After a dizzying array of games over the holiday period, the Premier League takes a brief break this weekend for some exciting FA Cup action. While the matches may be exciting, a few managers have recently implied that they’d be happy to rid themselves of these fixtures, calling them distractions to the Premier League season.
Fantasy owners can agree with that sentiment, as players participating in these games are only putting themselves at risk for injuries during these non-fantasy-counting games. Yes, it’s a very selfish way to think, but we don’t play fantasy sports for the charity of it.
There were a number of performances over the holiday period that looked to be starting points to effective fantasy production moving forward. On the other hand, a few injuries popped up that likely altered some fantasy teams, forcing managers to scramble for replacements.
Emmanuel Adebayor, F, Tottenham
Adebayor’s season couldn’t have turned around any faster. After being stuck in Andre Villas-Boas’ doghouse, Adebayor finally got his first start of the season December 22 against Southampton thanks to new manager Tim Sherwood. Adebayor responded with two goals in that match and he’s added an additional goal and an assist in his four games after. He’s developed a nice chemistry up front with Roberto Soldado, and he’ll likely continue to get starts for Spurs, especially if Jermain Defoe is sold during the January transfer window.
Wilfried Bony, F, Swansea City
There were high expectations for Bony after he joined Swansea this summer in a £12 million move from Vitesse Arnhem, and things only looked up when he bagged a brace in his first match, a Europa League qualifier against Malmo FF on August 1. He kept that positive momentum going, and scored his first Premier League goal in matchweek 1 against Manchester United after coming on at halftime. He slowed down considerably after that, which included a hamstring injury that forced him to miss three matches. However, a brace against Manchester City last weekend seems to be a turning point for Bony, who finally has his legs back and looks to continue to lead the Swans’ charge, with Michu continued to be sidelined with an ankle injury.
Jesus Navas, M, Manchester City
Navas has been in-and-out of the City starting XI this season, but he has really come on lately and seems close to solidifying his spot with the first team. He’s scored one goal and assisted on two others in his last four Premier League matches and seems poised to continue his fine form. While Yaya Toure and David Silva get most of the publicity from the City midfield, Navas has become an intriguing fantasy play with his increase in playing time.
Danny Welbeck, F, Manchester United
Welbeck has been filling in very well for the injured Robin van Persie (thigh) recently, scoring five goals in his last five league matches. A striker with that kind of line is usually an easy fantasy play, but with van Persie expected to return January 11 against Swansea, Welbeck’s days in the starting XI, and being United’s primary striker, are likely over. That being said, van Persie isn’t exactly the most durable player on the pitch, so don’t completely write Welbeck off just yet.
David Luiz, D, Chelsea
Manager Jose Mourinho isn’t exactly the biggest fan of Luiz, as evidenced by the latter’s inconsistent play this season. Luiz is once again being connected to Barcelona in a potential January transfer, but Mourinho has made it clear he won’t sell him for pennies on the dollar. If Luiz stays in London, he’ll have to dramatically improve his play in Mourinho’s eyes to garner more playing time, which obviously increases his shot at clean sheets. He also needs to cut down on his negative antics, as he's already earned a one-match ban for picking up five yellow cards, an impressive figure given that he's only appeared in nine matches this season.
Pablo Osvaldo, F, Southampton
Osvaldo has scored two goals in his last three Premier League matches, getting himself closer to more regular spots in the starting XI. However, he’s been handed a three-match ban for violent conduct during Southampton’s match against Newcastle on December 14. Due to the suspension, Osvaldo will miss most of January, sapping the positive momentum he had developed.
Frank Lampard (hamstring) and Branislav Ivanovic (knee) could miss all of January.
Aaron Ramsey (thigh) is expected to return January 18 against Fulham.
Daniel Sturridge (ankle) could get back on the pitch for Liverpool’s next Premier League match, which comes January 12 against Stoke City.
Sergio Aguero (calf) is targeting a return before the end of the month.
Robin van Persie (thigh) should return for United’s next league match, January 11 against Swansea City.
Artur Boruc continues to be sidelined due to a broken hand.
Michu (ankle) isn’t due back until early February, at the earliest.