Brighton 2:1 Arsenal
Don’t look now, but Brighton is unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches. GW29 saw the Seagulls win back-to-back matches for the first time this season, as Pascal Groß notched his eighth assist and Glenn Murray scored his 11th goal of the term. For those who haven’t kept a close eye on Chris Hughton’s side, the following statistic truly tells all—Groß and Murray have played a combined hand in 87.5% of Brighton’s goals this season. The pair, however, weren’t the only top performers at the Amex. Mat Ryan recorded six saves, Shane Duffy assisted and made three key blocks, and own-goal specialist Lewis Dunk finally put one in the right net. On the other hand, Arsenal have now conceded six goals across three successive defeats and find themselves level with West Brom at the bottom of the form table. The Gunners’ woes are reflected by some less-than-appealing stats; 11 matches without a clean sheet, fives losses in their last seven matches and mass production of “Wenger Out” signs.
Leicester City 1:1 Bournemouth
Bournemouth was denied all three points at the death in GW29. However, Eddie Howe’s decision to alter his defense still deserves recognition. The Cherries looked leagues better anchored by a back three. Steve Cook, Simon Francis and Nathan Ake racked up a combined total of 40 clearances in a match that saw Leicester take 23 shots. Riyad Mahrez’s brilliant 25-yard free-kick in the seventh minute of stoppage-time was the direct result of a foul Cook conceded, but the overall performance was still one of the better defensive displays I’ve seen in recent weeks.
Swansea City 4:1 West Ham
Swansea continued their resurgence under Carlos Carvalhal with another win at the Liberty Stadium. The Swans have scored 14 goals in nine matches under Carvalhal, compared to just 11 in their previous 20 matches prior to his appointment. Sung-Yueng Ki, who I’ll get to later, had another man of the match performance and Jordan Ayew scored for the second consecutive match. Meanwhile, things have gone from bad to worse for West Ham. The last two matches have furthered exemplified poor defending is the Hammers’ biggest issues. Coming off a 4-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield, David Moyes was forced to deploy a makeshift backline because of injuries. Declan Rice and Winston Reid came in for James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna, but the alterations made little difference. Reid started in the middle as the lone natural center-back, but the New Zealand international was forced off after he landed awkwardly on 27 minutes. All things considered, Aaron Cresswell is the only West Ham defender I would trust down the stretch.
Before we get down to business, here is a brief guide to help maximize my player recommendations. Each week, I research and identify players with the best value available in more than 50 percent of all Togga leagues. The players selected are then given one of three specific labels. Streaming options are players worth adding for a single gameweek. These players are best suited for owners dealing with injuries or suspensions. Short-term adds are players worth holding for a specific duration. In most cases, players are given this label because of a boost in form or increase in playing time. Long-term adds are players worth adding based on potential. Essentially, this tag is reserved for players with a good shot at becoming a reliable contributor (more risk, more reward).
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Cedric Soares, Southampton (37 percent): Soares’ performance in the 0-0 draw with Stoke City in GW29 was perhaps his best of the season. He dispatched 11 crosses; three key passes and scored the fourth-most points among defenders (20.75). The Portuguese right-back hasn’t offered enough across defensive metrics to be a weekly starter so far this season, but his ability to generate crosses puts him in the streaming conversation this weekend against Newcastle. Soares is fifth among all defenders with 105 crosses and Newcastle has allowed the third-most crosses to defenders this season. Furthermore, Newcastle has scored just three goals in their last six home matches, the least in the Premier League during that span. Soares is a one-week option for owners in 10-team leagues.
Aaron Cresswell, West Ham (26 percent): Cresswell is on my radar this week because of his attacking upside. He leads all defenders in crosses (155) and is a co-leader in assists (6), while his 31 chances created rank fourth at the position. Despite playing in a back three amid West Ham’s defensive struggles, his production has not dropped off. Over the past three matches, he led all Hammers with two assists and 15 crosses. West Ham play at home against Burnley this weekend, and while a clean sheet doesn’t look likely, Cresswell remains a viable defender in my book. Consider him a plugin option for 12-team leagues.
Sung-Yueng Ki, Swansea City (7 percent): Given his low ownership, it is quite surprising to see Ki has averaged the fifth-most points (15.67) among all midfielders over the last three weeks. After scoring just 57 fantasy points during his 13 appearances to start the term, the 29-year-old has racked 58 in his last four. During the span, Ki played a hand in four goals (two goals, two assists) and produced a pair of 21-point outings. Both his assists came from corner kicks, while each goal was a precise strike from the edge of the penalty area. With Ki firmly in the starting XI for this weekend’s trip to Huddersfield, the South Korean is a solution for owners in need of rounding out their midfield. He’s a top-25 midfielder for me in GW30.
Matt Phillips, West Brom (48 percent): Since Philips returned to the starting XI in GW27, he has been consistent enough to enter the streaming conversation. Over the last three weeks, he has eight key passes and 30 crosses, the most in the West Brom side. While upside is limited due to the fact the Baggies struggle to score, Phillip enters GW30 averaging 8.98 points per start this season. Among all wide midfielders, on a per-match basis, he also ranks 9th in accurate crosses (1.5) and 17th in key passes (1.5). He’s a last-minute pivot for owners in 12-team leagues.
Glenn Murray, Brighton (33 percent): With six goals in his last seven starts, Murray is among the in-form players who should be added ahead of GW30. Since the start of 2018, the 34-year-old has fired 2.6 shots per match, compared with 1.11 during his prior 18 appearances. He scored his 11th Premier League goal of the season in GW29 and has accounted for 54.5% of Brighton’s goals over the last seven matches. If you factor in Murray has taken at least two shots in six of his last seven matches, his form is too good to ignore this weekend against Everton. Surely it is only a matter of time before he is owned in more than 50 percent of all leagues?