Wow, what a start! Personally, I’m reeling from not following more of my own advice from last week’s article! I’m sure most of you got pretty Rowdy! Fantasy Football is a marathon though, not a sprint and it’s how you finish that counts. Now that the anticipation and hype of the first gameweek has settled, we can start making decisions on how to improve our squad. Matt got it spot on in his Transfer Talk article this week, so I’m not going to harp on too much about those players who performed last week. Rather, let’s take a look at the fixtures this weekend and pick out those players that’ll rake in the points for you.
Fulham vs Arsenal
Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs; Duff, Sidwell, Boateng, Taarabt; Ruiz, Berbatov
Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Sagna, Jenkinson; Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere; Cazorla, Giroud, Walcott
Fulham may end up having a tough game at home to a side that has their back up against the wall. For those of you who went with Giroud and Walcott as your attacking options in the Gunner’s side, I’d stick with them as they’ll come out looking to right the wrongs of their loss to Villa last weekend. Cazorla should make his way back into the starting XI, with Oxlade-Chamberlin joining Arteta on the injury list. Laurent Koscielny was dismissed after 2 yellows last weekend and will sit this one out. With injury worries to both Gibbs and Sagna, I’d steer clear of Arsenal’s defense.
Ruiz surprisingly started last week’s game on the bench, offering Pajtim Kasami the role in “the hole” behind Berbatov. At 4.5 he’s a cheap option, but I’d stay clear of him. Keep an eye on the new acquisition Adel Taarabt. He’ll be available to start on the flank and could cause the Gunners problems. Fulham’s defensive options don’t come highly recommended. It is worth noting that keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was forced off with a shoulder injury at the Stadium of light on the opening day, offering Stockdale the chance to stake his claim at just 4.5. I can see goals for both teams in this fixture, with Arsenal edging it in a reasonably high scoring affair.
Everton vs West Brom
Everton: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barkley, Fellaini, Osman; Mirallas, Jelavic, Pienaar
West Brom; Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison; Long, Rosenburg
I expect Everton to be too strong at home for the Baggies. For those of you who haven’t already hopped onto the Coleman bandwagon, you might want to do so soon. Martinez may roll out a 3-4-3 formation at home, offering the Irishman even more opportunity to pick up attacking points. It remains to be seen if the 4.7 priced Barkley can hold down a starting berth should Darren Gibson shake off his knee problem. It is unlikely though that Gibson will be risked for this one. There is no security of starts for the 19 year old, so be careful before knee-jerking. I’m still holding out on Mirallas, I really think he can produce the goods at home.
The Baggies face 3 of last season’s top 6 in the next 6 gameweeks and Fantasy managers are still waiting to see what Steve Clarke’s side can offer them. At the moment, they haven’t revealed too much and I wouldn’t suggest there will be too much for them at Goodison Park. Note that Nicolas Anelka will not take part in this game after being excused on compassionate grounds. I predict a 2-0 victory for the home side.
Hull City vs Norwich
Hull: McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa; Livermore, Koren, Huddlestone; Brady, Aluko, Graham
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Redmond, Johnson, Fer, Hoolahan, van Wolfswinkel
The newly promoted side faces a tough fixture against the Canaries; however there is cause for optimism. Steve Bruce’s Tigers have a kind run of fixtures and will be looking to capitalise at the KC Stadium. Bruce seems to be favouring the 4-3-3 formation, bringing budget option, James Chester into contention. Koren at 5.0 stills looks like the safest bet in midfield, playing as the Tiger’s most advanced midfielder. It’s be interesting to see how Bruce uses his 2 new signings, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. Both could very well be offered full debuts at home.
