The bulk of this week’s fantasy attention will be centered on the seemingly lopsided mismatch between Liverpool and Fulham. And rightly so: the team with the league’s #2 defense and #3 offense will play host to the team at the very foot of the table. Fixtures like that hold the promise of big fantasy returns for the home team’s assets all across the pitch.
But in real life, the jewel in this game week’s crown is surely the Manchester derby, which will play out at the Etihad on Sunday. While perhaps not quite as dominant as the juggernaut City side of last season’s campaign, this year’s squad is still plenty fearsome. They are clear of second-place Chelsea by two points, they lay claim to the league’s best offense and its best defense, they have an EPL goal differential of + 29, and they have suffered just a single defeat across all competitions so far this season.
Anyone who has seen both teams play might expect City’s fluid offense and stingy defense to crush Manchester United. The Red Devils sit in 7th with a goal differential of just + 1. They’ve given up over four times as many goals as City, and they’ve scored just a little more than half as many.
But Mourinho has a knack for finding ways to win. Three times in their last six games United have come from behind to steal victories, and often they’ve done it when the other team was playing better than they were. Take Wednesday’s Champions League match against Juventus, for example. Down 0-1 heading into the final minutes of regulation, substitute Juan Mata scored against the run of play to tie things up before Marouanne Fellaini (also a sub) caused enough confusion in Juve’s box to create an own-goal winner in injury time.
Can José grind out another result against a superior opponent when his team travels across town to take on the Citizens? We shall see. In the meantime, here’s the team news you need to know in order to set your fantasy squads for Game Week 12.
Ashley Richards and Kenneth Zohore are Neil Warnock’s only new injury concerns, with both expected to miss out tomorrow. Warnock will also have to do without the services of Harry Arter, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Chris Hughton does not expect Pascal Gross or Davy Propper to be fit until after the international break, but says that David Button is now “very close” to a return. Alireza Jahanbakhsh has not trained this week after being withdrawn with a hamstring problem late in the GW 11 fixture with Everton, so Hughton does not think he’ll be available to face the Bluebirds.
Danny Williams (knee) was not expected to be available until after the international break, but his recovery is ahead of schedule. He and Erik Durm (groin) could both be ready to rejoin the squad for GW12.
Carlos Sánchez has now undergone surgery for the knee injury he suffered in the Carabao Cup match on 9/26. Jack Wilshere is expected to recover from an ankle injury during the international break. Andriy Yarmolenko (Achilles), Winston Reid (knee), and Manuel Lanzini (knee) are all long-term absentees. Mark Noble will serve the final game of his 3-match ban tomorrow.
Claud Puel will be forced to face Burnley without two of his biggest stars, as James Maddison and Harry Maguire will both miss out with knee injuries. After undergoing surgery on a lower leg injury, Daniel Amartey will be out until February. Puel will be heartened by the fact that Matty James has returned to training though.
Stephen Ward and Nick Pope remain long-term absentees for Burnley, and Ben Gibson will miss out after undergoing minor surgery this week to repair a hernia. James Tarkowski is a doubt with a groin injury, but Phil Bardsley (knock) and Jack Cork (ankle) should be available tomorrow.
Ciaran Clark has recovered from illness and could feature this weekend. Jonjo Shelvey (muscle), Yoshinori Muto (muscle), and Jamaal Lascelles (shoulder) are all serious doubts for tomorrow after picking up injuries in the win over Watford last week. Florian Lejeune remains out after undergoing surgery for a serious knee injury.
Josh King has returned to training after missing the last two game weeks due to an ankle injury, and Eddie Howe will make a late decision on his fitness for the tilt with Newcastle.
Mark Hughes has relatively few injury concerns ahead of the clash with the Hornets. Wesley Hoedt is a doubt with a foot infection (gross!), but Mario Lemina is expected to be available for selection despite a thigh strain.
Troy Deeney is fit to feature and could wrestle the #9 role away from Isaac Success, who has enjoyed a run of starts during Deeney’s absence. Sebastian Prodl will miss out for Watford with a leg injury, and Darryl Janmaat remains unavailable as he recovers from a knee injury. Tom Cleverly has returned to training after recovering from Achilles surgery, but the match at St. Mary’s Stadium probably comes too soon for him to feature. Etienne Capoue will watch from the sidelines as he serves a 1-match ban for yellow card accumulation.
Connor Wickham (thigh) and Joel Ward (knock) are doubts, and Christian Benteke remains out with a knee injury. Scott Dann has returned to training but remains short of match fitness.
Victor Wanyama (knee) and Eric Dier (thigh) have returned to training and should be available to face the Eagles. Moussa Dembele (ankle), Vincent Janssen (foot), Danny Rose (groin), and Jan Vertonghen (hamstring) all face prolonged absences.
Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren both missed the mid-week Champions League tie through illness, but they should be available for the match on Sunday. Alex Oxalade-Chamberlain is a long-term absentee. Jurgen Klopp has passed fit Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Gomez. Note: there are rumors circulating in the media that Andrew Robertson has been training separately from the team. The meaning of these rumors for his starting status in uncertain, as is the validity of the rumors themselves.
Joe Bryan is expected to miss out with a hamstring injury, and Kevin McDonald is a doubt with a knock.
Chelsea vs Everton
Mauricio Sarri’s only fitness concern is Cesc Fabregas, who missed the Europa League victory over BATE yesterday through illness.
Marco Silva says that Jonjoe Kenny and Richarlison are both doubts with knocks, and Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club. Phil Jagielka and James McCarthy have returned to full training.
Unai Emery was handed a setback with the news that Danny Welbeck suffered a broken ankle in the 0-0 draw with Sporting CP. Welbeck will likely be sidelined for months. Konstantinos Mavropanos will also miss the next few weeks with a groin injury. Laurent Koscielny continues to build match fitness after recovering from an Achilles injury, and Mohamed Elneny is close to a return from a thigh injury. Stephan Lichtsteiner (muscle) and Nacho Monreal (hamstring) are doubts.
Nuno Espírito Santo has no injury concerns ahead of the trip to the Emirates; he has passed Diogo Jota fit.
Pep Guardiola has no fresh injury news this week; Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (Achilles), and Eliaquim Mangala all remain absent.
Diogo Dalot and Antonio Valencia look unlikely for the Manchester derby, but José Mourinho looks set to welcome Romelu Lukaku back to the squad. The Belgian suffered a knock on 11/2, but has since returned to training. Note: there are late rumors that Paul Pogba could be a doubt with an unspecified minor injury.
What players are in your thoughts this weekend? Are you loading up on Liverpool assets? Are you avoiding the Manchester derby, or do you see fantasy potential there? Come on in and join us for late-breaking news in the comments section, and for the frantic scramble to lock in lineups before the deadline (the early game this week is CAR v BRI, so you’ll have a peek at their starting 11s in time to make adjustments if you’re interested in fantasy targets from those teams).