This is the week that may see a few change ups! With a blank for Chelsea and Villa, those that loaded up for the double GW will have a decision to make. I expect Wildcards and lots of point deductions. If you planned your squad selection carefully, be patient and ride it out… It’s a long season. My midweek article “pointed” out the merits of beefing up in defence (pun intended!). They’re hogging the bonus points and it will be worth keeping an eye on the situation. A wise Judge once said to me, “Ask yourself one question… Are you adding value?” I think there’s a couple of midfielders that can ask themselves that very same question. The attacking returns of the 7.5 – 9.0 priced midfielders has been disappointing to say the least. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s fixtures and see whether we’ll give them another chance…
Man City v Hull
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Lescott, Clichy, Navas, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko
Hull: MacGregor, Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Huddlestone, Koren, Livermore, Aluko, Graham, Brady
City’s defensive frailties were exposed this past weekend in Wales. The injury to skipper Vincent Kompany has had a knock on effect to those with the likes of Zabaleta and Lescott in their squad. I’d expect Pelligrini to take a Mourinho-esque approach and tighten up against Hull at home. I don’t really see a way through for the Tigers and would back the likes of Zabaleta and Clichy to get their clean sheet. At the beginning of the season we would have looked at this match as an opportunity for some serious attacking points. In light of last weekend’s result, we may see a slightly subdued City team just grinding out a win. I predict a 2-0 win with Augero on the scoresheet. If you have the Argentine, captain him. Dzeko owners will be a little nervous after he was yanked off for Negredo in the game against Cardiff.
Brady showed us last week that he could be a potentially cheap out of position option at 5.0. Steve Bruce handed Livermore and Huddlestone starts last weekend and pushed the former United Midfielder out to the left of the front 3 in a 4-3-3 formation. Besides a trip to City, his upcoming fixtures look tasty with Cardiff, Newcastle and West Ham up next.
Cardiff v Everton
Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Gunarsson, Medel, Kim, Bellamy, Campbell, Whittingham
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barkley, Fellaini, Osman, Mirallas, Jelavic, Pienaar
Cardiff could prove to be tough to break down at home. Their impressive win over City was made possible by very tight defending and not allowing the City players any time on the ball. Ben Turner is the best way into the Welsh side’s defense at 4.0. I’m going to hold off him for now though as they have a fairly difficult set of upcoming fixtures and Everton are likely to get on the scoresheet. This could be a tight, low scoring game but if you’re looking for a great differential, Aron Gunnarsson has looked impressive. At just 5.0, the Icelandic international produced 8 goals in the Championship last season.
Having said this will be a tight one, there’s no reason not to look past the Everton defense. Baines could thrive in a game like this and has often proved to be the difference. Mirallas will need to get on the scoresheet if he wants to hold onto a spot in our Fantasy squads. I’m going with a 1-0 victory for the Toffees, although I wouldn’t be surprised with a 1-1 draw.
Newcastle v Fulham
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Ben Arfa, Sissoko, Cabaye, Marveaux, Ameobi, Cisse
Fulham: Stockdale, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Parker, Taarabt, Berbatov, Bent
I really wish Newcastle were showing more creativity. With an awesome list of upcoming fixtures, I’d be very tempted to get in the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa at 7.0. With Cabaye on the sidelines, they’ve lacked that punch they need. The Arsenal target looks poised to return to the fold against Fulham though and at a price of just 6.4, would be one of my favourite picks of the week. These 2 teams will be evenly matched and both have the ability to get through each other’s defense. For those that jumped on the Kasami bandwagon after GW1, I hope you listened to my advice. With Darren Bent’s arrival, we could very well see Berbatov drop back into the space behind the Englishman, forcing Kasami onto the bench. Having said that, I’d be looking at Bent to get you the points on Saturday. At 6.5 he could prove to be essential with West Brom, Cardiff and Stoke all visiting Craven Cottage in the weeks to come. 1-1 draw.
Norwich v Southampton
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tetty, Johnson, Redmond, Fer, van Wolfswinkel
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana, Osvaldo, Lambert
The Canaries have been very inconsistent so far. A well earned draw to Everton in their opening match was followed by a limp display against Hull. Many would have been looking at the creativity of Robert Snodgrass to get them off the mark, however he wasn’t able to produce coming off the bench at half time. A game at home and almost certainly a start, gives Snodgrass the opportunity to get in the points. I can see Norwich sneaking this one at home actually. But don’t invest in more Norwich players just yet, they have a particularly tough run of fixtures coming up.
Many will favour the Saints in this game and they’re sure to get on the score card. Lambert was extremely unlucky not to put one in the net last week with 8 attempts on goal. Southampton have a great un of fixtures and the centre forward will find his way into many a Fantasy Managers team over the next couple weeks. The introduction of Osvaldo means Rodriguez will be fighting for a spot in the starting XI. At 8.0 though, it’s best to wait and see what the Saint’s new man is capable of. I expect goals from both sides, so wouldn’t be looking to invest in the backline from either team. However, if you already have Luke Shaw or Nathaniele Clyne, keep hold of them. I’m going with a 2-1 win for Norwich, although many will disagree.
