Welcome to our fantasy Premier League coverage at Awesemo! Boxing Day is among us and it’s celebrated in England annually, and luckily us Americans get a chance to celebrate it too with some phenomenal Premier League action. Here, you’ll find a breakdown of each match on tap as well as each fantasy relevant player. We have soccer content each and every week here at Awesemo, so stay up to date on it all by following @Awesemo_Com and @tristanhoh on Twitter!
Arsenal @ Bournemouth
Team Totals: Arsenal 1.81, Bournemouth 1.39
Arsenal (1.81 implied total)
Winners of just one of their last 13 in all competitions, Arsenal are definitely not living up to expectations to a club of their stature. Mesut Ozil was not in favor with interim manager Freddie Ljunberg after some questionable actions. He’s also nursing a slight injury. It’s to be determined whether he’ll make the squad with the new official manager, Mikel Arteta, but I won’t be expecting the German to start.
Ozil’s absence should see to Nicolas Pepe standing over most, if not all, of Arsenal’s set pieces. He’s a high-end forward option in DFS and FPL.
The attack alongside Pepe should consist of Pierre Emerick-Aubmayeang and Alexandre Lacazette. The star studded duo should thrive under the passionate, aggressive, ruthless mentality of Arteta – at least in the long term. We should see that mindset installed early and often, although we aren’t sure how successful that’ll be in the short term. I’m optimistic about their Boxing Day chances against Bournemouth, who are still missing backbone defender Nathan Ake (hamstring). They’ve yet to be punished for that absence, but a revamped Arsenal attack could do the trick.
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Bournemouth (1.39 implied total)
In lieu of the suspended fullback Diego Rico, Scottish international Ryan Fraser will be on all of Bournemouth’s set pieces – which we haven’t seen much of this season with the addition of Rico. Even against Arteta’s troops who will look to dominate, Fraser makes for a strong play in all formats with a rock solid floor with room for upside against a questionable Arsenal defense.
Without a consistent stream of shots from either striker, Joshua King and Callum Wilson are rather unexciting, but there are some reasons for some life. Arsenal have kept just one clean sheet in their past 10. I’d lean King of the two given his stronger record at home, who could be a candidate for a low-owned goal.
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Norwich City @ Aston Villa
Team Totals: Aston Villa, 1.78, Norwich City 1.44
Norwich City (1.44 implied total)
With nine goals to his name in 18 starts, Teemu Pukki has been a revelation. He’s been able to rifle off 14 shots in Norwich’s previous four matches, adding a bit of safety to a volatile player. Even on the road, Pukki will be licking his lips against an Aston Villa team who allow the most shots in the Premier League.
Despite Norwich’s struggles, they’ve been able to keep afloat both Pukki and Emi Buendia for fantasy. Buendia takes nearly every set piece when on the field; making him an extremely valuable asset. On his team’s 13 total shots in their latest match against Wolverhampton, he assisted nine, while shooting one himself; furthermore accounting for 10 of their 13 shots. Truly outstanding. In a setting where their shot volume could be lifted, there aren’t many players more trustworthy than Buendia.
Norwich City relies heavily on Pukki and Buendia, but Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell remain somewhat involved in the attack. Neither are bankable options for fantasy, with shaky floors and relatively low ceilings. The same can be said for fullbacks Max Aarons and Sam Byram, who provide little to no crossing volume.
Aston Villa (1.78 implied total)
Villa are in a rough spot at this point in the season, staring relegation in its eyes. Currently on 15 points with Norwich on 12, this is a pivotal match for both parties. Captain Jack Grealish will need to be relied on heavily going forward if they want any chance of playing in the Premier League next season. He scored a wonder goal against Southampton to go along with seven shots assisted and four fouls drawn.
While Aston Villa allows the most shots in the Premier League, Norwich happen to allow the second most, boding well for the likes of Wesley (or Kodjia), Conor Hourihane, and Anwar El Ghazi (or Trezeguet). All three are fairly involved in the attack – and while Grealish is the alpha – they each draw the same brilliant matchup.
Matt Targett is a quality defender for fantasy, with 0.23 expected assists per 90 minutes, good for second on the team.
Southampton @ Chelsea
Team Totals: Chelsea 2.27, Southampton 0.98
Southampton (0.98 implied total)
Slated for the lowest implied total on the slate, Southampton’s fantasy outlook is dim. With a congested schedule upcoming, Saints manager has hinted at resting some key players, including Danny Ings in a match that’s probably not winnable anyways.
Chelsea will dominate possession at home, making the options bleak. The most viable asset in a vacuum is James Ward-Prowse, taking most set pieces with Ryan Bertrand occasionally chipping in. Neither pop off the page by any means in this suboptimal draw.
Chelsea (2.27 implied total)
Given the fact that they’ve scored over 2 goals just once in the past 12, it’s somewhat surprising that they continue to get major respect in the betting markets. They’re creating the second most chances in the Premier League, but getting them into the back of the net has been a bit of a struggle. At home on a big occasion against Southampton, who are sure to bunker down, it’s easy to conclude that Chelsea is in a fantastic spot.
