December is looming, Ole is no longer driving the bus and Norwich may stay up? Match Week 13 has one stand out fixture but this season has proved with fans back in attendance, anything can happen.
Arsenal v Newcastle Utd
Since chatter about the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle started negative press has followed and intensified since it was finalised. Eddie Howes appointment has led to a spew of positive news stories, the training ground seems to be a happy place again with a dash of hard work thrown in. Points are vital till the transfer window opens and they could only draw last week at home to Brentford, now they face a bruised Arsenal, at The Emirates. Lunch time kick offs throw up strange results but this will not be one of those weeks. Aubameyang and Smith-Rowe will be looking forward attacking Newcastle’s backline but the potential difference maker could be Saka coming in off the right wing exposing Ritchies short comings as a defender.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang £9.9m CAPTAIN
BET SELECT - Arsenal win
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard's first game could have ended up so differently last week, Brighton dominated for large chunks but a crazy five minutes at the end of the match see two goals go in but Villa could have easily scored one more. With a full week to prepare Gerrard will feel confident he can get something out of his visit to Selhurst Park. Palace will want to bounce back after the draw with Burnley, the away point was not bad but conceding three goals will frustrate Vierra. The individual battles in this game are intriguing but the key two will be Villas defence handling of Zaha (Cash will have the speed but his defending is suspect while Mings & Konsa will not want to engage too tight with him and Targett has no hope) and a midfield energy clash of Conor Gallagher v John McGinn.
The Scouse Express train suffered a blip prior to the international break drawing and losing to Brighton and West Ham but they are back on track now. It’s hard to see how Southampton can come away from this matchup with anything, set pieces though will be key. Ward-Prowse arguably is the best in the Premier League from dead balls, Liverpool will aim not to give too many away as they will want to continue their recent dominance over Southampton. The Saints have not scored in this fixture since August 2019 and the last win goes back to March 2016. To me this game narrative will depend on how long it takes The Reds to score, early and it’s a rout.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Diogo Jota £7.5m
BET SELECT - Liverpool win
Norwich City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
I cannot believe I am typing this but Norwich go into this game looking for a third win on the trot! The Carrow Road faithful will be apprehensive though facing Wolves who are quietly going about their business. Going forward they possess varying types of players to hurt a defence but the key man is Jimenez, if he scores then points are usually gained by his team. The reintroduction of Gilmour and Cantwell to the line up obviously helped Norwich last week, maybe not so much this week but going forward those young studs will win more games for their side. It was criminal that Farke didn’t utilise them and one of the reasons why he is not in charge anymore.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Hee-Chan Hwang £5.8m
BET SELECT - Double chance Wolves or draw
Brighton & Hove Albion v Leeds United
Two of the best coached sides in the league face each other live on Sky in the evening kick off. Both possess plenty of sugar and spice but severely lack a killer, cutting edge in front of goal. The Seagulls defensively are the more secure out of the two but the flank attack of Harrison & James will keep the Brighton full backs honest. Both recruitment departments must be scouting hard to unearth a top class striker, with one either team can challenge for a European qualifying spot. Ultimately though Leeds need to pull away from the relegation zone, with so many games in December despite their injuries that could occur.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Pascal Grob £5.9m
BET SELECT - Draw
Brentford v Everton
Four games kick off Sunday at 2pm, this is a Brentford debut as a live Sunday game. Under the lights in evening games they have given the tv audience plenty to enjoy via the atmosphere and play on the field. I fully expect this to continue this week and bring them their first win in five games. Both sides are ravaged by injuries, The Bees are welcoming more back than The Toffees this is the key as the visitors squad is uneven. More faith in the youth talent from Goodison Park by Benitez would help his relationship with the fans but knowing him like we do it’s not going to happen. Doucoure returning will help but he will face a hefty battle in midfield in the form of Baptiste, Janelt & Norgaard. Ivan Toney has his scoring boots back on and Sunday would be a great chance for him to show the league how to take a penalty so far no decisions have gone Brentford’s way.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Shandon Baptiste £4.9m
BET SELECT - Home team to score a penalty
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur
After playing in the Europa Conference League playing away to Burnley is far from ideal, Siberian weather is sweeping England and Turf Moor will be as cold as anywhere. Thursdays embarrassing defeat surely must leave Conte wondering why he took on the job, his comments post match suggest a distancing from his skill set to the mentality of the players. The collective Clarets will be eager to capitalise on any errors by Spurs and on current form a few will occur. Son & Kane's match winning partnership surely will click back into gear soon, if they don’t then the Cornet/Woods will definitely make an appearance. Joe Rodon always impresses me for Wales and I hope in time Conte can extract that form from him in a Spurs shirt, one of his opposite numbers would just love a chance to play for his county, that being James Tarkowski.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Dwight McNeil £5.8m
BET SELECT - Double chance Spurs or draw
Leicester City v Watford
The difference in these sides so far this term is Leicester have turned potential losses into draws. After last week's amazing win over Utd Watford will expect at least a point from this away game. With the pace and power they possess across their forward line this is a big possibility but Leicester enjoy shaking up opinions most when all around them cast doubt. The Foxes themselves hold their own dynamic attacking line up any combination of Vardy, Barnes, Maddison, Iheanacho, Perez, Daka or Lookman can hurt the Hornets back line. That strength in depth should see the home side collect all three points but if they at any point play with fear the away side will punish them.
What better way for City to follow up their home win over PSG then to face the elite street fighters from The London Stadium. West Ham had one of those days last weekend when facing Wolves but Moyes will not allow that to happen in successive league games. Defeat is major possibility when playing the defending champions but the performance will be better from The Hammers and City will have to pull out all the stops to win. Antonio lining up against Dias is a mouthwatering proposition and the one guaranteed match up. Too often Pep rotates his squad (much to FPL fans dismay) but whoever he puts out there will follow his instructions to the letter. Declan Rice surely will be on the move next summer and The Etihad could be his new home, this is his audition.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Pablo Fornals £6m
BET SELECT - Man City win
Chelsea v Manchester United
The blockbuster fixture of the weekend may not end up producing the best game of football this match week as Tuchel will be mindful of the flair in the Utd camp, not losing is first and foremost in his eyes. The way Chelsea have attacked as of late they only need a few chances to score and any of their players can capitalise. Reece James for instance who has been involved in so many good forward moments is not just in great form he is a great player! It’s sad to say but not being humiliated again this season will be Man Utd’s aim, even more so in this game. By kick off a interim coach maybe appointed in the shape of Ralf Rangnick, the experienced German if hired will not be in charge but his presence will loom in the squads mind. Like with Conte being in charge at Spurs the playing staff now know they have a serious, precise coach.
FPL PLAYER TO WATCH - Donny Van de Beek £5.7m
BET SELECT - Chelsea win
If you follow my bet selects the acca is worth 363.62/1 with SkyBet, more conservative than normal but I need to improve on success rate or even win?
The first midweek league fixtures of the season are all on Amazon Prime next week and on paper seem better than this weekends set, but I think both MOTD's could be five star rated editions.