Week 15 brought yet another set of surprise results. Managers (FPL and Fantrax) have little time to make adjustments to their teams. So with the quick turn around, let’s get right to the match-ups:
Crystal Palace vs Leicester
[ This is our one early match that will give Fantrax managers confirmed lineups before their deadline. ]
[ The London weather forecast is for freezing temperature this morning with a chance of snow. Watch closely for a possible postponement! ]
Palace looked absolutely awful against a 10-man Aston Villa team. The Eagles have given up 10 goals in their last two outings, not keeping a clean sheet since opening day. They have one win in their last seven (against lowly West Brom). Not sure what Roy Hodgson is going to do, but something needs to change (maybe Roy!).
Leicester on the other hand remains in the top three. Jamie Vardy continues to impress even when limping, and his supporting cast looks good, especially James Maddison who has become fantasy-relevant again. This is one where Leicester could put some goals into the back of the net.
Player updates: No new injury updates for either team.
Chelsea vs Aston Villa
[Another match in the freezing capital with a chance of snow causing havoc. Watch the news closely at deadline time!]
I’m really excited about this one.
Chelsea needs to bounce back after a shocking 3-1 defeat to struggling rival Arsenal. After a great early stretch, the Blues have now lost three of their last four, sinking to 7th place, so Frank Lampard needs a win, but this year’s Villans won’t be easy, and I can see some needed rotation happening before Chelsea gets back to a winning formula.
Villa has been inspired recently. The Villans put on a 10-man clinic against Crystal Palace. With two straight 3-0 victories, you should be looking at Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi, among others, who are lighting up the scoreboard, but I’m also looking at Emilio Martinez and his back line who haven’t been scored on in three games.
Player update: Tyrone Mings will miss out due to his Red Card. Ross Barkley is close to a return but ineligible against Chelsea. Hakim Ziyech still is not ready for Chelsea.
Everton vs Manchester City
Everton squeezed out a win against Sheffield to grasp second in the league. The Toffees have four straight wins and have given up only one goal in that run of games.
The Citizens are on a similar run with five clean sheets in their last six, conceding only once during that run. Pep has been rotating quite a bit, and I will expect that to continue (YMMV).
It’s a big game for both teams, but I’m not seeing a lot of goals in this one.
Player updates: Richarlison is ruled out by concussion protocol, while James Rodriguez and Lucas Digne are both still crocked. Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus are out due to COVID.
Brighton vs Arsenal
Brighton has three draws in a row but has no wins in six. The Seagulls do put up a fight each game and are fighting to stay out of the relegation zone.
Arsenal gained a much needed boost against Chelsea. Mikel Arteta has to be happy with the effort and result after turning to younger players in many places. The Gunners have lacked consistency; will they be able to maintain this momentum and build on the win?
Player updates: Thomas Partey is still a doubt for Arsenal. Tariq Lamptey is a question for Brighton.
Burnley vs Sheffield United
The two low-scoring teams in the league meet to do battle (or will it be a staring contest?). Each has scored only eight goals this season. Burnley found defensive form recently. In their last five league matches (just after getting destroyed by Man City) the Clarets have conceded only three times.
Sheffield United is still without a win, on a Shakespearian-level tragic two points in the table. The Blades really really need points in this one, but given their lack of a goalscorer against Burnley’s improved defense, it’s hard to see a change in course. It feels like the first goal will win this one.
Player updates: Dwight McNeil sat out against Leeds. John Lundstram remains suspended.
Southampton vs West Ham United
Southampton has struggled offensively without top scorer Danny Ings. The Saints have two points from their last three games, not scoring in their last two. However, they remain relatively strong at the back.
West Ham has the same record over three games, though scoring and giving up a few more goals than Southampton. The Hammers are one place behind Southampton in the table.
Player updates: Danny Ings is getting closer to a return but looks unready yet. Jannik Vestergaard and Nathan Redmond are out as well. Michail Antonio continues to be sidelined.
West Brom vs Leeds United
The Baggies got a deserved point against Liverpool with their disciplined defending and set piece goal. They are going to need more performances like that to claw their way up the table. Goals are still scarce, but if they can defend like that, they will at least give themselves a chance.
Leeds often follows big wins with big losses. But the Peacocks never disappoint in terms of their desire to get forward and play an open game. With West Brom most likely sitting back, as they did against Liverpool, it could be a tough game.
Player updates: No new injuries to report.
Manchester United vs Wolverhampton
Bruno Fernandes has been one of the top players this season. He is the reason for United’s top-four place (with a game still in hand!). The Red Devils haven’t lost since November 1st, and their only two draws came against Manchester City and Leicester City. Only Liverpool has scored more goals.
Wolves continue to battle each week. They are never easy to play, as their game against Spurs showed. They have been off and on this season, but there is some value in some of their players.
Player updates: Raul Jimenez is still sidelined for Wolves. No new injuries to report for United.
Tottenham vs Fulham FC
Spurs couldn’t capitalize on other teams dropping points during GW-15, so now they find themselves without a win in four games. Harry Kane hasn’t scored during that stretch. Fulham may be just the tonic needed after that recent difficult stretch.
Fulham has improved recently, claiming four draws in a row, two 1-1 and two 0-0. The Cottagers still sit 19th, but they aren’t quite the easy win they were at the start of the season.
Player update: Giovani Lo Celso is out. Gareth Bale, whose cover would be a positive for Spurs, is doubtful still. No new injuries to report for Fulham.
Newcastle vs Liverpool
Newcastle is consistently inconsistent. I just never know what to expect from the Magpies. They have eked out but a single point in their last three games. They have given up eight goals in that span.
Liverpool is on top, but the draw at home against 19th place West Brom had to hurt. It certainly didn’t help anyone (like me!) who was relying on Salah for big points. More defensive injury woes plague the Champions. I’m expecting some rotation.
Player Updates: Joel Matip went off early with an injury, Rhys Williams coming on in defense. It’s another tough break for Liverpool’s central defense. Allen Saint-Maximin and Ryan Frasier are not ready yet for Newcastle.
What games are you looking at? Are you worried about rotations in your squad? What late news have you heard? Have you looked at the weather to see if any matches will suffer a dreaded “P-P”? (Yes, London is now hovering near freezing with snow is possible across southern England overnight. That includes our lead-off match at Crystal Palace!) Please share your thoughts and news in the comments!
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