Thank god we have some games this weekend! It means I don’t have to spend my saturday nights in a bubblebath on the phone to Jimbob listening to him talk about the new girl he fancies. Anyway, I digress. Given the international break and the pending Champions League midweek games, there should be plenty of rotation in the starting XI’s.
Norwich v West Ham
Ruddy; Martin, Bassong, Barnett, Garrido; Surman, Tettey, Howson, Snodgrass; Kane, Holt.
This could be the Norwich XI. It also might not. No one should really have any players apart from Snodgrass or maybe Ruddy or Holt, who will all start. New signings Kane and Tettey will look to make an impact at the expense of Jackson and Johnson.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, McCartney; Vaz Te, Nolan, Diame, Benayoun, Jarvis; Cole.
Firstly, I reckon Big Sam will adapt to a slightly more defensive 4-5-1 away. I’m tipping the back four to remain the same, although Tomkins is too good to be riding the pine, Reid‘s form is keeping him out. The midfield is a bit more of a guess, but I think loan signing Benayoun will start with Jarvis (who missed last game), at the expense of Noble and Taylor. Cole regains the striker spot after Carroll has been ruled out for up to 6 weeks with a hamstring strain.
Arsenal v Southampton
Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Gervinho.
Wojech ‘buy a vowel’ Szczesny should return at Mannone‘s expense. While Koscielny is likely to be kept out of the back four that has kept 3 clean sheets from 3 matches. He should be introduced to the side during the CL games midweek. Diaby picked up a niggle midweek for France, and Wenger would be daft to risk him against the lowly Saints. The Ox gets the starting role above Walcott due to the latter’s midweek health issues, and Giroud should be relegated to the bench in favour of Gervinho, seeing as his finishing resembles something I do in the toilet.
Davis; Clyne, Hooiveld, Fonte, Fox;Lallana, Schneiderlin, Ramirez, Davis, Puncheon; Rodriguez.
A 4-5-1 for the Saints away seems to be the likely formation. While the defence looks set, there are a few positional battles in the midfield. Do Prado should miss out, half because of his midweek drink driving mishap and half because he isn’t as good as the others. Puncheon should be picked ahead of Ward-Prowse, while the most notable exclusion is probably Lambert. I’m basing this selection of Rodriguez instead, on how Southampton rolled out against Man City earlier in the year, where Lambert was on the bench.
Aston Villa v Swansea
Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj; El Ahmadi, Delph, Ireland, Holman; Agbonlahor, Bent.
Guzan has been preferred over Given, while the last spot in defence is likely to be handed to either Lichaj or Baker. Delph looks like being given the nod over Bannan, while Holman should be preffered to N’Zogbia. The Frenchman’s prospects of First XI football look shaky given the return of Agbonlahor , who should be back to full fitness given the international break. God Villa need him back.
Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Tate, Davies; De Guzman, Britton, Michu; Dyer, Graham, Hernandez.
A bit of a makeshift back four from Swansea, who will be missing Chico through suspension and Taylor due to that nasty leg break. He looks to be having a long stint on the sidelines, so expect Davies to slot in at left-back, as Michel Laudrup has confirmed. Tate will cover Chico as Monk isn’t fit enough. The mids get a bit more interesting, and I’m guessing Ki will get a little bit longer on the sidelines before he can crack the first team. Knocking off Britton or De Guzman will be no easy feat, but I think when he has settled in then Britton will be the one to go. Hernandez is simply too good to not be getting first team football, and will be included at the expense of Routledge.
Fulham v West Brom
Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Kacaniklic; Petric, Berbatov.
Pretty straightforward for Fulham, where Berbatov looks to earn his full debut alonside Petric. Richardson is injured so cheapie Kacaniklic takes his spot. Senderos is still unfit so the centre back pairing will remain the same for another few weeks.
Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison; Odemwingie, Long.
First off, Reid is struggling with a hamstring issue, if he fails to regain fitness a start for Billy Jones is on the cards. Gera picked up a niggle in the midweek game v Hungary, so I expect him to start on the bench. Odemwingie returned to fitness last week after coming off the bench, so I expect him to come on alongside Long in the place of Fortune (how he was getting a starting role was beyond me.)
Manchester United v Wigan
De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Welbeck; Van Persie.
Positional battles everywhere. De Gea would regain his first spot you’d imagine, while the now-fit Evans could challenge Ferdinand alongside Vidic. In the centre of the midfield, Carrick and Scholes should be handed roles from kick-off, with Cleverley‘s heavy involvement in the two midweek internationals harming his chances. Anderson looks fit and ready to step in where needed, having not played in the international break. Nani should take Young’s spot on the wing, a) because he is a better footballer, and b) because of Young‘s international obligations midweek. Kagawa looks to be afforded a bench role given his back injury midweek, meaning Welbeck is handed another start, while RVP has apparently shaken off the knock he received for the Dutch side.
Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Stam; Kone, Di Santo, Maloney.
