Who doesn’t love midweek Premier League football? We are edging toward the “festive period”, and the league fixtures are beginning to claim midweek gaps in cup competitions. For fantasy managers, this tumultuous period defines what you will be fighting for at the end of the season. So now is the time to buckle down and make necessary decisions.
Newcastle vs Norwich
[ This is the lone early match, so Fantrax managers should see these two lineups confirmed in the hour before their deadline. Tune in here for those lineups, late-breaking news, and discussion in the comments during the countdown hour. ]
Newcastle welcomes Norwich to St James Park in a battle between the league’s bottom two clubs. Eddie Howe is hoping to grab his first win as Newcastle manager in a game that could decide who avoids the drop at the end of the season. Norwich looks to extend an improbable three-game unbeaten run to four since the appointment of Dean Smith. The Canaries who had previously managed only two points in their first ten games have taken seven of nine in their last three (only Man City took more).
Newcastle: Dwight Gayle – Thigh injury (doubtful), Paul Dummett – Calf injury (out), Matt Ritchie – Suspended (out), Jamaal Lascelles – Suspended (out)
Norwich: Sam Byram – Thigh injury (out), Christoph Zimmermann – Ankle injury (out), Mathias Normann – Groin injury (out).
Leeds vs Crystal Palace
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds will be eager to grab a first win in four games when Crystal Palace visits Elland Road on Tuesday. Leeds has been a shadow of the side that made a top half finish last season. Lack of squad depth has been one of the major issues for the Peacocks this season. Patrick Bamford’s injury has left the team short of attacking options up front. Palace will hope to rebound from a home defeat against Aston Villa that saw the Eagles drop into the bottom half of the table. They were previously on a run of seven games without defeat before that loss.
Leeds United: Robin Koch – Groin injury (out)
Crystal Palace: Joachim Andersen – Unknown (out), Nathan Ferguson – Calf injury (out), James McArthur – Thigh injury (out).
Watford vs Chelsea
League leading Chelsea travels to newly promoted Watford on Wednesday. Watford will be hoping for a freak result to get something out of this match as Chelsea are currently on an undefeated run of seven games. The Blues have lost only once this season, scoring thirty and conceding a measly four. Chelsea will be eager to return to winning ways following a one-all draw against Man United that allowed Man City to move level on points with the Blues at the top of the table. Free-scoring Watford will need to be uncharacteristically disciplined at the back to have any hope of getting something from this fixture. The Blues have shown over time that they are capable of capitalizing on the smallest of defensive lapses, a seven-nil victory over fellow promoted side Norwich should serve as enough warning for the Hornets.
Watford: Peter Etebo – Thigh injury (out), Ken Sema – Knee injury (out), Ismaila Sarr – Knee injury (doubtful), Emmanuel Dennis – Knock (doubtful), Nicolas N’koulou – Thigh injury (out), Ben Foster – Groin injury (out).
Chelsea: Mateo Kovacic - Thigh injury (out), N’Golo Kante – Knee injury (doubtful), Ben Chilwell – Knee injury (out).
West Ham vs Brighton
The Hammers will hope to get their season back on track after suffering back to back defeats for the first time this season. Though still placed fourth, the Hammers have been below par in recent weeks. Brighton also comes into this fixture on a slide, hoping to nick a first win in six. The Seagulls began the season in impressive fashion, but an inability to turn draws into wins has seen them fall down the pecking order.
West Ham: Angelo Ogbonna – Knee injury (out).
Brighton: Steven Alzate – Ankle injury (out), Danny Welbeck – Thigh injury (out).
Wolves vs Burnley
Bruno Lage’s Wolves will be eager to extend their unbeaten run to three games when they welcome Burnley to the Molineux on Wednesday. Wolves have bounced back from losing their first five games to rise to sixth in the table. Burnley comes into this match having rested over the weekend due to snow postponment. The Clarets have been unusually weak at the back compared to previous seasons. They have however fared slightly better up front; scoring 14 goals in 13 games. They’ll hope their extra days of rest can propel them to victory in this fixture.
Wolves: Fernando Marcal – Calf injury (doubtful), Jonny Castro – Knee injury (out), Pedro Neto – Knee injury (out), Ruben Neves – Suspended (out), Willy Boly – Unknown (out), Daniel Podence – Unknown (out).
Burnley: Ashley Barnes – Thigh injury (out), James Tarkowski – Suspended (out), Ashley Westwood – Suspended (out).
