There’s plenty of pre-festive cheer to be had in the Premier League this weekend except if your name is Garry Monk and you’re now out of a job. Now that Jamie Vardy’s scoring run has come to an end we can focus on far more pressing matters such as will Wayne Rooney ever play well again and can West Ham sustain any more injuries? Find it all out, and more, right here.
Norwich v Everton
Norwich can’t buy a win right now and a match against Roberto Martinez’s exciting Everton side isn’t a promising proposition. Sunderland appointing Sam Allardyce as manager couldn’t come at a worse time for Alex Neil’s team as the number of sides that will finish below the Canaries is getting smaller by the week. Norwich don’t concede goals in huge numbers at home but they have won just once in their last 10 games and that was against a hapless Swansea. Everton are coming off a short week following Monday’s draw against Crystal Palace although there is no real pattern to winners and losers coming off that kind of schedule. Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley continue to cause plenty of problems for opponents and Leighton Baines’ return gives an extra threat from set pieces.
Who to Pick?
Robbie Brady, Norwich ($6,000)
Andre Wisdom, Norwich ($2,800)
Gerard Deulofeu, Everton ($4,900)
Romelu Lukaku, Everton ($7,800)
Crystal Palace v Southampton
All the stars are beginning to align for Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park and the latest tough test comes against an indifferent Southampton team. Wilfried Zaha is back from suspension for the home side meaning that it will be back to the same lineup that pummelled Newcastle two weeks ago. The England winger averages 3.3 dribbles per game this season and the twin threat he offers alongside Yannick Bolasie combined with Connor Wickham up front will start to bear considerable fruit. Southampton haven’t won in three Premier League games and the worrying part is that two of those have come at home to Stoke and Aston Villa. Ronald Koeman’s side are a very different proposition away from home, however, and have only lost once in seven games. This has included a win at Chelsea and draw at Liverpool. Saido Mane is Southampton’s own Bolasie/Zaha and combines with the finesse of Dusan Tadic to great effect. In Graziano Pelle they have one of the best pure goalscorers in the league and remember that Southampton have won their last seven league games against Palace.
Who to Pick?
Yannick Bolasie, Crystal Palace ($5,500)
Connor Wickham, Crystal Palace ($3,800)
Dusan Tadic, Southampton ($7,700)
Ryan Bertrand, Southampton ($3,200)
Man City v Swansea
The one game that looks like a home banker is this one as the out-of-form and now managerless Swansea visit a City side that is irresistible when en song. City haven’t failed to score at home this season in the Premier League and have already handed out a 6-1 (Newcastle) and 5-1 (Bournemouth) to two of the other sides scrapping it out down at the bottom. David Silva is back for City and will start to make the Citizens really tick from here on in. Well, until he gets injured again. Sergio Aguero is expected to make a recovery here and it all makes grim ready for the Welsh side. Swansea have won three Premier League games this season, two of them coming back in August and since then they have only beaten a pitiful Aston Villa. The goals have almost completely dried up (three goals in six games). Having Jonjo Shelvey back will add a bit more attacking intent as he isn’t afraid to shoot on sight as his 2.5 shots per game attest. Otherwise, there is very little else to get excited about. Especially if Bafetimbi Gomis’ epic goal drought continues.
Who to Pick?
David Silva, Man City ($5,800)
Raheem Sterling, Man City ($6,600)
Jonjo Shelvey, Swansea ($4,500)
Jefferson Montero, Swansea ($4,300)
Sunderland v Watford
Who’d have thought it: Sam Allardyce securing a Premier League defence against relegation. In all honesty, they haven’t yet come up against a fit and firing strike force and Watford bring this in spades. Allardyce has managed three wins and three defeats since arriving on Wearside and the side still sits in the bottom three, albeit much closer to safety. Playing a 3-5-2 formation owes a lot to daily fantasy football and there is a lot of value to be found in the likes of Patrick van Aanholt and DeAndre Yedlin, even if they end up losing. The visitors are being carried by a pair of strikers in Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney that just don’t look like stopping any time soon. Deeney has laid on four of Ighalo’s goals and with Jose Manuel Jurado pulling the strings in midfield, they have a great chance to escape with all three points.
Who to Pick?
Yann M’Vila, Sunderland ($3,500)
Patrick van Aanholt, Sunderland ($2,900)
Odion Ighalo, Watford ($6,200)
Troy Deeney, Watford ($5,300)
West Ham v Stoke
Slaven Bilic is going to start struggling to put a squad together such is the injury crisis that has enveloped Upton Park and Stoke look a particularly good prospect away from home right now. West Ham’s injury problems looked bad when Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia were both knocked out of the home fixture against Everton. They have worsened since, Winston Reid, Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho, all going down.It means that placing all their eggs in the up-and-at-them Andy Carroll brand is the order of the day. Stoke’s commander-in-chief, Ryan Shawcross, is the kind of guy that relishes a clash of this ilk. He’s the old Stoke of the Tony Pulis days. Just what you need on an away day in the East End of London. The new Stoke, embodied by Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay, will do their stuff up the other end and another double salvo from Marko Arnautovic is hardly out of the question.
Who to Pick?
Mauro Zarate, West Ham ($4,100)
Michail Antonio, West Ham ($2,700)
Marko Arnautovic, Stoke City ($4,300)
Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City ($4,600)
Bournemouth v Man Utd
Bournemouth come off the back of a win against the reigning champions in Chelsea and will certainly fancy their chances against an injury ravaged Manchester United side. Manager Eddie Howe hasn’t changed anything about his side’s style despite all of his big guns being ruled out for most of the season and Tommy Elphick, the club captain, is back and raring to go for this week’s game. The trouble for Bournemouth is finding a consistent striker to score goals and they are very much reliant on the likes of Glenn Murray, Josh King and Junior Stanislas popping up with the odd goal. The pace of the latter two could very easily trouble a United side that may be forced to continue with Varela at right back due to injuries. That list includes Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia. Phil Jones is back, however, and he is expected to play centrally alongside Daley Blind, leaving the full back positions to Ashley Young and Guillermo Varela. United did score two goals in the midweek loss in the Champions League to Wolfsburg. With Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera possibilities for this weekend, the attacking threat could ramp up another notch. Especially against a side with a very leaky defence like Bournemouth.
Who to Pick?
Matt Ritchie, Bournemouth ($6,200)
Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth ($4,100)
Anthony Martial, Man Utd ($6,100)
Ander Herrera, Man Utd ($3,900)