Two big weekends have seen many fantasy managers smiling all the way to the points bank! I’m not sure we’ll see as high an average this weekend, but there’s still the potential for some really big scores. I think this weekend may see more of those points coming from the defense, but with Liverpool and Man City playing weaker opposition, the potential for attacking returns is promising. Let’s get stuck in. EDIT: Silva has just been confirmed out for a month with a calf injury. Looks like we’ll be using that transfer button again!
Aston Villa v Cardiff City
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Clark, Vlaar, Baker, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Delph, Lowton, Benteke, Kozak
Cardiff: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Cowie, Medel, Mutch, Odemwingie, Bellamy, Whittingham
Villa have a fantastic run of fixtures ahead of them and although there’s been a definite lack of goals, Fantasy Managers will be optimistic that Christian Benteke can return to the kind of form we saw before his injury. His usual attacking partners are sidelined, with Agbonlahor and Wiemann nursing ankle and hamstring injuries respectively. This will more than likely see Paul Lambert retain the 3-5-2 formation with Libor Kozak upfront with the Belgian. With 3 clean sheets in 6 games, The Villa defence offers us a few cut-price options. Luna is out with a hamstring injury, but Vlaar is nailed on at 4.4.
The Blue Birds sit on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to the difficulty of upcoming fixtures. With Cornelius still out, the Cardiff side will struggle to find the goals needed to lift them up the table. We’re likely to see an unchanged side from the one that beat Swansea last weekend, unless Campbell or Gunnarsson can wrestle a spot in the starting XI. I’m not sure the likes of Bellamy or Cowie on the flanks have what it takes to make an impact at Villa Park. I’m going with a home win and a possible clean sheet.
Chelsea v West Brom
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Schurrle, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Oscar, Eto’o
West Brom: Myhill, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Brunt, Yacob, Mulumbo, Anichebe, Sessegnon, Amalfitano
Chelsea have disappointed somewhat of late. Investment in Ivanovic and Terry has been high but there will be hope that the London side can keep a few shut outs with the favourable fixtures ahead of them. The midfield is a bit of a minefield. Hazard was dropped during the week and with Schurrle and Willian in the sidelines, its anyone’s guess as to who will take the pitch come Saturday afternoon. With the injury to Fernando Torres, Eto’o has the chance to add to his tally from the Champion’s League game midweek.
Reid will find himself at right-back for the Baggies while Sinclair and Anelka remain doubts. Mourinho will be looking for a solid performance and West Brom will struggle for possession. I think the home side will finally get that clean sheet and should be able to knock a few past Myhill.
Crystal Palace v Everton
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Gabbidon, Delaney, Ward, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Jedinak, Bannan, Chamakh, Thomas
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barkley, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar, Lukaku, Mirallas
Crystal Palace face a stiff test with the visit of Roberto Martinez’ men to Selhurst Park and they’ll have to do it without Adlene Guedioura in the midfield. I don’t think there’ll be much in this game for the home side. Puncheon may be able to sneak something from the right flank, but you’ll more than likely see a clean sheet for Baines and Coleman. The Everton midfield is a bit of a guess at the moment. Gibson is still sidelined and we saw Barkley dropped last weekend to allow Leon Osman the chance to impress. If you’re looking for a differential – Pienaar looks to be a good bet. Lukaku had a bit of a scare after coming off against Tottenham but has recovered and will lead the line. The Eagles should put up a good fight but the Toffees will have too much for them. 1-0 Everton.
Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool: Mignolet, Sakho, Toure, Skrtel, Johnson, Cissokho, Gerrard, Lucas, Couthino, Suarez, Sturridge
Fulham: Stekelenburg, Zverotic, Amorebieta, Senderos, Richardson, Kasami, Sidwell, Parker, Dejagah, Ruiz, Berbatov
Liverpool look primed to bounce back after a defeat to Arsenal last weekend. We may see a return to the 4-4-2 formation with Coutinho retaining his role in “the hole”. Gerrard seems to have shrugged off a hip problem and Glen Johnson should return to the right-back role. Enrique is back in training and back in contention, but I think we may see him eased back in, rather than starting straight away. Owners of Sturridge and Suarez will definitely be considering the Liverpool strikeforce for the armband this weekend. With Riether serving a three match ban, Fulham have an uphill task of keeping The Reds at bay. Elsad Zverotic is set to fill in at right-back and Brede Hangeland may be called on straight after returning from injury. Rodallega is sidelined for at least another 5 weeks and Berbatov hasn’t exactly been firing them in. A clean sheet looks likely for the home side. 2-0 Liverpool.
