With the circus that is picking the GW1 sides behind us, we can take a more accurate look at how sides should shape up. There were a few surprises last week, but this week SHOULD serve up far less.
Let me just start by saying Alan Pardew is a jerk and a liar. Glad I got that off my chest.
Ok so into the real stuff now…
Swansea v West Ham
So … let’s start with Swansea
Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Taylor; De Guzman Michu Britton; Dyer Graham Routledge.
Only one reeeeal positional battle here, with Sinclair and Routledge battling it out. Given the former’s involvement in a transfer with Man City I reckon Routledge is the safer bet.
West Ham have a few more positional battles… but I’m tipping a return to a 4-5-1 seeing as they are playing away against a team that LOVE to counter attack.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, McCartney; Vaz Te, Nolan, Diarra, Noble, Taylor; Cole.
This could really go anywhere depending on the formation. They SHOULD go defensive, leaving Cole as the lone striker up front. Tomkins was interestingly overlooked for a starting spot last week and was substituted on into the midfield as the Hammers parked the bus. Diarra could make his debut over Diame, but both aren’t really fantasy options so I’m not particularly interested in the battle. Vaz Te in the midfield is possible in a winger’s position, filled on the other side by taylor. I’d expect he and Taylor to play in defensive wing positions, only bombing forward when an attack is definitely on. Maiga looked lively when he came on, but his playing time depends on the formation Big Sam sticks with.
Aston Villa v Everton.
Starting with Villa
Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Clark; Ireland, El Ahmadi, Bannan; Holman, Bent, N’Zogbia.
A 4-3-3 should be the go for Villa, as they simply need to attack and play to their strengths. Both Holman and N’Zogbia should play with Bent in a front three, although if they choose to play a 4-4-2, one of the two will play in the hole behind Bent. Either way, both Zog and Hol should start. Bannan looks the other likely inclusion, while perhaps Stephens will be handed a starting role over Baker.
Everton rocked Man United last week, so should line up in a similar formation.
Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Gibson, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar, Osman; Jelavic.
On paper, it’s exactly the same side seen fielded last week, except I do expect Neville to make way for Naismith at some stage. Perhaps given Villa’s lacklustre attacking display last week this week will be the time to throw out a more attacking formation? Away from Goodison Park, you’d have to have big cojonès to pick someone based on that assumption. New signing Mirallas should feature from the bench, but expect him to get more game time over the course of the season over the likes of Osman. Coleman should again feature from the bench, with the most notable exclusion last week being Heitinga. Distin and Jagielka were phenomenal last week, so if he were to break into the team it’d probably be as a defensive mid… Perhaps at Gibson’s expense.
Manchester United v Fulham
De Gea; Valencia, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Kagawa, Carrick, Cleverley, Young; Rooney; Van Persie
Similar to last weeks’ side, except with Evans potentially fit he fills a massive gap at CB. If he’s still out, with Ferdinand still a 50/50 chance to play, expect Carrick to again pair with Vidic. What’s really baffling is SAF’s reluctance to play Fabio at RB, and unleash Valencia’s attacking potential down the RW. Perhaps this may be the week he finally buckles and plays Fabio, especially being at home, and without Fulham’s left-sided midfielder Clint Dempsey to deal with. SAF was also quoted saying he underused RVP, so expect him to get a starting spot and push Rooney into the hole, which means bye-bye Danny Welbeck.
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Dembele, Ruiz; Petric
A 4-5-1 for the Cottagers, and playing at Old Trafford I think this offers the most defensive cover. I’ve excluded Kacaniklic at the expense of the more defensive-minded Sidwell in the centre of midfield, with Petric playing as the lone forward and Ruiz playing an attacking midfielder role. Ruiz could alternatively make way for Kacaniklic. Dempsey has been ruled out until September, with the spat between he and the club looking irreparable.
Norwich v QPR
This will be the hardest teams to pick, especially seeing as both week they got absolutely smacked by mid-tabled sides. Expect a few changes, both positional and in regards to formation.
