Firstly, thanks to @FPL_Advice_Tips and @FantasyYirma for taking over this article while I was gallivanting through Europe… fair to say they set the bar exceedingly high- so sit back and enjoy one of Seags’ sub-par previews! Before we start though, I’d just like to say I’ve got a baaaaad feeling about this weekend’s fixtures. A host of League 1 and League 2 games have been postponed, and I can vouch for anyone up in Northern England that the snow is coming down faster than a Charlie Sheen cocaine buzz. Let’s hope we don’t get screwed over!
Liverpool v Norwich
Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Lucas, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling, Suarez, Downing.
Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Hoolahan, Pilkington, Snodgrass; Holt.
Liverpool are tossing up whether to play a nearly full fit Sturridge or not, but it remains to be seen where he and Suarez can both start in the PL. Wisdom continues in place of Enrique, while for Norwich, Holt returns and Martin continues at RB in Whittaker’s absence.
All signs point towards Liverpool smashing this game wide apart, after slotting 5 past them last time these two met. Suarez has made a habit of notching hat-tricks in this fixtures too (2 in his last 2 v Norwich). A few rumours have been circulating regarding the snow, but I imagine it should be cleared by tomorrow afternoon.
Liverpool should have way too much power for their “bunny” side in Norwich, and I’m tipping a 4-1 victory.
Man City v Fulham
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Nasri, Garcia, Barry, Silva; Tevez, Dzeko.
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs; Duff, Karagounis, Sidwell, Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Berbatov.
Y Toure is away at the CON so Garcia and Barry will hold down the midfield fort for Man City. The weekend will probably come too soon for Aguero, handing Tevez another start.
Fulham sees Ruiz and Berbatov return from their midweek break to provide the spark up front, while Karagounis will retain his CM slot that he’s been dominating recently.
From a matchpoint perspective I can only see this rolling one way. Fulham, without being terrible, have just had no killer instinct to kill off games, and have drawn 5 of their last 7. They also haven’t kept a clean sheet in 10 matches, so all signs points to a City riot. On City’s side, they were hardly troubled v a 10 man Arsenal last week so it’s hard to grasp of how their travelling, regardless, a 2-0 win at the Emirates and sitting comfortably in 2nd place should be enough to convince you Fulham are in for a hard day. City 3-0.
Newcastle v Reading
Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Perch, Cabaye, Guitierrez; Obertan, Cisse, Marveaux.
Federici; Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte; Kebe, Karacan, Carrico, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak.
Ben Arfa is still out but Cabaye climbed off the bench in last week’s game and should be ready. Ameobi will be pushing for inclusion up front in place of Obertan.
Kelly will most likely start at RB, while Carrico impressed against WBA and could start even with Leigertwood fit.
This is a massive game for both teams. For Reading, they have a real opportunity to grab 3 points against a side that was firing last year, while Newcastle are getting oh so dangerously close to the drop. This game is an odd one to pick: Reading still haven’t registered an away win in the PL, but Newcastle’s team on paper is TERRIBLE. No Ba, Ben Arfa, Tiote or S Taylor, a homesick Coloccini and an underdone Cabaye. Ouch.
I’ll have to back Newcastle though. This is as bigger MUST WIN as they’ve had in two years, and will have to rally to get some sort of result. Last year St James Park wasn’t an easy place to travel. My tip? I’ll go Newcastle 2-1 with absolutely no confidence whatsoever.
West Ham v QPR
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, Potts; Diame, Nolan, Collison; Vaz Te, Chamakh, Cole.
Cesar; Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Fabio; Mbia, Derry; Mackie, Taarabt, Granero; Remy.
West Ham have some troubles at the back, with Tomkins and McCartney out, with O’Brien a serious doubt. This means Demel is all but nailed on and Potts may deputise at LB. Elsewhere Noble is a doubt, handing Collison or Diame a start, while Chamakh will probably be preferred over other new signing Paulista, given his PL “experience”.
For QPR, Granero is a slight doubt but should be fit to play, while Remy should make his debut leading the QPR line.
God there’s a lot of tricky games to pick this week. West Ham should win at home, but their recent form has been rubbish, while QPR’s draw against Tottenham now means that they’ve taken 4 points in their last 2 games- both against top 4 opposition. Their tenacity on the ball under Redknapp has been a welcome change, and for that reason I’m tipping a dour one; a 0-0 Draw.
Wigan v Sunderland
Al Habsi; Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa; Stam, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour; Watson, Maloney; Di Santo.
Mignolet; Gardner, O’Shea, Bramble, Colback; Johnson, Larsson, N’Diaye, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Ramis is out for the year for Wigan- big whoop. Kone is away so Di Santo leads the line himself.
Sunderland is a bit trickier to pick, a host of new boys that are around First XI quality will be considered, but I reckon N’Diaye will be fielded at a CM post so Gardner can move back to RB instead of the erroneous Bardsley. Fletcher is expected to be fit after missing midweek.
