Welcome to game-week 9! As usual, international games give our EPL a break but also headaches with new injuries and viruses, this time more than usual. Covid-19 and a lack of real summer break seem be affecting players and teams.
I’m taking extra caution this weekend just to have a complete 11.
Be sure to check for last minute updates before heading into this weekend.
Saturday 21 November
[This is our lone early match that should show us confirmed lineups in the countdown hour prior to the Fantrax deadline; please join us in the comments then to see and discuss.]
- Newcastle vs Chelsea - The Blues have only one loss this season (to Liverpool). They have three or more goals goals in four of their last five games, conceding only once in their last three. The introductions of Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech have added confidence and consistency. Chelsea can score in bunches and may be finding the form that fans had hoped for from Summer signings.
Newcastle on the other hand are a complete uncertainty. If you believe in patterns, thus far they have won, lost, tied, then won, lost, tied, and most recently have won then lost... so is a tie next on the books? I wouldn’t put too much faith in that pattern, but I also don’t put much faith in the Magpies.
Luckily we get lineups for this one.
Injuries: Kai Havertz had a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, but might be eligible after a retest. Christian Pulisic has a minor hamstring injury. Ben Chillwell should be back. Thiago Silva is now a doubt because of his late return.
For Newcastle, Dubravka, JonJo Shelvey, and Matt Ritchie are all still out. Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, and Pual Dummet all have issues.
- Aston Villa vs Brighton - Villa has given up only nine goals this season (joint best), while Brighton hasn’t won since facing Preston North End in the EFL Cup in September. So on paper this should be a good match-up for Villa. Villa also scores goals from time to time, and Ollie Watkins (who is on PKs) has scored in two straight.
Injuries - Bertrand Traore is most likely out for Aston Villa. Leandro Trossard probably won’t be ready. Davy Propper is a question.
Tottenham vs Manchester City - Spurs sit second in the table, tied for the best goal differential in the league. They are looking solid at both ends of the field. City share the same goals-against record as Spurs but have struggled to score consistently. I’m still waiting for City to break out of their scoring malaise, but I’m not sure that Tottenham Stadium is where they will do it. Reminder: Harry Kane has at least one goal or assist in each of his last seven games.
Injuries: Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy will miss again. Matt Doherty is out with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, and Sergio Reguilon is reported with an illness. There are some other reported minor injuries for both teams that you should keep your eyes on, but most are trending in the right direction.
- Manchester United vs West Brom - West Brom is winless after eight games, shutout in five of those. They also have the most goals scored against. This is a game United need to win to move back up the table.
Injuries: The Red Devils also have a set of players with reported nagging injuries, including Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood. West Brom has no key injuries to report. Matheus Pereira should be back.
Sunday 22 November
- Fulham vs Everton - Everton has lost three straight and need a win. Injuries have plagued them over these games. Key players should be back, which makes me think Everton should get back to winning ways. Fulham, despite being out of the relegation zone (for now), has six losses and a -8 goal differential. But to the Cottagers’ credit, they continue to fight week in and week out. The two missed PKs will continue to haunt them.
Injuries. Aboubakar Kamara misses because of his red card. Nothing else major to report for Fulham. The Toffees have lots of questions; Richarlson, Allan, Fabian Delph, and Seamus Coleman all have doubts but aren’t ruled out. The dreaded game-time decisions await.
- Sheffield United vs West Ham - Sheffield sits rock bottom of the table with seven losses and a draw from eight games. The Blades have conceded in every game and have been shut out four times. They simply can’t find the formula to get back on track. The Hammers sit comfortably mid table. They’ve had some quality performances this season, but also lack consistency.
Injuries: Ryan Brewster, Enda Stevens and John Egan have concerns but should be okay. John Fleck and Jack O’Connell join Lys Mousset on the injury list. Sander Berge is apparently having trouble getting back into the country, but could be available. The key question for West Ham is forward Michail Antonio. There is a chance he could make the squad and maybe even play.
- Leeds vs Arsenal - Leeds games are usually fun to watch, as you can expect at least one of the teams to score goals, often their opponent (the Peacocks have conceded four in each of their last two games). The Gunners are hoping they can add to that streak. They have only one lonely goal in the whole of their last four games. Could Leeds’ generous defense be the tonic to awaken PEA & Co?
Injuries: Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac sit out due to positive virus tests. Leeds forward Rodrigo misses likewise. Thomas Partey missed his international game, but that time off should be enough to have him ready.
- Liverpool vs Leicester - The match of the week pits #1 visiting #3. The Foxes have won three straight after a pair of losses had many questioning their place at the top of the table. The Reds, while not looking like last year’s team (because much of last year’s team isn’t available), find themselves still pushing for the title. But the real story here is the injuries. Klopp will need to do some serious shuffling.
Injuries - Timothy Castagne and Wesley Fofana could be back for Leicester, but Caglar Soyuncu, Wilfred Ndidi, and Ricardo Pereira are all still out.
For Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk, Joseph Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold are all out with injuries. Mo Salah tested positive twice, so he will also miss (not even able to return to England until a private plane brought him home yesterday). There are doubts for Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, and Thiago, but Andrew Robertson looks to be okay after a scare.
Monday 2 November
- Burnley vs Crystal Palace - The Clarets are without a win in their first seven games, shut out in five of those with only three goals this season. Palace are hit and miss but have fared well against lower level teams.
Injuries: Luka Milivojevic sits out with a suspension, and will do so with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. Eberechi Eze looks like he will recover. There will be late decisions for defenders Tyrick Mitchell, Joel Ward, and James Tomkins. Burnley has a few minor injury concerns, but none that concern my team selection.
- Wolves vs Southampton - Is Southampton filling the role that Wolves had a year ago? Even without Danny Ings, the Saints continue to score. Che Adams has been what they hoped he would be. Wolves just haven’t been able to score. There’s a lot of offensive talent that simply hasn’t been clicking this season, but their defense remains tough.
Injuries: Danny Ings is still out. There are injury concerns for James Ward-Prowse and Ryan Bertrand. Conor Coady should make it back after going through protocols following contact with a Covid-19 case.
Stay safe and healthy everyone! Good luck!
How is the news treating your fantasy teams? What holes must you fill? What prospects are you considering? Please join us in the comments with your thoughts and questions, and stay tuned for updates!