Whew? Whew indeed! It seems like yesterday that the Premier League ushered in its crazy holiday fixture congestion. With seven games (16-22) squeezed into just three and a half calendar weeks from December 9 through January 3, the players — as well as coaches and fans — are running on fumes.
Thankfully, an enticing pair of games beckons with a London-centric flair, beginning with the usual grudge match between Arsenal and Chelsea. At the finish, we’ve got a real hum dinger representing the first double game week of the season, albeit a mini one. The Tottenham v. West Ham fixture was shifted from GW21 to GW22, giving those teams two games each and adding even more nail-biting excitement from a fantasy perspective. Did you stick with your fantasy teams as constructed, or did you load up on those two teams’ players hoping for a windfall? If the latter scenario, did you drop anybody from Arsenal or Chelsea?
Arsenal v. Chelsea (Wednesday)
Arsenal is a completely different home team (+15 goal differential) than away (-3), so the Gunners will be happy to be playing this big game in front of the North London faithful at the Emirates. Jack Wilshere has enjoyed a recent Renaissance, starting for the past three games. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has provided a breath of fresh air and gets the call as Sead Kolašinac was one of two defenders (along with Laurent Koscielny) who were forced from the West Brom game. With the Gunners in something of a defensive crisis, keeper Petr Čech will have to be on his game against his former team. In better news, key playmaker Mesut Özil returns after missing out on the weekend.
Chelsea is in fine form, having been beaten only once in the past 13 league games (10 wins, two draws). Boasting four consecutive clean sheets, the West Londoners are coming off a comprehensive 5-0 demolition of Stoke at Stamford Bridge over the weekend. Unfortunately for a plethora of fantasy managers, Antonio Conte gave Eden Hazard the day off (which proved even more painful when Willian converted a penalty kick), and Alvaro Morata didn’t score or even provide an assist. On top of that, there were surely plenty of hopes for offensive contributions from star defenders Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta, but instead it was fellow back liners Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta who scored.
If you don’t have any players from either team, you’ll surely be rooting for a more entertaining game than the 0-0 reverse fixture in mid-September, perhaps something more along the lines of the recent 3-3 Arsenal v. Liverpool flying circus. Of course, the last time Chelsea gave up three goals in a league contest was back in Burnley’s season opening shock 3-2 win. The Blues have not allowed more than one goal in any of their past 12 games, so a wide open goal fest would be pretty surprising.
Tottenham v. West Ham (Thursday)
The temporary Wembley “home” did not start out particularly hospitably toward Spurs this season, but the North London side has rebounded nicely, notching six wins plus a draw in the last seven league games at the legendary stadium. Harry Kane is on the minds of many fantasy mangers. The Tottenham talisman netted two straight hat tricks prior to the Swansea game in which he managed only a late cameo due to illness, which the heavy rains surely did not help ease.
While Kane is on fire for Tottenham, Marko Arnautovic has been nearly as explosive for West Ham United, scoring five times in the past six games. Meanwhile, fellow Hammer Andy Carroll ended a long barren streak, becoming the brace-scoring hero of Tuesday’s win over West Brom. Despite the recent exploits of Arni and Carroll, the East Londoners have but a single victory in 11 away games (four draws, six losses) and are mired in 17th place, so Spurs will be expected to roll in this one. Of course, Kane’s health and the short turnaround following both teams’ Tuesday games could always put a monkey wrench in things, so as always, tune in!
How many players do you have going for your fantasy squads in the Wednesday and Thursday games? How have your teams fared so far in GW22? Be sure to join in the chat below as you watch the action!