Simon - Tottenham Hotspur v. Leicester City
They have been two of the impressive sides in the first half the of the Premier League season. Spurs with the youngest squad in the league look so well organised under their manager and full of movement and energy. The Foxes without doubt the surprise package so far but there are signs of a side levelling out.
Fantasy wise it is the home team that tempts me. With Jamie Vardy out inured the counter attack game plan that has been so effective isn't ended but it will be reduced. Likely sub's Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Ozazaki do not have the same pace and movement. Rihad Mahrez of course offers danger but again without Vardy Spurs can commit defensive resources to crowd him out, much in the way Newcastle successfully dealt with Mesut Ozil last week. Mahrez has also said he wishes to stay at Leicester but we don't know just what is going on behind the scenes. Regardless of his and the clubs stance there will be enquires about him after the season the player has had so far. Everyone has a price and some clubs may make silly money offers which could trigger a move late in the window.
I can see a Spurs clean sheet in this one and with Leicester continuing to offer sides chances from crosses into the box the Tottenham centre backs could pop up with a goal. In attack Harry Kane finally showed the signs of needing a breather in the last half hour against Everton. He would seem certain to get that over the weekend and a week's break should be the refuelling he needs. I like at least one goal from him this week. In attacking midfield Eric Lamela has finally settled in the league and holds his share of set pieces. Deli Alli has been excellent in the role behind Kane and even with optimism, the club must be surprised just how easy he has adapted to first team. At this stage he still gives the ball away plenty but his explosive running and shooting has balanced that out. Finally, there is Christian Eriksen. The Danish playmaker has failed to score a league goal since his brace at Swansea in early October. He is well overdue then and this game looks a nice chance to end that run.
Jason - Swansea City v. Sunderland
This docket has a lot of great matchups for fantasy purposes, but I'm going to hitch my wagon on the relegation fight between Swansea City and Sunderland on Wednesday. Anytime you get two teams that are fighting to avoid the drop, almost anything can happen. And usually in a match like this, both sides go for the win...which is great for fantasy owners.
The Swans are coming off of a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, a match that easily could have seen them equalize on a miracle header from GK Lukasz Fabianski. Now, while I don't think he is going to get another chance at a goal in this matchup, it would not shock me to see Gylfi Sigurdsson find his name on the scoresheet again. His beautiful goal against the Red Devils was his first goal since October 24th. After his stellar campaign last year, he has had a rough first half of the season, as he sits on three goals and an assist despite playing in all twenty matches for Swansea City so far. They hope that this goal is the start of a good run for him. Teammate Andre Ayew will feel unlucky to have hit the post against United, as he also has not scored in seven matches running, but a match against a horrid Sunderland squad should have them both hoping that changes soon. Only Aston Villa have scored fewer goals than Swansea this season, and the duo, along with Bafetimbi Gomis, will have to lead the charge if that is to change.
On the other side, the visitors knows that this match could be vital in their hopes of avoiding the drop. Their spirits are a bit higher coming off a 3-1 win over the aforementioned Aston Villa, and Big Sam will hope they can make it six points in two matches with a win over Swansea City. Jermaine Defoe scored a brace against Villa, and will be looking to add another goal or two on Wednesday. Fellow forward Fabio Borini has been playing well as of late, along with midfielder Yann M'Vila, and that will need to continue if Sunderland are to take a result from this match. Usually I would not recommend a defender in a match like this, but keep an eye on Patrick van Aanholt. He has been sending in crosses in volume, and even scored a goal against Villa. He has added value in the Fantrax game, and Villa are not very good at preventing play from the wings, thus he should have a great chance at completing crosses and even an assist.
Charles - Manchester City v. Everton
There will be goals!
Manchester City is leading the Premiership with 39 goals. All of their weapons are back, including Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling and Aleksandar Kolarov. City will be wanting to make a second half charge for the title and where better to start than at home, where they have scored an amazing 29 times so far.
Everton has delivered 34 of their own goals, but have struggled defensively since their captain, Phil Jagielka, went down in late October with a knee injury. Leighton Baines has returned and has started to deliver points. You will never find him cheaper in Fantrax. Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukulu have both been on a tear and probably are included in many lineups as season keepers.
Anyway, I think we will see at least 3 goals in this one, and maybe even a multi-goal thriller as Manchester City is very capable of exploding for 5 or more.
Zach - Stoke City v. Norwich City
Mark Hughes has done a commendable job transforming Stoke City in to a vibrant, attacking minded side. Players like Bojan, Arnautovic, Shaqiri, and Afellay are all players that can add flair and real attacking intent. Hughes is still trying to shape his attack in to the kind of force that can produce week in and week out, so stumbles like the loss to West Brom are bound to happen during the growing process.
However, Norwich City needed a red card to help them finally break through and nick the win against Southampton. Stoke's traditionally tough defense and new look attacking force should be enough to see them through against the likes of the Canaries. Arnautovic in particular has really stepped up to the forefront with his powerful displays. If the front 4 can click again, multiple goals won't be far off.
Gavin - Chelsea v. West Bromwich Albion
It hasn't taken long for signs of the Chelsea of old to reveal themselves under the tutelage of Guus Hiddink. More than just a new manager bump, though, it looks like the Blues are breaking away from the funk they were in toward the end of Jose Mourinho's reign. We're seeing more motivation and determination from players like Oscar and Cesc Fabregas, while Diego Costa is back amongst the goals after a long dry spell. Thibaut Courtois will be eager to make it three clean sheets on the bounce, and with poor travelers West Brom pulling up to Stamford Bridge, that looks like at least being a strong possible outcome.
Injuries, suspensions and poor form have plagued the Baggies of late, though Tony Pulis still managed to get one over on his old employers Stoke City last time out (thanks in large part to an incorrectly awarded red card). However, I don't see them having enough quality to really test this revitalized Chelsea side, so I feel confident recommending buying in on players from both sides for the home side.
Roberto - Tottenham Hotspur v. Leicester City
Two sides who have surprised a lot this season with their performances in the first 20 weeks of the Premier League see second against fourth with only four points separating the two clubs. Will the loss of Jamie Vardy be big on the Foxes with the possibility to having to rely heavily on Riyad Mahrez for the two weeks that the English international is out? It's a tough task for Claudio Ranieri's team, so the side from White Hart Lane could capitalize through Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen up front to provide the goals needed.
A win for Mauricio Pochettino's men would see them move to at least third in the league, all depending on how Manchester City do against Everton over the weekend. Nevertheless, it's an early must win for both clubs to figure out how their future standings in the league will end up with only four months left in the season, so you will certainly see both teams going for it with their attractive attacking style of play.