The hottest title race in decades has gone incandescent as we approach the mid point of the season. We have a busy week with multiple teams playing twice, and a 1st place versus 2nd match-up.
COVID continues to effect the schedule, so have bench coverage where you can.
Let’s get to the match-ups.
Saturday, January 16
Wolves vs West Brom
Wolves: The Wolves have lost five of their last eight games, winning only once in that stretch. They haven’t kept a clean sheet since October 30. They just can’t seem to get a result. They have had to rotate because of injuries and haven’t found form. This is their only game this week.
Injuries: Daniel Podence won’t be ready, so joins Raul Jimenez who still needs a bit of time. Neto, Adama Traore, and Willy Boly all have knocks but are looking probable.
West Brom: The Baggies have just one win all season. They have conceded a league high 39 goal, while scoring only eleven. It’s a recipe for relegation. They are slightly better on the road this season, but I don’t see much hope if they don’t improve quickly (e.g. buy an instant starter before the January transfer window closes). West Brom plays West Ham mid week.
Injuries: Conor Gallagher is suspended with 5 yellows.
Leeds vs Brighton
Leeds: You can usually count on a lot of goals in a game featuring Leeds. Six of the last seven games had three or more goals scored. The Peacocks are committed to an attacking style that leaves them open at the back. They are fun, but this is their only game of the week since the Southampton match was postponed.
Injuries: No new key injuries.
Brighton: Brighton sits just outside the drop zone with only two wins for the season, and none since November. They aren’t a push over though; most of their losses (six of eight) are by just a goal. Leeds will have to work for it, but Brighton hasn’t found a goal scorer. It’s their lone game of the week.
Injuries: Danny Welbeck, Adam Lallana, Tariq Lamptey are out and key losses for a team looking for creativity and ways to attack.
West Ham United vs Burnley
West Ham: The Hammers sit comfortably mid table. Thomas Soucek was again the difference maker in their last game. They have needed goals to come from different players and positions, but Michail Antonio did play 30 minutes and might find himself back in the starting lineup. They play West Brom mid week.
Injuries: No new injuries to report.
Burnley: Burnley have climbed steadily out of the bottom three. The Clarets have done so with a solid defense that looks more cohesive each week. Nick Pope is one the best keepers in the league. They remain reliant on set pieces for goals and have a league low nine. They play Liverpool mid week.
Injuries: Charlie Taylor is a major doubt.
Fulham vs Chelsea
Fulham: Fulham FC has five consecutive draws, and they were 0-0 or 1-1. So they aren’t giving up goals like they did to start the season, but they still aren’t scoring. They did show some fight against Spurs and deserved the point. Fulham travels to Manchester United on Wednesday.
Injuries: Ruben Loftus-Cheek is ineligible to play against his parent club. Aleksandar Mitrovic is still a major doubt.
Chelsea: The Blues have hit a rough patch. They’ve lost four of the last six, and Frank Lampard is looking for answers to turn their season back around. It’s just not clicking. Lampard has some key players back, and they need this win. Chelsea get Leicester away mid week.
Injuries: N’Golo Kante is suspended for five yellows, which is something I can’t remember happening in any other season.
Leicester vs Southampton
Leicester: Leicester hangs onto a top four position. Jamie Vardy has eleven goals even though he hasn’t scored in his last three matches. You can’t keep a scorer like him down. The Foxes host Chelsea on Tuesday.
Injuries: Dennis Praet is out,
Southampton: Southampton’s defense has played well lately: three shutouts in a row and only three goals conceded in their last seven matches. But as the Saints’ defense has improved, their offense went cold. And now they have key players missing. At least this is their only game this week.
Injuries: Danny Ings tested positive for COVID and looks like he won’t clear in time, although Che Adams is back. Alex McCarthy is out for the same reason. Nathan Redmond is still out.
Sunday, January 17
Sheffield United vs Tottenham
Sheffield United: It seems a bit unfair that after the Blades get their first win they then face Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, and Manchester City back-to-back-to-back. Their goal against Newcastle was their first in three league games (and only their 9th of the season!), and it was against ten players, but you never know! Yeah, right.
Injuries: Oliver McBurnie is out.
Tottenham: The points dropped to Fulham have to hurt. Spurs had their chances, which often they take. Harry Kane has two in two, and an in-form Kane bodes well for their chances. This is also their only game of the week.
Injuries: Giovani Lo Celso is their only injury concern.
Liverpool vs Manchester United
Liverpool: The loss to Southampton dropped ‘Pool to second. After scoring in each of the first 16 games this season, the Reds have gone two without. Their defense hasn’t allowed more than a single goal since Everton scored two in mid October.
Injuries: The usual long-term injuries for Liverpool.
Manchester United: United have won nine of their last eleven. They are winning in different ways, but the common factor in their success is Bruno Fernandes who is just fantastic. Paul Pogba, who scored last game, has also come to life in the last few weeks. They have conceded just once in their last three. They travel to Fulham for their second game of the week.
Injuries: Anthony Martial is a doubt.
Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace
Manchester City: The Citizens have four straight wins. They have the best goals-against total in the league, giving up only two in their last eight. They still struggle at times to find that spark up front, and a set of chances were wasted against Brighton. If they can find their finishing, they are going to be very hard to beat. Pep has a large set of players capable, so expect more rotation. Covid permitting, they are home to Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Injuries: Believe it or not... no new key injuries to report.
Crystal Palace: I honestly don’t know what to say about the Eagles. Some days they look like they could play with anyone, other days they look a mess, and against Arsenal they were somewhere in between. So, who knows what to expect? It’s their lone game of the week.
Injuries: Jeffrey Schlupp has been ruled out.
Monday, January 18
Arsenal vs Newcastle
Arsenal: The Gunners have won three of their last four and conceded only once. They have found the will to defend, even if they still have some issues in the final third. Even with some rotation at center back, they managed to keep a clean sheet. It is their only game of the week.
Injuries: Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney are doubtful but not out. Pablo Mari is out.
Newcastle: The Magpies are winless in their last five, including giving Sheffield a first win of the season last time out. The red card to Ryan Fraser didn’t help, but they are struggling to score and aren’t consistent enough at the back to get results. It is also their only game of the week.
Injuries: Allan Saint-Maximin is still out. Ryan Fraser is suspended.
Tuesday, January 19
West Ham vs West Brom
Leicester vs Chelsea
Wednesday, January 19
Manchester City vs Aston Villa
Fulham vs Manchester United
Thursday, January 20
Liverpool vs Burnley
How’s your team shaping up? Postponements got you scrambling? What match-ups are you looking at or staying away from? How are you Fantrax managers surviving as so many days of news developments overtake your best laid plans? Please join us in the chat!