A lot of Fantasy managers would have jumped onto the Steven Whittaker bandwagon after his impressive display against Everton. Bassong though, completed 90 minutes for the reserves this week, so Whittaker’s spot is far from nailed down. News from Chris Hughton yesterday indicated that Elliot Bennett will be out for a few months with a knee problem. I can see a 1-1 draw in this one, so I’d look at the hopeful return of Robert Snodgrass and the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel up top to snatch you some points. The 6.5 priced midfielder should return after a groin niggle saw him miss their opening game last week.
Newcastle vs West Ham
Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran; Sissoko, Cisse
West Ham: Jaaskelainen; O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Demel; Nolan, Noble, Cole; Diame, Maiga, Jarvis
Last week I tipped Nolan and Jarvis to get in on the action and they produced a goal and an assist between them. With Steven Taylor suspended for 2 league games after a red card in the game at City of Manchester Stadium last week and Santon still a doubt, the Hammers look likely to get even more attacking points. The Newcastle side will be struggling in defence and may need to look to their attacking players to sneak a result. I can see goals for both sides, so I’d look at the likes of Ben Arfa at 7.0, with Cabaye likely to be sidelined with speculation over his future at the club. Cisse may very well get in on the points, but at 8.5 seems a major punt at this stage. I think it’ll be close, but the Hammers might edge it at 2-1.
Southampton vs Sunderland
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Lovren, Shaw; Ramirez, Schneiderlin, Wanyama; Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert
Sunderland: Westwood, O’Shea, Roberge, Cuellar, Colback, Giaccherini, Larsson, Cabral, Johnson, Sessegnon, Altidore
The Saints are looking a class outfit at the moment and their squad is only improving! A game at home against a struggling Sunderland side offers the likes of Shaw the chance for more defensive (and attacking!) points. Clyne looks set to return to the starting XI after being fit enough for the bench last week. Mauricio Pochettino’s attacking options are increasing too and may look to partner new boy Pablo Osvaldo with Rickie Lambert upfront. Lambert is still your way into the Saint’s attack though with set pieces and penalties in his locker. Captain Adam Lallana looks a solid option at 6.0.
I expect goals from the home side, so I’d stay clear of the Sunderland defence. To be honest, I don’t see many attacking options from them either. Probably best just to pass on them for now and keep an eye out on Johnson and Sessegnon at 7.0 apiece. 2-0 Saints.
Stoke City vs Crystal Palace
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Whelan, N’Zonzi; Etherington, Adam, Crouch
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Dobbie, Jedinak, Dikgacoi; Gayle, Williams, Chamakh
This game is a bit of a dud in Fantasy terms, neither side offer too much going forward. It’ll be interesting to see whether Mark Hughes’ side can show the defensive resilience we’re used to seeing at the Britannia. I predict a clean sheet to the home side, so would look at the likes of Begovic in goals and Shawcross or Pieters to bring in some points. Should the home side get on the score sheet, either Charlie Adam or Jonathan Walters are likely to be involved. Adam’s playmaking potential is crucial if the Potters are to improve on the measly 34 goals from last season.
Should you fancy Palace’s chances of getting on the score sheet, Chamakh at 5.0 could be a nice little punt if he gets the game time. He came off the bench last week but looked lively, playing himself into contention. 1-0 Stoke.
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Aston Villa: Guza; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Luna; Westwood, El Ahmadi, Delph; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Agger, Toure, Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas; Aspas, Sturridge, Coutinho
Benteke! This boy is on fire at the moment and only Christiano Ronaldo and Messi have scored more than him this calendar year. I just can’t get past the Villains’ run of fixtures though and a blank in GW3 should deter you from bringing him in if you hadn’t already. However, I can see him getting one past Mignolet, so keep in him if you have him. Although Villa’s defence should be avoided during the early stages of this season, you can be sure they’ll present plenty opportunity for attacking points and Gabby Agbonlahor should get in on the action.
