By Neil Leverett
- Premier League returns after the international break as the festive period approaches
- Manchester City face tough bounce-back test at home to Chelsea, as Liverpool travel to Selhurst Park
- Jose Mourinho takes charge of first game as Spurs manager at West Ham United
PREMIER LEAGUE, ENGLAND – As the English top flight resumes after the international break, who do you need in your Fantasy Premier League team for Gameweek 13?
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As the Premier League returns for Gameweek 13 after the final but exhaustive international break of the year, the London Stadium will be front and centre of the footballing world’s attentions as West Ham United host Tottenham Hotspu,r and we are backing Harry Kane to be on target this Saturday.
Had anyone even mooted the suggestion that Jose Mourinho would be in the Spurs’ dugout for the latest London derby of the season, the source of such scurrilous thought would have been laughed out of the building. However, after Mauricio Pochettino’s shock dismissal earlier this week, that is where we are.
Taking charge of his third Premier League side, the Portuguese will be keen to get off to a flying start, but must do so against a Hammers outfit that are in a similar mid-table position and equally desperate of the win.
Kane could just be Mourinho’s ticket to a winning start to life in North London, and after scoring in back-to-back games for England, the Lilywhites’ hitman will be eyeing his place on the scoresheet.
Despite two league outings without a goal, Kane has netted three braces against the Irons in Spurs’ last eight league meetings against capital neighbours, and with Mourinho looking to the England striker to impress, West Ham’s increasingly worrying defensive frailties should provide Kane with that very platform.
Joining Kane is North London neighbour Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and as Arsenal wrestle with off-field problems in regard to the failing fortunes of boss Unai Emery, the visit of Southampton should get the Gabonese firing on all cylinders once more.
Starting the season in prolific form, Aubameyang is another player whose form has seemingly mirrored the problems of his team. Indeed since scoring at Old Trafford in late September, the forward has gone without a league goal in five Gameweeks.
Like his opposite number however, the Gunners will be under pressure to perform at the Emirates and accordingly, Aubameyang’s pace will cause the Saints a headache at the back.
Arsenal and Emery’s problems are unlikely to dissipate after the weekend is done, but with partner Alexandre Lacazette now with a month of full training under his belt, Gameweek 13 should see a return to form for one of the Premier League’s finest marksmen.
After picking up a vital win against relegation candidates at St. Mary’s fortnight ago, Everton will look to record a rare winning league double at home to another bottom three resident in Norwich City, and Djibril Sidibe gets our vote for the weekend.
Having displaced Seamus Coleman through injury, the Irishman’s lack of form has seen the French full-back tie down the right-back berth, and has added a steel to the back line as well as a capable outlet in attack, as we saw during his time at AS Monaco.
Recording a clean sheet on his debut against the Hammers, Sidibe claimed maximum bonus points at Goodison Park four games ago, and after providing the winner for Richarlison against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s hapless Saints last time out, the French international could be in for a haul here.
The Canaries could be a tricky opponent in the typically unpredictable first game after hiatus, but in the knowledge Norwich have not scored on the road since the second weekend of the campaign, the Toffees will be planning a sticky afternoon for Daniel Farke, with Sidibe at the heart of said intentions.
Breaking ground for Britwatch this season, we are going for an Arsenal double and to compliment Aubameyang, David Luiz‘s goal threat alone is enough to push him into Gameweek 13’s picks.
Still much-maligned, the Brazilian remains one of the biggest threats from set-pieces in the league and also was central to a rare Arsenal clean sheet at home to AFC Bournemouth in October.
As the colossus in the victory against the Cherries, Luiz netted the winner and also found the target in the Gunners’s toxic 2-2 draw versus Crystal Palace. Despite switching London allegiances, the ball-playing centre-back retains his threat.
With the added opportunity for Arsenal to impose themselves on Southampton’s soft underbelly, the hosts will be keen on keeping the Hampshire outfit out at the back, giving Luiz a two-handed source of points this weekend.
A Monday night clash with between Aston Villa and Newcastle United may not whet the appetite, but as a swansong to Gameweek 13, Villa Park could decent fair to end the weekend, and as the Birmingham side’s increasingly prominent talisman, John McGinn is the final pick of the week.
Tenacious as he is adept at finding the back of the net, the Scot was in the goals for the Tartan Army during the past seven days, and will be looking to add to his tally of four league goals so far on the Villans’ return to the top flight.
Steve Bruce has began to prove his doubters wrong in recent weeks, and after a hugely creditable win away to an albeit struggling West Ham, Newcastle may opt to go on the offensive in the Midlands. That could play into McGinn’s hands in particular.
Playing a 4-5-1 system, Villa’s attacking central midfielder could exploit the Magpies respective central two of Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey. McGinn has scored just once at home this season, but ahead of the rapidly approaching festive period, the Scot will be keen to see Villa hit some mid-season form.
Premier League Gameweek 13 begins on Saturday lunchtime, as West Ham United host Tottenham Hotspur, kick-off 12:30 UK time.
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