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FA Premier League Week 2 Match Previews

An attempt at predicting this weekends matches following an exciting Gameweek 1. With all teams in action once again, we look forward to another exciting round of fixtures.

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An attempt at predicting this weekends matches following an exciting Gameweek 1. With all teams in action once again, we look forward to another exciting round of fixtures. 

Saturday 25th August

Swansea City v West Ham – Liberty Stadium – Kick-off 12:45

Team News           

Swansea Defender Chico Flores is a fitness doubt with a groin problem and will undergo a fitness test, with Alan Tate, Garry Monk and Kyle Bartley all potential replacements if he is unavailable.

Striker Itay Shechter will miss out as Swansea are still awaiting the completion of the paperwork for his loan move from Kaiserslautern.

South Korea international Ki Sung-yeung appears set to join for a club record fee today but will not be included in the squad, while Scott Sinclair will feature again despite electing not to sign a new contract with the club.

West Ham Matt Jarvis will go straight into Sam Allardyce’s squad in the only change from last weekend’s win over Aston Villa. Jarvis, 26, signed just over 24 hours before the Hammers kick-off at the Liberty Stadium but Allardyce has confirmed he has no concerns about throwing the former Wolves winger into his side.

Midfielder Jack Collison (knee) remains sidelined while Alou Diarra and Modibo Maiga are in contention to break into the starting XI.

Possible Line-ups

Swansea (from) Vorm, Taylor, Flores, Tate, Williams, Britton, Orlandi, Michu, Graham, Sinclair, Dyer, Routledge, Monk, Lita, Moore, De Guzman, Rangel, Tremmel, Agustien, Gower, Richards, Bartley, Davies.

West Ham (from) Jaaskelainen, Henderson, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, McCartney, O’Brien, Potts, