Today we are in for a treat as all of the top five teams play. Mouthwateringly, four of those feature against each other in a pair of the games, so fans of the league will all be extremely interested to witness the impact on the table. The other two fixtures have wider gulfs between the sides, and as such will be expected to bring more in the way of fantasy spoils.
Of course, plenty of signs point to the possibility of some surprises. What does that mean? FUN FUN FUN (‘til daddy takes the T-bird away)!!!
The early game seemingly looks pretty straightforward, with the third place team welcoming the worst squad in the Premiership. On top of that, Spurs come in brimming with confidence after wrecking title holder Real Madrid 3-1 in mid-week Champions League action where Dele Alli nabbed a brace, Christian Eriksen chipped in a breakaway goal, and Harry Kane delivered an assist and started another score by turning a likely Madrid goal kick into a Tottenham throw-in. Kieran Trippier also starred at right wing back, bombing forward and providing excellent service including a helper of his own.
However, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris were injured, and it was Harry Kane’s first game on return from injury. So even with the international break coming up, Mauricio Pochettino could be tempted to rotate in attack on top of defense, which could make things more difficult for the home side. On top of that, while Spurs will want to think that the Wembley hoodoo has finally been lifted, it would be wise not to forget their struggles at “home” against lesser sides: In league action, they barely beat Bournemouth (1-0) while drawing with Burnley and Swansea. Even worse, they lost to West Ham (3-2) in recent Carabao Cup action. Could Wembley see the Eagles score their first away goal of the season?
The Eagles are not exactly flying high, but compared to their pre-Zaha weeks when they looked DOA, at least they have now stood up at the foot of the table. After Palace set a historical mark for misery in losing their first seven games even scoring, Roy Hodgson may finally be making his mark, notching a win and a draw in the past three games, the loss a tough 1-0 affair at Newcastle. Since returning from injury, Wilfried Zaha has starred with two of the team’s four goals in the recent stretch (the other two being an own goal from Chelsea’s Cesar Azpillicueta and a PK from Luka Milivojevic). On paper, this one looks like a mismatch, but then so was Chelsea’s visit, so we may be treated to a more competitive game than expected.
First place against fifth place theoretically sounds like a good match-up, but in actuality this could be ugly, particularly due to the locale. The Citizens have looked absolutely scintillating in leading the league by five points, but they have been especially unstoppable at home: The Etihad has seen them score 21 of their 35 goals and accrue +18 of their +29 goal differential. Meanwhile, though the Gunners are a perfect five wins at their Emirates, they’ve been rubbish on the road with only one win, one draw and three losses (corresponding with a -3 differential).
However, Arsenal can find solace in having been able to rest its star players in its midweek Europa League affair, whereas City played its regulars in the rousing Champions League victory at Napoli, so Pep Guardiola may choose to rest some of his stars. On top of that, Arsenal has actually done well recently at the Etihad: A win, a draw and a loss in its last three league games there have all been close affairs. Much like Tottenham v. Palace, this seems like it should be a blowout, but do not abandon all ye hope if you (or ye) are looking for something from the away side.
Will the real Everton please stand up? (please stand up, please stand up!) Or maybe, just maybe, what we’ve seen so far (including yesterday’s results) — 19th place!!! — is too legit (too legit) to quit, and it’s going to be a season-long fight to avoid relegation. The Toffees are better at home than away, but that’s really not saying much as they have a -5 goal differential from their two wins, one draw and two losses in league matches at Goodison Park this season.
Meanwhile, the eighth place Hornets are actually better on the road, where they’ve been impressive in winning thrice, drawing and losing once each with a corresponding +3 differential. Good things should be expected from Richarlison, Kiko Femenia and company, but Troy Deeney’s suspension will hurt, and there is usually something to be said for home field advantage, so try to keep an open mind.
The scheduled late game not surprisingly turns out to be the headline generator of the day and weekend:
- Fourth place hosts second.
- Former Chelsea stars Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata face their former team.
- Star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata continue their fine first seasons with their new clubs.
- Eden Hazard looks to impress again after scoring his first goal of the campaign last weekend.
- Last but certainly not least, Jose Mourinho returns to his recent stomping grounds, taking on the defending champions and hoping to beat Antonio Conte, the manager who successfully replaced him at the helm but now seems set adrift in rockier waters.
Chelsea comes in after suffering a comprehensive 3-0 Champions League defeat at Roma, while United enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Benfica. If this game were at Old Trafford, the Red Devils would be comfortably favored. But whereas United boasts a +15 differential at home, they’re only +4 on the road. Oddly, Chelsea is +6 on the road but only +2 at Stamford Bridge.
Above all, though, this could come down to health. The Blues will pray that spark plug N’Golo Kante is fit enough to start, as their defense has looked extremely suspect in the absence of the 2016/17 Premier League Player of the Season. Meanwhile, Manchester United has sputtered on offense without Paul Pogba (or his short-lived replacement, Marouane Fellaini). No result would be surprising, so here’s hoping for a great game to finish out the weekend!
What games are you watching as a fan? Which players are you cheering on as a fantasy manager? How do you expect things to turn out? Whom are you watching for the barn door? Join in the comments below and let us know!