One half of the season is gone, and we are on for the second half. Liverpool ended the first half of the season in first place and is eager to maintain that position at the end of the second half. Back-to-back wins for Luton Town means we might be seeing more changes in the bottom end of the table soon, so there is everything to fight for in the second half of the season.
With this in mind, let’s quickly take a look at the preview, team news and predictions of every fixture ahead of GW-20.
Luton v Chelsea
Two wins in two games for 18th-place Luton means Chelsea will have their hands full when they travel to Kenilworth Road on Saturday. The Blues have won two of their last three but still look fragile at the back, and Luton will surely be eager to take full advantage of any defensive lapses.
Luton welcomes back Jordan Clark, who was previously ruled out due to illness. The bad news coming out of Stamford Bridge is that new signing Romeo Lavia suffered a setback in the match against Crystal Palace and is now expected to spend some time out again. On a more positive note, Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling will return after serving one-match bans due to accumulation, and Mykhailo Mudryk has a slight chance of making the match-day squad due to a knock.
Aston Villa v Burnley
Villa has faltered in the last two games and is now at risk of falling out of the top four. The Villans collapsed from a winning position to lose to Man United. Burnley was also beaten (by Liverpool) at home and currently occupies the second relegation spot.
Lucas Digne picked up an injury in the defeat to the Red Devils and is expected to be out for almost a month. Robin Olsen is also ruled out due to a knock, while Boubacar Kamara is suspended. Matty Cash is expected to return after serving a one-match ban.
Injured Jack Cork has a slight chance of returning for Burnley on Saturday.
Crystal Palace v Brentford
It is a game between two sides going through bad spells. Palace has failed to win any of the last five matches, managing only two draws. Brentford, on the other hand, has won one and lost four.
Odsonne Edouard will be subjected to a late fitness test after recently stepping up his recovery from a knee injury. For Brentford, Ben Mee is suspended, while Frank Onyeka is expected back after serving a one-match ban for five yellow cards.
Man City v Sheffield United
Pep Guardiola’s Man City returned to Premier League action with a 3-1 away victory at Everton. The big news is that Erling Haaland is not expected back just yet, while De Bruyne is still working on match fitness. Stones picked up an injury in that fixture is ruled out, while Ruben Dias is a doubt due to illness.
Sheffield will have to do a lot better after falling to a home defeat in a relegation six-pointer against Luton midweek. The result means the Blades are last in the league and have their work cut out if they are to salvage this season. The duo of Gustavo Hamer and Anel Ahmedhodzic are suspended due to accumulation, while James McAtee is unable to face his parent club. Jayden Bogle is expected back after suspension.
Wolves v Everton
High-flying Wolves have lost only once in their last five games, putting four past Brentford in their last match. The likes of Hwang, Sarabia, Lemina and Cunha have been sublime for Wolves this season. Everton, on the other hand, has suffered defeat in the last two games after previously going on a four-game winning streak without conceding a goal.
The trio of Craig Dawson, Boubacar Traore and Hwang have been passed fit by Gary O’Neil. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the availability of Mario Lemina after he traveled to France to attend to a family issue.
James Tarkowski and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have recovered from knocks to be fit for this clash, while Abdoulaye Doucoure is expected to face a late fitness test.
Nott’m Forest v Man United
Nuno Espirito Santo grabbed his first win as manager of Nottingham Forest in the 3-1 impressive victory over Newcastle. The match also saw Chris Wood grab a hattrick. Just like Forest, Man United put three past Aston Villa from two goals down to secure a memorable 3-2 victory and halt a run of three games without a win.
Ibrahim Sangare is ruled out after picking a fifth yellow card in the win over Newcastle. Wily Boly will return after suspension. For Man United, Luke Shaw and Sofyan Amrabat are doubts due to injuries. Anthony Martial is also being monitored due to illness.
Fulham v Arsenal
Fulham will be happy to have Raul Jimenez back from suspension after the Cottagers lost all three games he missed. They were previously on a very good run, scoring five goals in back-to-back games. Willian is also a doubt due to a tight hamstring.
Arsenal fell to a surprising two-nil home defeat against West Ham to remain second on the table just two points ahead of Man City, which has a game in hand. Kai Havertz is expected back for the Gunners after he missed the defeat to West Ham due to suspension.
Tottenham v Bournemouth
Tottenham’s good run came to an abrupt end last week as Brighton put four past a makeshift Spurs back to earn a 4-2 win. Late goals from Davies and Alejo Veliz would have encouraged Ange Postecoglou, but more has to be done to sort out the defense. Yyes Bissouma remains suspended, while Dejan Kulusevski will join him after his fifth yellow. Oliver Skipp might return to add fresh legs for the North London side.
In-form Bournemouth has won the last four matches to rise to 12th in the league, level on points with tenth-place Chelsea. Striker Solanke has scored in the last three games for the Cherries and will again be relied upon to do the damage. Lewis Cook has a 50% chance of making the match-day squad for this fixture after stepping up his recovery from a groin injury in recent weeks.
Liverpool v Newcastle
Liverpool’s two-nil victory over Burnely took them to first on the long run, and they remained there due to the failure of Arsenal to get the better of West Ham. The win was the Red’s first in three games and will be eager to build on it against Champions League hopefuls Newcastle.
Newcastle’s season has been a topsy-turvy one, and midweek’s home defeat to Nott’m Forest has only made things worse for Eddie Howe. It doesn’t get harder than a trip to Anfield, and Howe will know that they will need to be at their absolute best to stand a chance of leaving Anfield with a point or more.
Jurgen Klopp revealed in the pre-match press conference that Alexis Mac Allister has a slight chance of being fit to face Newcastle. Newcastle have no new injury problems.
West Ham v Brighton
Back-to-back victories against big sides Arsenal and Manchester United has seen West Ham rise to sixth on the log and in competition for European spots. However, an injury to playmaker Lucas Paqueta will be a source of worry for David Moyes. The Brazilian has been the team’s main creative hub in recent weeks and it remains to be seen how long he will be out for. There’s uncertainty over the availability of Kudus due to his intended participation at AFCON. Nayef Aguerd and Kurt Zouma will be subjected to late fitness tests ahead of the encounter.
Brighton put up an impressive first-half display which included three unanswered goals in the match against Tottenham. Two late goals from Spurs highlighted the troubles the Seagulls have faced at the back this season. Captain Lewis Dunk picked up a late yellow card, so he’ll be suspended for accumulation. Igor Julio and Facundo Buonanotte are suffering from knocks, which makes them doubts.
Are you making any last-minute changes in the countdown hour? Have you played a use-it-or-lose it FPL wildcard? Who’s on your watch list for upcoming weeks? Are you preparing for AFCON player absences? Are you looking forward to fresh blood coming in during the January transfer window (and will you hoard transfers against losing a player or two)? Please log in to discuss these and ask your own questions!