All eyes will be on the huge Liverpool v. Manchester City game, but there’s plenty of action this weekend, and it starts early with Norwich v. Watford on Friday. That game will have confirmed XIs ahead of the Fantrax deadline. Let’s run down the big happenings this week.
In Chelsea’s wild, wacky, thoroughly entertaining 4-4 home draw with Ajax, Frank Lampard stuck with most of his regulars. Fantasy managers will note the inclusion of Marcos Alonso in the XI, replacing Emerson Palmeiri from last weekend; as well, Mason Mount was removed in the second half with injury and will be a slight doubt this weekend.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Jorginho, Willian, Christian Pulisic, and Tammy Abraham played the full game. Other than Mount, it was Alonso and Mateo Kovacic who were removed in the 2nd half; the trio was replaced by Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Michy Batshuayi.
Chelsea play again at home on Saturday against Crystal Palace, affording a fair amount of rest time. Given Mount’s injury worry, Pulisic will likely earn another start, and Hudson-Odoi may get an opportunity in the XI. N’Golo Kante made the 18-man team midweek but did not play; he should come in for Jorginho who will miss out through suspension after picking up his 5th yellow card last weekend. Longtime injury absentee Antonio Rudiger remains unavailable.
In Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Anfield over Genk, Jurgen Klopp gave rests to offensive stars Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson, as Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita earned starts. Joe Gomez also started in place of Dejan Lovren in central defense, as did James Milner rather than Andrew Robertson at left back. Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Mo Salah played the full game. Keita, Origi, and Oxlade-Chamberlain subbed out in the 2nd half, replaced by Firmino, Mane and Robertson.
The team will have a fair amount of rest time before Sunday’s home clash with Manchester City, and Klopp should return to his preferred XI. Lovren would seem likely to return in place of the injured Joel Matip, but Klopp could go with Gomez. Jordan Henderson is a slight doubt with illness.
MANCHESTER CITY (WEDNESDAY)
As crazy as Chelea’s game was, Manchester City’s trip to Atalanta may have been even wilder. Ederson left injured, and his replacement Claudio Bravo was sent off with a red card, leaving Kyle Walker to play in the net for about the last 10 minutes! The Citizens must have been happy to escape with a 1-1 draw.
Pep Guardiola called on Gabriel Jesus to start, affording Sergio Aguero some rest; Kun came in for Jesus as a 2nd half sub. The inured David Silva missed out, as Riyad Mahrez started at wing, while Nicolas Otamendi started instead of John Stones in central defense. Otherwise most of the team was the regulars. Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Mendy were preferred as the wing back pair; Walker came in as a 2nd half sub.
The Citizens don’t get as much rest time as Liverpool, but since the game is Sunday rather than Saturday, it could be worse. David Silva and Ederson remain doubts for the weekend, as Bravo may be pressed into action again in goal. If Silva misses out, Ilkay Gundogan will likely start in midfield. Given that it is such a big game, Angelino will probably not be able to repeat his heroic assist of last weekend; Pep could turn to Mendy and Cancelo again, although Walker is another option.
Mauricio Pochettino made several changes to his line-up for the 4-0 win at Red Star Belgrade, as Eric Dier, Giovani Lo Celso, and Juan Foyth earned rare starts. Recovering from illness, Harry Kane returned to his usual place up spearheading the attack Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, and Lucas Moura were the big names on the bench; Eriksen came in as a 2nd half sub.
Saturday’s game at home against Sheffield United affords little in the way of rest time. It is an understatement that Poch has yet to find the right formula so far this season, and he will have plenty of decisions to make regarding formation and personnel. After missing last weekend due to yellow card accumulation suspension, Danny Rose should return at left-back. Right-back would seem to be Serge Aurier, but Foyth is an option. Dier will be expected to make way for Alderweireld in central defense, pairing with Davinson Sanchez as Jan Vertonghen is still injured. Kane, Alli and Son should keep their spots on offense, but whether they are joined by Eriksen and/or Lo Celso will be a question. Sissoko should get a start a bit deeper in midfield, but it remains to be seen if he will be joined by Ndombele and/or Harry Winks.
For the Gunners’ 1-1 draw at Guimaraes, Unai Emery played mostly a 2nd team. Nicolas Pepe, Sokratis and Kieran Tierney were the only usual starters to see the XI, while Alexandre Lacazette, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira came in as 2nd half subs. Dani Ceballos started but suffered injury, so he is a major doubt for the weekend.
Arsenal will benefit from a Wednesday rather than Thursday Europa fixture, allowing Emery more time to come up with a plan for Saturday’s big trip to Leicester. With Ceballos’ playmaking skills likely unavailable, it will be interesting to see if Mesut Ozil is called upon, or again ignored.
MANCHESTER UNITED (THURSDAY)
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer called on his stars for the 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade at Old Trafford, as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Ashley Young, Fred, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford were among the starters. Daniel James and David De Gea did not play at all.
The Red Devils welcome Brighton on Sunday, leaving little in the way of rest time, but with so many injuries, the regulars will likely keep starting. Young will not be available as he serves a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
In the 1-0 win at the Molineux over Slovan Bratislava, Nuno Espirito Santo utilized plenty of his stars, starting the likes of Rui Patricio, Conor Coady, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Vinagre, Matt Doherty, Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez. Jonny Otto, Ryan Bennett, and Patrick Cutrone came in as 2nd half subs.
Wolves welcome Aston Villa on Sunday, and Santo is not known for switching his Premier League line-ups often. Central defender Willy Boly is set to miss out through injury again, but attacker Diogo Jota was rested midweek and will be raring to go.
The big suspension news was the FA unexpectedly rescinding Son Heung-Min’s red card from last weekend and lifting the corresponding three game ban. Unfortunately, that is no comfort to the multitudes of fantasy managers who already dumped the Spurs’ winger from their teams. So if you want to add Son, go right ahead!
Otherwise, Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma misses out due to yellow card accumulation, while Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff serves the last of a three game red card ban, as does Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand.
- Everton’s Fabian Delph is a major doubt.
- Newcastle’s Fabian Schar is a coin toss.
- Sheffield United’s John Egan is a slight doubt.
- Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is a doubt.
- Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson seems set to miss out again.
- Crystal Palace’s James McArthur is a doubt, while Andros Townsend is likely to remain out.
- Everton’s Bernard and Andre Gomes will miss out; Gomes faces a very long recovery.
- Watford’s Tom Cleverly will be on the shelf again.
- West Ham’s Michail Antonio stays on the trainer’s table.
- Burnley’s Chris Wood is a doubt.
- Watford’s Danny Welbeck will miss out again through injury, but Troy Deeney has a chance to feature after a long injury absence.
What last minute decisions are you pondering to your fantasy teams? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments!