Welcome back! Having tipped 5 matches correctly last week I’m feeling confident heading into the upcoming weekend. Before I get into the nitty gritty, note that there is a FRIDAY GAME this week. Deadline is Friday night (Or early Saturday morning)!!! Don’t get caught out. With Chris still holidaying I’ll throw in my captaincy tips at the end as well. As always a huge thanks to Blunty for his match history and tips! Let’s get started…
As always, our UMAXIT league is still running! I managed 3/5 last week, that’s an improvement at least… Come take us on!
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*Projected teams are not official and are just a guideline!
*All times are in BST (British Summer Time)
DEADLINE FRIDAY 19:00 BST (4AM EST)
Form: Bournemouth (19th) 0-0-4, Brighton (14th) 1-1-2
Projected Bournemouth XI (3-5-2): Begovic; Francis, Cook, Ake; Smith, Arter, Surman, Gosling, Daniels; King, Defoe
Projected Brighton XI (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Hemed
Neither team faces any significant fitness concerns, and Brighton’s team looks fairly settled. Bournemouth have had a shocking start to the season, sitting on 0 points with just 1 goal to their name. De Boer must be scratching his head. The big question is whether Eddie Howe continues with 3 at the back or reverts to a four man defence at home to a fellow relegation battler. We’ll have that answered on Friday night.
In Bournemouth’s promotion year of 2014/15, they did the double over Brighton. The season prior, both matches ended 1-1. I don’t think that history is going to have any bearing on a match with so much at stake.
This is simply a must win game for Bournemouth. Anything other than 3 points and I think Howe comes under serious pressure. For Brighton it’s a free crack on a big Friday night stage to prove their worth and record back to back wins. I think the Cherries are a much better outfit than they have shown over the first month. They will be fired up and I’m tipping a solid win and clean sheet at home. I’m playing Begovic over Elliot, my keeper rotation has been spot on so far so let’s hope that continues!
Tips – Matt: Bournemouth 2-0. Blunty: 1-1 draw.
League Form: Crystal Palace (20th) 0-0-4, Southampton (13th) 1-2-1
Projected Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Hennessey; Ward, Fosu-Mensah, Dann, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Cabaye, McArthur; Townsend, Benteke, Puncheon
Projected Southampton XI (4-2-3-1): Forster; Cedric, Yoshida, Hoedt, Bertrand; Romeu, Lemina; Tadic, Davis, Redmond; Gabbiadini
Just how Hodgson will line-up is unknown, but I suspect he will play it safe with a regulation 4-3-3. Riedewald could play in the centre seeing Fosu-Mensah shift to right back in place of Ward. Keep an eye on the early team sheets. Palace have been crippled by injuries, with Loftus-Cheek, Zaha, Sakho and Sako likely to miss out again.
Pellegrino faces problems of his own, with the Saints still woeful in attack. Virgil Van Dijk played 90 minutes in the U23’s on Monday and should be in the squad. Charlie Austin must wonder what he has to do to get a chance.
The last 4 league games in this fixture have been won by the home team, with no draws in the last 16 clashes. I don’t think there will be a draw in this game either. Southampton are underwhelming and Palace have everything to play for with a new manager. Football is a funny game and the mental aspect can often be overlooked. I’m tipping the crowd to get Palace over the line in this massive contest. Surely this is Benteke’s week.
Tips – Matt: Crystal Palace 1-0 Blunty: Crystal Palace 2-1
League Form: Huddersfield (6th) 2-1-1, Leicester (17th) 1-0-3
Projected Huddersfield XI (4-2-3-1): Lossl; Smith, Schindler, Zanka, Lowe; Mooy, Billing; Kachunga, Ince, Van la Parra; Mounie
Projected Leicester XI (4-4-2): Schemichel; Simpson, Maguire, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
These two teams are fairly settled so don’t expect too many changes. Importantly Mounie is a doubt having not trained all week. Expect him to line-up but be sure to have backup in place. Iheanacho is confirmed to be fully fit and may finally get his chance if Shakespeare opts to start him ahead of Okazaki.
There is no recent history to judge these two teams head to head, and the form table can be misleading. Leicester have played Chelsea, United and Arsenal in the first 4 weeks, and will be targeting this game for 3 points. Huddersfield’s streak came to an end against West Ham and now have to backup against one of the most dangerous counter attacking teams in the League. Life in the Premier League isn’t easy. Even though they have been better than the table suggests, Leicester need a result in this game. Vardy and particularly Mahrez could cause all sorts of problems.
