Zach - AFC Bournemouth v. Arsenal
Arsene Wenger will rue the missed opportunity to keep the pace with league leaders Leicester City after failing to break down a resolute Southampton. Arsenal find themselves in the midst of a 3 match goalless run that now puts them behind bitter rivals Tottenham in 4th. While still having a credible chance of lifting the title, Wenger will have to find a way to quickly get Arsenal firing again. But for all their lack of goals recently, their defense has been particularly good (bar the Mert red card against Chelsea). A solid defense is crucial when your offense has been misfiring.
With an away match to Bournemouth in Week 25, Arsenal have a clear chance of regaining momentum in the title race. Moving onto Bournemouth, it's almost ironic that during this barren stretch, a former Arsenal academy player finds himself in fine form for the opposition. Benik Afobe has now scored in 3 of 4 matches since joining the Cherries for a club record fee in the January window. I'm not saying he would be banging them in for Arsenal had he been given the chance, but his transition to the Premier League has been stellar.
Eddie Howe has turned the ship and Bournemouth find themselves putting more distance between the relegation zone. Having already toppled Chelsea and Manchester United in the start of their climb up the table, a shock upset of Arsenal isn't out of the realm of possibility. What I do find likely is that the offense will be back on display in this match and fantasy returns along with it.
Simon - Manchester City v. Leicester City
The match of the week is clearly the Manchester City v Leicester top of the table game. Normally, matches between the top sides at this stage of the season can be tight affairs, settled by individual error or a moment of magic. This time though I think we may see something different.
Both sides play such open, entertaining football the fans are sure to get their pounds' worth. The problem is they leave the opposition so much space to exploit. Secondly, in my view the attackers outrank their defensive counterparts. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth are solid but no match to a white-hot, in-form Kun Aguero. Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante are performing great but will be outnumbered by David Silva, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho in central midfield. Danny Simpson will find the speed and ball control of Raheem Sterling and overlapping runs of Aleksandar Kolarov (assuming he starts this one) a problem. Meanwhile Kolarov is no match to Riyad Mahrez, nor are the city CB's to the brilliant Jamie Vardy. For fantasy I think any attacking player from either side can prosper. It's is also possible both keepers can do a Fraser Forster and hit huge save points in this one.
Honorable mention to Newcastle this week. They host a West Bromwich side finding it tough for clean sheets and goals right now. The Magpies meanwhile spent big money in the January transfer window and in doing so may have closed the gap between the sides. The points difference is a sizeable 8 points but a home win will have the Baggies looking over their collective shoulders. My view is we have two sides going in different direction at the moment in the season and I can see a strong home win. If I am correct there will be some value in Newcastle players this week.
Charles - Tottenham Hotspur v. Watford FC
It's a very tough week to pick a specific fixture out of the murk, for me. It's one of those weeks I recommend just holding onto your players you have a discount and hoping for the best. That being said the fixture I like them all his Watford at White Hart Lane against Tottenham.
Both sides kept a clean sheet this week with Tottenham dispatching Norwich 3-0 and Watford shutting down Chelsea in their 0-0 tie. Goals may be difficult to come by, so consider defenders and Hugo Lloris from the home side Spurs. The young Belgian, Kevin Wimmer, got his first start and appears set for a run. He's a cheap way to get on board the Tottenham train that leads the Prem in most defensive categories. "Hurricane" Harry Kane has been spectacular, of late, with goals in his most recent 3 matches. Keep an eye on the team news for an update Dele Alli, who was withdrawn at halftime midweek, but he should be good to go. I like Watford's defense more than their offense, but suspect I will look elsewhere to fill my defensive ranks this week.
Chris - Liverpool v. Sunderland
Liverpool has certainly not been setting the world on fire, but some of that points to playing a tough schedule with six of its past eight games coming against fellow teams in the upper half of the table (at Watford, v. Leicester City, at West Ham, v. Arsenal, v. Manchester United and at Leicester City), so it will definitely look to impress with a home fixture against paltry competition.
While the initial tilt at Sunderland resulted in a mere 1-0 victory for the Liverpudlians, I think that the Reds should win more comfortably this time around at Anfield against the struggling Black Cats, who have been hammered when playing away from the Stadium of Light against big name opposition, losing their four recent away games at Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City by a combined score of 14-4.
On the offensive side, you should start with Roberto Firmino, but Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and James Milner are also good possibilities while the influential Philippe Coutinho may be available for selection after a long injury layoff at a cut rate price. There's a good shot at a clean sheet on the defensive end with the visitors having managed only two goals total across their past three games. Alberto Moreno offers the strongest play from the back thanks to his added contributions up the flank, but you could also consider Simon Mignolet in net along with defender Nathaniel Clyne, who scored 11 points in Fantrax the prior game against Sunderland.
Gavin - Stoke City v. Everton
The reverse fixture at the end of December produced one of the most exciting matches of the Premier League season, with the Potters running away eventual winners in a back-and-forth 7-goal thriller at Goodison Park. Neither side has been particularly consistent this season in terms of their week-to-week performances, but with both squads capable of creating some exceptional attacking displays, I think we could be in for another high-scoring encounter.
With that said, I'm obviously recommending against heavy investment on the defensive side, especially with fitness and rotation question marks coming into play for both sides. Looking to the attack, then, I like the prospects of Marko Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic for Stoke, with Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu attracting my attention from the Toffees. Romelu Lukaku could miss out after sustaining a knock midweek, so keep an eye on team news there. New signing Oumar Niasse could be called upon to lead the line, and would be a great differential pick.