Injuries all down the left side for Wigan, with Beausejour still missing with a hamstring and Alcaraz suffering from a niggle picked up midweek for his Paraguay call-up. This sees Figueroa possibly shift to the back three, while Stam or Lopez could be handed their first starts at LWB (Miyaichi also a possibility given the lack of personnel.) Up front looks fairly similar, with Maloney maintaining his edge of Miyaichi and Gomez as the player ‘in the hole’.
QPR v Chelsea
Cesar; Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Fabio; Hoilett, Granero, Park, Taarabt; Cisse, Zamora.
Loads of options for Hughes as he enters the game with all 12 summer signings available for selection. Onuoha will be pushing to take his spot in defence, while Wright-Phillips and Faurlin are also in contention. Cisse should pair up with Zamora once again, at Johnson‘s expense. Mbia will probably be given another week after picking up a knock on international duty.
Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand; Mikel, Romeu; Moses, Hazard, Oscar; Torres.
It’ll be tough to pick the lineup given the past international midweek games and the impending Juventus CL opener. Cole shouldn’t be risked, while the same situation goes for Terry. Ivanovic will probably be given another shot at RB following his capitulation v Atletico, but he will surely be wary of the pacy Azpilicueta waiting in the wings. Romeu should be handed his first start, as the only other CM, Lampard, has played 2 full games in the past week. Probably not worth playing a tired 34 year old. Meanwhile in the attacking midfield slots, Mata should be rested for this game before Juventus, handing Moses his first full debut for the club. Oscar might usurp Ramires in preparation for the Wednesday CL tie, and due to the former’s MOTM performance against China.
Stoke v Man City
Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Kightly, Adam, Cameron, Etherington; Walters; Crouch.
Back four remains the same, whilst Adam should make his full debut ahead of Whitehead and Whelan. Kightly should keep his role above Pennant on the wing. Walters should start in the hole again, but he has to be wary of Owen raring to play should his form drop.
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Toure, Garcia; Silva, Nasri, Tevez; Dzeko.
Zab will hopefully, for FPL owners, keep his spot above Maicon, while Kolarov should keep his place over Clichy. Garcia should be handed a start in the place of Rodwell, while Aguero looks to be afforded a bench start as he returns from that knee injury that bent so many over us over in GW1. Dzeko should get the nod over Balotelli given his hat-trick midweek for Bosnia.
Sunderland v Liverpool
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Larsson, Colback, Cattermole, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Bartley’s absence will mean Gardner will keep having to play back at RB, while the loan signing Rose should feature, as he is the only recognised LB. This allows Colback, to play in the middle, as Larsson shifts to the right to accommodate Johnson‘s apparent absence.
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly; Gerrard, Allen, Sahin; Sterling, Borini, Suarez.
Kelly will be filling in the back four again as Enrique regains fitness, while the midfield trio will be handed another opportunity to impress given their disappointing return last game. Sterling should keep his spot on the RW, but Rodgers has planted the seed of doubt in many FPL managers’ minds, by saying he will use the 17 year old sparingly.
Reading v Tottenham
Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McCleary, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak.
As Kebe isn’t expect back to full fitness for a couple of weeks, McCleary maintains his wing position. No other concerns here really, but the one player I’m looking to squeeze back into my team is Danny Guthrie, after seeing his new found role “in the hole”. Given Tottenham’s tendency to leak goals, could he and the Pog score big this week? Time will only tell.
Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Livermore, Dembele, Sigurdsson; Lennon, Adebayor, Bale.
Friedel should keep his spot over Lloris– the man just keeps getting the job done in the mould of Dustin Fletcher. Livermore should be handed a start, with Sandro reportedly being slightly below 100% following a long return trip to South America to play for the national side. Up front, Adebayor should take the starting striker role, with Defoe relegated to his trademark role as super-sub.
Everton v Newcastle
Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Naismith, Fellaini, Neville, Pienaar; Mirallas; Jelavic.
Gibson remains sidelined with a thigh complaint, meaning Neville joins the CM group and cult-figure Hibbert, enjoys a RB start. Osman should feature on the bench, while new-boy Mirallas will feature in the hole behind Jelavic. Pienaar has apparently shrugged off a thigh complaint and should run amok against a makeshift Newcastle defence.
Harper; Perch, Williamson, S.Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Anita, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba.
Oh me, oh my. Have fun against Everton’s attack at Goodison park Newcastle. Krul, Coloccini, Simpson and R.Taylor ALL are unfit for the clash, leaving Perch and Williamson isolated on the right-side of defence. $Cha Ching$ Pienaar and Baines owners! The midfield remains largely the same as it has been for most of the season, with Anita covering the injured Tiote. Things could get messy at Goodison this weekend. Expect Newcastle to park the bus VERY early.
Anyway that finally does it. Jesus those things take a while to write. Hope you all enjoyed it, and of course, if there are any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me over twitter! @tseagrim. That said, it is my 21st birthday party tonight, so if you tweet me tonight expect a lot of nonsense and dribble as a reply. If you live in Adelaide and see me motionless in a gutter, be a nice guy and put me in a taxi.