Tips – Matt: Leicester 1-2. Blunty: Huddersfield 1-0.
League Form: Liverpool (8th) 2-1-1, Burnley (7th) 2-1-1
Projected Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Matip, Robertson; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Salah
Projected Burnley XI (4-5-1): Heaton; Lowton, Mee, Tarkowski, Ward; Gudmundsson, Defour, Hendrick, Cork, Brady; Wood
It will be very interesting to see how Liverpool line-up without the suspended Mane (2 matches). There are multiple alternatives. Klopp could start Sturridge up front and shift Firmino to the left, or Coutinho could see his first start of the season. Coutinho looked very rusty on Wednesday and may sit on the bench again, I’m tipping Oxlade-Chamberlain to be given a chance for a home debut. Klopp seems keen to rotate so The Ox could also start in central midfield giving someone a rest, as could Milner. Moreno has played two full games over the past 6 days and may sit out for Robertson. A lot of guess work here.
Burnley should be much more predictable with Dyche likely to shift to a 4-5-1 at Anfield. Chris Wood looks to have won the battle of the strikers, although Vokes could easily start instead.
Since Burnley’s promotion, Liverpool have won 3 of the 4 matches including both home games. I don’t think this will be an easy game for Liverpool but they should have too much firepower for Burnley. It may come down to whether Dejan Lovren provides another one of his special moments to give Burnley a chance. Perhaps three in the one week is pushing it.
Tips – Matt: Liverpool 2-0. Blunty: Liverpool 2-0.
League Form: Newcastle (10th) 2-0-2, Stoke City (12th) 1-2-1
Projected Newcastle XI (4-4-1-1): Elliot; Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Gamez; Ritchie, Merino, Hayden, Atsu; Perez; Joselu
Projected Stoke XI (3-4-2-1): Butland; Zouma, Wimmer, Martins Indi; Diouf, Allen, Fletcher, Pieters; Shaqiri, Jese; Choupo-Moting
Following back to back wins it’s unlikely Newcastle will make any changes. Gamez (4.0) got the nod at left back, but I’m holding fire until we know who gets the role long-term once Mbemba is fit. Shawcross remains out for Stoke and Geoff Cameron hobbled off with a hamstring injury last weekend. This should see Martins Indi get a start. I can’t see any other changes to a team that pushed Manchester United last week.
Newcastle haven’t beaten Stoke since a 5-1 drubbing in 2013. Since then, they’ve drawn twice, both at St James’ park. Stoke have won the last 3 contests at The Britannia (Sorry, Bet365 Stadium) 1-0. Sometimes when things look good at Newcastle, you just have to think things are looking a little too good. They’re well organised and grinding out the wins which is a credit to Rafa Benitez. However I have really liked what I’ve seen from Stoke this season, I think they’ll have too much quality for Newcastle even away from home. Stoke’s front three could cause plenty of problems, although they’re by no means solid at the back. Both teams to score seems a decent punt to me.
Tips – Matt: Stoke 1-2 Blunty: Stoke 0-1
League Form: Watford (4th) 2-2-0, Manchester City (2nd) 3-1-0
Projected Watford XI (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Janmaat, Wague, Kabasele, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucoure; Carrillo, Cleverly, Richarlison; Gray
Projected Man City XI (3-5-2): Ederson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi; Walker, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, D.Silva, Mendy; Jesus, Aguero
Watford are on fire and should stick with a similar line-up again this week. Kaboul is injured and Britos remains suspended, so Wague or Mariappa will get their chance for a week. Man City seem to have found their best XI, although Pep continues to switch between 3-5-2 and 4-1-2-3 depending on how they match up. Aguero and Jesus are linking well up front and Mendy is providing great service from the left. If Pep opts for a 4 man defence then Jesus will likely shift out to the right with Sane on the other flank.
Man City have won the last 6 games (2013-17) between these teams, an alarming stat ahead of this top of the table clash! Watford are going to cause City plenty of problems are I think both teams to score is a decent bet in this one. Having said that, City should control the game and I can see them getting the three points rather comfortably. Watford’s confidence could lead them to chase the game and I can see City breaking forward the other way late in the game. Jesus and Aguero are too hot to handle.
