Alright we are back into FPL action again after the international break, well and truly into the home stretch with GW31 this weekend. Seags is holidaying in some exotic, remote location so I’m filling in – don’t be too harsh as I’m no guru like him! In any case with a bucketload of injuries to consider, here goes!
Sunderland vs. Man United
Mignolet; Gardner, O’Shea, Bramble, Rose; Sessegnon, Larsson, N’Diaye, Johnson, McClean; Graham
De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Giggs, Rooney, Kagawa; Van Persie
Sunderland have a host of injury concerns, with the likes of Cuellar, Cattermole and now Fletcher (out for the rest of the season) as confirmed non-starters. Then when you add doubts over Vaughan and Sessegnon and things start to get a little messy, although I think MON will be desperate for Sessegnon to play given Fletcher’s absence.
United however have very few concerns, in fact receiving the boosts of Nani, Jones and Scholes having recovered from their injuries this week. However Valencia and Hernandez will likely be rested following their workloads over the international break.
I get the feeling this will be a low scoring game, for various reasons. Firstly without Fletcher the Black Cats are losing a significant amount of their potency. Secondly and probably just as importantly, I think United will be lacking that killer instinct given how far ahead they are in the league.
I can’t see this game therefore being one for the video recorder, which also should cast some doubts over our potential captaincy options in RVP and Rooney. I have a sneaking suspicion United will still get it done, but a 1-0 type result wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever (I’m not even going to mention potential lineup craziness.. oh wait).
Arsenal vs. Reading
Fabianski; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Arteta,Ramsey; Podolski, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain,Giroud
Taylor; Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte; Robson-Kanu, Akpan, Leigterwood, McAnuff; Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
A lot going on for the gunners with Walcott and Wilshere missing through injury. I suspect Fabianski may start between the sticks whilst Sagna starts after returning from injury along with Vermaelen.
The Royals are a bit of an unknown with new manager Adkins stepping in. However Taylor will continue deputising for Federici whilst Pogregnyak returns from suspension. I suspect Kebe will miss as well due to a groin issue.
Arsenal really should be winning this game, even without some of their stars. However, I have this bad feeling the Royals will make things difficult, but there’s nothing founded there. I’d happily be backing in a gunners win at home, but I just don’t think the margin will be as great as some hope – maybe a 2-0 or even a 1-0 type result.
Man City vs. Newcastle
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Y.Toure, Barry, Silva, Milner; Tevez, Aguero
Elliot,Simpson, S.Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez; Gouffran, Anita, Cabay, Marveaux; Sissoko; Cisse
In good news for City Kompany declared himself fit this week whilst Aguero should also return having recovered from a knee injury. Take you pick who starts up front with him though, at the moment I’ve gone with Tevez.
Newcastle’s injury list is diabolical. First choice full backs in Debuchy and Santon will be missing through injury, along with Tiote in midfield. I suspect Simpson and Gutierrez will deputise in defense whilst Anita may get the run in midfield. Krul and Coloccini are still on the comeback trail from injuries, meaning Elliot will continue to deputise between the sticks.
If City are ever going to get things back on track, this will be the fixture for it. A significantly undermanned Newcastle lineup should be ripe for the picking, particularly with Aguero returning to boost City’s firepower.
As a result, City have to win and I think they can keep a clean sheet with Kompany back too. I’m predicting either a 2-0 or 3-0 type result.
Southampton vs. Chelsea
Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Ramirez, Rodriguez, Lallana; Lambert
Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Luiz, Lampard; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba
Not a lot happening for Soton, I suspect that Lallana and Shaw will play despite having knocks monitored in the lead-up. Apparently Forren and Hooiveld might feature but I can’t see it myself.
I haven’t tried to second guess Rafatation here, with their FA cup quarter final on Monday vs. United, who really knows what to expect here. Perhaps Bertrand could get a run over Cole whilst Mikel could play in place of Lampard for example. Terry is back as Cahill is in doubt, which I just feel is the more likely scenario than Luiz dropping back to CB again.
I can’t see Chelsea choking here but you just never know, especially after Soton’s effort against Liverpool in the last round of fixtures. Chelsea seem to generally give the impression they play better away from home, but in their past three away fixtures they’ve only managed to pick up a solitary point against Reading.
Rotations aside, I have to predict a Chelsea win – but I can’t see a clean sheet. I’m thinking a 2-1 win to Chelsea could be the best bet.
Swansea vs. Tottenham
Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico Flores, Davies; Ki Britton, De Guzman; Pablo Hernandez, Michu, Routledge
Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Dembele, Parker, Sigurdsson; Bale; Defoe
Only change likely for the Swans is Chico Flores returning from injury and replacing Monk. Dyer may push for a start but I can’t see Laudrup tinkering with it myself.
Dawson and Lennon look likely to return from injuries whilst I have Defoe starting in front of Adebayor. Apparently Kaboul is set for a return soon, however that’s not likely for another 1-2 weeks. Bale looks fine to start after a minor injury scare with an ankle over the international break.
I don’t see this as an easy game for Spurs to be honest, which is a good reason I won’t be backing Bale with my captaincy this week. I think Swansea will really try keep this tight and it could come down to a single goal winner.
