Hello! It’s that magical time of year where there are more sets of games than I can keep up with. Therefore you’ve got the old Dave double deal as I look at GW18 (this weekend) and GW19 (Boxing Day) in one barely readable preview. But first, let’s look at last week.
It was looking like being a miserable week but Harry Kane’s late assist kicked us into gear for the remainder of the weekend. My score of 53 saw off the average of 43 and took my rank UP to 20,656th. The chances of those arrows being green come the end of the festive fixtures are slim to none.
An added confusion now is the removal of Jose Mourinho. Will Ole Solskjaer be able to polish the proverbial turd? Or maybe the players aren’t that bad after all? Without further ado, let’s get into some fixtures.
Liverpool get us underway with a trip to Wolves on Friday night. You’d obviously back Liverpool to score as even though Wolves have picked up of late, they don’t keep loads of clean sheets (ignore last Saturday). They welcome Newcastle to Anfield on Boxing Day too so Liverpool are good assets to have this Christmas. I guess the one worry is that the following two fixtures are Arsenal and Man City so there might be some managing of minutes going on but if you’re going to try and second guess that here, you’re a better man than me.
Nearest challengers Man City have had the added complication of a midweek fixture. Pep is like Ebenezer Scrooge, ready to ruin your Christmas by rotation. For the avoidance of doubt, you are Bob Cratchit in this analogy. However, Pepenezer comes round in the end of a Christmas Carol and I think there’s a chance he will here too.
I’m not touching the Aguero/Jesus dilemma but Sane sat out in midweek and Sterling was a sub both last week and in the cup game. So I’d say they are both safe for this weekend and Sterling, in particular, should be fine for Leicester away on Boxing Day. Kevin De Bruyne continued his comeback and got 71 minutes under his belt with a goal to boot. With so many games my gut instinct is that he’ll get more minutes from the bench this weekend but let’s be honest, all the Man City squad can and will be switched around over the next four gameweeks so select them at your own risk. You might get lucky or worst case, they’ll start at least one game in two.
Chelsea are a little easier to work out. They’ve got Leicester at home this weekend and it looks like Eden Hazard is back in goalscoring form. There was a worry over a knock but he appeared from the bench to beat Bournemouth in the cup to put those fears to rest. The thing with Hazard is that he’s almost certain to play unless he is injured as Chelsea simply aren’t as good without him. Watford away follows on Boxing Day which could be a lot worse. Clean sheets are still a problem though so maybe focus on the attacking talents.
Tottenham face the tricky trip to Everton in Sunday’s only game but a home game against out-of-form Bournemouth on Boxing Day might be a better source of points. Kane was afforded a rest against Arsenal, only appearing in the later stages and, like Hazard, if Kane is fit he’ll play. He loves this time of year if previous years are anything to go by so maybe that will convince you to invest in him. The only problems for Spurs are a defence patched up due to injuries and the rotation of their midfield players.
Arsenal are back in crisis mode. Maybe not, but two losses so far this week might mean changes from Emery. A home game with Burnley should be the perfect opportunity to put things right. Burnley have been poor all season but have shown signs of rediscovering their defensive stability after nearly keeping out Tottenham last weekend. Huddersfield also managed to keep Arsenal at bay for 80+ minutes so it can be done. The Gunners are struggling with defensive injuries as Bellerin is the latest to join the treatment table and the questions will be over whether Lacazette joins Aubameyang up front, something Emery hasn’t been too keen on recently. Arsenal are off to Brighton on Boxing Day, another game they should win but Brighton can be strong at home.
Man Utd. Oh, Man Utd. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has replaced Jose Mourinho which will either see the renaissance of Man Utd’s attacking flair or see things somehow get worse. Martial at £7.3m and Rashford at £6.9m are those who immediately spring to mind, or it could be a big welcome back to Paul Pogba at £7.8m. Personally, I’m going to wait and see who finds themselves back in favour but if you want to get a jump on the price changes now is the time. It’s Cardiff away and Huddersfield at home which present a great chance for points.
No bargain bin this week as I’ve rambled enough. I’d say Sterling, Aubameyang or Hazard (in that order) for this weekend. Sterling’s record at the Etihad is incredible, if he plays he will probably score and I’m fairly sure he will play. As for Boxing Day, Salah against Newcastle or Kane against Bournemouth seem the most likely captains.
I brought in Gundogan last week and I already regret it. Bellerin is injured so I’ll be replacing him this week, probably with Laporte. Obviously, that opens things up to more rotation pain but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Begovic, Laporte, Doherty, Robertson, Salah, Hazard, Richarlison, Gundogan, Hernandez, Wilson, Kane. Subs: Fabianski, Neves, Wan-Bissaka, Duffy (suspended)
Hopefully, it’s enough to keep us competitive but who really knows.
Any Other Business
With Wolves vs Liverpool on Friday night, the deadline is 7pm on Friday 21st December. The GW19 deadline is on Wednesday 26th December at 11.30am.
Your first wildcard will expire at the end of the year. Make sure you use it or you’ll lose it!
The Fantasy Cup is underway. I…probably should have told you that last week. If you’re still in, good luck!
That’s all for this week but I’ll be back next week with the final preview of the year. Good luck and may all your arrows be green – have a great Christmas.