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EPL Week 35 Pre-Deadline & Live Chat

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There will be plenty of action this upcoming double game week. Find out what you need to know before the deadline, then stick around as the games unfold!

Fernando Llorente speaks to Lucas Moura - Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
With Harry Kane out, will one of this pair get two starts in the double game week, or will they split the duty?
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

14 games Saturday through Wednesday means twice the fun for eight teams. Let’s start with the relevant story lines for that octet... Scratch that — Let’s start with a septet since (sorry) Brighton is dead to me following their ruinous performances in the recent double game week.

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DOUBLE GAME TEAMS

Manchester City

The Citizens kick off the weekend by hosting Tottenham, the team that just knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League with a dramatic, VAR-aided 4-4 aggregate, advancing on a 3-1 away-goals advantage. While Manchester City still has designs on the Premier League title, as well as the FA Cup, the hope for fantasy managers is that the UCL exit will make Pep Guardiola less likely to rotate stars over this double game week. With tough competition in both games — home vs Spurs and a derby at motivated Man United — that perspective gains added credence.

Three players — Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho — returned from injury to start midweek. Bernardo and Mendy started, while Fernandinho was a second half sub. The fact that the Citizens gave up two early goals will point to the logic of Fernandinho starting this weekend, which could push Ilkay Gundogan to the bench. On offense, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo and Kevin De Bruyne each played the full 90, while David Silva at 63’. Otherwise in attack, Leroy Sane came on at 84’ for Mendy, and neither Gabriel Jesus nor Riyad Mahrez featured. It is difficult to predict who among Kun, Sterling, Bernardo, David Silva and KDB will get two starts, so fantasy managers will have plenty of fingers and toes crossed.

Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte paired in central defense, while Nicolas Otamenti and John Stones rode the pine. Given the miles on his odometer along with his injury history, Kompany would seem unlikely to get two starts. Laporte would usually be locked in for two starts, but his poor performance against Spurs on Wednesday will put that in doubt.

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Tottenham

With Harry Kane out for the season, Mauricio Pochettino again turned to Lucas Moura in his midweek XI, but it was second-half sub Fernando Llorente who scored the key third goal. Dele Alli also started following his hand injury from the prior week, while Moussa Sissoko came off injured late in the first half. Son Heung-min, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen would appear to be almost certain starters on offense, while Poch has a choice to make between Moura and Llorente. Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose started midweek in back.

Spurs fans were overjoyed to reach the Champions League semifinals, but advancement comes at a cost, creating further fixture congestion that could make a top four EPL finish more difficult. In an interview at Spurs’ official web site, Poch hinted that he may turn to “fresh legs”, but it is unclear where that will come. With Sissoko out, Eric Dier unavailable and Eric Lamela a doubt, Poch could turn to Oliver Skipp as a more like-for-like replacement. But given the high number of goals just shipped, it would not be a surprise for the gaffer instead to roll with a five-man defense, meaning that any among Ben Davies, Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth and Kyle Walker-Peters could knick a start either at Manchester City or versus Huddersfield Town.

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Manchester United

The Red Devils get more rest than Manchester City or Tottenham, having played on Tuesday rather than Wednesday. Like City, United can now focus more on the EPL after getting bounced from the Champions League. In the midweek loss at Barcelona, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer removed Anthony Martial at 65’, Marcus Rashford at 73’, and Jesse Lingard at 80’, while Romelu Lukaku and a finally-fit Alexis Sanchez were among those who came in as subs. Paul Pogba, Fred, and Scott McTominay were the only offensive players who featured for the entire 90, while Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Ashley Young made up the back line. Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic, returning to fitness following injury, made the 18-man team but did not play.

