This weekend is off to a surprising start with Brighton’s 3-0 victory over West Ham on Friday.
The Saturday GW9 matches look interesting for the most part, but I must admit to being a bit distracted because this weekend is one of my favorites in the US sports calendar: the Formula One USA Grand Prix!
So that I can move on to focusing on the latest news on Ferrari’s suddenly suspect engine (not unlike Chelsea’s suddenly suspect defense), and Mercedes’ diva-like car (not unlike Man U’s temperamental offense), let’s take a look at what’s on tap today in our beloved EPL.
The Early Game
Chelsea v Watford
This one should be a straight forward Chelsea win, but the match-up carries at least a whiff of potential upset. Chelsea’s defense has suddenly become unreliable, and Eden Hazard hasn’t looked quite right, though he’s clearly a ticking time bomb. Watford are an extremely well managed club, and Richarlison has been the breakout star of the season so far. I’m looking forward to this game!
The Crowded Middle Bunch
This one is for Stoke or Bournemouth fans only. It’s also most definitely an early season relegation-warning match for two disappointing squads. I’m curious to see how Jack Butland rebounds from a very poor game last week versus Man City. The Stoke keeper really needs to get in gear if he is to claim the England #1 shirt in the World Cup.
Bournemouth feature two of the most disappointing attackers in the EPL in Jermain Defoe and Joshua King... and from what we’ve seen so far, we may be ready to add Junior Stanislas to that dispiriting list.
Dear reader, I humbly submit for your consideration the most likely candidate for a snooze-inducing 0-0. Swansea has been a fairly robust defense so far, and have offered fantasy gold in Federico Fernandez, Kyle Naughton, and Lukasz Fabianski. I’m very curious to see what the Foxes will offer under a caretaker manager, with particular attention on Jamie Vardy. Following an inspiring start to the season, he’s looked rather muted in GW7 and GW8. I’m banking on a swift return to form.
From a fantasy perspective, this game should be a bonanza. Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are back for Palace, and the Toon have an abundance of interesting pieces in Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles, Joselu, Mikel Merino and our GW9 poster boy Jonjo Shelvey. No matter what, Jonjo is always worth a watch. I’m buying stock in Jonjo as the bad guy in Fast and Furious 20 come the year 2024.
We are about to find out what happens when an unstoppable force (City) meets an immovable object (Nick Pope).
Huddersfield v Manchester United
I can confidently predict that Jose Mourinho will not park his bus for this game, even if the Terriers’ great striker Steve Mounie returns from a nagging heel injury. On the other end of the pitch, I am not sold on the Terrier’s defense. I think their early season resilience was a bit of a mirage caused by innovative tactics and established EPL teams getting to know the new kids on the block. I expect to see a United team that looks a lot closer to the early season 4-0 machine. I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t get at least a brace from Romelu Lukaku.
The Late Game
What a wonderful game for defenders! From a fantasy perspective, it should be fun times for Virgil Van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand, Cedric Soares, Craig Dawson, Ahmed Hegazi and Kieran Gibbs. I’d be very nervous, however, if I owned strikers like Manolo Gabbiadini, Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez or Salomon Rondon.
And live from your screen it’s Saturday Chat Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!
How is your fantasy team looking as we head into the big Saturday matches? Who inspires hope or fear in your heart? Will Lukaku go nuts with multiple goals, or will his owners go nuts when he blanks? Share your GW9 Saturday thoughts in the comments below!