Man I’m pumped! The International break sucks! Ok, we’ve had a week off to think about our squads and how we’d like to move forward with the surprising amount of points being hoovered up by the defenders. With a bit of extra time on our hands, many would have had their fingers hovering over the wildcard button. Hopefully there haven’t been too many rash decisions and we can once again take it one week at a time. This week offers us quite a bit in terms of potential fantasy returns. I really think it gives the strikers and midfielders the opportunity to work their way back into our thinking after an impressive start from the backlines. So if you’ve been hurt by the opening 3 weeks, put on a Cheesy smile and keep reading…
Man Utd v Crystal Palace
Man Utd: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Fellaini, Carrick, Welbeck, Young, Van Persie
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delany, Moxey, Campana, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Puncheon, Chamakh, Gayle
The first match of the weekend sees Palace visit Old Trafford. The disappointment of a loss at Anfield last time out will be fresh in the minds of the defending champions and I’d expect them to shut up shop at the back. Vidic at 6.0 looks extremely enticing and for 0.5 more, Evra not only offers the potential for clean sheets, but the chance for assists, flying down the left hand touch line. Smalling should come in for the injured Jones. I really can’t see any way though for Holloway’s men. The Palace manager is serving a 2 game ban and United will see this as the perfect chance to get back on track. The obvious lack of midfield creativity will be of some concern to Van Persie owners and it’s unlikey Rooney will be back for this one. It’ll be really interesting seeing where Moyes uses new signing, Marouane Fellaini. At 8.5, he’s a little pricey to consider if he drops in alongside Carrick. But if he’s used up front, will definitely offer United (and us) the chance for attacking returns. I reckon he could come in for Cleverly. It’s hard looking past Van Persie for the armband this week. Forget the Palace players. United 3-0.
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Okore, Vlaar, Luna, Westwood, Bacuna, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Ben Arfa, Sissoko, Cabaye, Marveaux, Remy, Cisse
It’s now or never for Newcastle. They have a fairly kind run of fixtures and will welcome back Steven Taylor after serving a 3 game suspension. He’ll probably start on the bench though. Cabaye should find himself back in the fold and he could be the difference for the Magpies. Should Pardew keep his 4-4-2 formation, Remy may be in with a shout to start upfront alongside Cisse. Ben Arfa’s superb strike against Fulham has seen him gain heavy investment and rightly so. Newcastle should score.
Villa however, can score more. Their counter attack can rival anyone in the league and with Benteke at the helm; they’re always in with a chance. I’m a big fan of Gabby Agbonlahor. His speed will cause issues for Debuchy. 2-1 Villa.
Fulham v West Brom
Fulham: Stockdale, Riether, Amorebieta, Hangeland, Riise, Ruiz, Sidwell, Parker, Taarabt, Berbatov, Rodallega
West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Sinclair, Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Anelka
This is a bit of a tossup for me in terms of the result. Either side could take it. West Brom’s signing of Sessegnon has gone relatively unnoticed but I think he could prove to be a great acquisition for the Baggies. It was made clear in preseason by Di Canio that Sessegnon was not happy and wasn’t putting in 100%. A move to the Hawthorns could get him firing. His arrival could mean a move to a 4-2-3-1 formation. With James Morrison picking up a groin injury, Sinclair has the chance to impress his new club. For Fulham, Aaron Hughes pulled out of the Internationals with a thigh problem, so we could see summer signing Amorebieta starting. I’m going with a 1-1 draw.
Hull City v Cardiff
Hull: McGregor, Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Koren, Huddlestone, Livermore, Brady, Aluko, Graham
Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Gunnarsson, Medel, Kim, Bellamy, Campbell, Whittingham
Goals will be on offer for both sides here. They may just end up cancelling each other out though. So I’m going with a draw. The good news is they both have the potential to get goals. Campbell owners will be licking their lips, with Bellamy and Gunnarsson providing the creativity. Mackay will have the option of new signing Peter Odemwingie as well. Gunnarsson would be my pick for this game. Koren and Brady have the chance to add to a decent start and I’m still not sold on Graham. I don’t really see a clean sheet for either side so would steer clear of the defences. I’m going with 2-2.
Stoke City v Man City
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Walters, Wilson, N’Zonzi, Etherington, Arnautovic, Crouch
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Lescott, Clichy, Navas, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Aguero, Negredo
Stoke have somewhat surprised over the first month. They have by no means set the league on fire, but with a significant increase in passes and a pass completion of 79%, they seem to be heading in the right direction. Unfortunately for the Potters, they face City next. Mark Hughes’ side may surprise us though and I think this will be a tight one. The Britannia is never an easy place to score. I can actually see the home team getting on the score sheet and Walters at 6.5 could be just the man to do so. I wouldn’t worry about Stokes defense. Charlie Adam is a doubt so new signing Marko Arnautovic may be handed a debut.
It may just be that Alvaro Negredo will emerge at first choice ahead of Dzeko this weekend. With a goal coming off the bench last GW, the Spaniard has surely done enough to earn himself a start and Dzeko owners are already shipping him out by the thousands. The 20% of us that own Silva will be stressing as it emerged during the week that he is struggling with a thigh injury (he has now been ruled out). Toure’s deadball skills against Hull and Newcastle has pricked our attention and he’s already risen to 8.8. I expect a tight game and a City win, although don’t be surprised if Stoke hold them to a draw.
