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Manchester derby centre stage as players prepare for World Cup

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Transfer time: Now could be the perfect opportunity to bring Wilfried Zaha into your fantasy team (Photograph by Nigel French/PA via AP)

The Premier League returns for the final period before the World Cup with a large section of players pushing for coveted spots on their respective national team squads for the prestigious international tournament in November.

The month of October is congested as a result of the winter scheduling of the World Cup in Qatar and Fantasy managers must be conscious of rotation and potential injuries when making selection decisions.

Solid options this week include Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins. Congratulations must go to September winner Khano Smith, who gained 149 points with his team “Erik Eleven Hag”. Calum Maule leads the overall standings, amassing 480 points with team “Erik ten Hӓagen-Dazs”.


Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (8.30am)

Arsenal new recruit Fabio Vieira scored his first goal in English football in the 3-0 away victory over Brentford last time out. This weekend, Mohamed Elneny and Reiss Nelson are out thanks to hamstring and muscle injuries respectively. Cédric Soares, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard are doubtful.

South Korean forward Son Heung-Min returned to form with a hat-trick in Spurs’ 6-2 home win over Leicester. Lucas Moura, Hugo Lloris, and Ben Davies are doubtful for the North London derby.

The Gunners control this fierce rivalry, winning 22 of their 60 league meetings.

Prediction: 2-1

Bournemouth v Brentford (11am)

Bournemouth held on for a 1-1 draw away to Newcastle last time out. David Brooks is out, while Ben Pearson, Joe Rothwell, Ryan Fredericks and Lloyd Kelly are doubtful for the Cherries this week.

Brentford remain in the top-ten after scoring the fourth-most goals in the division so far. Christian Nørgaard is out with an Achilles injury, while Ethan Pinnock and new recruit Keane Lewis-Potter are doubtful for the short visit to the Vitality Stadium.

These teams have never met in the Premier League.

Prediction: 1-2

Crystal Palace v Chelsea (11am)

Crystal Palace have struggled for clinical edge this term, scoring just seven goals, the fourth fewest in the division. James Tomkins, Nathan Ferguson and James McArthur are out with various injuries, and Jack Butland is doubtful with a hand injury.

Chelsea began the reign of new head coach Graham Potter with a 1-1 home draw with Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League. N’Golo Kanté and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy are the only injury concerns for the former Brighton manager.

Chelsea have won their last five meetings with the Eagles, and 20 of their 26 overall.

Prediction: 1-1

Fulham v Newcastle United (11am)

Fulham have only failed to score in one of their first seven games. Harry Wilson and Manor Solomon are out this weekend to knee injuries, while João Palhinha is suspended owing to yellow card accumulation, and defender Antonee Robinson is doubtful with an ankle injury.

Newcastle came from behind to earn a 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth last round. Karl Darlow, Emil Krafth and Jonjo Shelvey are out for the trip to West London, with Allan Saint-Maximin, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimarães, Callum Wilson, and new signing Alexander Isak doubtful.

The Cottagers edge this rivalry with 12 wins to 11 for Newcastle.

Prediction: 1-2

Mohamed Salah could rack up the Fantasy League points as his Liverpool side take on Brighton. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion (11am)

Liverpool earned a critical home victory over Ajax in the Champions League just before the international break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita are out, while Caoimhin Kelleher, Andy Robertson, Ibrahima Konaté, Calvin Ramsay and Curtis Jones are doubtful for their first league game in nearly a month.

Brighton have won four of their first six games. They have since replaced manager Graham Potter, who was appointed by Chelsea, with former Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Roberto de Zerbi. This weekend, Jakub Moder is out with a knee injury, while Adam Lallana, Jeremy Sarmiento and Enock Mwepu are doubtful for the Seagulls.

Liverpool have won seven of their ten league meetings.

Prediction: 2-0

Southampton v Everton (11am)

Southampton have struggled for consistency in the first few months. They will miss key players Tino Livramento and new recruit Roméo Lavia because of knee and muscle injuries.

Everton would be reasonably satisfied with their start, despite taking just one win from their first seven games. Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, Nathan Patterson, and Andros Townsend are out with various injuries, while Jordan Pickford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are doubtful for the trip to the South Coast.

The Toffees edge this match-up with 20 wins to the Saints’ 14.

Prediction: 2-1

West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (1.30pm)

West Ham have taken just four points from their first seven matches. Defender Ben Johnson and new arrival Nayef Aguerd remain out for manager David Moyes.

Wolves have taken just six points from seven games, but a lot of their woes stem from injury concerns and lack of squad depth. Francisco Oliveira, summer arrival Sasa Kalajdžić, and Raul Jiménez are out for the West Midlands side, while summer arrival Diego Costa is lacking match fitness. Defender Nathan Collins is suspended for three games after being sent off against Manchester City.

These sides have scored the fewest goals in the division (three each), but Wolves edge the head-to-head with six wins to the Hammers’ five.

Prediction: 1-1


Manchester City v Manchester United (10am)

Manchester City remain firm favorites to clinch their third-straight league title. Erling Haaland has scored a record 11 goals from his first seven league games in English football. Aymeric Laporte, Kalvin Phillips, and John Stones are doubtful for Pep Guardiola’s team.

Manchester United have conceded only two goals in their current four-match league win streak. Anthony Martial remains out with an Achilles injury, while Martin Dubravka, Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Donny van de Beek are doubtful for the Manchester derby.

United hold the upper hand in Manchester with 24 wins from 50 overall meetings.

Prediction: 2-1

Leeds United v Aston Villa (12.30pm)

Leeds United have made a steady start to their first full campaign under manager Jesse Marsch. Stuart Dallas is out, while Rodrigo and Junior Firpo are doubtful for the American.

Aston Villa followed up their impressive home draw to Manchester City with a solid win over Southampton just before the international match window. Diego Carlos is out with an Achilles injury, while Lucas Digne, Boubacar Kamara and Matt Cash are doubtful for the visit to Yorkshire.

The West Midlands club hold the advantage in this contest with ten wins to Leeds’s eight.

Prediction: 1-1


Leicester City v Nottingham Forest (4pm)

Leicester have taken just one point from their seven matches so far, leaving them bottom of the table. Ryan Bertrand and Ricardo Pereira are out this round, with Wilfried Ndidi and Patson Daka doubtful for the Scottish head coach.

Nottingham Forest have lost their last four games, conceding 17 goals in that span. Moussa Niakhaté, Omar Richards, Orel Mangala, Scott McKenna, Morgan Gibbs-White, and Emmanuel Dennis are doubtful for this East Midlands derby.

The Foxes have beaten their neighbours just once in six top-flight meetings, at the old Filbert Street in December 1998.

Prediction: 1-2

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Published September 30, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated September 29, 2022 at 11:08 am)

Manchester derby centre stage as players prepare for World Cup

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