The chaos of the festive fixture programme is now dying away somewhat, with just the New Year’s Day matches left for Fantasy bosses to get through.
Saturday’s resting and rotation of several of the game’s big hitters made it a tough weekend for all, but things should return to normal for the first matchday of 2014. And by normal, we mean that Luis Suarez (£13.2m) will be scoring goals.
Of course Liverpool came unstuck the last time they faced Hull City at the beginning of December, and in addition to that the Tigers will head for Anfield buoyed by that remarkable second half showing on Saturday as they beat Fulham 6-0.
But the Reds will be determined to bounce back following their unfortunate defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea, the first time they’ve lost back-to-back matches under manager Brendan Rodgers, and at home both they and their forward have been in deadly form.
Suarez has scored a staggering 14 goals in his last six matches at Anfield, matches that Liverpool won with a combined tally of 23 strikes.
Hull’s defence has been impressive for the majority of the campaign, but in their 3-2 loss to Manchester United they showcased a worrying sloppiness which a team such as Liverpool, and more importantly a player such as Suarez, could exploit.
He’ll be backed up by Philippe Coutinho (£8.6m) at Anfield, and although the Brazilian scored at Manchester City on Boxing Day he really should be getting more goals for a player who plies his trade in his position. Raheem Sterling (£5.1m) scored three in four prior to those tricky away games, and he could be a better source of points here.
Defensively, Mamadou Sakho (£5.2m) limped off at Chelsea and has to be considered a doubt, meaning that Daniel Agger (£5.7m) could move back into the centre of defence.
Elsewhere, Arsenal go into their clash at home to Cardiff off the back of the win at Newcastle which took them to top spot.
Olivier Giroud (£8.6m) scored his first goal in six appearances there, with Theo Walcott (£9.5m) providing the assist.
There appears to be a bit of momentum building behind the Englishman as he revs up in time for the World Cup, and in the absences of Aaron Ramsey (£7.4m) and potentially Mesut Ozil (£10.1m) again, he could well emerge as the Gunners’ main man in the latter half of the season.
Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck (£7.1m) seems to be taking that mantle for his team currently, and following a run of four goals in four games he could be hugely important as David Moyes’ side host Spurs at Old Trafford, a match in which Wayne Rooney (£11.7m) should return from injury.
Eden Hazard (£10.1m) is currently living up to the high expectations they have of him at Chelsea, and after crucial goals against Swansea and Liverpool the Belgian faces a Southampton side that have just fallen away from the top spots in recent weeks. A compelling contest looks in store at St Mary’s, and Hazard will be central to it.
Manchester City are almost certain to recall the likes of Alvaro Negredo (£9.8m) and Yaya Toure (£10.0m) as they go to Swansea, but better value for money could well be found amongst the opponents that they so narrowly beat on Saturday.
Crystal Palace’s Marouane Chamakh (£4.8m) started on the bench at the Etihad, but he should return to starting lineup for the visit of Norwich to Selhurst Park, where the Moroccan forward has scored two in his last three appearances.
After proving so defensively solid at City, the likes of Danny Gabbidon (£4.2m), Joel Ward (£4.1), Damien Delaney (£4.4m) and goalkeeper Julian Speroni (£4.5m) will fancy their chances of a clean sheet against the somewhat toothless Canaries.
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