AS WE HEAD INTO THE FESTIVE SEASON OF GAMEWEEKS, IT’S TIME FOR THE FIRST MIDWEEK GAMEWEEK OF THE SEASON. I TAKE A LOOK AT MY TOP 3 CAPTAIN PICKS FOR THE WEEK.
1. HARRY KANE (VS LEI A)
No Wembley, captain Kane. As simple as that. Although Kane, much like his club, has blown hot and cold at their adopted home, there have been no doubts about his credentials away from home. Despite scoring the equalizer against West Brom this week, Kane’s record at home only reads 3 goals and 1 assist in 7 games. Away, it reads 6 goals in 5 games, with 3 braces. If we extend it to all competitions; it reads 10 goals in 7 games. It has been a similar story for Spurs. 9 goals in 7 home games, they’ve scored 12 in the 5 away games Kane has played in. After another draw at ‘home’ against West Brom, they’ll be gunning for a strong reaction. And if there is one, there is no doubt Kane will be at the centre of it.
The fixture provides for the ideal setting for Kane to remind us of his explosive potential. Leicester have had their fair share of problems at the back, having conceded 19 goals in 13 games. Fortunately for Spurs, 13 of them have come against 5 games against other top 6 opposition. They have conceded 15.2 shots per game this season; only second to Burnley. This suggests that they’ve perhaps even been fortunate to concede just these many.
Talking about Kane’s explosive potential, who would know it better than Leicester. Last time these two sides squared off, Spurs ran out 7-1 winners at the King Power Stadium, with Kane scoring 4 goals and assisting 1 en route to a 24-point-haul. Having scored 10 and assisted 2 in 9 encounters against the Foxes, they are by far Kane’s favorite opponents – West Ham are 2nd with 7 goals. He’ll have more happy memories than just that; his first Premier League hat-trick, all the way back in 2014-15, came against them too.
Away from home, Kane is as safe as it gets.
2. ALVARO MORATA (VS SWA H)
If you don’t own Kane, then Morata’s mix of form and fixture is perhaps the next safest option. The return of Hazard seems to have galvanised Morata’s game. Ever since the Belgian returned after his knee injury, Morata has scored 2 and assisted 2 in 5 games. This has been in a run that has included tricky fixtures such as Man Utd and Liverpool away. Although his away form has been more impressive, his home form hasn’t been too bad either; 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games.
His fixture also seems conducive to returns. Although Swansea may have only conceded 5 goals in 6 away games, there’s no doubt that that statistic is a red herring from the reality. Taking a deeper look, they’ve conceded a huge 19 shots per game on the road; only 2nd to Burnley in the regard. Stamford Bridge hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Swans either; they’ve conceded 9 in their last 3 games here. Chelsea love to face Swansea though, having scored 18 in their last 6 games against the Welsh club.
The safest choice, bar Kane.
3. ALEXIS SANCHEZ (VS HUD H) – DIFFERENTIAL PUNT
If you want to go for a heavy hitting explosive differential this week – Sanchez is the man. Despite all the talk of his departure from the Emirates, last season’s top points scorer has now hit the ground running. A goal against Burnley made it a goal each in successive appearances. Since he returned to a regular role in Arsenal’s starting lineup, he now has 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. And much like Kane, there’s absolutely no doubt about his capabilities.
He squares off against Huddersfield. Although the Terriers admirably kept Man City to only 2 goals on the weekend, the stats tell a whole different story. They only had 20% of the ball, with no shots on goal; while City had 14 attempts. Their defense has let them down recently – the encounter against City preceded by a 4-0 thumping by 10 men Bournemouth. Before that, their last clash against a big side away – Liverpool – also ended in a 3-0 scoreline that perhaps flattered them. It’s just as well for Sanchez that Arsenal’s home form has been absolutely fantastic. 6 games, 6 wins with 15 goals scored.
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