A cryptic Solskjaer left much to the imagination in his pre-Everton presser, as per Republic of Mancunia. Ashley Young is eligible to return following his one-game red card (two yellows) suspension that forced him to miss out against West Ham. He will likely slot back in with Marcos Rojo making way. Luke Shaw is suspended (yellow card accumulation) for the trip to Goodison Park, and it is unclear whether Rojo, Lindelof or Diogo Dalot will fill in. Matic should threaten Fred’s or McTominay’s starting status, whether at Everton or later against Manchester City. Likewise, Lukaku could possibly displace Martial, although Alexis will probably remain a bench option.

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Arsenal

Arsenal beat Napoli in Italy on Thursday to advance to the Europa League semifinals, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette starting together up front. PEA played the full game, while Lacazette was removed at 68’, replaced by Alex Iwobi. Aaron Ramsey came off injured in the first half, replaced by Henrikh Mkhytarian. Ainsley Maitland-Niles played the full 90, while Mesut Ozil languished on the bench. Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis, and Sead Kolasinac formed the defense.

Given the fixture congestion along with Unai Emery’s chameleon line-ups, it would be a surprise for anybody in the Gunners’ offense to get two starts from this game week, though Ramsey’s absence makes that more possible for Mkhy and/or Ozil. We’re more likely to see at least a partly unchanged defense, but Sokratis misses out against Crystal Palace due to suspension, and Kolasinac has not been an EPL regular lately. Skhodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos, and/or Stephan Lichtsteiner could make an appearance or two.

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Wolves

Nuno Espirito Santo tends to rely on the same starters for most matches, but Matt Doherty is always a rotation risk in defense. I’d love to see him start twice, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

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Watford

Javi Gracia is hopeful regarding Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, but they are doubts and likely will face the dreaded game time decision against Arsenal. Jose Holebas has been ruled out of the game, and Adam Masina should continue in his stead. [source: inews] Troy Deeney starts his three-game straight red card suspension, leaving Andre Gray likely to take over at forward.

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Southampton

Central defender Jannik Vestergaard will miss the trip to Newcastle with injury, but wing-back Yan Valery is available and should slot back into the XI. [Source: 90 Minutes Online] Ralph Hasenhuttl has recently talked up the talent of young winger Josh Sims, suggesting that he may retain his starting spot at the expense of Shane Long. [Source: ReadSouthampton ] However, given Vestergaard’s absence, if Hasenhuttl goes with only Maya Yoshida and Jan Bednarek as the two central defenders, defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu could cost Sims his place.

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SINGLE GAME TEAMS

Single game teams will be on the radar for fantasy managers this week as well. A couple stand out to me:

Liverpool

With a mere single game now, Liverpool must feel absolutely refreshed following Wednesday’s Champions League triumph over Porto, unlike the other trio of English UCL teams. The usual suspects should be expected to feature at Cardiff. Dejan Lovren has recovered from illness, and it is unknown whether he or Joel Matip will partner Virgil van Dijk in central defense. Midfielder Adam Lallana missed midweek due to injury; now he is more likely to see action as a substitute than as a starter. Striker Roberto Firmino scored as a substitute and will be raring to go straight from the whistle.

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Chelsea

Olivier Giroud, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic were the only offensive players to feature the entire game in Thursday’s Europa League triumph over Slavia Praha that sent the Blues through to the semis. Eden Hazard (65’), Ross Barkley (70’), and Pedro were all removed in the second half. Meanwhile, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Gonzalo Higuain were rested entirely, as Jorginho, Willian, and Callum Hudson-Odoi came on for cameos.

The hope is that Maurizio Sarri will ditch the “false 9” line-up he adopted at Liverpool, but whether he turns to Giroud or Higuain is unclear; Higgy is better rested, but Giroud’s form could win out for Burnley’s visit. RLC and CHO should both see the XI, while in central defense, Andreas Christensen will be expected to continue deputizing for Antonio Rudiger who came off injured early last weekend.

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What decisions have you biting your nails as the deadline approaches? Please be sure to share any late-breaking news in the comments section. Then please join us for the live chat as the early (Man City & Spurs) lineups are confirmed and then the action unfolds!

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