Southampton v Hull
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Rodriguez, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana, Osvaldo, Lambert
Hull City: Harper, Figueroa, McShane, Davies, Rosenoir, Livermore, Huddlestone, Elmohamady, Brady, Koren, Graham
The Saints’ defense has been a rich source of points this season and they have the opportunity against Hull to continue to reward those who have invested in the likes of Boruc, Shaw and Lovren. Be careful in bringing them in now though, as the clean sheets are likely to dry up over the coming weeks with matchups against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City. The Saints’ only injury worries are further up the field where James Ward-Prowse is likely to start his 3rd successive game in place for the injured Pablo Osvaldo. With a torn Achilles, Sone Aluko is out for at least 2 months, but the Hull side have Danny Graham back in contention. Brady just doesn’t seem to be recovering as quickly as originally thought and remains a doubt. I think we’ll see a home victory here.
Norwich v West Ham
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Olsson, Snodgrass, Johnson, Howson, Fer, Pilkington, Hooper
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Rat, Demel, Collins, Tomkins, Morrison, Nolan, Noble, Collison, Jarvis, Downing
After a complete whipping from City last weekend, Norwich will be looking to bounce back against a side that has struggled for goals lately. Snodgrass is back in contention and might just be able to show us what he’s worth. With Ricky Van Wolfswinkel still sidelined, Gary Hopper remains up top. In terms of fantasy potential, there really isn’t much to get excited about in the Norwich side and you’re more likely to see returns from the West Ham defenders in the upcoming weeks. Although I can see the Canaries getting one past them at home. Winston Reid has been ruled out and we should see Collins tuck back into the central defence. With no out and out striker, we’re likely to see Allardyce continue with the 4-6-0 formation, giving Kevin Nolan the opportunity to effectively “lead the line.” I can see a 1-1 draw in this one.
Tottenham v Newcastle
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Chiriches, Townsend, Sandro, Paulinho, Lennon, Holtby, Soldado
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Santon, Tiote, Sissoko, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Gouffran, Remy
For some reason I think this might be one of the top matchups of the weekend. Spurs have looked very flat going forward but have still managed to grind out the wins. At the back, Dawson, Walker and Vertonghen have been ticking along nicely, but the Tottenham outfit will find it difficult to continue producing clean sheets with the fixtures ahead of them. Defoe continues to impress in Europe and it may just be a matter of time until he’s given his chance in the Premier League. Newcastle have injuries at the back with Coloccini still a doubt and Taylor still on the sidelines. Yanga-Mbiwa is set to fill in to the 4-4-2 formation with Remy and Ameobi leading the charge. It’s difficult to call a result here, but I think we’ll see goals. I’m going to go with a 2-1 victory to the home side. Ok, 2-2!
Sunderland v Man City
Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, O’Shea, Cuellar, Bardsley, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, Altidore, Gardner, Fletcher
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Demichelis, Clichy, Nasri, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Aguero, Negredo
Poor Sunderland. They’ve been having a torrid time of late and it doesn’t get any easier with the visit from a side who put 7 past their opposition last weekend. Craig Gardner will fill in for Lee Cattermole as he starts his three-match suspension and it’ll be a toss up between Celustka or fit-again Wes Brown in who replaces Andreas Dossena, also suspended after being sent off last weekend. We may also see Vito Mannone between the sticks should Westwood fail to recover from a head knock. I wouldn’t be fussing about the Sunderland side though and most of you will be waiting to see what City side arrives at The Stadium of Light. Pantilimon could retain his spot in goal while Vincent Kompany remains on the sidelines. The fitness of Silva and Fernandinho will be assessed after they were subbed off early during the midweek game. Negredo looks set to continue with Aguero upfront with Stevan Jovetic still out. City should be able to get 2 or 3 past Sunderland and will be banking on a clean sheet to go with it.
Man Utd v Arsenal
Man Utd: De Gea, Rafael, Vidic, Jones, Evra, Nani, Fellaini, Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney, Van Persie
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud
After being rested midweek, Van Persie will be fired up to face his former club. United have struggled for clean sheets and will be relying on the Dutchman, as well as Rooney, to get them past the table-topping Gunners. With Rafael, Evans and Carrick being doubts, the home side may struggle to pin down the likes of Ozil and Ramsey. Wilshere is still a doubt, as well as Flamini. It’ll be an awesome match up and a huge boost for the home side should they come away with a win. I’m going to go with a 2-1 victory to United.
Swansea v Stoke
Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Taylor, Dyer, De Guzman, Britton, Hernandez, Shelvey, Bony
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Walters, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Ireland, Arnautovic, Crouch
Swansea have been largely disappointing given the kind run of fixtures they’ve had. Although the defense has come away with points, the attacking prospects are diminishing. Michu looks set to be sidelined for up to a month with an ankle injury and Bony is yet to find his feet in the Premier League. Investment at the back looks the best option with Williams and Chico giving us great options. Vorm serves a 1 match ban this weekend but Stoke’s attacking prospects aren’t altogether promising either. Arnautovic looks the most exciting with 2 in his last 3 outings and Peter Crouch seems to be hitting some kind of form. We may see a goalless draw here though.
Good luck guys!