Ruddy; Martin, Turner, Bennett, Garrido; Johnson, Surman, Hoolahan, Pilkington; Snodgrass; Holt.
Norwich may use a 4-4-2 which sees Snodgrass play in the hole in front of Holt. Alternatively if they opt to go more attacking Morison may be employed at the expense of a midfielder (possibly Johnson). The omission of Hoolahan was very very odd, and I expect him to start as an attacking mid, at the expense of Howson. This is entirely speculative though, and I am not completely sure what Hughton will do to plug the holes in his sinking ship.
Green; Bosingwa, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Fabio; Hoilett, Park, Derry, Diakite, Taarabt; Cissè.
Firstly, what the eff was Hughes doing last week? Playing Mackie over Zamora was a questionable call, as I didn’t really know why they didn’t test the new pairing of Chico-Williams with two big targets up front. Last week they were KILLED on the counter-attack, so I expect Mackie to make way to give Derry a role anchoring the midfield. Say what you like about Derry; he’s old, he’s slow, and he wouldn’t know a goal if it smacked him in the groin, but the dude plays a DM slot very very well. He would be the perfect addition to stay back as the other midfielders bomb forward. Taarabt‘s role will be as a false winger, and depending on the state of the game, I expect him to drift into the hole behind Cissè. Bosingwa should get a starting gig and push Onuoha to the centre with Ferdinand, omitting Hill. In the coming weeks expect Dawson and Carvalho to get more game time and form a new CB pairing.
Southampton v Wigan
Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Davis, Schneiderlin, Lallana; Do Prado, Lambert, Rodriguez.
A 4-3-3 All out attack seems on the cards for Southampton. We saw last week that the CB pairing of Fonte and Hooiveld, can contain the best of sides respectably, so they shouldn’t worry about a lack of defense against Wigan. I’m tipping Ward-Prowse to be usurped by Davis, as he offers a cooler more experienced head in the midfield. Lambert should also come back into the starting XI, as he is integral to their attacking exploits.
Al Habsi; Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, Moloney, McCarthy, Beausejour; Miyaichi, Di Santo.
Wigan should have no problems with the way they handled themselves v Chelsea. Take out the first 6 minutes and they matched it with the Champions of Europe. Expect Beausejour to come in and edge out Alcaraz, if he’s fit that is. Moses has apparently had a fee agreed with Chelsea, so he might not start. This should hand Arsenal wonder-kid Miyaichi a start in his position. Boselli and Kone could also be afforded starts, but I expect Kone to feature from the bench again given that it’s an away fixture. Gomez will come on as a substitute for Snow White’s mate Shaun Moloney (Grumpy).
Sunderland v Reading
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Richardson; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Saha.
Bardsley remains injured so it will be interesting to see who fills in at RB- Last week it was Gardner. If they want to play a defender back there though Kilgallon will come into a CB and O’Shea will duck across to the right. Vaughan is also injured so Colback looks assured of another start- provided Gardner is playing RB. Brown remains injured and won’t feature, whilst Saha looks to be handed his first start for his new club, provided Frazier Campbell doesn’t get the nod.
Federici; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie, Karacan; Pogrebnyak.
In the away match v Chelsea, Reading stuck to a 4-5-1 formation, so expect to see that rolled out again. That leaves Le Fondre and Hunt on the bench, while Pog leads the line. Robson-Kanu looks to start again, but given the form of the team last time around it’ll be hard to crack into the XI. I’m tipping McCleary to be given a rest for this one, while Kebe remains injured.
Tottenham v West Bromwich Albion
Friedel;Walker, Vertonghen, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Sandro, Sigurdsson; Lennon, VDV, Bale; Adebayor
A 4-2-3-1 looks the go for Tottenham, unless they switch to a 4-3-3 to attack early at home. Either way, the same XI starts. Kaboul is in doubt with a knee injury, which hands Vertonghen his first PL start of his career. I expect the Livermore inclusion last week was just in order to nail down the centre midfield given last week’s tough task away at St James’ Park, and he should make way for a VDV start. I do have a sneaking suspicion that VDV won’t like AVB’s regime though, and I expect he will soon follow Modric out of the club… Adebayor also starts, as the club desperately need his attacking prowess. No offence to Defoe, but he doesn’t possess the aerial strength that Ade does to get on the end of the crosses Bale whips in.
