Saturday, February 6
Aston Villa vs Arsenal
Teams 9 and 10 in the table square off in the first match of the weekend (with our only confirmed lineups before the Fantrax deadline). Both teams are coming off losses. Before their loss, the Gunners had been on a roll, and it’s hard to assess that loss with the two men being sent off. Aston Villa will look to find some consistency again. Villa have key players who are always fantasy relevant.
Injuries: Red card suspensions for David Luiz and Bernd Leno mean the Gunners will be making some moves at the back and in goal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will return. Their other normal list of injuries remains. No new injuries to report for the Villans.
Burnley vs Brighton
The Clarets, despite improved form, have given up two goals per match in three straight, and they’ve been shut out in their last two against Chelsea and Manchester City. The Seagulls are not the quality of either of those two teams, but they’ve been surging recently with four straight shutouts and three wins in those four, including one-nil victories over both Spurs and Liverpool. They haven’t scored more than one goal since Jan 3rd, so I don’t anticipate a lot of scoring. If you’re looking for value here, it’s on the defensive end.
Injuries: Burnley still has question marks upfront. Tariq Lamptey and Danny Welbeck are still the relevant players who are out for Brighton.
Newcastle vs Southampton
This is a battle of teams who are going the wrong way. Newcastle has lost seven of the last eight, including Wednesday’s curb-stomp at Manchester United. Southampton has lost four in a row, netting only once in that span. Allan Saint-Maximin has been back for Newcastle, although he hasn’t started yet, it seems time for him to inject some life into the Newcastle lineup. Takumi Minamino could see himself inserted in the lineup right away for Southampton for a similar injection of life.
Injuries: Lots of small injuries for both teams, most notably Stuart Armstrong. Alexandre Jankewitz is out for his red card. Jan Bednarek’s card was rescinded, so he is available.
Fulham vs West Ham
Fulham hasn’t won a game in a very long time (November 3rd to be exact). The Cottagers aren’t conceding many goals, but at the same time, they just aren’t doing enough to win. The Hammers have won five of their last six, their only loss to Liverpool in that time. Jesse Lingard’s brace is now tied for 4th in goals for West Ham on the season, and it’s also more goals than he scored all of last season. Not sure that run will continue, but West Ham at Craven Cottage is a good place to try. The Hammers’ good form is due to smart January buys over the last two seasons, so you have to favor them in this one.
Injuries: No major new injuries to report.
Seven different players scored for Manchester United last game (eight if you count Jan Bednarek), though none of them was named Pogba (Grrrr...). Will this provide the offensive spark that had been missing for a while? Scoring is about confidence, and confidence stems from goals. The Red Devils are now the top scoring team in the EPL, and they are three points behind Manchester City, so they need to keep winning to stay on pace. Everton needs to find some consistency to fight back into contention for a European spot. Lucas Digne’s return helps. Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored for the first time in 2021. The Toffees need him to patch purple again.
Injuries: Jordan Pickford is out, so Robin Olsen will deputize after a solid performance against Leeds. Eric Bailly is a doubt for Ole. Edinson Cavani came off early last game but looks to be an option.
Sunday, February 7
Tottenham vs West Brom
Spurs have now lost three straight, the last two without scoring. They clearly miss Harry Kane, but something-ho else is not quite right. The Baggies have conceded 52 goals (the next most is Leeds with “only” 38!), while scoring only 18 thus far. Last time out they even conceded two to Sheffield who had only 12 in 21 before that. Hosting West Brom could be just the tonic Spurs need to get regular service restored.
Injuries: Harry Kane is still out, expected back no sooner than Feb 13 (watch non-league Spurs rosters for indications).
Wolves vs Leicester
The biggest news is that Jamie Vardy is available, even if he’s not certain to start. Leicester find itself in 3rd, even without Vardy. The Foxes have a squad with more depth than recent years, and they have been able to battle through key injuries. Wolves got their first win in a while last weekend, but they haven’t beaten an 11 man squad since December 15th.
Injuries: Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne join Vardy on the injury list, but Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo Pereira are ready to keep things going. No new key injuries for Wolves.
Liverpool vs Manchester City
This is the game of weekend — The Reds must win to even stay close to the title race. The Citizens, already with some space plus a game in hand, could begin to turn out the lights.
Liverpool’s scoreless loss to Brighton was an unexpected result. There were chances early, but they weren’t converted, and ‘Pool paid the price. A year ago Liverpool was mostly injury free, and that season showed it. But this season has shown inconsistency at the back recently compounded by (mostly) silence at the front.
City on the other hand has powered through injuries, using a large squad to stay fresh and steady. The Citizens’ record is a thing of wonder: 13 consecutive wins that include 11 clean sheets. We can count on rotation from Pep, but the rotation is working. I’m looking forward to watching this one.
Injuries: Sadio Mane has a chance to return, and one has to think he gets the start if he’s available. They need him. The rest is still just the normal bad news at the back for Liverpool. Kevin De Bruyne is still out, but other players have stepped in and stepped up. No Sergio Aguero yet.
Sheffield United vs Chelsea
The formerly winless Blades have improbably won three of their last five, but they still find themselves at the bottom of the table (albeit now within reach of the top of the relegation zone). There has been some fight in them these last few games, but that feels like it still may be too little too late. They still have only 14 goals on the season. Chelsea has found its defensive form since Thomas Tuchel has gone to three center backs with two wing-backs getting forward. The Blues haven’t found their offensive stride yet, but they look more confident.
Injuries: Thiago Silva is a major doubt, which may mean Kurt Zouma will need to fight through his injury. No new major injuries for the Blades, if for some reason you were looking that way.
Monday, February 8
Leeds United vs Crystal Palace
Leeds continues its roller coaster of a season. Ups and downs and turns, a fun ride along the way. Palace’s season has had its ups and downs too, but it just hasn’t seemed as fun. As usual with Leeds, this one could be open, but your guess is as good as mine as to how this turns out.
Injuries: Rodrigo will miss for Leeds. Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp, and James McCarthy are all out for Palace.
What are your thoughts for this game-week? Have any differential tips? Late news? Early lineups? What match do you want to watch just for the sport of it? Please pull up a chair, pour yourself a pint, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!