This is another tough one to pick… Sunderland have been up and down, which is pretty much Wigan in a nutshell. Wigan have a history of winning when they need to, and being outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone is nearing panic stations for Martinez’s men. Sunderland have been notching a few results together lately, and with Johnson, McClean and Sessegnon finally starting to click together, Wigan could be in for a long day especially missing Kone on CON duty. Sunderland 3-1.
Swansea v Stoke City
Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies; Ki, De Guzman, Britton; Routledge, Michu, Hernandez.
Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron; N’Zonzi, Whelan; Walters, Adam, Etherington; Jones
No new injury worries for either team. Easy peasy!
This game is another that’s hard to pick. Stoke’s defensive record before the last month was stellar, but they have started being leaky recently. Swansea’s home record is not as good as their away record, which leaves the door ajar for Stoke to maybe snare a surprise three points. I’ll tip a Stoke 1-0 win in terrible, terrible fashion as they always do!
West Brom v Aston Villa
Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Odemwingie, Thorne, Brunt, Dorrans; Morrison; Lukaku.
Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Bennett; N’Zogbia, Westwood, Delph, Weimann; Holman; Benteke.
Reid is out with a leg knock while Mulumbu will miss through CON. Yacob is rated 50/50 by Clarke, so Thorne looks set to deputise at CM, unless Long slips into Morrison‘s role and Morrison pushes deeper.
For Villa, Lambert has utilised a 4-2-3-1 in recent weeks, switching from the 3-5-2 that conceded 15 goals in 3 weeks. Villa’s lack of right sided players is pretty staggering when Albrighton is out, so N’Zogbia is literally the only person that could fill that void. Vlaar returns, while Dunne is still a week or two away.
On form, both teams don’t want to win this game. West Brom haven’t won in 5 with no clean sheet in 7 games, while Aston Villa have won just 1 game in their last 7… which was a fluke against Liverpool. West Brom at home though should be too strong. They have looked far better with Lukaku leading the line, and have traditionally been very strong at home against weak opposition. I’ll tip a West Brom 2-0 win.
Chelsea v Arsenal
Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Luiz, Ramires; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Ba.
Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Diaby, Wilshere, Cazorla; Ox, Walcott, Podolski.
For Chelsea, Terry is touch and go, with Cahill or Ivanovic most likely to be rested in favour of him. Lampard has started quite a few recently and is due for a spell, while without Moses it looks like Oscar is the only viable replacement given Rafa’s despise of starting Marin.
Arsenal will be without Arteta who will be replaced by Diaby, while Giroud is likely to warm the bench again.
This is another tricky game to pick. Chelsea have just 2 wins at home from their last 7 under Rafa, while Arsenal’s away goalscoring record leaves a lot to be desired, scoring only 15 in away games this year (Including 5 at Reading).
Chelsea at home are too hard to ignore though. I envision it being a tight game, as Rafa will NOT want to concede early at home, and I can see it ending in a 1-1 draw.
Tottenham v Man United
Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Naughton; Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Bale; Dempsey; Defoe.
De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa; Van Persie, Rooney.
Sandro is out for the year so Parker will slot back in, while Gallas is out leaving Dawson to start. Dempsey will tuck in behind Defoe given Adebayor is away at the CON.
Evans has been ruled out so Ferdinand and Jones should partner the defence for United.
This one is surprisingly hard to pick. Tottenham did United over at Old Trafford in the reverse fixtures, and at home they will surely fancy their chances of taking at least one point. United’s defence has been better of late, but is still prone to errors, and I can’t imagine Bale will run at Rafael all game without producing something. Rooney hasn’t been himself all year, and I think RVP is the most important player to United by a country mile. If he fires they win… they just have to get it to him. I’m going with an upset. Tottenham 2-1.
Southampton v Everton
Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Puncheon, Ramirez, Rodriguez; Lambert.
Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Anichebe, Neville, Osman, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic.
Mirallas is the only doubt for Everton, who returned to training midweek. For Southampton, they should line up as they have in previous games, but as Adkins has now been sacked it remains to be seen how they will line up.
Again, a tough one to judge. Southampton have picked up 18 points from the last 12 games, which is pretty much a polar opposite to the way they started the season. Everton have waned of late though, but I can see them having too much structure and diligence to lose to a resurgent Southampton. Everton 2-1.
Arsenal v West Ham
It’ll be hard to decide who plays this, as injuries/rotation will play a part, but you can see Arsenal winning this game in the area of 2-1 or 3-1. They’ve been scoring goals for fun at home recently, but they have also been very leaky. An inconsistent West Ham tends to be pretty dour away from home, and they will play the long ball as they always do- which shouldn’t trouble Mertesacker with his height and strength.
So there it is for one more week…. who are we confident on? Who do you think is struggling for a start? Let me know in the comments. Here’s to hoping for another Walcott masterclass!