What could you do with $100 million? MondoGoal's Daily Fantasy Football is handing you an opportunity to find out, and Bleacher Report's here to provide counsel on which Premier League stars could bolster your matchday XI.
Setting the Table
Things are muddled in every aspect of Premier League life. Three teams are within a point of first. Four teams are two wins from fourth. Five teams are within six points from the drop zone.
Entering Matchday 23, as games are beginning to thin, figuring out what and who goes where is becoming increasingly more speculative.
|January 23||12:45 p.m./7:45 a.m.||Norwich City v Liverpool|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Leicester City v Stoke City|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Manchester United v Southampton|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Sunderland v Bournemouth|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Watford v Newcastle United|
|January 23||3 p.m./10 a.m.||West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa|
|January 23||5:30 p.m./12:30 p.m.||West Ham United v Manchester City|
|January 24||1:30 p.m./8:30 a.m.||Everton v Swansea City|
|January 24||4 p.m./11 a.m.||Arsenal v Chelsea|
Week 23's biggest clash is Arsenal vs. Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday, preceded by Swansea City's trip to Everton. Saturday's slate of eight matches could provide much-needed clarity to proceedings, but in rhythm with what 2015/16 has produced thus far, it will probably serve to confuse us further.
Our mission is not necessarily to look for star names but to locate value.
Here's a prospective XI, using the 3-4-3 formation.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Only two goalkeepers (Petr Cech and Joe Hart) have more clean sheets than Watford's Heurelho Gomes ($7.3 million) this season. The Hornets' upcoming opponent, Newcastle United, have the league's fourth-worst offensive output, managing just 24 goals in 22 games. The combination of defence and offence in that matchup make Gomes one of the better shot-stopping options.
Alongside his Brazilian goalkeeper, right-back Allan Nyom ($6.3 million) could reap the benefits from a low-scoring Newcastle. Manager Quique Sanchez Flores trusts the Cameroon international, who has started 21 of Watford's 22 EPL fixtures. Their clean-sheet record and decent points haul bears witness.
Added in our back three are Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen ($8.6 million) and Leicester City's Robert Huth ($6.5 million). Both are menacing, quintessential Premier League centre-backs; they play Crystal Palace and Stoke City, respectively. One can expect strong performances from both players and defences, making their humble estimations worth an investment.
Headlining our squad is the midfield.
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne ($11.3 million) is an automatic choice. The Belgian oozes quality in possession and invariably contributes over the course of 90 minutes—West Ham United away should be no exception.
Similarly, but seemingly less as of late, Juan Mata ($8.6 million) should be having the same effect across town at Manchester United. The Spanish maestro, starting his third calendar year in Manchester after moving from Chelsea, can unlock any defence. The Red Devils play Southampton at Old Trafford, and all the Spaniard's prowess will be required.
Tottenham add the bulk of this midfield with central-playing Christian Eriksen ($12 million) and Dele Alli ($8.9 million). Both of Mauricio Pochettino's midfield pieces have the license to find pockets of space and make things happen. Their creativity should frighten Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, but not so much the fantasy football player.
Looking for goals during Matchday 23 are three different strikers.
Troy Deeney ($8.6 million) is a brute, but one with class. He links play between Watford's midfield and attack, something his strike partner Odion Ighalo has thrived on all season—the Nigerian has 13 goals this year. That is not to suggest Deeney cannot score for himself (the Englishman has five goals), and as a designated penalty-taker, you cannot dismiss him in the slightest.
Wayne Rooney ($9.1 million) has suddenly found form. They say class is permanent, so maybe we all should have known he would come back around, but many were worried for the veteran Englishman.
Now primarily using his footballing brain and poacher's instinct to get chances (not the rough-and-tumble style of old) could a new version of Rooney—something like Version 4.0—be hitting shelves? Southampton will tell us.
Rounding out our XI is its most expensive piece, Spurs' Harry Kane ($12.8 million). Not blessed with incredible strength or pace, Kane is one of the best technical strikers in the Premier League.
The 22-year-old's control, power and placement are impeccable, especially in and around the 18-yard box, where he seldom panics and usually tests the 'keeper. Kane is a fantastic talent, and Alan Pardew's side will have their hands full—possibly overflowing—trying to contain him.
As shown, this squad uses all $100 million.
Check out MondoGoal and construct your own XI.