Ahhhhh, it is good to have Draft Fantasy back. The international break is finally over and now we don't have to worry about another one for quite some time. Gameweek 12 will probably have its share of annoyances as some players will return late, while others have picked up injuries. Throw in there some note-worthy suspensions and we have lots to talk about. Let's get started with the first matchup, and it is a big one.
Man Utd v Arsenal
The first big news, if you have been living under a rock and didn't know, is that Zlatan is suspended for this tilt so Utd will have to look elsewhere for a striker. Rashford is likely to fill the void as Rooney could be dropped after his night out. Pogba and Mata seem like the best bets to be help the youngster and be involved in any scoring. The Utd defense is banged up right now with Bailly, Smalling out injured while Valencia and Shaw are question marks also. The Gunner's lineup has been fairly settled and should stay that way with Giroud still on the bench, but they will be without the services of Bellerín on defense so Jenkinson could fill in. They also survived an injury scare to star man Sanchez on the international break, and while he could be on the bench after returning late, it is a big matchup so expect him to start.
Everton v Swansea
Lukaku should be one of the top forward producers this week with a home matchup against the Swans. Bolasie has settled in well and Barkley is starting to show signs of life too. Barry is suspended, but they have Gueye returning so the team defending should not be too affected, so I still like Stekelenburg in net and Coleman on defense. Baines has a chance of returning and is a good fantasy play moving forward if he can stay healthy. Sigurdsson is the only Swansea player I am going to say is worth starting given the tough road fixture.
Stoke v Bournemouth
Stoke welcome back Arnautovic from his suspension and hopefully Shaqiri too if he can recover from his injury. Add Bony, if he shrugs off a minor injury of his own, and Allen, then Stoke have a decent shot a some fantasy production at home to Bournemouth. There is a reasonable chance at a clean sheet here so Grant, Pieters, Shawcross and Martins Indi can be used. Johnson is close to a return too so keep an eye on his situation as he has the most attacking upside. Bournemouth have slowed down considerably since their big 6-1 win over Hull with both Stanislas and Wilson picking up late, unknown injuries to frustrate fantasy managers. They are still your best two options assuming they are healthy. And don't forget defender Smith is suspended so stash him on your bench.
Sunderland v Hull
Other than Defoe and occasionally van Aanholt when the matchup has been good, I have not backed Sunderland players very often but this is the one, at home to Hull. Anichebe had a big impact last game with a goal and he drew a pk, he could be worth a start. Also if Khazri can lock down a starting spot then his creativity could lead to some fantasy production finally. There is the possibility of a clean sheet here so, factoring in his offensive upside too, this is another time to plug in van Aanholt, along with Pickford in net. At the same time, this can obviously be seen as a decent matchup for Hull so Snodgrass is a serviceable option but I am not going to stray away from him, but maybe Mbokani could surprise?
Watford v Leicester
Watford will be without their fantasy leading defender Holebas due to suspension and possibly starting keeper Gomes due to injury so the clean sheet chances take a hit. Leicester have been poor on the road this season so the likes of Deeney and Ighalo hold some promise. Leicester have many offensive weapons but figuring out which will start and then fire has been a tough task. Vardy looked lively for England and could be about to get hot while the Mahrez/Slimani connection is becoming more of a threat. Schmeichel is out injured so Zieler will continue in net.
Crystal Palace v Man City
Palace have been leaking goals as of late so this matchup could be good for City players. Agüero is coming off of a light workload for Argentina so he should be primed to fire. De Bruyne, Gündogan, Silva and Sterling would be the maximum midfield but not all may start coming off a busy break (Gündogan and De Bruyne in particular) and with Champion's League coming up too. I figure there will be goals for both sides here so neither defense is desirable. Palace are at home and City tend to concede so Benteke is an ok play and Zaha has been one of their better players recently.
Southampton v Liverpool
Liverpool are flying Firmino and Coutinho back from their international break on a private jet to ensure they are fresh for the visit to Southampton...taking the title challenge seriously I guess. The bad news is that Lallana is now out after picking up an injury in England's friendly with Spain. This may open the door for either Sturridge or Wijnaldum to get into the starting 11. Southampton are going to be a tough challenge so don't expect the usual Liverpool offensive outburst. As for the Saints, Austin will be fresh and they will be hoping Tadic's broken nose does not keep him out of action. I don't foresee a clean sheet for either so stick with the big guns in this one.
Tottenham v West Ham
Spurs have a myriad of players carrying minor injuries so predicting the offense is difficult this weekend but if you get it right then a home matchup with West Ham is a good spot. The big news is that Kane is back but Alli is likely out. Eriksen and Dembélé have been passed fit but Lamela will miss out. Son has slowed down of late but he will be needed to step up. On defense is where the points could flow as Walker and Rose have been getting forward a lot, but Alderweireld has been ruled out again. Dier or Wimmer will partner Vertonghen in front of Lloris. West Ham are still out of sorts though Payet is a special player and can come up with a moment of brilliance. Any other Hammers are a risk against a tough Spurs side.
Middlesbrough v Chelsea
Both fantasy stalwarts Hazard and Costa are carrying minor injuries but I expect both to shrug them off and be ready for the matchup with Middlesbrough. There should not be any changes made to a lineup that has 5 straight wins with 5 cleans sheets also, so Courtois, Cahill, Alonso, Luiz and Azpilicueta are all great picks. In attack, Pedro and Moses join the above mentioned Hazard and Costa, plus Matic and Kanté have begun to get in on the act too. For Middlesbrough, despite being at home, this Chelsea team is just too hot to go against, but they do welcome back Ramírez from suspension.
West Brom v Burnley
Burnley have not been much of an attacking threat on the road so West Brom could be a source of defensive points with Foster, McAuley, Dawson and Evans leading the way. Offensively, Rondón is fit and possibly Chadli (he will have to pass a late test), and along with Phillips are solid starts at home. For Burnley, Vokes has been leading the way and finding the net consistently recently so he is your man if you choose to back them.
So that is where we stand heading into Gameweek 12, as always, check the Friday team news for anything that could affect your starting lineup. Good luck and enjoy the return of the Premier League!
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