Leicester will be eager to make it two wins out of two when they travel to St Mary’s on Tuesday. The Foxes have struggled to adapt to playing on Thursday and weekends due to their participation in the UEFA Europa League. Brendan Rodgers’ side halted a run of three games without a win by thumping Watford 4-2 last week. Southampton will however be buoyed by Leicester’s leaky defense that has conceded an unseemly 23 goals in just 13 games. Southampton also boasts a better defensive record despite being below Leicester in the table.
Southampton: Jack Stephens – Knee injury (doubtful). Jack Stephen – Knee injury (doubtful), Ibrahim Diallo – Ankle injury, Mousa Djenepo – Unknown (doubtful), Stuart Armstrong – Calf injury (out).
Leicester: Wesley Fofana – Ankle injury (out), James Justin – Knee injury (out), Youri Tielemans – Calf injury (out), Ricardo Pereira – Thigh injury (out).
Aston Villa vs Man City
Steven Gerrard will take on his biggest test yet as manager when Aston Villa welcomes Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to Villa Park on Wednesday. Gerrard has won his first two games since taking the helm from Dean Smith. Those two victories have lifted Villa to 13th. Man City comes into this fixture in the best form in the league following a run of three wins out of three. The wins have propelled the Citizens to level on points with league leadeing Chelsea. Pep Guardiola’s men are clear favorites.
Aston Villa: Bertrand Traore – Thigh injury (out).
Man City: Aymeric Laporte - Suspended (out), Ferran Torres – Ankle injury (out), Kevin De Bruyne – Just returned from Covid (unfit), Jack Grealish – Knock (doubtful), Philip Foden – Returned to training (possible).
Is it ever a bad time for a Merseyside derby? Form supposedly flies out the window when it comes to derbies, but it would take a C-5 Galaxy to carry off enough current form to produce anything but an easy victory for the Reds when they cross town to visit Goodison Park on Wednesday. Rafa Benitez’ side is currently on a wretched run of form that has seen the Toffees lose five and draw two of the last seven. A loss in this fixture might drive the final nail in the coffin for the under-fire manager. Liverpool will come into this fixture full of confidence after a four-nil drubbing of Southampton. The Reds have scored eight and conceded zero in their last two games.
Everton: Mason Holgate – Suspended (out), Dominic Calvert Lewin – Thigh injury (out), Yerry Mina -Thigh injury (doubtful), Andre Gomes – Calf injury (doubtful), Tom Davies – Knee injury (out), Richarlison de Andrade – Suspended (out).
Liverpool: Roberto Firmino – Thigh injury (out), Naby Keita – Thigh Injury (out), Joe Gomez – Calf injury (out), Curtis Jones – Eye injury (out), Harvey Elliot – Ankle injury (out).
Tottenham vs Brentford
Out of sorts Spurs face a Brentford team coming off an impressive victory against skidding Everton. Tottenham has failed to turn poor form around despite appointing Italian tactician Antonio Conte. Conte has decried the level and quality of players at Spurs, saying it’s not as high as he expected. Conte does benefit from weekend rest due to the snowpocalyse postponement. Brentford bounced back from a run of four games without victory to secure a hard fought one-nil win against Everton. Brentford will hope to secure another scalp against a big team after claiming a win and a draw against Arsenal and Liverpool respectively earlier in the season.
Tottenham: Christian Romero – Thigh injury (out).
Brentford: Mathias Jorgensen – Unknown (doubtful), David Raya – Knee injury (out), Krisstoffer Ajer – Thigh injury (out), Sergi Canos – Knock (doubtful), Christian Norgaard – Lower back injury (doubtful), Rico Henry – Knock (doubtful).
Man United vs Arsenal
Manchester United takes on Arsenal at Old Trafford on Thursday, heralding Ralf Ragnick’s tenure in charge of the Red Devils. Man United’s impressive draw against Chelsea last week could grant enough confidence to secure a first league victory against the Gunners in three years. The draw at Chelsea stretched United’s winless run to three games. The Gunners have long forgotten that they lost their first three games, now sitting fifth in the table, level on points with fourth-place West Ham. They bounced back from a thrashing against Liverpool to secure a straightforward two-nil victory over Newcastle. Arsenal has seven wins, one loss and two draws in their last ten league games.
Man United: Raphael Varane – Thigh Injury (out), Paul Pogba – Thigh injury (out), Edinson Cavani – Unknown (doubtful), Luke Shaw – Head injury (out), Mason Greenwood – Covid (out), Harry Maguire – Suspended (out).
Arsenal: Granit Xhaka – Knee injury (out), , Sead Kolsinac – Ankle injury (out), Bukayo Saka – Hip injury (doubtful).
What are your predictions for this game-week? Whom are you backing in the Man United vs Arsenal match? Please join us in our FPL & Fantrax virtual pub as we face our deadlines, post the lineups and share late-breaking news.