Foster; Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Morrison, Mulumbu, Yacob, Gera; Long, Odemwingie.
It’s hard to say what they’ll do here, and if they wanted to act defensively a move to replace Dorrans with Gera isn’t out of the question. That does leave them with little attacking potential though and it would be very harsh to bench Gera after a sound display last week. Alternatively, if they wanted some height to test the new CB pairing of Spurs, Lukaku could come on for his first start and push Mulumbu to the bench, whilst adopting a 4-3-3 which saw Odemwingie shift to the right. No real injury concerns for the Baggies just yet though!
Chelsea v Newcastle
Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Mikel; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres.
Chelsea should line up the same as they did against Reading. Luiz looks to miss again with a knee injury, handing Cahill a start. At some stage, Essien and Romeu are going to have to get a game, so Lampard or Mikel could make way; when RDM makes this move though is anybody’s guess. Ramires wasn’t that flash after his first game back from illness, but Newcastle will be a good opportunity for his first run properly. Moses may have been signed in this time, but probably won’t start first game up.
Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, S.Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Guitierrez; Ba, Cisse.
I’m tipping Coloccini will recover in time for the game, as without him Perch/Williamson will struggle, so Pardew will do his best to “shove” him into the line-up. (teehee). Everyone else seems pretty much nailed on!
Stoke City v Arsenal
Begovic; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Kightly, Whelan, Delap, Etherington; Walters; Crouch.
Fairly straightforward for Stoke, who will use their beloved 4-4-1-1. Only one change from last weeks squad with Whitehead suspended for a two yellow outing. I’m tipping him to be replaced by Delap, but Palacios could just as easily step into the starting XI.
Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Cazorla, Diaby, Arteta; Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski.
The only change I can see them making to this side would be Diaby off for Ramsey, or Giroud on for either Gervinho or Podolski, probably the latter. Arsenal had 23 shots last week without scoring a goal, so their attacking influence is there, they just couldn’t hit the back of the net- so wholesale changes are probably not needed. Koscielny and Oxlade-Chamberlain are expected to miss again.
Liverpool v Man City
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Coates, Enrique; Allen, Lucas, Henderson; Suarez, Borini, Assaidi.
The ‘pool should make a few changes, some forced, some not. Agger is serving his red card suspension, so Coates should come on for him (Carragher was woeful after coming on last week). Enrique should also be fit which relegates Kelly to the bench. In the midfield, I’m tipping changes. They were comprehensively bettered by the baggies last week, with one notable name not adapting to Rogers’ game style at all. Gerrard might drop back to the bench for this one, although I’m doubting they’ll take on Man City without their prodigal son. Or was that Jay Spearing? I get them confused… Henderson needs to be given a shot at some stage, and what better time than after Gerrard was positively awful last week? Yeah you’re right, it won’t happen- I just want something interesting to write about. Up front Assaidi should be preferred on the left over Downing. Can you believe I’m actually running out of jokes about old Stewie? Crazy hey…
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; De Jong, Toure; Silva, Nasri, Tevez; Balotelli
I’m tipping Clichy to keep his LB spot over Kolarov, and I’m also betting on Rodwell being pushed to the bench in favour of De Jong as a physical presence in the midfield. The injury to Aguero opens up a spot up front, which should be taken by either Dzeko or Balotelli – it’s a coin toss as to which one though. Everyone else looks fairly assured of their spot. Barry and Richards remain injured.
Another 2,300 words down on a Saturday morning. Such is life. Anyway any questions/queries/banter hit me up on twitter @tseagrim. For all you gamblers out there, stay stuned because in a few hours I’ll be released my Betting Bonanza for the Weekend.