However, I am feeling a draw here for some reason – the most likely being a 1-1 result but don’t write off a nil-nil either.
West Ham vs. West Brom
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Taylor, Diame; Cole, Nolan, Jarvis; Carroll
Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Dorrans, Morrison, Brunt; Lukaku
Nolan and Cole will be welcome returns to the side from injury, however unfortunately Noble will continue to be unavailable due to a shoulder injury.
The only real doubt here is Morrison who suffered a hamstring injury against Stoke last game week, forcing him to sit out of international fixtures for Scotland. I think he might still start however, otherwise possibly a formation adjustment could take place seeing either Long or Odemwingie getting starts.
The Hammers have been very up and down lately and I can’t see them grabbing a win here unfortunately. I will say however I expect this will be a low scoring encounter, which suits the Hammers.
I have this feeling this could be a draw, Nolan back makes such a big difference and his combination with Carroll up front is easily their best asset. I can’t see Lukaku being denied here easily either, so I’m predicting a 1-1 draw.
Wigan vs. Norwich
Al Habsi; Caldwell, Scharner, Figueroa; Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour; Di Santo, Kone, Maloney
Camp; Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Johnson, Howson, Hoolahan; Kamara, Holt
I suspect both Al Habsi and Caldwell will return after missing the past two wins, whilst McManaman is a severe doubt due to his injury two weeks ago.
For the Canaries, Camp will definitely play in between the sticks replacing Bunn who is suspended. Ruddy is fit again but will apparently be having a few games in the seconds before returning. Martin should be fine following him pulling out of international duties, whilst Tettey could push for a return – but I have him coming off the bench for now.
Wigan are absolutely on fire, they do it every year as soon as relegation appears imminent. I think this may be a tough scrap however as the Canaries want to ensure they don’t fall back into the scrap for survival themselves.
I’m predicting that Wigan will continue picking up points here, maybe not three but I can only see two results – a 2-1 win to the home side or a 1-1 draw. I’ll probably back the draw for now..
Everton vs. Stoke
Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman, Gibson, Neville, Mirallas; Anichebe, Jelavic
Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Etherington; Walters; Crouch
The big news for the Toffees is that Pienaar and more importantly Fellaini miss due to their well publicised suspensions. This leaves attacking options slim so I can see both Anichebe and Jelavic both starting. If that doesn’t eventuate I suspect Naismith will be involved somewhere in midfield. The good news is that both Howard and Jagielka should be fit to return.
For Stoke the key news is that Huth returns from suspension, which really shores up their defense. Wilson switches out to LB whilst Cameron is a doubt due to a heavy international schedule. I suspect he may be rested (I hope not), in which case Wilkinson will play at RB (oh dear).
I can really see the Toffees struggling offensively here, Pienaar and especially Fellaini are really central to most of their attacking threats. As such I can only see a Baines cross being the key component in offence – which really plays into the hands of Stoke.
I’m putting them on the line here and saying this will be a draw, specifically I’m seeing a really dour 1-1 type draw too. I can’t see how either side is getting onto the scoresheet given the ins and outs this week, which I think Moyes wouldn’t be too unhappy with under the circumstances.
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Baker; Westwood, Delph; N’Zogbia, Weimann, Agbonlahor; Benteke
Reina; Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique; Downing, Lucas, Gerrard, Coutinho; Suarez, Sturridge
Villa are likely to welcome back Baker and Delph, whilst Bent is also fit again but I can’t see him starting. Clark and Holman will be monitored following knocks in the international break, but I see the former still starting.
I suspect Reina will return in place of Jones which is vital really, given I don’t think the Australian is up to EPL standard. Otherwise there shouldn’t be any real surprises to the Reds lineup.
This is a bit of a danger game in my eyes as Villa really look to try and avoid the drop. When you couple that with Suarez’s latest controversy over the international break – it’s a bit hard to predict what sort of game we’ll get here.
I suspect however the Red’s had their hiccup last round losing to Soton, so surely they bounce back here right? I don’t think it’ll be as emphatic as we all hope, but I’m thinking the Reds will get over the line here with a 2-1 win.
Fulham vs. QPR
Schwarzer; Reither, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise; Dejagah, Karagounis, Sidwell, Duff; Ruiz, Berbatov
Cesar; Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Fabio; Townsend, Mbia, Park, Jenas; Remy, Zamora
I don’t foresee any real changes to either lineup here, I would suggest the only players likely to interrupt these lineups are Hoilett and Taarabt – which will be dependent on ‘Arry changing things up after their loss to Villa last round.
It’s really now or never for QPR, which sadly to me looks more like never. I can’t see the R’s getting the vital three points they need here, Fulham have been solid of late and Berbatov has been in brilliant form.
The Cottagers never really pile it on and they’re probably not likely to here against a desperate QPR lineup, but I still see them netting more than once – as such I’m backing the home side for a 2-0 win.
We won’t do the tipping this week without Seag’s here, but you can see most of mine in the predictions above – not that I’m the one to follow anyway as I’m coming last (albeit only just).
Anyway I hope this gets you by in what is a chaotic week for lineups with injuries and suspensions galore. Good luck to you all – I hope your captain scores a hat trick and your defenders clean sheet everywhere. I’ll be back for the review early next week, cheers!