Tottenham’s big win over Chelsea has opened up the title race just a little more, while Hull City and Swansea are gambling that new managers can drag them from the feet of the table. With the added joy of a cold weather spell coming and maybe even the white stuff, week 21 has a few interesting matchups.
Tottenham v West Bromwich Albion
Spurs are on a 5 match winning streak at White Hart Lane, scoring 2 or more in all of those and their fantasy assets will tempt a few this week.
Harry Kanes form and points return remains inconsistent while Dele Alli’s 6 goals in 3 games sees him linked with mega money deals to Real Madrid. Choice three is Christian Eriksen who is playing the best football of the season and is behind so much of the Tottenham attacking play.
In defence Spurs seems like many to be moving towards 3 central defenders and the full backs pushed forward into the midfield/wing backs role. That’s great news for Kyle Walker and Danny Rose owners in FPL but makes them a no go in Fantrax.
For WBA it’s hard to like their players in this one but WBA are not easy to beat. The pick would seem to be Ben Foster in FPL who will have to pull out plenty of saves in this one.
Watford v Middlesbrough
Boro have lost 3 in a row on the road, but Watford have no win in 5. This one looks a tight and scrappy game to me and could be a goalless affair.
West Ham United v Crystal Palace
Palace have conceded 2 of more in 5 of their last 6 away games and are without a win in 7 away games. As I said in week 20, I’m not expecting Sam to be able to correct their issues with defending in the short term. If you concede 2 at home to the current Swansea, you can concede any and everywhere.
West Ham meanwhile chose to start Dimitri Payet on the bench for the cup tie against City. I get game rotation but it’s a sad story when in the Hammers only shot of winning a competition they chose to rest their star player. Even stranger to bring him on at 4-0 down.
This game looks full of goals but we could see Palace set up in a shape that is hard to break down. If Scott Dann misses out then the Eagles may have to play much more positive but Andy Carroll becomes a real option.
Sunderland v Stoke City
The Black Cats keep on putting up spirited performances under David Moyes in home games. Matches like these will likely determine if they can produce one more shock survival campaign. As I write they still have Jermain Defoe and they need to keep him to have any chance.
Stoke also went out of the FA Cup with a whimper and have the look of a side settling into mid table mediocrity early. They can be a team we can oppose if this pattern continues.
Swansea v Arsenal
The Swans have conceded at least 2 in 8 of their 10 home games, WOW!
Arsenal may been in a difficult performance and result period, but they must fancy their chances. Oliver Giroud is the leagues form forward while Alexis Sanchez plays better on the road where there is a few more chances on the counter. Aaron Ramsey is getting ripped apart by some Gunners fans for his performers not matching those for Wales. That’s an unfair comment for me. He plays a different role for Wales and in a side that plays on the counter. Arsenal are a possession team and in this style he has much less time, space and choice on the ball to make eye catching impacts. He hasn't the range of passing or control of play that Santi Cazorla has and the drop in Arsenal showings seems to have started with the little man’s injury. Ramsey is a gamble but one that offers you a differential in FPL and a cheap middie in Fantrax.
The Saints fixture list is ever growing and their smaller squad is showing signs of finding it tricky. With the Saints having played the 1st leg of the League Cup semi in midweek, Burnley maybe in the right time at the right place. Looks a 1-0, 0-0 or 0-1 to me Tom Heaton owners. JayRod against his old club has a nice ring to it on top.
Hull v Bournemouth
Sacking Mike Phelan wasn’t surprising but I’m unsure what the owners thought realistic when they appointed him. Still under their new manager Hull won a game in the cup and any hopes of survival must see them win this one.
Bournemouth blew a 3-0 lead and got too easily beaten in the cup. They either bounce back or like Stoke feel too comfy sat in mid-table.
This one could go either way. Hull may have few defenders fully fit so picking up a Cherries attacker seems like a plan. Jack Wilshere is also due a goal to go with his improving performances.
Leicester City v Chelsea
The champions of the last two seasons face off and the result isn’t easy to call. At first I assume Chelsea have the quality the Foxes do not. Perhaps we see just how dominate a player Kante can be by bullying his former teammates.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa will be in many teams but a couple of stats should make us wary. Leicester have lost just 2 of their last 27 home games. More of a guide is that Chelsea games have scored a total of 3 goals in their last 5 always while Leicester have conceded just 6 in their last 5 home and away.
Looks like one of those games that any result is possible. Everton have lost only once at home in their last 13 games and have scored at least twice in 5 of their last 6 anywhere.
City meanwhile have scored at least 2 in 5 of their last 6. There was no sign of Gabriel Jesus at West Ham so Kun will start and will be in most if not all Fantrax sides. In FPL there may be a split of those who have him and those who are watching his impact.
We saw in the FA Cup win that Yaya Toure is 1st choice pen taker (I think I’m correct in saying he has never missed for them). With players like Raheem Sterling and David Silva along with their relentless attacking plan they seem a side more likely to get a few penalty calls than others, making Toures pen's over Kun a big call from Pep for us fantasy fans particularly in FPL.
The match of the weekend and two sides in form. Utd have won 6 in a row in the league scoring 2 or more in 5 of them. Pool are unbeaten in 6.
Phillipe Coutinho is back in training and could start, but I’m not expecting the full 90 minutes from him. Daniel Sturridge started and scored at Sunderland. His bench role in the cup may mean he is set to start the game. Sturridge is a player of such talent that on his day he can be a match winner. Utds defending still is some way from convincing so I can see the logic should he play. However, in these mega matches Klopp prefers the system with Roberto Firmino in the false 9 role and I guess he plays it here.
Zlatan is in great form and better at home. Liverpool may have Matip back with is big for them but a clean sheet is a big ask.
With both sides looking to have defences who lack concentration and quality it will be the finishing and maybe even more so the goalkeeping that decides the game. It looks high scoring show to me, so attacking players from both teams are in my consideration.