Guys! Gals! The international break is over and Premier League football returns this weekend! And boy oh boy, are there a couple of crackers to devour.
Sunday's clash between Liverpool and Tottenham arguably takes top billing, but Manchester City's trip to Fulham should produce a fair amount of entertainment, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will take charge of his first game as permanent Manchester United boss when they host Watford.
Most importantly, however, is the return of fantasy football. There are plenty of points available, with a few of the top six playing twice in the week, but who should you be looking to draft in ahead of Saturday's deadline? Check out our picks for who's hot and who's not below.
Jordan Pickford: Admittedly, the game between West Ham and Everton could finish with any score, but Pickford’s recent performances show he’s bang in form. The England stopper has picked up three clean sheets in his past four club games, and saved a penalty in the 3-2 win at Newcastle.
Angus Gunn: Gunn recently dislodged Alex McCarthy as Southampton’s number one and has repaid Ralph Hasenhüttl with some inspired displays. At just £4.3m, the former Norwich man represents great value at the back, having picked up 31 points from his five games this season, and a low scoring affair looks likely when the Saints travel to Brighton.
Neil Etheridge: He may be coming off the back of a clean sheet against West Ham, but the 29-year-old is facing a potentially hellish week. The Philippines international will be attempting to save shots from players like Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling as Cardiff take on Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of four days. It’s safe to assume he may ship a few.
Aymeric Laporte: Pep Guardiola has a bit of a crisis at centre back, with Laporte his only fully fit central defender, so that should ensure the former Athletic Club star starts in both games against Fulham and Cardiff. If City don’t manage two clean sheets from those games, fantasy managers up and down the land will be tearing their hair out.
Cesar Azpilicueta: Like Laporte, Azpilicueta is one of fantasy football’s prestigious defenders and has a few favourable fixtures on the horizon. While Chelsea have been iffy away from home under Maurizio Sarri, a trip to Cardiff should be relatively straightforward, while a Stamford Bridge clash with Brighton also looks favourable.
Kieran Trippier: Trippier is set to start at Anfield on Sunday with both Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters expected to miss the trip to Merseyside. Trippier, who has been disappointing this season following his exploits at the 2018 World Cup, is likely to face off against Sadio Mane, the league’s hottest attacker right now. It’s a recipe for disaster for Spurs, and for Trippier. Avoid at all costs.
Diogo Jota: The 22-year-old has been a major reason for Wolves’ excellent recent form, setting up two and scoring one in his last two league games. His partnership with Raul Jimenez has been key to the Wanderers’ hopes of qualifying for European football, and the pair will be confident of wreaking havoc against a defensively suspect Burnley side.
Eden Hazard: After scoring three goals on international duty with Belgium, you should be banking on Hazard to give you a sweet return for your £10.9m investment. Fixtures against Cardiff and Brighton seem ready made for Hazard, who has 13 goals and 11 assists in 29 league games.
Son Heung-min: The South Korean turned into Tottenham’s savour during Harry Kane’s injury absence, but since the England captain’s return Son has failed to deliver. Without a goal involvement in his last four games and with a game against league leaders Liverpool up next, it might be worth searching for other candidates for your £8.6m.
Salomon Rondon: The big Venezuelan is a notoriously patchy striker, and he’s enjoying an excellent patch at the moment. Rondon has three goals and two assists in his last five league games, and also netted in Venezuela’s 3-1 victory over Argentina. Arsenal are strong at home, but Rondon has the power to hurt their centre backs.
Troy Deeney: Similarly to Rondon, Deeney is in a fine run of form. The 30-year-old had a stormer against Leicester, scoring one and setting up another, and even got himself an assist in the 3-1 loss to Manchester City. At £5.9m, he’s worth a punt with Watford facing Manchester United on Saturday.
Marko Arnautovic: Javier Hernandez’s surprisingly good form has left the Austrian’s place in West Ham’s starting XI in doubt, having previously been the undoubted talisman for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. He scored twice during the international break, but hasn’t netted in the league since early January.