Welcome back! We’ve come to that part of the season where everyone has now had their chance to stake their claim and we should hopefully by now have the team we want going forward. We have some mouth-watering fixtures this weekend so I’m just going to dive straight into it…
Tottenham v Chelsea
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Lamela, Dembele, Paulinho, Sigurdsson, Eriksen, Soldado
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Schurrle, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Oscar, Torres
What is arguably the fixture of the weekend, this London clash will be hard to call. Spurs have won 1-0 three times in their last 5 matches and the likes of Walker and Vertonghen are proving to be canny acquisitions. Spurs’ upcoming fixtures look set to produce more defensive returns, but you’d expect Chelsea to find a way past them this week. Paulinho stole the show with a late winner last week, but I still think Eriksen is a better attacking option for Spurs. Soldado has frustrated somewhat over the past few weeks, but he may just need a big game like this one to show what he’s capable of.
Marco Van Ginkel has been ruled out for at least six months and Ramires remains a doubt with a thigh injury. Mourinho should look to the experience of Frank Lampard for this game. Upfront, it’s anyone’s guess. This should be a closely fought game and I wouldn’t be surprised with a draw. If there are goals in it for Chelsea, you can expect Oscar to be involved. I’m going with 1-1.
Aston Villa v Man City
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Clark, Vlaar, Luna, Tonev, El Ahmadi, Delph, Weimann, Kozak, Agbonlahor
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany, Kolarov, Navas, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Aguero, Negredo
The big news for fantasy managers last week was the injury sustained by the Aston Villa powerhouse, Christian Benteke. With a horrid run of fixtures on the horizon, it would be best to steer clear of Villa. The Belgian was the only real shining light in the side and they’ll now be looking to Agbonlahor to steer the ship, should he recover from a knock in time. Unfortunately he gets his chance against a supremely confident Man City side.
Those with Aguero and Negredo will be licking their lips and rubbing their hands together. Their partnership up front is flourishing, but Jovetic and Dzeko remain lurking in the background. Should Silva fail to return in time for the trip the Villa Park, Samir Nasri should retain his place on the left. This game offers clean sheet points for the Citizens and Vincent Kompany is likely to walk away with bonus points too, should they keep the home side from scoring. 2-0 to City, at least.
Fulham v Cardiff City
Fulham: Stockdale, Reither, Amorebieta, Hangeland, Richardson, Ruiz, Sidwell, Parker, Kacaniklic, Bent, Berbatov
Cardiff: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Gunnarsson, Medel, Kim, Bellamy, Campbell, Whittingham
Fulham come into a decent run of fixtures, starting with a visit from the Cardiff side. I’m not one to punt the Cottagers defence, but they may offer some nice differential options over the next few weeks. Riether at 5.0 already has 2 clean sheets and is owned by less than 2% of fantasy managers. Upfront, the home side should have Bent and Berbatov back together. This could see Kasami drop back to the bench and it’ll be a toss-up between Kacaniklic and Taarabt on the left flank. I don’t really see too much in this game for Cardiff. Cornelius is still unavailable and they may turn to Peter Odemwingie to try spark something. I’m going with a Fulham victory and a clean sheet.
Hull City v West Ham
Hull City: McGregor, Elmohamady, Faye, Davies, Rosenoir, Quinn, Huddlestone, Livermore, Brady, Aluko, Graham
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Rat, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Morrison, Nolan, Noble, Diame, Maiga, Jarvis
This should be an intriguing game with both sides having a decent chance of keeping a clean sheet. Don’t purchase defenders from these sides if you don’t already have them though. The Hammers have a horrid run of fixtures after this game and those with the cut price James Collins will be looking at jumping ship soon. Chester is out for Hull so we may see Abdoulaye Faye come in to replace him. Hull don’t offer too much up front at the moment besides Robert Brady. At 5.2, he’s still a really good buy.
Stewart Downing and Joe Cole look set to miss out again for West Ham. This should give Ravel Morrison the chance to continue his impressive showing. The Hammers are still struggling upfront though and Mladen Petric will be looking for the chance to stake his claim after coming off the bench in his debut. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how this one will pan out! I think we may just see a tightly fought victory for the away side though.
