In an action-packed Saturday, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Southampton all helped their survival causes by grabbing three points from their affairs, while Stoke and Brighton each took some solace with a road point against a better team. Home losses by Huddersfield and Swansea were consequently much more painful.
On Sunday and Monday, the big boys take the focus, as four of the “Big Six” feature in the three games. Of the other two squads, while Watford may feel fairly safe at 38 points, things are still a bit more iffy for West Ham (35).
West Ham v. Manchester City (early game)
The standout stat for me in this one is West Ham’s goal differential at London Stadium (-1) against Manchester City’s away mark (+28), meaning that this really will be expected to feel more like a home game for the visitors. The Hammers have shipped six while scoring only three goals in their past three games, Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez each netting once.
The Citizens, meanwhile, have rebounded nicely from their Champions League and Premiership defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively, with a pair of resounding victories: 3-1 at Tottenham and 5-0 v. Swansea. The only question, it would seem, is who will be the standout performer amongst the starry likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Raheem Sterling et al.?
Manchester United v. Arsenal (late game)
Arsenal come in with heads hanging low following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid at the Emirates in the opener of the Europa League semifinals. The Gunners also enter as the league’s most Jekyll and Hyde team (second best at home, 13th away). Meanwhile, Manchester United has allowed the fewest home goals (8) in the league. With their minds on the second leg in Madrid, and perhaps with key players getting rest, the signs are really not pointing for a result from Arsenal here.
With Arsene Wenger nearing his departure, plenty of eyes will be on Alexis Sanchez as he faces his former manager. While the Chilean has struggled for much of his Manchester tenure, he has shown up with two goals and three assists in his past four appearances in all competitions. Paul Pogba has also chipped in with two goals and two assists in that time span, while Romelu Lukaku will be aiming to silence the critics who point to his horrid goal scoring record against top competition. Of course, Jose Mourinho would love nothing better than seeing Wenger leave Old Trafford with his head down.
A few weeks ago, Tottenham was 10 points clear of Chelsea for the vital fourth place spot. However, pressure has piled considerably as the Blues’ victory at Swansea cut the deficit to a mere two points. Successive losses to Manchester City and Manchester United (the latter in the FA Cup), combined with an earlier Champions League collapse against Juventus, have soured the mood for Mauricio Pocchetino’s club.
The visit of Watford to London Stadium cannot come soon enough for Spurs, as the Hornets have been outscored 20-2 in their past 10 away league games (nine losses, one draw). The capital side are clear favorites for all three points, and hordes of fantasy owners will be rooting on Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane, Hon-Seung Min, Jan Vertonghen and company. Can Tottenham take care of business and restore distance from surging Chelsea, or is another disappointing “Totteringham” letdown in the works?
How are your fantasy teams looking so far this weekend? What players do you need to perform? Which teams are you cheering on? What plans are you already hatching for the season finale? Let us know in the comments and join in the chat as you watch!