For those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Wicca Solstice, the Zoroastrian Zarathosht Diso, the Festivus airings of grievances and feats of strength, or any of the holidays around this time of the year, it’s a wonderfully joyous period.
For EPL fans, many get to stay home on holiday/vacation and watch the games, making it a especially fun time. For fantasy managers, of course, it can be tough to predict which stars will do well and which will perform poorly. Even worse, there’s the ultimate coal-in-the-stocking feeling suffered when a star is stuck on the bench to rest, so let’s start with a rundown of the schedule.
West Ham missed out on GW-18, so the Hammers will be fresh as daisies for GW19. Every other team (including Liverpool, which was away in Qatar winning the Club World Cup on Saturday) has at least Sunday to Thursday to recover.
So the worry in Week 19 comes not so much from the recovery time between GW18 and 19, but more from EPL managers thinking ahead to the short spells across GW19-20-21. The stronger teams with more depth will use their reinforcements, but even the smaller sides will have to think about metering minutes and turning to their regular back-ups.
REST TIME BETWEEN WEEKS 19 & 20
Medium Rest (Thursday/Sunday): Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sheffield United
Minimal Rest (Thursday/Saturday or Friday/Sunday): Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich, Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham, Watford, Wolves
REST TIME ACROSS GW19-21
Of course, there’s also the issue of overall congestion between Weeks 19-21. Overall, Sheffield United and Liverpool get the biggest spread from December 26 through January 2, while Manchester City and Wolves have the least.
Maximum Gap (Thursday to Thursday): Sheffield United and Liverpool
Medium Gap (Thursday to Wednesday): Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich, Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham, Watford
Smallest Gap (Friday to Wednesday): Manchester City, Wolves
Arsenal defender Sokratis and Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck return after serving one-game suspensions for yellow card accumulation.
Son Heung-Min begins his three-game suspension (unless the ban is overturned on appeal... again) for a violent conduct red card in game-week 18.
West Ham defender Ryan Fredericks, Arsenal defender Calum Chambers, Bournemouth Defender Diego Rico, Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick, Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, and Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure will serve one-game suspensions in game-week 19 for yellow card accumulation.
[FA Suspension information came via the FA site.].
The automatic one-game ban for five yellow cards expires in Week 19, so this is the list of players who are currently on four yellow cards and will be at risk of missing GW20 if they are carded in GW19:
Arsenal: Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, James Tarkowski
Everton: Tom Davies, Richarlison
Leicester: Caglar Soyuncu
Liverpool: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Manchester City: Rodrigo, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva
Manchester United: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Norwich: Max Aarons, Sam Byram, Kenny McLean
Sheffield United: George Baldock, Chris Basham, John Lundstram, Oliver Norwood
Southampton: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Tottenham: Eric Dier, Harry Winks
Watford: Kiko Femenia
West Ham: Aaron Cresswell, Robert Snodgrass
Wolves: Jonny, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho
[Yellow card information came via the statistics section of the official Premier League site.]
Some of the bigger and newer injuries:
- Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli is a slight doubt.
- Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings has missed the past two games with injury, but should be available this game. Available to start or feature only from the bench, of course, will be the question.
- Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta is a slight doubt.
- Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann is a slight doubt.
- Everton midfielder Morgan Shneiderlin has missed the past two games with injury, and is likely to miss out again.
- Leicester midfielder Harvey Barnes is a slight doubt.
- Liverpool central defender Dejan Lovren missed the past game with injury, and is likely to miss out again. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is confirmed out for at least the next two matches.
- Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is a slight doubt. Fellow Sky Blue mid David Silva has missed the past two games with injury, and likely to miss out again.
- Newcastle defender Jetro Willems is a slight doubt.
- Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo missed the previous game with injury, but is expected to be available for this game.
- West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini has missed the past five games, but has a chance to be available for this one. It may be too early to ask for a start, though.
[Injury information came via the official fantasy Premier League site.]
- Tottenham v. Brighton (early game; XIs available ahead of Fantrax deadline)
- Aston Villa v. Norwich
- Bournemouth v. Arsenal
- Chelsea v. Southampton
- Crystal Palace v. West Ham
- Everton v. Burnley
- Sheffield United v. Watford
- Manchester United v. Newcastle United (late-ish game)
- Leicester v. Liverpool (late game)
Wolves v. Manchester City
What injury problems and line-up rumors have you biting your fingernails? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news below in the comments section! Then come back to join us for the live fun...