Brendon Rogers rolled out a 4-2-3-1 for the home fixture against Stoke last week, allowing Iago Aspas a role in “the hole”. This proved beneficial for the new signing, but the Anfield side may roll out a 4-3-3 formation away from home. Sturridge looked menacing and with a fairly kind run of fixtures to come, may prove to be essential at 9.0. I see goals for both sides and I think it’ll be harder for the Pool side than they expect. Expect Coutinho to get involved! He’s my pick for this hopefully high scoring affair, Liverpool edging it 2-3.
Cardiff vs Man City
Cardiff: Marshall; Connolly, Caulker, Turner, Taylor; Whittingham, Medel, Kim Bo-Kyung; Gunnarsson, Campbell, Bellamy
Man City: Hart; Zabaleta, Javi Garcia, Lescott, Clichy; Navas, Y Toure, Fernandinho, Silva; Aguero, Dzeko
It may seem like I’m picking on the promoted sides here, but I don’t see how Cardiff stands a chance against City, even at home. The Citizens will be without Kompany after tweaking his groin in Monday night’s fixture, cementing Lescott’s place at the back. Nastasic has returned to training, but whether the City Manager decides to risk him from the start remains to be seen. The most enticing option in City’s defence comes in the form of the Argentinean right-back, Pablo Zabaleta. At 6.0 he not only gives Fantasy managers assured defensive points, but his burst up the field offer attacking points as well. Forget the Cardiff defence. The City attack will take them apart. Dzeko had more shots on target than any other player last week and is sure to get on the score sheet should he be rewarded with a starting berth. Look to Silva at 9.0 to be the one providing the assists. At least 3-0 to City in this one.
Tottenham vs Swansea
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho, Dembele, Chadli, Sigurdsson; Soldado
Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies; Routledge, Britton, Shelvey Hernandez; Michu, Bony
Bale looks set to miss the home game against the Swans, but he may not be needed. Roberto Soldado showed last week that he could be a serious armband contender after calmly slotting home a spot-kick and collecting the maximum bonus points. Despite a lack of match fitness, the former Valencia man looks set to continue his impressive start after scoring 2 in Spurs midweek Europa League clash. With a role just behind Soldado, Gylfi Sigurdsson offers a decent attacking option at 7.0. Spurs should be too strong at home for the Welsh side, but it’s hard not to see the likes of Bony and Michu picking up some points. Bear in mind that Swansea had a Thursday night Europa League game against Petrolul Ploiesti, which will cause some concern for Fantasy managers looking at the Welsh outfit for options. I’m going for a hard fought 2-1 win for the home side.
Man Utd vs Chelsea
Man Utd: De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs; Welbeck, van Persie
Chelsea : Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Lukaku
The big game of the week and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take this one. Robin van Persie showed last weekend why he’s the most owned player in the league and many a manager will be furiously looking for a way to get him into their side before a home fixture against Palace in GW4. He’s worth having in your team for this one as well. The Dutchman has shown that it doesn’t matter who he’s up against. I’m pretty sure Chelsea will get on the scorecard, so I’d look at the attacking options from either side. Danny Welbeck at 7.5 had an impressive game against Swansea, but his game time may be limited should Wayne Rooney work his way back into the starting XI. It remains to be seen whether Moyes will take the chance of including the 10.5 priced Englishman against the club looking to pry him from Old Trafford.
Guessing what Chelsea’s lineup will be is almost impossible. The vast squad from Stamford Bridge will give Fantasy managers a headache trying to guess Mourinho’s tactics. Most would have expected Lukaku to start in either of his GW1 matches, yet he was given a place on the bench for both. With Lampard starting both games, he may be at risk, with the Chelsea manager looking to carefully manage the Midfielder this season. After being rested in Chelsea’s first game, Juan Mata may be the best way into the Blue’s attack this week. At 10.5, the Spaniard is more expensive than his compatriots but has a blank in GW3. Don’t bring him in especially for this one. I’m going to go with a goal scoring draw (although I’d love to see a United win!).
So that’s it from me this week, hope you guys enjoyed. Good luck!