Lara Nash claims our first Fantasy League monthly prize
The wait is finally over!
We can now announce this season’s first Royal Gazette Fantasy League monthly prize winner...congratulations Lara Nash!
Lara’s intriguingly named team Hows the weather Dan’s impressive total of 288 points earned her the October monthly prize, provided by our title sponsor, One Communications.
Royal Gazette Fantasy League participants are encouraged to check their position in the table for the months of September and November with prize winners still outstanding.
Turning attention back to this week’s league action, and after a frantic festive period Manchester United find themselves on top of the table ... who would have thought it?!?
The resurgent Red Devils, who are unbeaten in 11 league games, find themselves with a three-point advantage over Liverpool ahead of a mouthwatering encounter between the teams at Anfield on Sunday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Bromwich Albion
A Midlands derby kicks off proceedings this weekend with both sides desperate to claim all three points.
Wolves will be looking to reignite a stuttering season having earned just two points from their past five matches. They have also won only one of their last eight since talisman Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull.
New Baggies boss Sam Allardyce is still searching for his first win in charge, having drawn two and lost three of his five games at the helm.
However, one glimmer of hope is that Allardyce is unbeaten in all eight league matches as a manager against Wolves, winning six of those games.
Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion
Another team desperate for three points is relegation-threatened Brighton.
Ahead of a trip to Leeds, Graham Potter’s side find themselves just one place and two points above the drop zone after a run of nine games without a win.
Despite their inconsistencies, United are comfortably in twelfth place, with a victory tomorrow possible enough to push them into the top ten.
The hosts are set to be without Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi but still expect Marcelo Bielsa’s side to be too strong for the visitors.
West Ham United v Burnley
West Ham will be aiming to build on a three-match unbeaten run when they host steadily improving Burnley at the London Stadium.
Tenth-placed Hammers come into the match on the back of an encouraging victory away to Everton, while the visitors, who are two places and four points above the drop will be aiming to bounce back from a hard-fought 1-0 defeat at home to Man United.
Worryingly for the home side, they have not beaten Sean Dyche’s men in their last three attempts and are also without a win at home in their previous three games.
Fulham v Chelsea
Five successive draws have seen Fulham pull themselves within two points of climbing out of the drop zone ahead of a West London derby against misfiring Chelsea.
The latest, a 1-1 draw away to title-chasing Tottenham, would have given boss Scott Parker huge pleasure, not only as an unexpected point but the manner of the performance, which arguably could have seen them claim victory.
While Fulham have been making positive strides forward, Chelsea have been moving in the opposite direction, finding themselves in ninth, ten points adrift of the summit in the wake of a three-game winless run.
That has led to questions being raised over Frank Lampard’s position in charge. However, history suggests that this fixture could be just the tonic for the under-fire manager, with Fulham failing to beat the Blues in their past 18 attempts in the league.
Leicester City v Southampton
Leicester will be aiming to maintain their outside bid for the title when they host Southampton at the King Power Stadium.
A 2-0 win away to Newcastle in their previous outing stretched their unbeaten run to four, leaving Brendan Rodgers’s side in fourth, four points off the pace of the league leaders.
However, Southampton pose a difficult threat and have shown they can upset the big boys, as in their 1-0 victory over champions Liverpool in their previous outing.
The Saints can also take confidence from having not lost in their previous four visits to Leicester, nor in their past seven away games.
Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur
It finally happened...after 17 failed attempts Sheffield United picked up their first victory of the season, overcoming Newcastle 1-0, courtesy of a Billy Sharp spot-kick.
While the result was not enough to lift Chris Wilder’s side off the foot of the table, it does give the Blades a faint glimmer of hope of pulling what could be the greatest of all escapes.
Sunday sees them host Tottenham Hotspur, who themselves will be aiming to make amends for a disappointing draw at home to struggling Fulham last time out.
While, the home side will take to the field with renewed optimism, Spurs manager José Mourinho will no doubt expect nothing less than three points from his side, which could lift them from sixth to second.
Liverpool v Manchester United
The standout clash of the weekend is a top-of-the-table clash between fierce historic rivals.
Somewhat surprisingly it is United who are in the driving seat ahead a trip to Anfield, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going from having his job on the line to masterminding an 11-game unbeaten run to hold a three point advantage over the hosts.
Since hammering Crystal Palace 7-0 in mid-December, Liverpool’s form has slumped, with the defeat by Southampton last time out extending their winless run to three in the league.
However, Jürgen Klopp’s men can still look to an incredible statistic of remaining unbeaten in their last 67 league matches at home, while they have also not lost to United in their previous four meetings.
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Manchester City remain lurking ominously in third place, having found form to reignite their previously stuttering campaign.
Ahead of hosting the Eagles, Pep Guardiola’s outfit have gone eight matches unbeaten to find themselves just four points adrift of their neighbours and crucially with a game in hand.
Roy Hodgson’s Palace travel to Manchester on the back of a positive run of their own, with a hard-fought stalemate away to resurgent Arsenal yesterday extending their unbeaten sequence to three matches.
However, despite taking points on their past two visits to the Etihad Stadium, including a 3-2 win in December 2018, Palace are overwhelming underdogs against a side who are unbeaten at home in seven.
Arsenal v Newcastle United
While the 0-0 draw with Palace saw Arsenal’s three-match winning run brought to a halt, Gunners fans will still feel optimistic about their team’s recent upturn in fortune.
Ahead of a visit from struggling Newcastle United, Mikel Arteta appears to have finally turned the corner, after finding himself under immense pressure prior to the new year, with his side now moving towards the top half.
In contrast, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce’s position at the helm is becoming more questionable by the day, with a strong contingent of Geordies demanding his departure.
Despite sitting comfortably seven points above the drop zone, the final straw for some was the 1-0 defeat by previously winless Sheffield United with that result making it six without a victory.
While defeat away to Arsenal would not normally warrant a manager’s sacking, it could prove one loss too many for Bruce, with pressure mounting from the passionate Newcastle faithful.