Welcome back! Hopefully all of your favorite players survived the international break intact.
We have an action-packed Saturday slate to get through, so let’s dive in!
The Early Game
This one is going to be fun! Lots of high-flying talent on display from both sides with the likes of Andros Townsend, a resurgent Patrick Van Aanholt and a fully-healed Wilfried Zaha taking on Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Lionel Mess...er, Mo Salah! There should be plenty of fantasy points to be had here, particularly from the wings and attacking mids.
The Middle Games
I’ve talked myself into caring about this game. There is some good talent on display. We know all about Leicester’s star men (Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Riyad Mahrez), but Brigthon does have some interesting players of its own (Pascal Gross, Shane Duffy & Lewis Dunk, Glenn Murray and Jose Izquierdo). This should be an entertaining match and don’t be surprised if this game features one of the highest scoring fantasy players for GW32.
Two months ago, I’d have been more interested in watching an MLS preseason game than this contest. Today, however, we are looking at what could be the upset of the weekend. I think there is a 40% chance that Swansea upset a United team that is in a bit of disarray, much of it owing to Jose Mourinho’s poor man management skills. Paul Pogba looks disengaged, and Alexis Sanchez looks lost, while Marcus Rashford and Jamie Lingard look to be more than a little marginalized. There is a really good starting XI somewhere in this roster, but Mourinho may never find it.
This is a very important contest for both squads. I expect them to come out on the front foot and look for the win. A tie would not be the worst result, however, though both teams would be disappointed to have punted on a winnable match. Toon goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has been a revelation, and the duo of Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey should be motivated as they seek surprise inclusion into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup 23. This match could feature a really interesting striker matchup between Newcastle’s Islam Slimani (he’s getting healthier!) and Steve Mounie (he earns a ton of aerial duels won points!)
Junior Stanislas! Junior Stanislas! Junior Stanislas! and 21 others.
Hang on one second, while I take a bow. Many, many months ago I touted the credentials of the then unknown Young Pope of Burnley. I still like Burnley’s defense, I still like the Icelandic Gudmunsson, and I’m adding a new favorite (particularly in Togga): Aaron Lennon. For the Baggies, it’s a curtain call, their show is over. You can play Salomon Rondon if you are desperate, or maybe Craig Dawson. But it is o-v-e-r. Sad!
There is some talent on show, at least on paper. The Hammers should feature Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic, Michail Antonio and possibly Chicharito. The Saints should feature Ryan Bertrand, Cedric Soares, an attacking midfielder (James Ward-Prowse? Nathan Redmond? Sofiane Boufal?) and a prospective differential striker (Manolo Gabbiadini? Shane Long? Guido Carillo? Charlie Austin??). But, but, but there is decent potential for fantasy disappointment if both teams come in a bit demoralized, out of sync, and disengaged following the international break. I’m always in on Manuel Lanizini, but this game makes me nervous.
The Late Game
Call me crazy, but if I squint hard enough, I can see 2-2 here. Most of City’s players had heavy workloads during the international break, and Everton’s star goalkeeer, Jordan Pickford, looks to have cemented the England No 1 shirt for the World Cup and could be in inspired form. Everton look a bit freer following Gylfi Sigurdsson’s injury, and striker Cenk Tosun is on top form.
And live from your screen it’s Saturday chat liiiiive! Are you happy to be back in action, or are you counting down the days until the World Cup? I’m sure we all have a variety of thoughts to share following the international break, the final months of the EPL campaign, and the lead-up to the World Cup. All comments are welcome!