This weekend sees a hectic period of Premier League football start for players and fantasy managers alike.
On Saturday, all eyes will be on managerless Chelsea as they take on fellow strugglers Sunderland. Although the Blues’ players have lost popularity in the fantasy game it will be interesting to see how they perform without the “Special One”.
The evening kick-off sees Newcastle take on Aston Villa as Steve McClarren looks to win his third on the bounce.
Liverpool travel to in-form Watford on Sunday then title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City square up on Monday Night.
The Mirror looks at who you should and shouldn’t select to leap up your mini-leagues this gameweek…
Key injuries/ suspensions
Alexis Sanchez could return against Manchester City but continues to battle with a hamstring injury. A place in the starting eleven looks unlikely but Arsene Wenger may turn to the influential Chilean for impact off the bench.
Graziano Pelle has recovered from a knee injury and should make his comeback against Spurs on Saturday, a relief for the 13% of fantasy managers who own the Italian Stallion.
Today, Jurgen Klopp revealed that James Milner was out with a calf complaint and, although recovering quickly, Dejan Lovren will miss out.
Leicester City’s versatile Jeffrey Schlupp is sidelined for up to six weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury against Swansea last weekend. Danny Drinkwater will also miss out. As too will Robert Huth who serves a one match suspension.
Josh King has been in full training this week for Bournemouth and becomes a tempting out-of-position option for managers as the Cherries face an enticing clash with West Brom.
Aston Villa could be without Micah Richards and Gary Gardener as the two battle with niggling injuries. Andy Carroll is unlikely to be fit enough to make the trip to Swansea whilst Andre Wisdom will not face Manchester United because of a hamstring problem.
Favourable match-ups of the week
Mesut Ozil cannot stop assisting at the moment and the Gunners’ opponents Manchester City haven’t kept a clean sheet since early November. With Olivier Giroud now finding the net with consistency the German looks a more attractive option than ever.
Georginio Wijnaldum has shown flashes of brilliance lately and he will be looking forward to welcoming an Aston Villa side, who have conceded the most goal-scoring chances in the league, to St. James Park.
Big names/bandwagons to avoid
Although on paper Manchester United’s clash with Norwich looks like an easy win for the Red Devils their strikers could still be ones to avoid. Anthony Martial hasn’t scored in the league since September and while Wayne Rooney is set to make his 500th appearance for United, he may not be deployed as an out-and-out striker so is also one to avoid.
Elsewhere, Stoke host Crystal Palace in what could well be a “bore draw”. Therefore midfielders Marko Arnautovic, Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie might be better placed on your bench, despite their recent form, as each side has only conceded two goals in the past three matches.
Newcastle’s sudden upturn in form has brought Daryl Janmaat onto many fantasy manager’s radars. The Dutchman has a clean sheet and an assist in his last three and is showing glimpses of the form that saw him collate eight assists last season. The Magpies face the Villains who have failed to register a goal in seven fixtures this term.
West Ham’s Mauro Zarate also offers a cut-budget option. The 28-year-old netted against West Brom at the end of November and has looked goal hungry since then, setting him in good stead ahead of taking on a rudderless and leaky Swansea City.
Who should be my captain?
It’s hard to look past Romelu Lukaku this week.
Although the Toffees’ opponents Leicester City currently sit top of the league the Belgian is too hot to handle for any back-line with goals in each of his last seven appearances. The partnership that he has forged with Gerard Deulofeu is ruthlessly effective and the winger splits defences in two with pin-point through balls for Lukaku to latch onto. Robert Huth’s absence could leave the Foxes’ defence disorientated which boosts the striker’s appeal even more.
Jose Mourinho’s dismissal and Guus Hiddink’s imminent appointment means a change of playing style for Chelsea is in the pipeline.
Hiddink is renowned for favouring attacking football so the Blues’ forwards such as Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas could all come back into fantasy contention if the Dutchman manages to haul Chelsea out of their slump.
Injuries, doubts etc.
Here’s a round up of those who have been ruled out this weekend or face last-minute battles with injury niggles.
Out: Cazorla, Coquelin, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, Zelalem, Welbeck.
Out: Amavi, Cole
Out: Mings, Elphick, Gradel, Atsu, Wilson, Tomlin
Doubts: Hazard, Falcao
Out: Croll, Sako, Williams, Gray, Gayle
Out: Jagielka, Browning, Hibbert, Oveido, Pienaar, McAlney
Out: Huth, Schlupp, Moore, de Laet, Chilwell, Drinkwater, Hammond, James, Lawrence, Dodoo
Out: Gomez, Lovren, Flanagan, Rossiter, Ings, Sturridge
Out: Kompany, Zableta, Nasri, Fernando, Evans, Barker
Out: Darmian, Shaw, Rojo, Valencia, Schweinsteiger, Lingard, Wilson
Doubts: Smalling, Herrera, Young, Rooney
Out: Krul, Steven Taylor, Haidara, Williamson, Lascelles, Good, Obertan, Aarons, Bigirimana, Armstrong, Riviere, Toney
Out: Wisdom, Andreu, Jarvis, Elliott Bennett, Hooper
Out: Stekelenburg, Forster, Gardos, Isgrove, Rodriguez
Out: Mason, Pritchard, N’Jie
Out: Given, Muniesa, Odemwingie, Crouch
Doubts: Cameron, Bardsley, Shaqiri, Ireland
Out: Larsson, Cattermole, Buckley, Bridcutt
Doubts : Coates
Out: Tabanou, Fulton
Doubt: Shelvey, Eder
Out: Gilmartin, Hoban, Ekstrand, Smith
Doubts: Prodl, Behrami
Out: Foster, Yacob
Out: Reid, Burke, Henry, Payet, Lanzini, Moses, Samuelsen, Amalfitano, Sakho, Lee
This post was written by Fantasy iTeam