Sunderland v Arsenal
Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Dossena, Diakite, Colback, Johnson, Larsson, Gardener, Giaccherini, Sessegnon, Altidore
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielney, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky, Giroud
Sunderland are in trouble. After shipping in 3 against new promoted Crystal Palace in GW3, they now have to weather the attacking storm that is Walcott, Giroud, and the new boy Mesut Ozil. The German will get plenty of assists this season and it might be worth getting him in early. Giroud looks set to add to his tally of 3 and the Gunners defence is worth investing in as well. Mertesacker at 5.5 already has a clean sheet and 2 bonus points to his name. I’m not going anywhere near Sunderland at the moment. 3-0 to the Gunners.
Tottenham v Norwich
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Eriksen, Paulinho, Dembele, Lennon, Soldado, Chadli
Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Elmander, Johnson, Redmond, Fer, van Wolfswinkel
I’m hoping Spurs finally click on this one. A home game against the Canaries offers them the perfect chance to finally get a goal from open play. There won’t be too much in it for Norwich besides possible attacking points from Fer or Van Wolfswinkel. Hooper trained again this week but may just come off the bench. For Spurs, Capoue is sidelined with an ankle injury which should see new signing Christian Eriksen given a start. Keep an eye on Lamela, he should get some more gametime. At 9.0 he isn’t cheap, but he comes with a lot of potential and with upcoming fixtures against Cardiff, Chelsea, West Ham and Villa, he has the chance to stake his claim. Soldado is still your best way into the Spurs’ attack and I’d expect him to be on the shore sheet against an average Norwich defence. I went against the grain somewhat last week and called a win for Norwich against Southampton, but their inconsistency is enough to make me steer clear this week. Spurs will take this one fairly comfortably.
Everton v Chelsea
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barkley, Barry, Osman, Mirallas, Jelavic, Pienaar
Chelsea: Chech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Mata, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Oscar, Torres
I still can’t quite put my finger on Everton’s inability to put it into the back of the net. The arrival of Lukaku could change things for them but he isn’t available for the game against the Blues due to conditions of his loan deal. Many will be banking on Mirallas to finally bring in the points. Everton have however been solid at the back, so Chelsea won’t find it easy getting past Baines and Coleman. The Barkley bandwagon could see its’ wheels start to fall off soon with the arrival of McCarthy and Barry.
Chelsea should have Hazard back after a minor achilles problem and he could be the key to getting past Howard. To be honest, I have no idea how Mourinho is going to play this one! But that’s what he’s good at. I’m guessing he’ll put Torres up front. Luiz is back but Terry should keep his spot. I expect a Chelsea win.
Southampton v West Ham
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana, Osvaldo, Lambert
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Diame, Nolan, Noble, Downing, Maiga, Jarvis
I really wish Southampton were a bit more consistent. They’ve got such a promising side and provide us with so many budget friendly options that could really do well for us. If they perform to their ability, they will take this one. Osvaldo and Lambert up front at Saint Mary’s forms a pretty formidable attack. With Lallana tucking in behind them at 6.0, he may be a really decent option for the upcoming fixtures. James Ward-Prowse has really surprised this season and at 4.5, there really isn’t any reason not to take a chance on him. I can see the Saints getting on the scores sheet so would stay away from the West Ham defense. Pochettino’s men aren’t the most resilient at the back right now, so the likes of Jarvis at 5.5 and Maiga at 5.0 are really nice budget options for the Hammers. Rat may finally get his start at the expense of Joey O’Brien. I’m going to go with a 1-1 draw, but could see Southampton sneaking it.
Swansea v Liverpool
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies, Routledge, Britton, Shelvey, Hernandez, Michu, Bony
Liverpool: Mignolet, Wisdom, Toure, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho, Aspas, Sturridge
Each week I like to take a bit of a sneaky punt on one of the games that I think might end up with a different result than expected. This is my game for GW4. Swansea had a horrid start in terms of fixtures and it doesn’t exactly ease up with the Anfield side rocking up at the Liberty. However, the promising preseason from Pablo Hernandez and a goal and assist from the former Valencia midfielder in last weekend’s game, gives the Swans hope. Add to that the attacking prospects of Michu and Bony, I can see Michael Laudrup’s side finally put one (or 2) past the Pool defence.
What will interest fantasy managers the most about Liverpool’s prospects, is whether Sturridge is fit and whether Sakho will end up taking Toure’s spot at the back. The Ivorian is back in training and should be back in contention. An injury to right-back Glen Johnson means Mignolet is still the safest option if you’re hoping Liverpool continue their fine defensive form. I expect a tight game with Swansea sneaking it, or at least holding them to a draw.
As you can see, I predict fewer clean sheets this week and fewer points for the backline players. Let’s hope I’m right and that the midfielders can finally repay our faith. Good luck, I hope this helped. Let me know your thoughts! Cheers.