The Premier League is back after European football, and plenty is at stake for fantasy managers. The ‘top four’ race of Man United, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea has been spectacular so far. The seventh round of fixtures includes a few games between evenly matched teams and ends with a game that has implications at the top of the table.
Yes, the Jurgen Klopp v Pep Guardiola battle on Sunday is a worthy watch as title contenders go head-to-head; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Thomas Tuchel will also keep an eye on while hoping the Red Devils and Blues can take advantage of fallen points from their rivals.
Man United v Everton
[ The game-week kicks off at 12:30 BST, so the FPL deadline is 11:00 BST. Fantrax managers should be treated to these two confirmed lineups during the countdown hour before the Fantrax deadline at 12:15. ]
After Cristiano Ronaldo saved another day for the Red Devils by scoring in the last minute against Villareal at Old Trafford, pressure continues to mount on Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer whose side is favored when facing Everton over the weekend.
United’s defeats to the likes of Young Boys and Aston Villa are signs that United is not on track as many expected them to be, and they’re going to have some tougher fixtures in October. However, Everton began their PL campaign on the right foot, with four wins, one draw and one loss. The addition of Rafael Benitez is looking like a good decision, but muchfootball is yet to be played.
Prediction: 2 – 1
* United has lost once to Everton in their last 12 league meetings (W6 D5), losing 4-0 away in 2019.
* Cristiano Ronaldo can make his 200th league appearance for United, the 24th to reach the milestone.
* United’s last eight league defeats have come at home.
Harry Maguire has picked up a calf injury which will keep him out for a few weeks. Marcus Rashford is back in training, and OGS hopes to have him available after the international break, but he’s not ready for this game-week. Luke Shaw is a doubt with a shoulder injury.
Rafael Benitez will not be able to call on Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Andre Gomes, Seamus Coleman, or Fabian Delph this weekend, and Alex Iwobi is a doubt with a knock. James Rodriguez has finally completed his much-anticipated exit from Rafa’s squad, landing at Al Rayyan.
Burnley v Norwich
Burnley is 19th in the table with two points from six matches, scoring five and conceding eleven so far. Norwich is 20th with no points from just two goals while conceding 16! Even then, Burnley is a better side that manages to scrape or dig deep for a point or three at times.
Prediction: 1 – 0
* Burnley has won both Premier League meetings with Norwich 2-0.
* None of the 43 meetings between the teams in all competitions has ended 0-0.
* Both teams are seeking their first league win this season.
Jay Rodriguez has returned to training after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Maxwell Cornet is a doubt after picking up a hamstring injury of his own. Matej Vydra suffered a back injury against Leicester but has “a strong chance” of passing fit. Dale Stephens remains unavailable with a long term ankle injury.
Todd Cantwell will miss GW-7 for personal reasons, Christoph Zimmerman is unavailable due to an ankle problem, and Daniel Farke says there is a “question mark” over Billy Gilmour.
Chelsea v Southampton
Chelsea is looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats (Man City last weekend followed by Juventus in midweek Champions League action) and a few believe that teams have discovered a few loopholes in Tuchel’s tactics. However, Southampton may find it difficult to emulate Turin and Manchester; still the Saints have been quite solid at the back. The biggest problem lies in their front line.
Southampton has struggled to score goals, failing to do so in each of the last three league games. To make matters worse, the side now faces a tough defence that rarely concedes goals.
Prediction: 2 – 0
* Southampton is looking for a 10th Premier League win over Chelsea in their 45th encounter.
* Both league meetings between the teams ended in draws last season, including a 3-3 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.
* Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku has nine goals in 12 Premier League matches against Southampton.
N’Golo Kanté is self-isolating for COVID, and Reece James has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Christian Pulisic is a doubt due to an ankle issue, but Mason Mount returns and will probably go straight back into the starting-XI.
Jack Stephens is out with a knee injury. Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong have returned to training after long term injuries; their availability will be assessed at game-time.
Leeds v Watford
The best part about this game is that both teams prefer to play on the front-foot and attack their opposition’s box. Watford does have the slightest edge, having a more reliable back line than Leeds, but history can play its role at the same time as well.
Watford is undefeated in the last five matches at Leeds, scoring 16 goals in three wins and two draws. Leeds had a 100% record v promoted sides last season.
Prediction: 1 – 1
* Watford has not lost in the last five away league games against Leeds (W3 D2).
* The teams last met in the Premier League in 1999-2000 when Leeds won both games.
* Leeds is winless in the league this season (D3 L3).
Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford, Adam Forshaw, and Robin Koch are all unavailable for Marcelo Bielsa.
Xisco, on the other hand, has a first-team squad that is free of any injury issues.
Wolves v Newcastle
Wolves got a massive three points away at Southampton and now host winless Newcastle who are eager for points after getting a good point away at Watford. However, both teams have something major in common: They lack goals. Both teams have struggled to find the net this season. Wolves are still goalless at home, and Newcastle is scoring just 0.67 goals per away match, which is why there won’t be goals going here and there in this fixture.
Prediction: 0 – 0
* Nine of the 12 Premier League games between the teams have been draws, the last five ending 1-1.
* The Magpies are targeting their first victory this season after winning five of their last eight league games in 2020-21.
