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EPL GW-32: Pre-Deadline & Live Chat

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GW-32 features a bye for Crystal Palace and a double for Tottenham. Step inside for match overviews and team news ahead of the fantasy transfer deadlines.

Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Spurs have a double in this round, and many fantasy managers will play their Triple Captain chip on Harry Kane. Smart move, or trap?
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Spurs have two matches this game-week, and the first (at Everton) happens to be our Friday deadline game that will give Fantrax managers confirmed lineups, so we hope to see all of you here in the comments during the countdown hour when we post those for your last-minute tinkering pleasure.

And not that anyone probably cares, but Crystal Palace blanks this week.

This game-week is also notable for being stretched out through this coming Thursday, the FA Cup semifinals intervening over the weekend to strain four of our teams (Chelsea, Man City, Leicester & Southampton) after our fantasy rosters have locked but before they play their league matches later in the week. Field their assets at your peril, and be especially wary of Citizens; they blank in GW-33 (along with Southampton, Tottenham & Fulham).

And finally, that blanking GW-33 will follow close on GW-32’s heels next Friday, so stay sharp. Among other turbulence, the Fantrax salary recalculation will come six hours early (02:00 BST Friday), but not soon enough for NMA’s player-picks article, which will come out while the GW-32 barn-door is still open.


Friday

Everton vs Tottenham

Spurs currently sit seventh with the Toffees trailing them by just a single point, so this tie carries massive importance for each club’s campaign for a top four finish. Neither team is in good form, Tottenham having won just one of its last four league matches and Everton none.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have already beaten Spurs twice this season, once in the reverse fixture and once in the FA Cup. And the Toffees still hold a game in hand. So perhaps the advantage rests with Everton, both on the day and for European qualification.

Notable outs and doubts:

Everton: Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains unavailable with an adductor issue.

Tottenham: Ben Davies is out with an injury suffered while on international duty, and Matt Doherty remains short of match fitness.


Saturday

Newcastle vs West Ham

Newcastle took a huge step toward survival with Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor. Now six points clear of 18th-place Fulham, they’re likely to find the going a bit tougher against the high-flying Hammers who sit fourth and have the form to stay there (sixteen points from their last eight games).

Notable outs and doubts:

Newcastle: Ryan Fraser is struggling with a groin issue, and Jamaal Lascelles is out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot.

West Ham: Declan Rice is a doubt with a knee injury; Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell are both uncertain due to hamstring injuries.

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Wolves vs Sheffield

Last Friday’s victory over Fulham was the first for Wolves in nearly two months. But with Europe now out of the question and another season in the Premier League all but locked up, there is little left to play for. The situation is similar for shambolic Sheffield, whose relegation to the Championship is essentially a foregone conclusion.

It’s hard to know what to expect from this fixture then. Wolves are missing some key attacking players through injury, and the Blades have the worst offense in the league even at full strength. Will we see a languid nil-nil draw, or will caution be thrown to the wind? Individual performances may depend on who’s looking for a summer transfer/contract and/or national team call-up.

Notable outs and doubts:

Wolves: Willy Boly has returned from self-isolation after a positive COVID test, but Ruben Neves remains out after testing positive on 12 April. Pedro Neto is out for the season after suffering a knee injury against Fulham. Raul Jimenez is building fitness but is not yet close to a return from fracturing his skull.

Sheffield United: Oliver McBurnie was withdrawn with a foot problem during the Arsenal game on Sunday; otherwise the Blades have no new injury developments.


Sunday

Arsenal vs Fulham

Ten points behind fourth-place West Ham, Mikel Arteta’s hopes for European qualification through league position are dimming. The Gunners are still alive in the Europa League though, having advanced to the semifinals after handily dispatching Slavia Praha yesterday (5-1 agg), so that route now appears to be their best chance.

Meanwhile, the Cottagers remain stuck in the relegation zone, having lost four straight. Another loss on Sunday would make Scott Parker’s climb to survival even more steep.

Notable outs and doubts:

Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in the hospital with malaria after contracting the disease while on international duty in Africa (blame editor Jeff for selecting him at deadline time for both Fantrax sides last week). Martin Odegaard has been struggling with an ankle injury and did not make yesterday’s trip to the Czech Republic.

Fulham: Tom Cairney will miss out with a knee injury that could cost him the rest of his season, while Ademola Lookman is a doubt due to a hamstring.

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Man United vs Burnley

The Red Devils extended their EPL unbeaten streak to eleven games with Sunday’s 3-1 thumping of Spurs, and they advanced to the Europa semifinals by defeating Granada at Old Trafford yesterday. Now solidly entrenched in 2nd in the EPL, they enjoy a seven-point lead over 3rd-place Leicester. Paul Pogba scored the winner the last time United faced Burnley, and lately he’s been prowling the middle of the pitch with a renewed swagger (much to Ken’s chagrin, I’m sure).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need his hot-and-cold French midfielder to maintain his current form, and for talisman Bruno Fernandes to rediscover his scoring boots. Burnley’s brand of football isn’t exactly easy on the eye, but it’s a very tough side to break down.

