If I could chose one gif to open up the preview this week, it would be the one from the Simpsons where the child is crying saying “Stop! Stop! He’s already dead!” For you see, fantasy football is like being continuously kicked downstairs at the worst of times, but with the games coming thick and fast, you’re actually getting kicked on average 3 times a week. Anyway, enough feeling sorry for myself. Last gameweek, which finished barely 36 hours ago, I scored 49 points, which narrowly (and I mean narrowly) beat the average of 48. Considering my team mustered one goal between them, I will take it. More on that later. My ranking has decreased very slightly, I’ve slipped to 94,154th, but I’m clinging on to that top 100k place and things might improve. Maybe?
We’ll start with what I consider to be the main event of the weekend, and that comes at the Etihad where Man City host Spurs. What can you say about Man City? They’re really bloody good. They’ve broken the record for consecutive wins and they’ve basically got the title won by Christmas. In David Silva and Raheem Sterling they have Fantasy Football heroes who seem to deliver points every week, and barring some classic Pep rotation I suspect they’ll be the focus of many fantasy manager’s attention this weekend. Tottenham continue to infuriate, but they haven’t really shown up in the big away games at Old Trafford or the Emirates which further adds to the Man City appeal. As for Spurs, at least they always play to have a go so it’s worth keeping Kane about, especially if Mangala plays.
That game is the tea time affair, but there are two other top 6 sides in action in the Saturday 3pm’s. Arsenal have a straightforward looking home game against struggling Newcastle, where you’d expect the home side to rack up a few goals. Wenger shuffled his pack on Wednesday at West Ham, with Giroud getting a rare start and young Maitland-Niles playing at left back. Whether he sees this as an opportunity to rest a few others or not remains to be seen, but with an EFL Cup tie awaiting on Tuesday, I suspect that may be seen as a better opportunity to rest some legs. Chelsea are also in action at 3pm, and they will also be heavy favourites as they host Southampton. Eden Hazard has had a quiet few weeks, though he was taken off after an hour on Tuesday so he looks certain to start as long as there is no surprise injury news. The same cannot be said of Alvaro Morata, who remains a doubt with a back injury which kept him out of the Huddersfield tie. Willian or Pedro would be unlucky to be left out after both scored on Tuesday, which might mean Conte can afford to not rush Morata back.
Sunday sees Man Utd travel to West Brom, a game you’d expect Mourinho to win but Alan Pardew’s side managed to hold off Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday evening, so they are at least defending well. It’s the last game of Paul Pogba’s ban at least, his importance to Man Utd’s attacking player is never more important than when he is not playing. Liverpool are off to Bournemouth, which was 4-3 last season and they way both teams play, it might have a few goals in again, which is good news for Coutinho and Salah owners.
Everton remain a decent source of cheap players, mainly in defence. They host Swansea this week and Big Sam has stamped his organisation (anti-football) all over the team, so expect many more clean sheets to follow. Huddersfield are now about to embark on a decent run of fixtures, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can rediscover their early season organisation which has gone a bit awry in recent weeks. Brighton also have back to back home games, against Burnley and Watford, so investing in the likes of Lewis Dunk & Shane Duffy will be useful, or Pascal Gross if you fancy them for attacking returns.
As mentioned earlier, it’s Carabao Cup in midweek so that is the traditional time to rest players. Having said that, Klopp and Pep seem to rotate who they want when they want anyway, so take no notice of me.
I’m sticking with Eden Hazard as my pick, though I think Salah will also do fine down at Bournemouth. A lot of the “bigger” sides have favourable fixtures this week, and even Man City who don’t will probably score 2 or 3 anyway. They always do.
My own team managed to go out of the cup on goals conceded after a 49-49 draw. His team only had 1 defender complete 90 minutes, so I was always up against it. My only goal was scored by James McArthur, who I played in the absence of Morata. What a world. This week though, it looks like Ben Mee is finally back but I’m still waiting on news on Morata. At the moment, this is what I’ve got:
De Gea, Mee, Monreal, Kabasele, Loftus-Cheek, Gudmundsson, Salah, Hazard (c), Kane, Vardy, Morata. Subs: Elliot, McArthur, Daniels, Cedric.
If Morata is passed fit, I’ll probably bank the transfer. If he’s out I have no idea what I’ll do. That would be the unplanned element of this feature. I do fear it’s Monreal’s turn to be rested, but you can’t spend time worrying about these things.
Hopefully your team is in better shape than mine, but whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck and may all your arrows be green.