Another international break has come to a close, and hopefully you’ve checked to make sure that injuries and travel fatigue haven’t forced wholesale changes in your English Premier League fantasy squads. Ready or not, it’s time to get back to business in the English Premier League.
Watford vs Liverpool
With Watford having taken just two wins from seven games, the club is undoubtedly hoping that new manager Claudio Ranieri can duplicate the same kind of magic trick he pulled in his first season at Leicester.
Unfortunately, he’ll have to face second-place Liverpool in his first game in charge of the Hornets. New-manager bounce notwithstanding, he’ll likely have to wait a week or two before he can expect to collect points.
Aston Villa vs Wolves
Separated in the table by only a single point, these two teams are on virtually equal footing due to Wolves’ recent turn of fortunes. They’ve won three of their last four, with the steady improvement in the form of Raul Jimenez coming as no coincidence.
Still, Aston Villa’s superior firepower should be enough to see them through.
Leicester vs Man United
Neither of these teams seems to be able to keep clean sheets this season, each having done it only once. Leicester has shipped twelve goals so far, and due to injuries United will take the pitch today featuring the dubious center-back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.
Backing attacking assets therefore seems to be the prudent fantasy approach for this fixture.
Man City vs Burnley
City has conceded only three goals all season, keeping four straight clean sheets at home. And although they failed to score against Southampton in their last match at the Etihad, the Citizens have not failed in back-to-back home games for more than a decade.
On the other hand, in the last game prior to the break, Burnley extended its season-long winless streak by failing to score against Norwich, the league’s joint-worst offense.
Norwich vs Brighton
Not only does Norwich boast the joint-worst defense in the Prem, it also sports the league’s worst offense — just two goals all season. In short, the Canaries are dire, and sit nailed to the table’s basement on just a single point after the scoreless draw with Burnley before the break.
Surprisingly, Brighton is in sixth place with a record identical to Man City’s, Man United’s, and Everton’s, their stingy defense the primary reason. That doesn’t bode well for Norwich’s anemic attack, or for Norwich’s odds of collecting a first win.
Southampton vs Leeds
This match pits 16th place against 17th, with the winner likely to climb at least one place further away from the drop zone. Both teams have had a dismal early season so far, with the Saints still winless and Leeds unable up their first win until GW-7.
Not much separates these two sides, and both could be without talismanic players: James Ward-Prowse will be absent through suspension, and Raphinha could miss out due to travel fatigue. This is therefore a tricky fixture to call.
Brentford vs Chelsea
Brentford is this season’s promoted-club darling, the Bees’ tight defense making them a very difficult side to defeat. Indeed, they’ve suffered just a single loss so far. But they don’t score prolifically either, so the odds will be stacked against them when they welcome a Chelsea side that sits top of the table after conceding only three goals all season.
Everton vs West Ham
This fixture features clubs whose forms are trending in opposite directions. Everton has lost only once this season, while West Ham has won only one in the last five. Europa League exertions may be partially to blame for the Hammers’ slide, but Michail Antonio fans (and his fantasy owners) will be heartened by the fact that he was not called up for Jamaican national duty over the break so will enter this match fit and rested.
The Toffees must labor on without the services of star men Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray have stepped up to fill the void. David Moyes will hope they can help lift his team over West Ham on Sunday to move Everton back up towards European qualification positions.
Although the Magpies always seem to look better than nineteenth place, that is nonetheless where they sit. They are still without a win, their three points accumulated through draws. Consequently, Steve Bruce is widely expected to be sacked in the wake of the club’s £305M takeover earlier this month, but he is still in charge and has vowed to fight for his job (skysports.com). Sunday’s match will mark his 1000th game as a manager.
Results have been inconsistent for Tottenham’s Nuno Espirito Santo this season as well, a win over Aston Villa before the break arresting a three-game string of losses. He’ll view the match against the struggling Magpies as a must-win, but may have to do it without his contingent of South American internationals (Cristian Romero, Davinson Sanchez, Emerson Royal, and Giovani Lo Celso).
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Arsenal’s recent reversal of fortunes coincided perfectly with a favorable turn of fixtures that began at GW-4. Still, the Gunners went undefeated across all competitions for the month of September, winning Manager of the Month honors for Mikel Arteta. The plum matchups continue, so let’s watch to see if Arteta’s winning ways do too.
Palace is winless in its last three, but before the break the Eagles came back from two goals down against Leicester to level the score and leave Selhurst Park with a vital point. They’ve picked up only one point on the road this season though, so the Gunners should have too much for them when they meet on Monday.
Which games are you watching this weekend? How are your points coming? Whose performances are putting players on your watch-list? Please join us in the chat/comments below!