With this round of matches coming immediately after a draining midweek schedule that unfolded under the shadow of Storm Henry, points may come at a greater premium as the stakes heighten for teams at both ends of the table.
With the title race set to enthral until the closing minutes of the season, one match alone provides the focal point in Game Week 25…
1/2. Joe Hart & Bacary Sagna – vs Leicester (H)
After a dominant 2-0 win at home to Liverpool, a Leicester City victory at Eastlands would universally confirm the Foxes as serious title contenders, but the highest priority for Claudio Ranieri will be to ensure that his side escapes Manchester with at least a point.
Although Ranieri’s Leicester squad have attacked many a team without fear throughout the season, a conservative performance can be expected from the Foxes, and the inclusion of Joe Hart is a wise move, along with any (Man) City defender.
3. Delle Alli – vs Watford (H)
Watford struggled to contain Tottenham in the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road and, for all their industry and team ethic, they do not have the consistency needed to climb the league in anger.
For that reason, two of Tottenham’s bright young jewels return to the fantasy football shortlist as Watford visit White Hart Lane, with the still-affordable Delle Alli again in the top six of essential inclusions.
4. Xherdan Shaqiri – vs Everton (H)
Shaqiri outclassed the entire Everton midfield during the Potters’ pulsating 4-3 at Goodison Park in the reverse fixture. With Everton’s defence as vulnerable as ever, the Swiss international is set to enjoy another fruitful afternoon against the Merseysiders.
Stoke City will be further buoyed by the presence of Giannelli Imbula, who arrived from Porto for a club record fee of £18 million GBP on transfer deadline day, adding strength to a midfield that has radiated great confidence in most games this season. By contrast, Everton’s midfield has been somewhat depleted of late, with an aging Gareth Barry the only regular feature.
5. Roberto Firmino – vs Sunderland (H)
After failing to live up to the hype created by a monumental training ground goal back in the summer, Roberto Firmino appears to be regaining the form that saw him identified as one of the most electrifying additions to the Premier League.
The appointment of ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce as Sunderland manager has arguably given the Black Cats a fighting chance of avoiding relegation, but they look far from capable of producing the winning run necessary to distance themselves from the drop zone. Expect an easy win for Liverpool, with Firmino providing an unrivalled attacking outlet against a poor Sunderland side.
6. Aaron Ramsey – vs Bournemouth (A)
Key players are returning for Arsenal at a telling time in their title challenge, but there is no room for complacency ahead of this weekend’s visit to Dean Court.
Aaron Ramsey has not emulated the attacking form of previous seasons, but he will not figure as prominently as the likes of Mesut Øzil and Alexis Sanchez in Eddie Howe’s playbook. With a greater license to roam, this could be a very productive weekend for the Welshman.