In fact, in his last two home matches, Brunt has attempted nine shots. His accuracy has not been the best, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve on that against what ranks statistically as the worst defense in the Premier League. Should he not score, he has added value in his ability to pick up assists. Not only does Brunt lead his team in shots, but he also leads West Brom in assisted shots. Both categories are fantasy gold, especially against a team like Fulham.
James Milner is a surprise name to be included in the Bargain Bin, but Saturday brings a good opportunity for the young midfielder. Manchester City will be played a grueling midweek Champions League match against Barcelona and Milner typically sees increased playing time when City play on short rest. Should he see increased playing time, he will be doing so against a Stoke City squad that struggles defensively on the road. The Potters allow over two goals per away match this season and rank 18th out of 20 in that category. In addition, Manchester City have scored three goals in each of the last three home matches against Stoke City. Combine that with the fact that Manchester City have scored 16 goals in the four home matches following Champions League play and Milner is a very interesting low-cost option for Gameweek 27.
Victor Anichebe has scored in West Brom’s last two home matches, and luckily enough he’ll have a chance to make it a third straight against Fulham. Even in limited minutes, Anichebe finds ways to score and should have an opportunity to do so Saturday.
Nikica Jelavic is tied for second in both shots and shots on target since joining Hull City in January. Saturday, he will continue his blistering pace against Cardiff City. The Bluebirds will be without defensive ace Gary Medel and are expected to struggle. With Medel in the lineup, Cardiff City are allowing a goal every 58 minutes. Without Medel on the pitch, that number drops considerably to every 29 minutes. In addition, Hull City have averaged two goals per trip to Cardiff City Stadium over the last three seasons. The Tigers are a great candidate to score multiple goals this weekend, and Jelavic gives the best odds to be a part of it.