Tim Ream and Solly March good budget options in Fantasy League
Newcastle United climbed into the top two of the Premier League for the first time in nearly two decades after their away victory over Leicester temporarily pushed them above current champions Manchester City.
Elsewhere last week, Wolves defender Rayan Ait-Nouri scored a stoppage-time winner to earn new head coach Julen Lopetegui his first victory in English football.
Fantasy managers have a few new faces to deliberate upon when making their selections for the final Premier League weekend of 2022. For example, Brighton midfielder Solly March is a solid option for those on a budget, while Fulham veteran Tim Ream is a strong defensive option as the Cottagers have kept three clean sheets in their last five games.
West Ham United v Brentford (3.45pm)
West Ham squandered an early lead to lose away to London neighbours and league leaders Arsenal on Monday. Kurt Zouma, Maxwel Cornet, Nayef Aguerd and Gianluca Scamacca are doubtful with various injuries this week for the Hammers.
Brentford held on, despite dropping a two-goal advantage, for a home draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day. Back-up goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, defenders Kristoffer Ajer and Aaron Hickey, and midfielder Shandon Baptiste are out for the Bees this weekend, while Frank Onyeka is doubtful with a hamstring injury.
Brentford have won both previous top-flight meetings with West Ham, coming away with a 2-1 victory on their last league visit to the London Stadium.
Liverpool v Leicester City (4pm)
Liverpool youngster Stefan Bajcetic became the youngest scorer in the Premier League this season, netting the third goal in their victory at Aston Villa. James Milner, Luis Diaz, Arthur Melo, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota remain out with a variety of injuries, while Curtis Jones is doubtful owing to lack of fitness.
Leicester struggled to make an impact and slumped to a smashing home defeat to Newcastle United. Jonny Evans, Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin, James Maddison and Dennis Praet remain out for the Foxes.
Liverpool hold the upper hand in this series, with 17 wins to Leicester’s nine through 32 overall meetings.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United (8.30am)
Wolves enhanced their survival chances with that away victory over Everton, the first in England for Spanish coach Lopetegui. Pedro Neto, Francisco Oliveira and Sasa Kalajdžić are out for the West Midlands club, while Jonny Otto and Adama Traore are doubtful this week.
Manchester United returned where they left off with a comfortable home win over Nottingham Forest to enhance their chances of Champions League qualification next season. Jadon Sancho and Diogo Dalot are doubtful this week.
United have won nine of the 16 overall encounters between the clubs.
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (11am)
Bournemouth could not find the net in their away defeat to Chelsea on Boxing Day. Neto, David Brooks, and Marcus Tavernier are doubtful this week for the Cherries.
Crystal Palace were easily beaten at home by Fulham, keeping the Eagles in mid-table. James Tomkins and Tyrick Mitchell are both suspended this weekend, Nathan Ferguson and James McArthur are also out, while Sam Johnstone is doubtful with a back injury.
Palace have four wins in this series through nine meetings, while Bournemouth have two victories.
Fulham v Southampton (11am)
Fulham are in full form after the dominant victory at Crystal Palace. Neeskens Kebano remains out with an Achilles injury, while Layvin Kurzawa and Manlr Solomon are doubtful this weekend.
Southampton fell to yet another defeat at home to Brighton. Tino Livramento remains out with a knee injury, while Romeo Lavia (muscle) and Theo Walcott (calf) are doubtful.
Saints edge this series with five wins to Fulham’s four through 16 league encounters.
Manchester City v Everton (11am)
Manchester City held off Leeds at Elland Road to move within four points of leaders Arsenal. Ruben Dias and Kalvin Phillips are doubtful to hamstring injury and lack of fitness respectively.
Everton were unlucky to be beaten at home by Wolves last time out. Andros Townsend and James Garner are out with knee and back injuries respectively, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is doubtful because of a lack of fitness.
City lead this series with 23 victories to 18 for the Toffees.
Newcastle United v Leeds United (11am)
Newcastle dominated Leicester to jump into second place for the first time since 2003. Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey and Emil Krafth remain out, the first two with calf injuries, while Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson are doubtful this weekend.
Leeds lost 3-1 at home to Manchester City on their return to league football, marking six defeats in their last nine games. Stuart Dallas, Luis Sinisterra and Archie Gray remain out for the Yorkshire side, while Illan Meslier, Liam Cooper, Mateusz Klich, Rodrigo, Jack Harrison, Crysensio Summerville and Patrick Bamford are doubtful.
The Magpies hold a healthy advantage in this rivalry, with 12 victories to Leeds’s seven.
Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal (1.30pm)
Brighton coasted past Southampton on the road to stay in the hunt for European football. Adam Webster, Jakub Moder, and Danny Welbeck are injured, while Moises Caicedo is suspended for yellow card accrual this week.
Arsenal came from behind to hold off West Ham to remain atop the table by five points. Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Jesus are out with muscle and knee injuries, while Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe are doubtful.
The Seagulls have a slight lead in this series with four wins to three for the Gunners; last season, these clubs scrapped to a goalless draw on the South Coast.
Sunday, January 1st, 2023
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa (10am)
Tottenham fought back to snatch a draw at Brentford on Boxing Day. Richarlison is out with a hamstring injury, while Djed Spence is ill.
Aston Villa were punished for a lack of finishing touch in their home loss to Liverpool. Diego Carlos and Jacob Ramsey are out for the trip to North London.
Spurs have a decent history against Villa, with 24 wins from 54 games against the West Midlands club.
Nottingham Forest v Chelsea (12.30pm)
Nottingham Forest suffered a heavy away defeat to Manchester United, and remain just inside the relegation zone. Giulian Biancone, Moussa Niakhaté, Omar Richards and Cheikhou Kouyaté are out, while Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White are doubtful this weekend.
Chelsea defeated Bournemouth at home to improve their optimism of Champions League football next term. Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Armando Broja are out for the Blues this weekend.
Forest have given a strong account of themselves historically against the West London side, though Chelsea hold the edge with four wins from ten meetings. The Blues won their last meeting at the City Ground 3-1 in February 1999.