* Back after a skull fracture, Wolves striker Raul Jimenez is aiming for his first home league goal since scoring against Newcastle in October 2020.
Bruno Lage has no new injury issues with which to contend.
Jonjo Shelvey, Callum Wilson, Martin Dubravka, and Paul Dummet remain unavailable with long-term injuries. Jamaal Lascelles picked up a muscle issue last time out and will also miss.
Brighton v Arsenal
Graham Potter’s men are on a roll this season! They could have reached the top of the table for the first time in their history if they’d won all three points against Crystal Palace, but they were fortunate just to nick a draw. On the other side, Arsenal has answered most of the question marks surrounding the first three opening games, impressing in a dominant in the north London derby win over Spurs.
It will be interesting to see how Brighton overcomes this obstacle, but the Gunners have won nine of their last 15 league matches on the road and may continue their winning streak. They also got the double over Graham Potter’s side last season.
Prediction: 0 – 1
* After defeats in their opening three league games, the Gunners have won their last three.
* Brighton has won three of four league home games, losing one.
* Neal Maupay has scored four of Brighton’s eight league goals this season, netting in the last two matches.
Yves Bissouma is a doubt with a knee issue; Adam Webster and Danny Welbeck are both struggling with hamstring injuries.
Granit Xhaka sustained a knee injury in the North London Derby and will be out for three months.
Crystal Palace v Leicester
Patrick Vieira’s cultural shift is working for the Eagles, and one can appreciate the change of play they are going through. Palace hasn’t lost at Selhurst Park and host a struggling Leicester side that always finds it difficult in London. The Foxes are undefeated in their last four v Crystal Palace, but the latter has enough to grab a point at least.
Prediction: 2 – 2
* Palace is unbeaten at home in the league so far this season (W1 D2).
* Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has scored seven goals in his last seven league games.
* Wilfried Zaha is on 49 Premier League goals and can become the first Palace player to score 50 in the competition.
Patrick Viera has no new injury concerns.
Johnny Evans is a doubt with a foot issue, and Wilfred Ndidi is a “big doubt” with a hamstring problem.
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Spurs were first in the table after the opening three rounds of the campaign, but they now sit eleventh, below Arsenal, which was last in the table at that time. Despite Nuno’s men having a great record against Aston Villa, this is a different Dean Smith team who defeated the favorite Man United last term.
Even after the departure of hero Jack Grealish, the Villans look like a solid balanced team that has what it takes to defeat Tottenham. Spurs are on a three match skid in which they’ve conceded three goals per match. The Villans are coming off two crucial victories where they kept clean sheets. In fact, they defeated this side earlier in 2021 by a 2-1 score, and I think they cancan again.
Prediction: 1 – 2
* Spurs have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Villa, but their two defeats have come at home.
* Tottenham won each of the opening three league games 1-0 and topped the table in August. The side has since conceded nine goals in three defeats to drop to 11th.
* Spurs striker Harry Kane has not scored in his last five league games. He last went six games without a goal in 2015-16.
Ryan Sessegnon is out with a knock, and Steven Bergwijn is unavailable due to an ankle injury.
Dean Smith will be without Leon Baily, Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson, and Trezeguet.
West Ham v Brentford
David Moyes must be looking to strengthen his back line, which has been underperforming against the weaker opponents this term. The Hammers are looking for a fourth win this season but will be coming into this one with tired legs after a midweek Europa League match. On the other side, Brentford has been impressive in the Premier League and will bring confidence into this game after a solid performance against Liverpool last weekend.
Prediction: 3 – 2
* West Ham and Brentford meet in the league for the first time since April 1993, when the Hammers won 4-0.
* Seven different players have scored Brentford’s eight league goals this season.
* West Ham’s Michail Antonio has five goals plus three assists in the league this term.
Vladimir Coufal and Ryan Fredericks are both doubtful with groin injuries.
Thomas Frank has no new injury concerns.
Liverpool v Man City
This is the game of the week without a shadow of a doubt! For three seasons these teams have been tearing each other apart, so it’s going to be fascinating to watch. The biggest dynamic in this fixture is Anfield. The Citizens took all three points at Liverpool’s home last season, but they have not done so in consecutive seasons for almost a century.
Pep Guardiola’s men have not conceded for five league games, and the Citizens tend to respond after a loss like Paris Saint-Germain in mid-week. Still the Reds may edge this game because of their fearsome form and the massive game-changer of the Anfield crowd.
Prediction: 2 – 0
* City beat Liverpool 4-1 in this fixture last season for a first league win at Anfield since 2003.
* Liverpool is the only side still unbeaten in the Premier League.
* Raheem Sterling has scored in two of his last three league games against Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp will face the defending champions without Trent Alexander-Arnold (groin), Harvey Elliot (ankle), or Thiago Alcántara (calf).
Pep Guardiola will be without Ilkay Gundogan (knock) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (knock).
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What are your predictions for this game-week? Whom are you backing in the Liverpool vs Man City fixture? What are your fantasy strategies for the week? Any popular player whom you hope will earn you points (or be someone else’s flop)? Whom are you adding and dropping? Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late fitness news (e.g. Covid-19 or injury), please share!