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Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 15

Preview
Another crazy set of Premier League fixtures is behind us. Perhaps the biggest shock of all came at the Etihad, where Pep Guardiola disappointed the best part of two million Fantasy Prem managers by omitting their chosen captain for the weekend, Sergio Aguero, from the squad that strolled past Bournemouth.

Attentions now turn to a rare midweek fixture list. Upwardly mobile Cardiff travel to east London to face a West Ham team buoyed by an excellent victory away at Newcastle, who have to visit an Everton side desperate to take their Merseyside derby frustrations out on whoever appears in front of them. Leaders Manchester City go to Watford, where they haven’t lost since 1989 and scored 11 over their last two league visits. Both Brighton and Crystal Palace won at the weekend – the ideal build-up to their traditionally bitter clash at the Amex on Tuesday night.

Captain’s pick

Southampton visit Tottenham on Wednesday night, having sacked manager Mark Hughes on Monday morning and conceded an average of three goals a game in their past four league fixtures. They could prove ideal victims for a Spurs team wounded by their defeat in the north London derby – and Harry Kane, who has quietly scored seven in his last nine games in all competitions, scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season. Now could be a good time to take a punt on the England captain.

In recent weeks, Southampton have conceded goals from both low and high crosses, balls in behind, shots from outside the box, set-pieces and direct play. All over the place, essentially – and Kane is just the kind of versatile and deadly forward to take advantage of whatever weakness he sees in front of him. It would be a major surprise if he wasn’t on the scoresheet at least once in this one.

Value selection

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After a terrific away win at Newcastle on Saturday, West Ham will be looking at a home game against Cardiff as an opportunity to pick up another three points. The visitors arrive on the back of a superb comeback win against Wolves on Friday night, but they average only 40 per cent of possession per game and have scored only two goals in six away games so far.

With this in mind, we feel that Pablo Zabaleta, at a cut-price £4.3m, could be in line for a second consecutive clean sheet. The right-back has never been shy in coming forward during his long career, and there is every chance that he could also get into attacking positions with West Ham likely to dominate possession. As he showed against Newcastle only at the weekend (above), he makes runs that can get him into goalscoring as well as crossing positions.

Avoid

Despite playing in an attacking midfield position for an Arsenal side enjoying an unbeaten run that stretches to 19 games in all competitions, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has managed only one goal – against Wolves in November – and zero assists in his last nine league outings.

An away trip to Mkhitaryan’s old club Manchester United, who are having their own troubles, may seem like an opportunity for the Armenian to get back among the points. But with Aaron Ramsey having such a strong impact when introduced against Tottenham on Sunday, there is no guarantee Mkhitaryan will even feature at Old Trafford. Midfield money could surely be better spent elsewhere for now.

How we did in Gameweek 14

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Captain’s pick
At least we weren’t the only ones. Sergio Aguero’s surprise omission from the Man City squad that beat Bournemouth with a slight knock left fantasy managers reeling all over the place. Raheem Sterling (above) – now the top individual scorer in the game – might have been a better selection, in hindsight.

Value selection
Newcastle had enough chances to get on the scoresheet in their 3-0 home defeat by West Ham, with more than one falling to central striker Salomon Rondon. Sadly for anyone who had followed our advice, he failed to convert.

Avoid
Bournemouth did manage to find the net at the Etihad, but Ryan Fraser was not directly involved in Callum Wilson’s strike and eventually replaced by David Brooks with 20 minutes remaining. Better days are to come for the Scottish winger.

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