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EPL Week 31 Fantasy Pre-Deadline and Sat / Sun Live Chat

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Only five games? Oh well, let’s do our best with what we have!

Gonzalo Higuain is challenged by Conor Coady - Chelsea FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Gonzalo Higuaín is a doubt for Sunday as he recovers from a virus.
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ten teams out — that’s a lot of players who can’t produce for you. Among the squads actually taking part this weekend, what’s the important pre-deadline news you need to know?

Fantasy managers in the US should remember that daylight savings time has shortened the time difference between UK and most of the US, so you get an extra hour of sleep before Saturday morning’s deadlines and matches. The UK “springs ahead” itself on Sunday March 31.

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SATURDAY

All three Saturday games will have starting line-ups available ahead of the Fantrax deadline.

Bournemouth v. Newcastle

Defender Adam Smith came off injured in the first half of the win at Huddersfield, replaced by Nathaniel Clyne. David Brooks came off in the 65th minute, but according to Eddie Howe, it was due to fatigue rather than injury. At Howe’s presser ahead of this weekend, he confirmed that Smith will miss out again, as will midfielder Dan Gosling and winger Junior Stanislas; Gosling has missed the past two games and Stanislas has not played the last five tilts. Ryan Fraser sat out training a few days ago, but is expected to be fine. It seems likely that there will be a near-repeat of last weekend’s XI, with the lone exception being Clyne in place of Smith.

Rafa Benitez shared that four Magpies will be out: central defender Fabian Schar due to suspension, and fellow central back Jamaal Lascelles, midfielder Sean Longstaff, and back-up keeper Robert Elliott from injury. In better news, central defender Ciaran Clark is available after last playing in mid-January. Benitez hinted that Federico Fernandez could feature, but left it unclear as to whether Florian Lejeune would continue, or whether Clark would slot in immediately. Following Longstaff’s injury the prior week, Midfielder Ki Sung-yeung enjoyed his first start since December in the 3-2 win over Everton and will expect to continue in the XI.

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Burnley v. Leicester

Neither Sean Dyche nor Brendan Rodgers shared new injury concerns at their presser. Following three straight losses — 4-2 at Liverpool, 3-1 v. Crystal Palace, and 2-0 at Newcastle — there may be the temptation for Dyche to tinker with Burnley’s XI, particularly in a defensive-minded direction.

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West Ham v. Huddersfield

Felipe Anderson was yanked at halftime against Cardiff, but that appears to have been due to performance or tactics rather than injury. In Manuel Pellegrini’s presser, he seemed to indicate that Marko Arnautovic is likely to get a start, which would be his first since late January, and would probably push Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez back to the bench.

Jan Siewert shared several injury concerns at his presser. He ruled out midfielder Jonathan Hogg while sounding unsure about defender Terence Kongolo, but he was more hopeful regarding defender Erik Durm. Following his three-game suspension, defender Tommy Smith is likely to make a return to the XI.

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SUNDAY

Fulham v. Liverpool (early game)

Caretaker manager Scott Parker was mum regarding injury news ahead of the home clash, leaving it unlikely that influential attacking midfielder Andre Schurrle will pass fit enough to start following injury and illness.

The Reds have had a good amount of time to rest following the impressive 3-1 Champions League win at Bayern Munich that put ALL FOUR PREMIER LEAGUE TEAMS through to the quarterfinal round. (Woo hoo!) On top of that, this game is away from Anfield, and Liverpool is in a tight battle for the league title with Manchester City where every game — and goal — is vital. Those factors leave me hopeful that the main core of stars — Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Alisson — will start again.

If there is Reds’ rotation, I expect it to come in midfield, where Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Georginio Wijnaldum started in Germany. Henderson came off due to injury in the first half, and has been ruled out for the London trip. That leaves Fabinho, Adam Lallana, and/or Naby Keita hoping to nab a spot in the XI, with Keita being the least likely of the bunch due to his recent physical issue. After returning from another injury spell recently, central defender Dejan Lovren made the 18-man squad against Burnley and Munich, but failed to appear from the bench; Joel Matip will probably continue alongside VVD, but it would not be a surprise to see Klopp turn to Lovren.

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Everton v. Chelsea (late game)

Marco Silva reported at his presser that wing defenders Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are both fit. Of course, only the latter is likely to make the XI. In central defense, Phil Jagielka is injured, and Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club, so Yerry Mina should earn his first start of 2019.

For the visitors, Gonzalo Higuaín stayed home midweek with fever, and Maurizio Sarri rested Ross Barkley, Eden Hazard, David Luiz, and Emerson Palmieri entirely during Thursday’s 5-0 Europa League victory at Dyanmo Kiev. Kepa, Antonio Rudiger, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, and Willian were among the regulars who started; Willian and Kante came off in the second half, while Pedro, Jorginho, and Cesar Azpilicueta saw action as subs. Olivier Giroud netted a hat trick, so he could be rewarded with another start if Gonzalo Higuaín has not recovered in time. In addition to the uncertainty regarding Higgy, the usual selection questions — Pedro or Wilian; Emerson or Alonso; Barkley, Kovacic, or Loftus-Cheek? — will surround Sarri’s squad.

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What last-minute decisions are you agonizing over for your fantasy teams? Will you be watching for the confirmed lineups at deadline time? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments! Then join the live chat as the action unfolds!

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