After a lengthy break for some cup magic (Shrewsbury 0-0 West Ham peak anybody’s interest?) the Premier League finally returns, and there are some new faces thanks to the January transfer window. To help you get back into the swing of things, FPL wise at least, the Best Picks series returns for Gameweek 23.
Budget Option: Marko Arnautovic (7.0m)
It took 12 appearances for the Austrian Ibrahimovic to net his first Premier League goal of the season, but since then Arnautovic has bagged four in his last four games, establishing himself as West Ham’s biggest attacking threat. The Hammers travel to Huddersfield to take on a mediocre Terriers defence that has allowed 35 goals in this campaign, the fourth most in the league. David Moyes’ side should win this game, and Arnautovic is likely to be involved in the goals.
Budget Option: Matt Ritchie (5.5m)
Newcastle haven’t been the most frequent scorers, with 20 goals in 22 league games this season, but Ritchie has still managed to pick up seven assists. Thankfully the Magpies get a favourable matchup against bottom of the league Swansea, who have conceded 34 times during this campaign. With Newcastle hovering two points above the drop zone, Rafa Benitez will want a positive result from this fixture, and if they do score then there is a good chance that Ritchie will assist it.
Premium Option: Eden Hazard (10.7m)
The Belgian winger was recently named to the UEFA Team of the Year, but hasn’t been in quite as good form during this season. Hazard has registered six goals and four assists so far, which aren’t exactly Team of the Year level numbers, but he gets a good matchup against Leicester this weekend. The Foxes have conceded 32 times in this campaign, and while this is a scary game defensively for the Blues, they should be able to find the back of the net. With Morata back in the team, Hazard will have a focal point to play around, so he should be able to return something here.
Premium Option to AVOID: Alexis Sanchez (11.8m)
Arsenal have a great matchup against a struggling Bournemouth side this weekend, but Sanchez is in the midst of a huge transfer drama, so it is difficult to see Arsene Wenger trusting him to start. The Chilean has seven goals and three assists in this season, and has been crucial in the Gunners relative success this season. Ozil also has a knee injury, so Arsenal’s attack is looking rather depleted, and it will be hard to trust any of their midfield options until the end of the transfer window.
Budget Option: Shane Long (5.6m)
Who doesn’t love taking a big FPL risk? Last time out against Crystal Palace, Long finally ended a remarkably extensive goal drought, and this pick depends on him building upon the confidence that he will gain from that experience. With Charlie Austin out injured, Long will likely continue as the main man, and he gets a clash with Watford this weekend. The Hornets have conceded a ridiculous 40 goals already this season, so even the Saints fairly toothless offence should be able to break them down.
Premium Option: Romelu Lukaku (11.3m)
As matchups go, there couldn’t really be one more perfect this season than a home clash against Stoke. The Potters have conceded a league-high 47 goals in 22 games so far, and Manchester United are the third highest scorers in the Premier League at present. Lukaku has been inconsistent during this campaign, and is without a goal in his last three appearances, but the Belgian does have a habit of feasting against the lower teams. With 10 goals so far Lukaku certainly knows where the goal is, and if there’s any game that he’s going to score in it’s this one.
Premium Option to AVOID: Harry Kane (12.9m)
It’s quite dangerous to advise avoiding the Premier League’s top scorer, but this is more a suggestion that expectations may be too high surrounding Kane this week. His opponents Everton have conceded 34 times this season, but under Sam Allardyce they have turned into a strong defensive unit. Big Sam loves to kill a game against a top club, and it’s easy to see this being a frustrating afternoon for Tottenham. Kane is capable of changing any game, but another hat-trick may be slightly too optimistic.
With players linked with moves away from the Premier League or to other clubs in the league, it’s important to keep an eye on team news. The likes of Alexis Sanchez likely won’t play this week as they suffer from ‘Transferitis’, so you need to have backup options ready.
Liverpool v Manchester City will likely be a great game, but it is difficult to predict what the outcome will be. That is not to say that the likes of Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne will be bad options this week, but don’t set your expectations too high.
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