West Ham v Stoke
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Diame, Nolan, Noble, Downing, Maiga, Jarvis
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Walters, Wilson, N’Zonzi, Etherington, Adam, Crouch
Alright, if you haven’t invested in some of the Hammers’ defenders, it might be time to start thinking about doing so. With 2 clean sheets out of 2 and the next 4 games being against Stoke, Southampton, Everton and Hull, the chances for even more clean sheets looks good! Collins’ price of 4.5 offers Fantasy Managers the perfect opportunity to either downgrade the injured Toure, or upgrade one of those 4.0 punts you took that just aren’t getting the game time. Keep an eye on new boy Razvan Rat at 4.8. He hasn’t had a start yet, but may work his way into the team soon enough. Kevin Nolan will be at the centre of all West Ham’s moves going forward, but if you’re looking for a differential, Downing’s ownership of just 3.2% offers a great alternative. With some game time under his belt for his new club, I’d back him to start producing the goods at home.
I don’t think there’ll be much in this game for Stoke. They still haven’t shown much going forward and I’d expect the Hammers to keep them out. Having said that, if you fancy a punt on the Stoke side, Adam at 6.0 looked very creative at home last week. It’s worth noting though that he didn’t take any of Stoke’s 7 corner kicks against Crystal Palace, depleting his chances of assist points. 1-0 win for West Ham.
Crystal Palace v Sunderland
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delany, Moxey, Campana, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Williams, Chamakh, Gayle
Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, O’Shea, Diakite, Colback, Johnson, Larsson, Gardener, Giaccherini, Sessegnon, Altidore
Not much to get excited about here. Neither Palace nor Sunderland offer us many options. Chamakh will come into our thoughts after opening his account at the Britannia last Saturday. The Moroccan played the first hour of the game as the lone striker and is continuing to build his match fitness. For those of you looking at the former Arsenal man as a cheaper 3rd striker, take into consideration that he travels to both Old Trafford and Anfield in the next 5 games.
I’m going with a narrow Sunderland victory here, but still wouldn’t invest in any Di Canio’s men. The Black Cats face Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd in their next 5. Steer clear. 1-0 win for Sunderland and a possible clean sheet for Celustka at 4.5.
Liverpool v Man Utd
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho, Aspas, Sturridge
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Cleverly, Carrick, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie
Pool have started off with two 1-0 victories and besides their tough matchup with Utd this weekend, have a really kind run of fixtures. I don’t see them putting more than 1 past Moye’s men though. Coutinho has looked impressive and if Pool are to give Utd a hard time, I reckon he’ll be the one doing so. Up front, Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a Fantasy Favourite. The Merseysiders haven’t looked like banging in multiple goals though so I wouldn’t be captaining the Englishman just yet. Kolo Toure went off with a groin problem during the midweek game against Notts County and I’d expect Martin Skrtel to come back in alongside Daniel Agger.
After a blank against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday night, the former Champions are sure to get on the scoresheet. I would take a stab at Antonio Valencia at 7.5. He has the pace to cause Pool problems and could catch out the likes of Glen Johnson, should the Pool defender venture forward too much. Rooney at 10.5 is another intriguing option. I’d hold off for now though and see what sort of position he takes up on the field. Utd’s lack of creativity in the central midfield may mean that the Chelsea target will drop back throughout the game. As always, Robin Van Persie will be the target man. I’m going with a 2-1 win to United.
West Brom v Swansea
West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison, Yacob, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Long, Anelka
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies, Routledge, Britton, Shelvey, Hernandez, Michu, Bony
Neither of these 2 sides have got a victory as yet. West Brom is yet to score! They’re struggling for goals after the departure of Lukaku and the Anelka punt didn’t exactly work out. The Frenchman is expected to be back this week but I still wouldn’t be getting excited about it. I don’t often predict 0-0 draws, but it’s hard to see many goals in this one. Ben Foster went off last weekend with a foot injury and was replaced by Luke Daniels. What many Fantasy Managers don’t know, is that Daniels is in fact 3rd choice and it may very well be Boaz Myhill between the posts come Sunday.
Bony was rested for the Swan’s European duties midweek but is expected to shrug off the minor issue and return to action against West Brom. I’m hoping he gets a start so we can see what the highly rated striker is capable of. There could be a few change ups for the Swansea side with Williams, Shelvey and Dyer all being doubtful for the GW3 clash. Should they not make it, we’ll see Amat and De Guzman fill in. It could be the defenders who benefit in this particular game, so I’d consider Vorm in goals, or Chico who is also priced at 5.0. For West Brom, McAuley at 5.5 is the most nailed on option.
Arsenal v Tottenham
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielney, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky, Giroud
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Capoue, Paulinho, Dembele, Townsend, Soldado, Chadli
AVB switched to a 4-3-3 formation in his match against Swansea, leaving Sigurdsson no room in the starting XI. Fantasy managers will be hoping that he returns to the 4-2-3-1 formation after Soldado looked fairly isolated against the Swans. With the new additions at White Hart Lane, AVB has more attacking options and I’d expect them to put a goal or 2 past the Gunners. The North London derby is usually a pretty high scoring affair so I’m going to back the attacking players to bring in the points. Chadli should take up a role on the flank and with an ownership of just 0.8%, could be an awesome differential. Soldado continues to impress and there’s no reason he won’t continue to do so.
The last 5 North London derbys at the Emirates have produced 30 goals, so Walcott and Giroud owners will be going into this one pretty confident. Wenger is under extreme pressure after a lack of transfer activity and will be keen to show that his current squad are worthy contenders. I’m going to back them to come away with a hard fought victory. 2-1 to Arsenal for me, although I’d love to see a 3-2 victory!
There you have it. Let’s hope we see some more action from the midfielders this week. Good luck!