Game-week 14 featured exciting derby matches and spectacular goals, but there’s no time to stop and catch your breath. We’re firmly in the midst of the festive period, so the fixtures are coming thick and fast. The next round of games starts today, so if you haven’t squared away your fantasy teams for Game Week 15, you’d better get on it before the deadline.
Read on for all the team news you need to know ahead of today’s transfer deadline.
Predictably, Bournemouth fell to the Manchester City juggernaut over the weekend, even though the Sky Blues lined up without several of their biggest stars. Bournemouth were still outclassed by every measure, but their performance was spirited and scrappy. If they can bring that same edge to bear for the visit of Huddersfield today, they have a good shot at leaving the stadium with a result.
Although Huddersfield had taken 7 points from their prior three games, on Saturday a couple of headed goals from Brighton were enough to see them leave Kirklees Stadium empty-handed. A straight red for Steve Mounie forced the Terriers to play a man down, and Brighton were able to take advantage. The loss dropped Huddersfield to 17th place, so they’ll look to put more distance between them and the drop zone when they take the field today.
Bournemouth: Adam Smith
Huddersfield: Chris Lowe, Steve Mounie (3-game suspension)
Bournemouth: Dan Gosling
Brighton came from behind to hand Huddersfield a defeat on Saturday through goals from Shane Duffy and Florin Andone. They’ll be happy with the result, but the victory loses some of its luster when one considers that the Terriers played shorthanded for an hour. Solly March provided both assists, and could be a slick differential fantasy play for the visit of Palace.
Speaking of Palace... finally! At long last, Palace notched its first home win of the campaign. And what a display it was for the Selhurst Park crowd. The Eagles were electric, with Wilifried Zaha in especially fine form. But surely Andros Townsend’s goal was the most memorable moment of the match:
Brighton: Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Dale Stephens (suspension)
Crystal Palace: Christian Benteke
Crystal Palace: None
West Ham crushed Newcastle on Saturday, with all of their front four performing well. Javiér Hernandez capitalized on a rare start by netting a brace, and Felipe Anderson continued his purple patch with a fourth goal in as many games. The Hammers will attempt to secure their first back-to-back league wins in almost two years when the Bluebirds land at London Stadium today.
In last Friday’s lone game, Cardiff staged a comeback against Wolves to climb out of the relegation zone and into 16th place. It was a gritty performance, and the Bluebirds’ first goal was a scrappy affair in front of the Wolves’s net that Aron Gunnarsson finished from short range. But this beauty from Junior Hoilett sealed the deal in the 77th minute:
West Ham: Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sánchez, Winston Reid, Andriy Yarmolenko,
Cardiff: Ashley Richards, Kenneth Zohore
West Ham: Aaron Cresswell, Fabián Balbuena
Cardiff: Greg Cunningham
Watford vs Manchester City
Watford were dominated by Leicester on Saturday, losing 0-2. Etienne Capoue was shown straight red for a two-footed tackle on Kelechi Iheanacho. But rather than detail the action on the pitch, I want to tell you a different story about that game. The Watford fan group, called the 1881 Movement, raised over £2500 for two banners to honor fallen Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others who died in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in October. Upon seeing the banners in the crowd, the Vichai family immediately made all food and drink free for the visiting fans.
The banners only cost £800, so the 1881 Movement donated the rest to the the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation, which serves the underprivileged in the Leicester area. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Kelechi Iheanacho is expected to support Watford’s appeal of Capoue’s red card by admitting that the player didn’t touch him. Amazing.
Manchester City bettered Bournemouth 3-1 despite the absence of many of their first-choice stars. The victory was pedestrian, and they clearly missed David Silva’s ability to link possession to end-product (until he was subbed in and did just that — assisting the 3rd goal’s assist). But the fact that they still scored 3 and won comfortably must have Watford (and every other team) chewing their nails.
Watford: Etienne Capoue (suspension)
Manchester City: Claudio Bravo, Kevin De Bruyne, Eliaquim Mangala, Benjamin Mendy
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero, Oleksandr Zinchenko
Burnley’s loss to Crystal Palace extended their winless streak to a dismal seven. Alarm bells are ringing at Turf Moor, and manager Sean Dyche says, “Eye of the tiger has gone.” In fact, Arrrgh, Joe Hart, Arrrgh, was one of Burnley’s few bright spots on the day — his 7 saves prevented the 0-2 scoreline from becoming something even more catastrophic (and if that doesn’t impress you, Nick Pope is in training and nearing fitness). Kevin Long also played an important role in blunting Palace’s onslaught, but he may now have to step aside for the fit-again James Tarkowski. It will take more than Tarkowski’s return to stop the rot though. With only 4 goals scored in their last 7 games, they’ll need to figure out how to reinvigorate their offense. That will be a tall order today, against one of the league’s most elite defenses.
It took a dramatic last-gasp winner from substitute Divock Origi for Liverpool to snatch all the points from Everton on Sunday, and fantasy studs Mo Salah and Sadio Mané were fantasy duds. But in the (very, very) end the Reds did get the result they needed, and they remain hot on the heels of league-leaders ManCity. They won’t want to give up any ground in that race when they travel to Turf Moor tomorrow.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Stephen Ward
Liverpool: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Burnley: Robbie Brady
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané, Andrew Robertson, Dominic Solanke
Everton vs Newcastle
Against Liverpool, Everton were robbed of a deserved point by a freak goal at the death that resulted from a Jordan Pickford blunder (tipping a ball into play instead of over the bar). It was bitter medicine for a team that had successfully stifled one of the league’s most lethal offenses right up to the 96th minute while also creating some genuine scoring chances (including one that woulda been easier to net than to miss). The Toffees will look forward to taking out their frustrations on the Geordies when Newcastle visit today.
