FanDuel Premier League Matches to Target in Matchweek 9
This week's fixtures to target are a nod to good matchups for two teams in the top four in the Premier League. This means targeting defensive players as much as goal scorers and trying to find bargains throughout the lineups of Arsenal and Liverpool. Both games fall on Saturday, so it would be good to target the seven-game slate.
Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough
Arsenal will be playing on Arsene Wenger's 67th birthday with a chance to move into first place in the league. The move atop the table could be short lived with Manchester City playing on Sunday, but the expected result against Middlesbrough would cap off a great week for the Gunners. Arsenal took home a 6-0 victory over Ludogorets in Champions League play on Wednesday thanks in part to a hat trick from Mesut Ozil.
Watch and learn, kids. That first touch by @MesutOzil1088 wasðŸ‘ŒðŸ¼ https://t.co/93zXQTmOXU
â€” FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) October 19, 2016
Middlesbrough's defense has not been porous this season, giving up 11 goals, but they do have a -4 goal differential. A big reason for the negative differential is Middlesbrough's lack of scoring from open play. They have tallied just three goals in open play, with three of their goals coming from set pieces and one due to an own goal. Despite averaging over half the possession per match, Boro are managing less than a goal per game.
As expected, Arsenal is the clear favorite in a match with a three-goal over/under. Arsenal is the best-rated team in the league, according to WhoScored. They are averaging close to three goals per game over their last eight contests across all competitions.
Form is obviously not a question for Arsenal, and they come into the weekend after a dominating performance where their confidence shined. Perhaps no one is more confident than Theo Walcott, who notched his eighth goal of the season against Ludogorets. Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also scored in midweek action.
Despite the growing confidence, Wenger is stressing humility and defensive stability. The emergence of Shkodran Mustafi has solidified the Gunners' back line. Mustafi and his center back partner, Laurent Koscielny, are the second and third rated players on the team, respectively, according to WhoScored. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are also in the top 10, which is an indication of how well the Arsenal back line has played this year. They will be going for their sixth clean sheet in the last seven matches across all competitions. Mustafi is just Â£7 million on FanDuel while no other Arsenal defender is north of Â£8.7 million.
Almost every Arsenal starter is in play in this one.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion
Liverpool is unbeaten in six Premier League matches against West Brom. This West Brom squad will travel to Anfield with questions in defense as they sit in the top five in shots conceded in the box over the last four weeks. They have also scored only three times in their four away matches. Liverpool is a big favorite in a game with a three-goal over/under, meaning that, like we had with Arsenal, players on both sides of the ball are in play.
Liverpool is not expected to rotate their squad this weekend. The team will need patience, and Adam Lallana has provided that this year. He should be ready to go Saturday, so Philippe Coutinho can move back to the left side of attack. Coutinho will cost Â£13.3 million, but he is averaging close to 28 FanDuel points per game. Lallana is about four million less than his midfield partner and makes for an enticing play.
Georginio Wijnaldum has returned to practice and could be the boost Liverpool needs. James Milner, who is in the top ten in total crosses this season, is the biggest doubt fitness-wise. Milner's absence would raise the stock of Alberto Moreno, the likely replacement at left back who is an affordable Â£6.4 million.
It is worth noting that the contrarian play has some merit in this match as Tony Pulis is unbeaten in his last eight Premier League games against Liverpool. West Brom has won two of the last five matches at Anfield.
It is likely that Pulis is stressing the importance of set pieces, and Jurgen Klopp is fully aware of Liverpool's subpar dead-ball defending. West Brom have scored five goals from set pieces this season, the most in the league. Nacer Chadli, who has contributed four goals and two assists, would be in the mix to contribute in these situations, although he is expensive at Â£11.5 million. James McClean, Salomon Rondon and Chris Brunt are others to watch on set pieces. Brunt just returned from a knee injury that kept him out almost eight months.