Notable outs and doubts:

Man United: No fresh injury concerns.

Burnley: Nick Pope missed the Newcastle match on Sunday with a shoulder problem and will be evaluated ahead of this match.


Monday

Leeds vs Liverpool

Neutrals who remember the 4-3 score in the GW-1 reverse fixture will be licking their chops at the possibility for fireworks on offer in this rematch. But Liverpool has scored only seven goals in the last ten league games, and Leeds has scored just nine in their last eight.

At the same time, Liverpool’s nearly-invincible defense of the 2019-20 campaign seems a distant memory now, and Leeds has kept just two clean sheets in all of 2021. So I do expect goals, especially because the Reds were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday and will now eye a top four finish as their ticket back into the next tournament.

Notable outs and doubts:

Leeds: Liam Cooper will serve the first of a three match ban. Raphinha and Rodrigo are slight doubts with knocks.

Liverpool: No new significant injury developments but plenty of well-known long-term absentees.


Tuesday

Chelsea vs Brighton

With the Blues positioned just one point behind 4th-place Hammers and two points ahead of 6th-place Liverpool, we can expect Chelsea to fight furiously for European qualification. However, they just punched their ticket to the UCL semifinals this week by defeating Porto 2-1 on aggregate, so they might become distracted by Real Madrid on their April 27th horizon.

Brighton has much less to play for, but in 15th place on 33 points, they’d certainly welcome another step toward guaranteed safety. I doubt the Blues will find things as easy as they did in their 4-1 hammering of Crystal Palace last Saturday.

Notable outs and doubts:

Chelsea: Mateo Kovacic is a serious doubt with a hamstring injury.

Brighton: Aaron Connelly is struggling with a calf injury sustained while on international duty.


Wednesday

Tottenham vs Southampton

The match against the struggling Saints is the second of Tottenham’s double, and ostensibly it seems like a prime opportunity for Spurs assets to pile up extra returns. But tread carefully; four days hence Jose Mourinho’s men have an EFL Cup final appointment with Manchester City. Will the Special One rest and rotate key players like Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to keep them fresh and fit for the Cup match? Will he instead give every key player a run-out to hone a fine edge on match-fitness? Or will he order energy-preserving game-day tactics that take the air out of the ball, resulting in few fantasy points for anyone on either side? He is Mourinho, so claim your fantasy points against Everton and consider anything from this match as icing on the cake.

Notable outs and doubts:

Spurs: see Everton match above

Southampton: nothing new

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Aston Villa vs Man City

One season after near-relegation, Aston Villa has had quite an impressive campaign, now sitting just outside the top ten, still with two games in hand. To put their success into perspective, if they had already played and won their two outstanding matches, they would currently be positioned in seventh place — just two points behind Liverpool. Theoretically then, they are still on the outskirts of the European qualification scrum. Unfortunately, their form has dipped during the repeatedly extended absence of talisman Jack Grealish.

But as I mentioned above, City will face Tottenham in the EFL Cup final just four days after this match, so Pep may preserve his heaviest hitters for the championship game. That could play right into Villa’s hands.

Notable outs and doubts:

Aston Villa: Jack Grealish remains unavailable with a never-ending shin injury. Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet were both subbed off against Liverpool Saturday; Traore is a doubt with a rib injury and Trezeguet will undergo surgery on his knee.

Manchester City: Sergio Aguero continues to struggle with his recovery from knee issues and a COVID diagnosis.


Thursday

Leicester vs West Brom

Happily, GW-32 closes with a match between two teams that still have everything to play for. The Foxes sit third and face legitimate Champions League qualification threats from the next five teams below them. And the Baggies are locked in a struggle for survival, currently positioned 19th, eight points from safety.

Dropped points would dim the dreams of either side. With Leicester on a two-game skid and West Brom on a two-game streak (scoring eight goals!), who knows what could happen?

Notable outs and doubts:

Leicester: Caglar Soyuncu will return from COVID self-isolation in time to feature, and Wes Morgan has been back in training since the beginning of the month after recovering from a back issue.

West Brom: Ainsley Maitland-Niles is likely to recover from a knock, and Robert Snodgrass is hoping to put a back issue behind him (see what I did there?). Kyle Bartley sustained a calf injury against Saints on Monday and will be assessed, but Branislav Ivanovich has no chance after tearing his hamstring last time out.

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Are you loading up on Spurs for their double, or do you smell a trap? How many confirmed Spurs are you Fantrax managers packing in at deadline time? Are you avoiding teams who have little to play for in favor of assets who still have skin in the game? Which matches are you most looking forward to, and which do you expect to be yawn-fests?

Please share your GW-32 teams and any late-breaking team news in the comments ahead of the transfer deadlines, and then stick around for the Live Chat!

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