Super 8 Fantasy News

[EPL] MatchWeek 18 – Merry Christmas

As we enter the halfway stage of the Premier League, Liverpool go into the festive period as league leaders. This should be encouraging for them as eight of the last 11 champions have been on top over Christmas, although they have faltered twice in that position in 2008/2009 and 2013/2014. It now certainly looks like it’s going to be a two horse race at the top after 17 weeks – Liverpool and Manchester City. Manchester City reclaimed top spot last weekend after beating Everton 3-1 at the Etihad quite easily. That win put City into the top spot for 24-hours, with Liverpool taking on their arch-rivals Man Utd in the last game of the week. And 24-hours is all they held it for. City recovered from their 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge and played their usual free-flowing attacking football which was difficult for Marco Silva’s men to handle. Liverpool had 36 attempts on goal against a defensive Man United – the most by any team in the history of the Premier League before taking it quite easily 3-1! Liverpool now lead champs Man City and are 19 points ahead of Man United. 

Arsenal’s unbeaten run finally came to an end at St. Mary’s Stadium and Ralph Hasenhüttl, enjoyed a dream home debut as Southampton manager after Charlie Austin’s late header earned him a 3-2 win and the Saint’s their first in the Premier League on home soil since late April. The 3 points were crucial for Southampton as they are now out of the relegation zone above Burnley on goal difference.

The big news after the weekend fallout was that less than 12 months after getting a contract extension, Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United. But, despite the Mourinho news dominating the headlines, the show must go on and there is plenty of football on the agenda starting this weekend. While some leagues in Europe use the festive period for a winter break, the Premier League not only continues its calendar, but adds in some bonus fixtures. For most clubs, the next 17 days will feature five matches when you add in the third round of the FA Cup and it all starts with this weekend and this is where squad depth and preseason fitness work will be tested as a bad couple of weeks could have huge ramifications on the table.

This weekend, in the standout matches, Liverpool face a tricky fixture when the Reds visit in-form Wolverhampton Wanderers, Arsenal play host to Burnley, Manchester United make the trip to Wales to take on Cardiff City, and Chelsea host Leicester City. On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur visit Everton.

MATCHWEEK 18 – SCHEDULE

MatchWeek 18 Points Table 

MatchWeek 17: What we learned
Standout stats from last weekend’s action including Charlie Austin’s five-match scoring streak against Arsenal

Manchester City 3-1 Everton
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling scored only his second headed Premier League goal and his first since December 2015 against Sunderland
Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester City
Since his PL debut in February 2017, Luka Milivojevic has scored 16 goals, more than than any other Crystal Palace player
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Newcastle United
Salomon Rondon has four goals in his last six PL matches, as many as in his previous 24 in the competition
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Burnley
Mauricio Pochettino is the first Tottenham Hotspur manager to reach 100 Premier League wins, doing so in his 169th match with them
Watford 3-2 Cardiff City
At 19 years and 27 days, Domingos Quina became Watford’s youngest Premier League goalscorer
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 AFC Bournemouth
Wolverhampton Wanderers have won three consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since March 1980
Fulham 0-2 West Ham United
After going 16 matches without a goal or assist in the Premier League, Robert Snodgrass has been directly involved in five goals in his last four fixtures, with two goals and three assists
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea’s Willian has been directly involved in 50 Premier League goals, producing 27 strikes and 23 assists. He is the third Brazilian player to reach this landmark, after Philippe Coutinho, with 76, and Roberto Firmino’s 64
Southampton 3-2 Arsenal
Charlie Austin has scored in all five of his Premier League matches against Arsenal. Only Sterling, with six against AFC Bournemouth, has a better 100 per cent record of scoring against a specific PL opponent
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United
Xherdan Shaqiri has become only the second player to score at least two goals in their first ever match against United for Liverpool, and the first since Nigel Clough did so in January 1994

MatchWeek 18: 10 key facts
Standout facts ahead of the weekend’s EPL fixtures, as Liverpool look for a win that would guarantee top spot at Christmas

Wolves vs Liverpool
If Liverpool win they are guaranteed to be top of the table on Christmas Day. Each of the last four sides to lead the PL on 25 December have gone on to win the title, though the Reds themselves were the last side to fail to do so in 2013/14
Arsenal vs Burnley
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 17 goals in his 16 PL home matches with 12 goals and five assists, including two goals and an assist against Burnley last season
AFC Bournemouth vs Brighton
The Cherries’ Callum Wilson has scored in each of his last two league appearances against Brighton, once in the Premier League in January 2018 and once in the Championship in April 2015
Chelsea vs Leicester
Jamie Vardy has scored 27 goals in 47 PL appearances against last season’s top-six sides, including two strikes in seven meetings with Chelsea
Huddersfield vs Southampton
Southampton striker Charlie Austin has had a hand in seven goals in eight league appearances against Huddersfield, scoring five goals and adding two assists
Man City vs Crystal Palace
Man City have conceded only three goals in their last 10 PL matches against Crystal Palace, keeping eight clean sheets
Newcastle vs Fulham
Salomon Rondon has been involved in five of Newcastle’s last seven PL goals, scoring four goals and providing one assist
West Ham vs Watford
West Ham are looking to win five Premier League matches in a row for the first time since February 2006
Cardiff vs Man Utd
Of the 31 players with at least five PL goals this season, Romelu Lukaku has scored the highest percentage of them away from home. His five strikes on the road out of six works out as 83 per cent of his goals
Everton vs Spurs
Spurs striker Harry Kane has scored twice in each of his last three Premier League appearances against Everton. Only Michael Owen, versus Newcastle, has netted two or more goals in four consecutive appearances against a single team in the competition   Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review – Our Super 8
Wolves vs Liverpool
Still unbeaten and on top of the table, Liverpool just have to hold serve for the next 19 games and they will be Premier League champions… that’s probably not as easy as it sounds. What they do have to deal with this weekend is their first trip to the Molineux Stadium since January 2012 where they came away with a 3-0 win.

