It’s as full a schedule as you’re going to see on any day outside of the season finale, so let’s get set for a real hum dinger!
Bournemouth v. Tottenham
The Cherries scored only six goals total in their first seven games before exploding for another half dozen last weekend against Hull. Meanwhile, Tottenham sits in third place by virtue of having the tightest defense in the league, allowing a meager total of four scores thus far. Bournemouth has won three out of its four home games and Junior Stanislas is a popular fantasy pick after exploding for a brace plus an assist against the Tigers. However, Spurs are no slouches away from White Hart Lane, so Bournemouth would probably be happy with a low-scoring draw.
Arsenal v. Middlesbrough
2nd place at home against 17th place. Six wins and no losses in the past seven games versus no wins in the last six. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott on one side, with Stewart Downing, Alvaro Negredo and Cristhian Stuani on the other. This match-up at the Emirates looks like a rout on paper, unless you’re worried about a trap game. The concern for fantasy purposes, though, is that with a glut of fixtures (this is the third of seven Gunners games running from October 15 to November 6), Arsene Wenger will surely be tempted to rest some of his stars. If you’ve loaded up on Arsenal, cross your fingers, folks!
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
My how the tables have turned. Last season, the Foxes won the title (I know, I know, you probably remember!) while the Eagles flirted with relegation before finishing 15th. This time around, Palace has thrived with the additions of Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend to push up to 9th place while the departure of N’Golo Kante has dinged Leicester which is struggling in the 13th spot. Leicester City won both fixtures against Palace by tight 1-0 tallies last season; will we see something along those lines again or have fortunes truly changed this campaign? While the visitors are +1 in goal differential each at home and away, the Foxes are +4 at home and -10 away, so it would be no surprise to see Leicester win at their King Power fortress and pull even in points with Palace.
West Ham v. Sunderland
The West Ham’s dire defensive situation (17 goals allowed, second-most in the league with only Hull worse) was supposed to improve with the return of Aaron Cresswell, but he saw red via two yellows last weekend and is suspended. The answer to the Hammers’ prayers? The visit of punchless Sunderland, which has scored a total of two goals in its four away games thus far and is tied for last with Burnley with an output of only six goals total.
Hull City v. Stoke City
After a strong start, Hull City has imploded, getting pummeled by a cumulative 17-3 in losing its last four. After going winless by losing four of its first five games, Stoke has picked things up with no losses in its past three contests. Captain Michael Dawson returns from injury to try to shore up the Tigers’ back line, but if you believe in recent form continuing for both sides, it won’t be enough to hold off the visitors.
Swansea v. Watford
The Swans were competitive at the Emirates in Bob Bradley’s first game as manager, but ultimately came up short. Now the side tries to win its first home game of the season, but that is far from a simple task against a Watford squad which actually has performed better on the road, with two victories and a draw in four away matches.
Burnley v. Everton
It’s sixth place against 14th place, sure, but this one isn’t happening at Goodison Park where the Toffees would be heavy favorites. Instead, things are evened out by the locale, with Burnley (+2 goal differential at home) looking like a pretty tough match for Everton (+3 on the road) at Turf Moor where Swansea, Liverpool, Hull, Watford and Arsenal have combined for a total of just three scores. So if you are running with Romelu Lukaku and company, you may want to temper your expectations.
Liverpool v. West Brom
Only Manchester City and Arsenal have scored more home goals than Liverpool. Meanwhile, only Arsenal has allowed fewer goals on the road than West Brom. (Apparently Arsenal is not only extremely good, but very balanced.) So we know what both teams are trying to do. If Liverpool can score early and open things up, the Reds should roll (a la their 4-1 win over Leicester City and 5-1 romp against Hull). But if West Brom can keep things down deep into the game, Albion could be able to nick a result (as in Monday’s nil-nil Liverpool-Manchester United tilt).
How do you expect today’s games to go and which players have you turned to for big fantasy returns? Join in the comments below!