Swansea City vs Manchester United
Burnley vs West Bromwich Albion
Leicester City vs Brighton
Southampton vs West Ham United
Can a Swansea side without Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente, Ki Sung-Yeung, and Nathan Dyer find a way to unlock Manchesters United’s miserly defense? Will they be able to repel the Red Devils’ free-wheeling offense with Leon Britton a doubt? Perhaps Jose Mourinho’s squad will assume a more conservative posture on the road, but viewed from any angle, this fixture has the look of a lopsided mismatch. United investment seems sure to reward fantasy managers with both offensive and defensive returns. Did you splash the cash for Romelu Lukaku, or choose a more economical route into Mourinho’s attack?
Watford scored three and gave up three to split the spoils with Liverpool at home last weekend. Bournemouth hardly has Liverpool’s firepower, so this week Watford’s defense should face an easier test. But will their attack try to press for goals on the road, or will they take a safer approach?
Morale at Burnley will be soaring after they put the defending champions to the sword at Stamford Bridge. The brace by Sam Vokes raised the eyebrows of many a fantasy manager, but can the Welshman tender a similar performance against a Tony Pulis side that is sure to be better organized?
Vardy dazzled last week, while Brighton stayed tight and held Manchester City scoreless until the 70th minute. I expect Leicester to lay siege to a visiting Brighton side that will spend most of the game in a turtle shell. Which would be disappointing, because I am dying to see what Pascal Gross can bring to the Premier League.
Crystal Palace was shelled last week—at home—by newly-promoted Huddersfield Town. This week they travel to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s buccaneering side. Logic suggests a banquet feast is in store for Liverpool’s attack, but as we know, logic does not always apply when it comes to the Premier League. This one will surely entertain.
Southampton drew 0-0 last week but were the better side and created many chances that they failed to convert. West Ham’s defense was poor against Manchester United. The chances are good for another Soton clean sheet, and this week I think they get the win too.
Everyone knows about the fierce and sometimes ugly North London rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal. But Arsenal/Stoke is a grudge match too, thanks to two consecutive FA Cup semifinals from the early ‘70s in which Arsenal defeated Stoke via victories that are still referred to as “controversial.” (Fun fact: in the second Cup semi, the scorer of the deciding Arsenal goal was miles offside, but the linesman did not raise his flag because he mistook a program-seller on the sidelines for a Stoke defender!). This is also the fixture in which a Ryan Shawcross horror-tackle gruesomely broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg, generating further animosity between the clubs. Historically characterized as a battle between Route 1 football and “the beautiful game,” this fixture has almost always favored the home team. What drama will today’s match bring?
OK Then, Enough Said!
Let’s get on with it then. All of this week’s fantasy decisions (mistakes?) are set in stone, and in a matter of minutes reality will begin to unfold. Soon the few, the proud, (the lucky?) will strut their high scores while the rest of us will huddle together to commiserate in the warm glow of our dumpster fires.
Tell us how you feel, and maybe what you think (if you’re awake enough for thinking), and please offer any barn-door candidates you happen to see... in the comments below!