Newcastle’s five game win streak came to an end at the hands of West Ham on Saturday, and rather one-sided it was at that. They sit just three points above the relegation zone, so they must now figure out how to energize their feeble offense if they expect to improve their position by taking points off the Toffees today.
Newcastle: Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie (suspension)
Newcastle: Florian Lejeune
Although Saturday’s match with Chelsea ended in defeat, Fulham did not make things easy for the Blues. Only some spectacular goalkeeping kept the Cottagers off the scoresheet, and the Blues failed to take charge of the match until their second goal effectively killed off the game. But even then, Fulham continued to press the attack, and new manager Claudio Ranieri was pleased with his side despite the loss: “I think we played much better today than in the Southampton match.” (their first win under his management) Although Fulham still sit in 20th place, a win today could lift them out of the relegation zone.
Leicester’s victory over Watford on Saturday extended their undefeated streak to six games across all competitions. Jamie Vardy and James Maddison did the scoring: Vardy through a penalty, and Maddison by skillfully bringing down a long ball before dancing past his marker to fire past Ben Foster. It was a comfortable win, and Leicester will look to continue their good form at Craven Cottage.
Fulham: Kevin MacDonald
Leicester: Daniel Amartey, Rashid Ghezzal, Matty James, Harry Maguire
Fulham: Andre Schürrle
Leicester: Jamie Vardy
Wolverhampton vs Chelsea
The Wolves have been skidding lately. The loss at Cardiff means that they’re coming up on two months since their last win. They’re 0-1-5 over that time frame, and while the draw vs Arsenal was encouraging, losses at the hands of bottom-half sides Brighton, Huddersfield, and Cardiff are ringing alarm bells. Wolves never had an explosive offense, but now their defense seems to have lost the plot — they’ve conceded 11 goals over those last six games, keeping clean sheets in none. Fantasy stud Matt Doherty is duly concerned: “Once you start losing games, it’s a slippery slope. We are worried. Coming into the season we had high hopes, and we are a good team. We should be winning here [at Cardiff]; we should be beating Huddersfield at home.” Unfortunately for Doherty and his teammates, one can’t help but think that Chelsea will only pile more more misery upon the Wolves.
Chelsea recovered from the Nov. 24 loss to Tottenham — their first defeat under Maurizio Sarri — by defeating Fulham at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps improbably, it was Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who did the business, the latter climbing off the bench to deliver the coup de grace. The Blues will look to keep rebuilding momentum at Molineux tomorrow.
Wolves: Jonny, Ruben Neves (suspension)
Chelsea: Ross Barkley, Victor Moses
Against Southampton, Manchester United fell just short of yet another come-from-behind victory. The draw left them without a league win in the last month. Afterwards, José Mourinho rejected the notion that his system could be to blame, instead criticizing his players’ lack of hunger, singling out Marcus Rashford as the sole “mad dog” among his squad. It’s an open secret that there is discord in the locker room, and fan sentiment is turning against José too. He’ll need to right the ship quickly, or else his job at Old Trafford will become increasingly imperiled. A win over Arsenal would be a fine way to jumpstart a turnaround.
But Arsenal are on a 19-game unbeaten street across all competitions. They haven’t suffered a league loss since falling to Chelsea on the second weekend of the season (their only other loss was to City the week prior), and their latest win was an epic derby victory over Tottenham that has Gunner fans gushing about glory days. Belief and intent are high, so José’s work will be cut out for him when the Gunners come to call tomorrow.
Manchester United: Victor Lindelof, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young (suspension)
Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Danny Welbeck, Granit Xhaka (suspension)
Manchester United: Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly (doghouse), and anyone else Jose wants to blame for his last mistake.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
Tottenham vs Southampton
Tottenham’s loss in the hard-fought match with Arsenal surely left them crestfallen. Leading at the intermission, Tottenham were simply blown away in the second half by a rampant Gunners side who now sit ahead of them in the table. How the Spurs respond tomorrow will be crucial.
Yesterday, Southampton sacked manager Mark Hughes after Saturday’s draw with Manchester United extended the Saints’ winless streak to 9 league matches. Assistant coach Kelvin Davis will take charge of the team with exactly two days rest/training to make a difference against Tottenham. Traveling to Wembley to face a Spurs side that is smarting from a derby loss will be a tough way for him to start... Sort of like Dad tossing you into the lake to sink or swim — after tying the ropes extra tight.
Tottenham: Moussa Dembele, Davinson Sanchez, Vincent Janssen, Jan Vertonghen (suspension)
Southampton: Mario Lemina (suspension), Sam Gallagher
Tottenham: Kieran Trippier, Erik Lamela
Southampton: Ryan Bertrand, Danny Ings, Shane Long, Matt Targett, Michael Obafemi,
HOW TO WATCH EPL GAMES THIS WEEKEND (in U.S.)
Dates: December 3-4
Available Broadcast TV:
NBC Southampton v. Manchester United
Telemundo Arsenal v. Spurs, Liverpool vs Everton
Available Cable TV:
NBCSN Watford vs Manchester City, Manchester United vs Arsenal
Universo Watford vs Manchester City, Manchester United vs Arsenal
NBC Sports Gold Bournemouth vs Huddersfield, West Ham vs Cardiff, Brighton vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Everton vs Newcastle, Fulham vs Leicester, Wolves vs Chelsea, Spurs vs Southampton
What do you need to know before pulling the trigger on your next move? What matches and players will you be watching? After play starts: How are your fantasy sides doing? In what position do you need a replacement, and what’s your budget? Whose one-week performance is worth barn-door nomination?