Man Utd v West Brom
Man Utd: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Fellaini, Carrick, Young, Rooney, Van Persie
West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Amalfitano, Morrison, Mulumbo, Sinclair, Sessegnon, Anelka
Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe are both doubts for this clash, affording Sessegnon the chance to hog the attacking points. Unfortunately for him, this game will be all about the home side. So don’t bother with the West Brom players this week. In fact, you’d be wise to stay clear for a while, with Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea amongst the opposition in their next 6. Van Persie owners will be sweating after he missed the derby and there still isn’t any news on his fitness. Rooney looks to be the safe bet upfront and his form would suggest he’s the man to go for. The Utd side will be licking their wounds and if Rooney can get the deliveries from Valencia on the flank, I think we’ll be in for a goal fest. This is the time to start banking on the Utd defence. Vidic at 6.0 could be a bonus point machine over the next few games. Rafael is back in contention for the right back role and it’ll be between Hernandez and Wellbeck for a spot alongside Rooney if the Dutchman doesn’t make it. 3-0 to the Red Devils.
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Rodriguez, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana, Osvaldo, Lambert
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Ward, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Guedioura, Jedinak, Jerome, Chamakh, Gayle
Southampton look set to continue to impress at the back with Boruc given the chance of another clean sheet. Shaw and Clyne both seem to have recovered from knocks and this will only strengthen the Saint’s chances of more defensive points. Rickie Lambert owners have itchy fingers at the moment. He’s had the chances but just can’t seem to bury them. This game offers him the chance to explode though. I can see him putting at least 1 past Holloway’s men. I don’t see many prospects for the Palace side and it may be a good time to start looking for alternatives to Chamakh. 2-0 Southampton
Swansea v Arsenal
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies, Dyer, Jose Canas, Shelvey, Routledge, Michu, Bony
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Flamini, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud
I’m really looking forward to this one. Both sides enter a really nice run of fixtures and give us some tasty attacking options. Arsenal are flying high at the moment but are still letting in the goals. This will get Michu owners excited. He’s scored 3 in 3 games and could work his way back to becoming an essential buy. I don’t see a clean sheet in this game so would concentrate on the attacking prospects for the Gunners. Walcott has been ruled out and Arteta is back, which could see Ramsey move out to the right. I’m not completely sold on Ramsey just yet. My money is still on Ozil and Giroud to continue to rack up the points. I’m hoping for a high scoring game and reckon we could see a 3-2 score line with the Gunners running out victors.
Stoke City v Norwich
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Walters, Wilson, N’Zonzi, Arnautovic, Adam, Jones
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Fer, Howson, Redmond, Elmander, Van Wolfswinkel
I’m starting to watch the Stoke side carefully. They’ve flown under the radar so far but could start to offer us some really nice mid-priced options. Marko Arnautovic has looked really impressive on the left and with a price tag of just 5.5, he could be the difference in gaining on your mini league leader. Wilson at 4.5 has been given a chance in the midfield, but may drop back into the left back role with Pieters being a doubt. Stoke will be favourites at home and should see a clean sheet. Norwich have scored 1 in their last 4 games, so there really isn’t too much to get excited about for the visitors. Bassong remains a doubt and Van Wolfswinkel should return after missing out midweek with a toe problem. A Stoke victory seems the most likely of results.
Sunderland v Liverpool
Sunderland: Westwood, Gardner, O’Shea, Cuellar, Colback, Johnson, Larsson, Ki, Giaccherini, Cattermole, Altidore
Liverpool: Mignolet, Sakho, Toure, Agger, Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Moses, Suarez, Sturridge
Shame, Sunderland are in trouble. After sacking Paolo Di Canio, they are faced with the uphill task of keeping out the likes of Sturridge and Suarez. Fletcher is a doubt with a shoulder injury and things are looking a bit glum for the team from the Stadium of Light. Rodgers may look to roll out the 3-5-2 formation he used against Utd in the cup game, offering Moses a role in “the hole”. I can see a couple of assists for him in this game. At the back, Mignolet is still the best option. He looks set to continue to rack up the defensive points. I’m going for a 2-0 win for Pool.
Everton v Newcastle
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barkley, Barry, Gibson, Naismith, Lukaku, Mirallas
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Anita, Sissoko, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Remy
This could be a tight one. Everton have looked solid at the back and Newcastle look like they’re ready to push on from an inconsistent start. Barkley owners would have been worried with Gibson returning during the week, but may have just been offered a life line with the injury to Osman. Lukaku should be given a starting role and with Mirallas to his left, should be given ample opportunity to add to his tally.
With Cabaye still a doubt for the Magpies, they’ll be looking to Ben Arfa to spark their attack. Remy netted twice last week and his confidence will be sky high. The fixtures don’t look good for Newcastle though and this will hamper any investment in Pardew’s side. They’ll need a good showing at Goodison Park to get them on the right track. I’m expecting a couple of goals in this one. 2-1 to Everton.
That’s it from me this week. I hope this helped in making those tricky decisions. Good luck!