It sure is a bit strange. Those of us of an age clearly remember all the hoopla back when 1999 turned to 2000, ushering in the new millennium (calendar nerds will insist upon 2001, but the rest of us went wild over the big round number). It wasn’t quite as festive as that when we said goodbye to the Aughts and welcomed the Teens in 2010, but there was a certain oomph to it, something different and special from any old regular New Year. This time around, though, as the Twenty Twenties decade kicks off, there really doesn’t seem to be much fanfare surrounding it. Rather, it just feels like any other yearly turnover, and I don’t reckon just why.
However, for the EPL and fantasy leagues, it’s impossible not to be bursting at maximum excitement. We could hardly ask for anything more. It’s always fun as the festive period ends and now we get an overflowing slate of nine games on New Year’s Day, followed by the final fixture the following day featuring a face-off between two of the league’s best sides. Thankfully, most of the teams have had plenty of rest, so we shouldn’t have to worry too much about squad rotation as we have had to in recent weeks.
REST TIME BETWEEN GW20 & 21
Fair Amount of Rest (Sunday/Wednesday): Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Wolves
Plenty of Rest (Saturday/Wednesday or Sunday/Thursday): the other 16 teams
The five yellow card ban expired in Week 19, so we don’t have to worry about that (at least for a while).
After picking up that fifth yellow in Week 19, there are several players who were suspended for card accumulation in Week 20 and now are available to return in Week 21: Tottenham’s Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko, and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell.
Otherwise, Watford’s Adrian Mariappa serves a one game ban for a non-violent red card (two yellows), and Son Heung-Min serves the final game of his three match ban for a violent conduct red card. [SOURCE NOTE: the “Suspensions” section of The FA website.]
Some of the bigger and/or newer injury news:
- After missing Week 20 with injury, Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt is still unlikely to pass fit for Week 21.
- After being subbed off in the second half of Week 20 due to injury, Watford defender Craig Cathcart is a doubt for Week 21. Midfield teammate Will Hughes is in the same situation.
- After featuring only briefly in Week 20 due to injury, Arsenal defender Calum Chambers is a slight doubt for Week 21, while fellow defender Sokratis will miss out. Midfield teammate Granit Xhaka is a slight doubt due to illness after missing Week 20, and forward Gabriel Martinelli is also a slight doubt due to injury. Defender Hector Bellerin has a chance to return after missing the past few weeks due to injury.
- After missing a few weeks with injury, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has a chance to pass fit for Week 21.
- After being subbed off in the second half of Week 20, Newcastle forward Joelinton is a slight doubt for Week 21 with injury. Defender teammate Fabian Schar may face the dreaded game time decision to injury.
- Bournemouth forward Joshua King is a coin toss in Week 21 due to injury.
- After missing Week 20 with injury, Sheffield United defender John Lundstram is a slight doubt for Week 21.
- After missing Week 20 with injury, Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay looks set to face a few more weeks on the trainer’s table.
- After missing the past several weeks with injury, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings has a chance to pass fit for Week 21. After being subbed off in the second half of Week 20 with injury, Aston Villa defender Matt Targett is a slight doubt for Week 21.
- After not playing at all in Week 20 following two appearances off the bench in Weeks 18 & 19 after a lengthy injury layoff, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba reportedly did not travel with the team (source note: Samuel Luckhurst’s Twitter feed ), though it is unclear whether that means he will definitively not play or if he will merely travel later to join the Red Devils on his own.
- After missing Week 20 with injury, Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic is a slight doubt for Week 21.
- Brighton v. Chelsea (early game; XIs available before Fantrax deadline)
- Burnley v. Aston Villa (early game; XIs available before Fantrax deadline)
- Newcastle United v. Leicester
- Southampton v. Tottenham
- Watford v. Wolves
- Manchester City v. Everton (late-ish game)
- Norwich v. Crystal Palace (late-ish game)
- West Ham v. Bournemouth (late-ish game)
- Arsenal v. Manchester United (late game)
- Liverpool v. Sheffield United
[SOURCE NOTE: Injury and fixture information came via the official fantasy Premier League site.]
Which games are you watching as an EPL fan? What fixtures are crucial instead for your fantasy team? Are you harboring any rest and rotation fears? Please share any late-breaking news ahead of the fantasy deadline in the comments section, and then come back and join us for the chat as the action unfolds live!