Tips – Matt: Man City 1-4 Blunty: Man City 1-3.
West Brom (9th) v (18th) West Ham
League Form: West Brom (9th) 2-1-1, West Ham (18th) 1-0-3
Projected West Brom XI (4-1-4-1): Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Dawson, Gibbs; Krychowiak; Phillips, Livermore, Morrison, Rodriguez; Rondon
Projected West Ham XI (4-3-3): Hart; Zabaleta, Fonte, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble, Kouyate; Antonio, Carroll, Ayew
West Brom may continue with Rondon up front to help deal with West Ham’s aerial threat on set pieces. Hegazi should also get another start to try and contain Carroll, however his spot is no longer guaranteed having been substituted on 56 minutes last week. Spreaking of West Ham’s aerial threat, Carroll is also a potential FPL threat. His return shifted Chicharito out onto the left and it’s safe to say that experiment failed miserably. Given West Ham’s performance I think Carroll has to start when fit, and I’m not sure where Hernandez fits in. I’d suggest it may be as a super sub. Ayew and Antonio are a real threat from the wings.
This looks set to be an even contest, and the history suggests as much. Since 2008, the fixture has been split 3 wins apiece & 8 draws across all competitions, while they are split 40 wins to 39 overall. It’s almost a toss of a coin, but I think Andy Carroll can be the difference. He bullied Huddersfield on Monday and is such a threat for the short period of time he’s fit. His hold up play brings their wingers into the game and transforms West Ham’s attacking play. Monitor him at 5.9 in FPL.
Tips – Matt: West Ham 1-2. Blunty: 1-1 draw.
League Form: Tottenham (5th) 2-1-1, Swansea (15th) 1-1-2
Projected Spurs XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Son, Eriksen, Alli; Kane
Projected Swansea XI (5-3-2): Fabianski; Naughton, Van Der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Fer, Clucas, Carroll; Ayew, Abraham
Managers switching between three and four at the back is causing us some headaches as far as team selection goes. Spurs dominated Everton last week with a 3-4-3 set up, however a home game against Swansea could see Sanchez drop out for the more attacking Son. Either way the main front three is safe from rotation. Aurier was hugely impressive midweek in the Champions League and I suspect he may get the nod over Trippier. Swansea should revert to a 3 (More like a 5) at the back formation to try and deal with Spurs attacking threat. Renato Sanches is likely to drop out and Bony is still gaining match fitness.
Since Swansea’s 2011 promotion they’ve played Tottenham 12 times in the league. Amazingly, Spurs have not lost (10 wins, 2 draws). I am a believer in teams history against certain opponents and it’s clear that Tottenham match up well against The Swans. They broke their Wembley hoodoo with a 3-1 victory over Dortmund on Wednesday and I think they will come out all guns blazing on Saturday night. Harry Kane is back to his best, scoring two cracking goals midweek. Meanwhile Swansea lost at home to Newcastle and are struggling to find their best system. At the signs point towards a comfortable Spurs win and clean sheet.
Tips – Matt: Spurs 4-0. Blunty: Spurs 2-0.
League Form: Chelsea (3rd) 3-0-1, Arsenal (11th) 2-0-2
Projected Chelsea XI (3-4-1-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard; Morata
Projected Arsenal XI (3-4-1-2): Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Sanchez, Ozil; Lacazette
Chelsea’s teams are often predictable these days and I don’t see many changes for this derby clash. Gary Cahill returns from suspension to replace Rudiger, while Hazard should be fit enough to start ahead of Willian. Bakayoko could start ahead of Fabregas in midfield, while Zappacosta impressed on debut midweek at right wing back. Even though Alexis started on Thursday night, Wenger will surely turn to his big front three for Arsenal’s biggest game of the season so far. Kolasinac scored midweek substituting on at left back, surely his days in the centre are over.
Arsenal have had recent success against Chelsea in cup competitions, but since the start of the 2012/13 season Chelsea have won 7 of the 10 League matches (2 draws, 1 Arsenal win). Call me a hopeful Arsenal fan, but with our best team finally on the park I think we can cause Chelsea problems on Sunday. Wenger seems torn between playing 3 or 4 at the back, however The Gunners struggle when he squeezes players out of position to force that formation. It doesn’t work like that. When they play with their best team, it’s generally successful. Chelsea have no such problems, mostly rolling out the same team week in week out.