It’s safe to say Willian has found a nice bit of form, fresh off a brace against Tottenham. His firm grasp of most of Chelsea’s set pieces make him viable in all formats, but especially in cash games.
The most likely goal scorer is of course Tammy Abraham, with a team leading 0.80 xG+xA per 90 minutes. It’s a perfect spot, although he’s failed us before in these types of spots. If we think Chelsea score two or three, which begrudgingly we do, Abraham is arguably the best bet for a goal this Boxing Day.
It’ll be interesting to see who Lampard starts this Wednesday alongside Willian and Abraham. As of now, we have Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi slated to round out the attack. Each player deserves a long look, as the slate hinges on how Chelsea performs. CHO (Hudson-Odoi) has not seen consistent minutes, so I do worry about how long his leash is, but he’s a very good player and does well when given the opportunity. Mount on the other hand is an integral part of his team’s build up play, but the results haven’t been there. Both are more tournament inclined players given their salaries in comparison to other more secure roles.
The remainder of the squad are fine lineup fillers who could prove to be difference makers. Marcus Alonso, Reece James, and N’Golo Kante all are somewhat involved in goal scoring opportunities, albeit behind the aforementioned players.
West Ham United @ Crystal Palace
Team Totals: Crystal Palace 1.48, West Ham United 1.23
West Ham United (1.23 implied total)
Crystal Palace have only conceded more than one goal once all season, but they seem to be running fairly well, conceding the fifth most expected goals over the span of the last eight. West Ham’s attack has been lackluster though with Manuel Lanzini on the shelf injured.
In Lanzini’s absence, most of the attack flows through Robert Snodgrass, who also takes all the set pieces when on. Pablo Fornals is an interesting player in the same vein and would be the main beneficiary of the set pieces if Snodgrass were to sit out for some reason.
All in all, West Ham are a ways down the list in terms of priority when building lineups. Sebastien Haller was able to get off his eight match goal drought with a goal on four shots against Southampton. One thing I will say is that the Hammers are well rested with their match against Liverpool being rescheduled – a luxury every other Premier League side does not have.
Crystal Palace (1.48 implied total)
It’s TBD whether this is permanent, but Luka Milivojevich was booted off of set pieces while Patrick van Aanholt took six to his one. Without a sturdy set piece share, Milivojevich is borderline unplayable. On the other hand, PVA (van Aanholt) looks real solid with the newly found set piece share.
From a macro perspective, Palace don’t pop off the page in a match that could very well end up dull – as most Palace matches do. At home against an exploitable defense, there’s some room for upside. Surprisingly, I’d be most willing to take on Christian Benteke at his price while Wilfried Zaha makes for a contrarian pay up.
Burnley @ Everton
Team Totals: Everton 1.76, Burnley 0.99
Burnley (0.99 implied total)
Implied under a goal on the road in a tough environment, Burnley are extremely low on my list. The set pieces are divvied up equally between Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood, cannibalizing each others value. The way their team operates causes them to bunker down in situations such as these. Both set piece takers and the goal dependent forwards – Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes – are tough sells in this particular draw.
Everton (1.76 implied total)
Back to a 50/50 share of set pieces between Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lucas Digne. The former (Sigurdsson) really stands out at his price of just $6800 on DraftKings. This is a guy who’s been up to $9000 in the past with him and Digne splitting set pieces, and this matchup poses little threat.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are classic low floor / medium to high upside plays. I’d sway away from them until I got into my 10th lineup or so. Chances of a ceiling game are slim, but Everton typically fare better on home soil. Richarlison brings a bit safer of a floor between the two.
Watford @ Sheffield United
Team Totals: Sheffield United 1.58, Watford 0.95
Watford (0.95 implied total)
Watford’s set piece situation is becoming a ‘who knows’ type of deal. One match it’s Gerard Deulofeu taking them all, and the next it’s Will Hughes taking them all. Hughes took all four in their latest match while both he and Deulofeu played all 90 minutes. If it sticks, Hughes will become a fair floor play, but the situation is rather fluid and unpredictable.
The matchup is suboptimal against Sheffield United who have surprised many this season with their sturdiness in the back. Chances are they are clean sheeted or held to just one goal on few chances. On the off chance they break through with an unlikely two or three, Ismaila Sarr would be the man to own. He, and Troy Deeney are each pretty thin.
Sheffield United (1.58 implied total)
I’ve been a proponent of Irish striker David McGoldrick for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, his first Premier League goal hasn’t come yet. It’s on the way, so what better time than now? Watford will keep things tight but should ultimately be exploited. McGoldrick has three or more shots in his past five starts, with a handful of big chances missed. Surely his luck turns sooner rather than later.
While McGoldrick is the main interest, guys like Lys Mousett and John Fleck are active in the attack too. Sheffield is a team that doesn’t excite too much, but typically find a way to get the job done.