Four of the “big six” teams are playing, so there will be plenty of investment on the line today for most fantasy managers. Being in the midst of crazy fixture congestion, there’s plenty of nail biting going on. What should we look for?
Leicester v. Crystal Palace (early game)
The Foxes are flying high, riding a four game win streak that has moved them up to eighth place in the table. Riyad Mahrez (three goals), Shinji Okazaki (two goals, one assist) and Demarai Gray (two goals) have fueled the offense in that stretch, while the team’s leading scorer, Jamie Vardy, has been comparatively muted with one goal and one assist to his credit. Leicester has kept only one clean sheet in the past seven games, so you might think that you are probably better off banking on the offensive joy continuing than expecting a blanking on the defensive end.
Then again, the Eagles have scored only one away goal all season (!!!). And their last two away games have been nil-nil affairs, so maybe they can keep the Foxes off the score sheet after all. As always, we’ll see what happens when the rubber meets the road... in this case, King Power Stadium.
Arsenal v. Newcastle
Arsenal is coming off a scoreless draw at West Ham. That’s disappointing to some, but that fails to take into account the difference between the squad’s home (+14 goal differential) and away (-4) splits. This particular squad does not know how to play away from the Emirates. But it does play well at home, and while Newcastle is not as unbalanced, it does not perform particularly well either home or away.
Arsene Wenger turned to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jack Wilshere for the contest with the Hammers, so Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette should earn starts in this tilt. Other Arsenal regulars (Alexis Sanchez? Mesut Ozil? Hector Bellerin?) could be rested.
As for the visiting Magpies, they’ve failed to win any of their past eight games, with seven defeats and a single draw. So if Arsenal fails to win this one, it really will be a legitimate let-down.
Brighton v. Burnley
Given the locale and the home/away splits, this game comes across as fairly even. But looking at recent form -- Burnley has won six of its past eight games, compared to one in six for Brighton — the Clarets get the clear advantage. After suffering a first half injury against Stoke, defender Stephen Ward is a doubt, but fellow back liners Ben Mee and Matt Lowton are good to go. Combining that with the continued absence of offensive creator Robbie Brady, a low-scoring affair would seem to be in order.
Burnley’s last five goals (across six-plus games) have come from five different players, so if you’re looking for offensive fantasy joy from that end, you may want to take a toss at a dart board. Many of us would love for Brighton’s Pascal Groß nab a goal, but it’s probalby going to be tough sledding.
Chelsea v. Southampton
Those who have invested in Chelsea’s defense (my hand is up!) have been crushed by an early goal in West Ham’s shock 1-0 West Ham win followed by a last-gasp goal from Huddersfield in the Blues’ 3-1 conquest; meaningless in real life, sadly meaningful in fantasy. The Saints have only been shut out twice on the road this season, so is more disappointment in order?
Of course, I’m not saying you should expect an offensive explosion from a team that has scored exactly one goal in each of its past four games. Chelsea, on the other hand, managed to score three goals during a week when Alvaro Morata was out and Eden Hazard did not feature in any of the scores. Can the Belgian superstar grab some of the spoils this weekend?
Stoke v. West Ham
15th place against 17th place. Ugh. Just, ugh. Not only am I not going to watch the game, I’m probably not even going to bother seeing the “highlights”. But if you have any players in this one, it’s the type of fixture that could definitely pay off for you.
Watford v. Huddersfield
Here are two mid-table teams punching above their weight. A poor home side (-6 goal differential, second worst in the league) against a really bad away squad (-15, tied for worst). You should theoretically find joy with Richarlison, Heurelho Gomes, et al., but the Hornets certainly haven’t earned our trust at home yet.
Manchester City v. Tottenham (late game)
Today’s headliner would feature much more drama if the Citizens weren’t absolutely running away with the league title. Given the insane fixture congestion and coming off their recent derby triumph in what they viewed as a bigger contest, will Pep Guardiola be tempted to rest several key Citizens? After all, Kevin De Bruyne has started all 17 games thus far, while David Silva, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi have likewise 16 each. That doesn’t even count Champions League affairs. Or will Pep field a full side in the spirit of competition?
Following a grittier than expected 2-0 Wembley “home” win over Brighton, Spurs have regained the all-important #4 spot in the table, but with Liverpool, Burnley and Arsenal nipping at their heels, they will surely be pushing full bore to retain it. In a welcome moment, Erik Lamela started midweek for the first time since returning from long-term injury, but the offense will surely return to being all about Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min.
Who do you have going for your fantasy teams today? How are you expecting things to turn out? Be sure to join in the live chat, agonizing over every minute on the pitch for whatever game(s) you’re watching!