Wolves will put a three game winning streak on the line and they do have the comfort of winning their last meeting with Liverpool, an FA Cup clash in January 2017.

Our Super 8
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves
Liverpool: Nathaniel Clyne, Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah

Arsenal vs Burnley
It turns out Unai Emery can’t fix every ailment from the Wenger era as Arsenal’s rough history continued last week. After having their unbeaten run ended at 22 games, they have a chance to kick start a new streak when they host struggling Burnley and the good news for the Gunners is that they have a great recent record against them with a number of exciting, and possibly controversial finishes.

Last season when the two met at the Emirates in Wenger’s final home game in charge, the Gunners ran riot 5-0, ending a run of five one goal wins against the Lancashire club.

Our Super 8
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, James Tarkowski, Chris Wood, Sam Vokes

Bournemouth vs Brighton
Two sides with two game losing streaks come into this game as they try to cement themselves as mid-table contenders while trying to rid themselves of some shaky form. 

Not only have Bournemouth lost their last two, they have dropped six of their past seven games and haven’t scored since the 22nd minute of their win over Huddersfield in early December.

Our Super 8
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Joshua King, Callum Wilson
Brighton: Mat Ryan, Solly March, Anthony Knockaert, Florin Andone

Chelsea vs Leicester
Chelsea have lost to Leicester just once in the last 16 years and given the respective form of the two sides going into this match, it seems like that streak will extend into 2019. The Blues are at short odds to win their third straight Premier League match and Leicester have lost their last two.

Our Super 8
Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger, Willian, N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Jonny Evans, Jamie Vardy

Huddersfield vs Southampton
Huddersfield’s season has officially entered “year from hell” territory as they prepare to host fellow strugglers Southampton.

The Saints pulled off an upset win over Arsenal at home and are favoured to make it two wins in a row here. Having scored just ten goals so far this season, it’s hard to see Huddersfield suddenly kicking into form although Southampton are conceding almost two per game.

Our Super 8
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Phillip Billing, Steve Mounie, Alex Pritchard
Southampton: Charlie Austin, Matt Targett, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Man City vs Crystal Palace
After their slip up against Chelsea, City returned to winning ways against Everton. They are at typically short odds against a Palace side sitting three points out of the relegation zone thanks to their win over Leicester.

The tough part for Palace though, their one win over City in the last 15 years came in April 2015 and aside from a battling draw on New Years Eve last season, they have lost the other 13 games in that time frame.

Our Super 8
Man City: Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling
Crystal Palace: Vincente Guaita, Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojević, Andros Townsend

Newcastle vs Fulham
A play in this game is not so much a vote of confidence for an inconsistent Newcastle side as much as it is a display of faith that Fulham’s struggles will continue. They have lost 12 of their 17 Premier League matches this season and have conceded a whopping 42 goals and have far and away the worst goal difference in the Premier League.

Our Super 8
Newcastle: Fabian Schär, Christian Atsu, Joselu, Salomon Rondon
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic

West Ham vs Watford
In terms of position on the Premier League table, this is far and away the most competitive fixture of the weekend.

Sitting in ninth and tenth respectively, both on 24 points and separated by just two goals scored, West Ham and Watford would be very happy with their starts to the season. West Ham are one of the in form sides of the competition, currently holding the second longest winning streak behind Liverpool, they will look to make it five in a row here.

This will be the biggest test for the Irons as Watford look capable of matching them.

Our Super 8
West Ham: Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio
Watford: Isaac Success, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Jose Holebas, Roberto Pereyra

Cardiff vs Man Utd
The first game of the post Mourinho era for Manchester United and they travel to Wales to take on Cardiff. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will takeover as the caretaker manager and his job will be to pull United up from a disappointing (by their standards) sixth place and close the gap on Arsenal and company.

It helps that Cardiff have not won against United since 1960 but it should be noted they have only played seven games since that match. United should take care of business and you can almost certainly count on them to get the post manager sacking boost – expect a big United win.

Our Super 8
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison
Man Utd: Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba

Everton vs Spurs
It’s just about time to ask the question, “are Everton good this year?”

They certainly have the potential to be the best of the rest in the Premier League, but they do need to end their four game winless run. That’s a big ask when they face a Tottenham side that is grinding out results even when they aren’t playing as well as they could. In a tipping competition you could take a flyer on Everton but anytime a side like Tottenham are over even money you have to take them as a value play.

Our Super 8
Everton: Yeri Mina, Idrissa Gueye, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison
Spurs: Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane

Manchester United begin life under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a trip to Cardiff on Saturday and with the huge distractions of Joe Mourinho’s sacking and last minute Christmas shopping, remember that a lot can change this weekend as two in form teams, Liverpool – league leaders, unbeaten, and on six game winning streak, and Wolves, who are are back on track with three straight wins meet in the opener early Saturday morning. Wolves have conceded the fifth fewest goals this season, but have let in almost three times as many as Liverpool. Also intriguing is the battle between the last two Premier League champions before Manchester City – Chelsea and Leicester City. Chelsea are hanging onto fourth place, Leicester are right in the midfield bunch. Chelsea are unbeaten at home this season with six wins and three draws, Leicester have lost their last two matches, the first defeats since the death of their beloved owner. 

The situation at United obviously has a knock-on effect for Tottenham, with their manager Mauricio Pochettino supposedly among the front runners to get the post permanently in the summer. If he is offered the job it will be a big temptation for him and it will be a decision that will keep him up at night. That could affect Spurs’ season too of course.Get your teams in now as the hectic festive season kicks off. 

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