The Premier League says Happy New Year with eight games on the day following the biggest hangover of the year. It’s the first repeat set of fixtures so far this season and gives many teams the chance to avenge results back in August. We’ve broken down each one to help you build your line-up.
West Ham v Liverpool
Unbeaten in six games and ready to welcome back Dimitri Payet, West Ham kick off the weekend at home to a Liverpool side that had a fruitful Christmas period. The Hammers ended an eight game streak without a win by beating Southampton 2-1 on December 28th and it was only their second and third goals in five games. Manager Jurgen Klopp managed to achieve a 100% return over the Christmas period he criticised just days ago. It included 1-0 wins over table topping Leicester and a doomed Sunderland. Striker Christian Benteke scored both goals and reached half a dozen Premier League goals for the season since his move from Aston Villa in the summer. If West Ham win, it will be their first league double over the red half of Merseyside since 1963/64.
Who to pick
Dimitri Payet, West Ham ($6,500)
Andy Carroll, West Ham ($4,300)
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool ($6,500)
Christian Benteke, Liverpool ($6,100)
Arsenal v Newcastle
Arsene Wenger will be confident that his Arsenal side can keep up their title charge against Newcastle. Arsenal have lost just once at home this season (v West Ham, August 9) and are on a three game long winning run at the Emirates. Mesut Özil now has 16 assists for the season and his partnership with Olivier Giroud shows no sign of letting up. Newcastle are back in the relegation zone after a pair of losses over Christmas and are two points from safety. The Toon Army haven’t won against Arsenal in 10 league games stretching back to February 2011 and nothing suggests that will change here.
Who to pick
Mesut Özil, Arsenal ($8,500)
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal ($7,500)
Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle ($4,900)
Daryl Janmaat, Newcastle ($3,800)
Leicester v Bournemouth
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester were knocked off the top of the Premier League over Christmas and face a tough game at home to Bournemouth to kick off 2016. The division’s joint top scorers have failed to score in 201 minutes following a 3-2 win at Everton yet are only off the top of the league on goal difference and can return to the summit on Saturday. Jamie Vardy hasn’t scored in three games, which qualifies as a draught for the England international and he has already scored once against Bournemouth this season. The away side are three points off the bottom three and have lost just one of their last six games, against league leaders Arsenal. Eddie Howe’s men are another team that didn’t net over the festive period but they have won three of their last six games in the Premier League.
Who to pick
Riyad Mahrez, Leicester ($8,800)
Jamie Vardy, Leicester ($7,600)
Matt Ritchie, Bournemouth ($6,200)
Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth ($4,900)
Manchester United v Swansea
Louis van Gaal’s first opponent at Old Trafford may also be his last as United take on Swansea at the Theatre of Dreams. Only Aston Villa are on a worse run than van Gaal’s men and in the six games since they last won, United have scored just three goals. If any player epitomises this, it’s Wayne Rooney. The England captain has scored just two goals in 15 league appearances and is averaging 2.2 shots per game, which is almost half that of Philippe Coutinho’s Premier League leading 4.3 shots per game. Swansea’s form hasn’t been much better yet caretaker gaffer Alan Curtis will be pleased to come out of the festive period with four points plus two clean sheets. Swansea have beaten United 2-1 on the last three occasions they’ve met and Bafetimbi Gomis has two goals in two games against the Red Devils.
Who to pick
Juan Mata, Man Utd ($6,200)
David de Gea, Man Utd ($4,200)
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea ($5,500)
Lukasz Fabianski, Swansea ($3,300)
Norwich v Southampton
The Canaries will be confident of putting even more space between themselves and the bottom three against a Southampton side on a rotten run. Norwich have hit some steady form at just the right time to capitalise on the shortcomings of just about everyone else down at the bottom. In their current four-game unbeaten run at home, Alex Neil’s side have conceded just two goals and those were against Arsenal and Everton. The manager’s policy of tinkering with his team has paid dividends with 11 different scorers this season. Southampton’s 4-0 win against Arsenal is their only win in six games and papered over cracks that are still very evident. Shane Long has scored six goals in his career against Norwich and will once again be leading the line for the visitors. The home side haven’t lost this fixture on the past two seasons they met and considering the form of both teams it would be no surprise were it to go that way once again.
Who to pick
Robbie Brady, Norwich ($5,900)
Dieumerci Mbokani, Norwich ($3,400)
Dusan Tadic, Southampton ($7,200)
Shane Long, Southampton ($3,700)
Sunderland v Aston Villa
Relegation six pointers don’t often come this early in the season yet Sunderland v Aston Villa has all the makings of that very scenario. Sam Allardyce has failed to sprinkle a sufficient amount of relegation-avoiding fairy dust on the Black Cats since arriving and they are now a hefty seven points off safety (17th placed Swansea). The home team is also currently on a five game losing run, although that comes with the caveat that the five opponents were Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool. Villa still haven’t won since the opening day of the season and came away from the Christmas period with one point and a solitary goal from winnable games against West Ham and Norwich. Jordan Ayew did score once again, making it two goals in three games but he will miss the Sunderland game due to a fifth booking of the season against Norwich. Villa also haven’t lost at the Stadium of Light since 2010/11.
Who to pick
Jermain Defoe, Sunderland ($4,300)
Fabio Borini, Sunderland ($4,100)
Jordan Veretout, Aston Villa ($4,300)
Rudy Gestede, Aston Villa ($3,300)
West Bromwich Albion v Stoke
West Brom’s home win last season was their first against Stoke at the Hawthorn’s since 2006 and followed a wretched run of five straight defeats on home turf. Most of those victories were masterminded by their current manager Tony Pulis. Albion’s narrow 1-0 win against Newcastle on December 28 was just their third at home this season. Salomon Rondon and James McClean serve the final game of their respective three game bans thus meaning that goals will be hard to come by. Stoke have only lost twice away all season and could go fifth with a win. Marko Arnautovic has scored four of his seven goals in the past five games.
Who to pick
Chris Brunt, West Brom ($3,900)
Rickie Lambert, West Brom ($3,200)
Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke ($5,400)
Marko Arnautovic, Stoke ($4,900)
Watford v Man City
Saturday’s slate concludes with the game of the day that sees Man City visit in-form Watford. The home side emerged from a tricky Christmas period with a point from games against Chelsea and Tottenham, and will be without right back Nathan Ake, who was sent off in the defeat to Spurs. Odion Ighalo has scored in six straight games after another two goals over Christmas and only Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy have more than his 14 goals this season. Thanks to the late kick off time, City will know if they can go top of the Premier League when the game starts and Manuel Pellegrini can pick from almost a full complement of stars, apart from Vincent Kompany who remains out. Only Mesut Özil sits ahead of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva in the assist chart with the Belgian playmaker also contributing five goals to City’s cause. Watford still have the best form of any team in the Premier League and a win for the hosts would hardly be a surprise.
Who to pick
Odion Ighalo, Watford ($7,100)
Troy Deeney, Watford ($5,400)
Kevin de Bruyne, Man City ($7,800)
David Silva, Man City ($6,000)