So the Merseyside and Manchester derbies are the bread, and the filling in between is the half-dozen other games. So grab a jar of mustard, a bottle of Mane’s, maybe some pickle relish or giardiniera, and go get your mouth around this wonderful Premier League “Dagwood” sandwich, folks!
So, um, you may have heard that Mo Salah is very, very doubtful for this one. I dropped him from my Fantrax and Official teams, and while I’m holding on to him in my Togga draft league (I’m not completely crazy, alright?), he’s been banished to the bench. Jurgen Klopp has complained about the scheduling, something real that fantasy managers can agree upon. With this being at Goodison Park and the visitors having their minds on the midweek Champions League tilt at Manchester City, this one could go any which way.
The Eagles need this one a lot more than the Cherries, but the home side certainly wouldn’t mind getting the three points that likely would push them to safety. Junior Stanislas’ season-ending injury hurts (including those that had him in their Official and Fantrax teams, like me), but Jermain Defoe’s return to health and goal-scoring form make that a wash. With Christian Benteke likely missing out from his own injury, the visitors may have to make do without a striker.
These two promoted sides have done well to sit outside the drop zone, but this is still a six pointer in the scheme of things, as safety is far from assured. Glenn Murray will look to shake off his listless PK that was saved last weekend, and he should get plenty of chances against one of the league’s worst traveling teams: Huddersfield’s -21 away goal differential (10 for, 31 against) is better than only Stoke.
Leicester at home stands as the clear favorite, giving Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy owners plenty of confidence. Then again, the Foxes don’t keep too many clean sheets (eight thus far), so Matt Ritchie and company should feel they can nick a goal or two.
The only thing Stoke has going for it is that this game is at home. Then again, are the Potters’ fans going to be loud, proud and meaningful against the rampaging Spurs? December’s reverse fixture was 5-1, so if you don’t have investment among the quartet of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane, well, what are you thinking?
The second mid-table battle (a la Leicester v. Newcastle) gives us another game where the only surprise would be a blowout. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood are absolutely on fire for the Clarets, netting four goals each in the past four games, accounting for all of the team’s eight goals. Meanwhile, Watford has allowed only three goals total in its past quartet of home games, notching two clean sheets. So, what gives?
There’s going to be plenty of drama in this desperation six pointer as 20th place hosts 18th place, but this probably isn’t going to set too many viewer ratings records. I’m not sure that even Darren Moore and Carlos Carvalhal want to watch.
Manchester City v. Manchester United (late game)
This could be a Manchester derby for the ages: First place against second place... City possibly clinching the league title and parading triumphant in the faces of their arch-rivals. City will also want to erase the stench of their 3-0 Champions League quarterfinal loss at Anfield during the week... but at the same time they must have an eye toward the second leg. Sergio Aguero may be ready to replace Gabriel Jesus, but will Pep Guardiola rest any of the exhausted regulars? Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, would certainly prefer second or third to fourth place, so United will play with purpose.
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