It’s that consistency and knowledge of the system which should help Chelsea get over the line on Sunday, but I don’t think it will be a blow out as it was against Liverpool.
Tips – Matt: 2-1 Chelsea. Blunty: 3-1 Chelsea.
League Form: Man United 3-1-0 (1st), Everton (16th) 1-1-2
Projected Man United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Bailly, Darmian; Matic, Herrera; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Lukaku
Projected Everton XI (3-5-2): Pickford; Keane, Williams, Jagielka; Holgate, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Baines; Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin, Rooney
The biggest news of the week is that Paul Pogba has picked up a hamstring injury and will miss at least a month. Massive. Never transfer before midweek games are played!!! Herrera is a straight swap and Mkhitaryan’s job security as a number 10 only further increases. He’s an easy straight swap to make if you don’t own him. Blind is due a rest and could see Darmian start at left back. As for Everton, they are in a disastrous patch of form and I think this could be the teams final chance to prove themselves before Koeman has to change tactics.
Manchester United have not lost to Everton in the past 23 clashes (18 wins, 5 draws) at Old Trafford. That dates back 25 years. Last season the teams had two 1-1 draws, prior to that United had won 4 of the last 5. Both history and form points towards a United victory and I’m not one to argue with the stats. Pogba’s absence could hurt but I still think United have the quality to get a result here, although Everton will be well and truly aware of Lukaku’s danger and may seek to shut him out of the game. Just whether they will succeed is another matter entirely. I’m backing the home team to finish the gameweek off in fine fashion. Rooney may sneak a goal against his old side.
Tips – Matt: United 3-1. Blunty: United 3-0.
Briefly I’m going to run through the popular captaincy options of the week. Liverpool’s home game against Burnley offers up some tasty propositions, but I have my reservations. Earlier in the season they played Crystal Palace at home and crawled over the line 1-0. It happens every year. Their counter attacking and pressing game works away from home and against the top teams, but when a lower table side arrives at Anfield and sits deep, sometimes they lack the creativity to break sides down. Salah and Firmino need to be considered, but don’t presume this will be a stroll in the park. Man City face a tough away trip to in-form Watford but Jesus and Aguero are still safe options for the armband. Spurs home game against Swansea stands out as the safest bet for point returns. Here’s my top picks…
1. Kane – Keep it simple. There was good reason I stuck with Kane when wildcarding, and that’s because nobody can match him when in form. With another 2 goals midweek against Dortmund it’s safe to say he’s back in form, and the goals are going to start pouring in. Sure he has been hit and miss, but when he hits you’re looking at a game changing score. He single handedly saved my team last week and I’ll give him that job again for the fifth time this season. Spurs are playing the best football I have seen this season and should get the job done against Swansea. I advise looking away if you’re a non-owner.
2. Lukaku – Lukaku has scored 4 in 4 yet is only level with Welbeck for points scored. That hurts. He needs to get involved in more of the play (Assists and bonus points) to up his FPL potential even further. Having said that, he’s a goal scoring machine and I don’t think his old side are capable of keeping him off the scoresheet this weekend. Reliable.
3. Morata – I have been hugely impressed by Morata over the past couple of weeks, and Chelsea are nearly guaranteed to breach Arsenal’s defence this weekend. The Gunners have never been great at nullifying an aerial threat and Morata is just that. He has grown in popularity and you could do a lot worse than captain him this Sunday.
4. Salah – I have expressed my concern at Liverpool’s tendancy to struggle in winnable games, but I still think they’ll have too much firepower for Burnley. Salah is a serious threat and continues to pepper keepers with shots on target. He looks the most threatening of Liverpool’s front 3 and should be in the action again this weekend. A risky pick but one I can understand!
5. Aguero – Lastly Aguero looks to be back in favour and back in form. Another goal in the Champions League has him level with Jesus on 3 goals and both are great options this weekend. Aguero was substituted on 60 minutes midweek and is a certain starter against Watford. He scored a brace against them last season and will fancy his chances to be amongst the points again this weekend.
There’s plenty of gun captaincy picks this weekend! I think we could be in for a high scoring gameweek, good luck all!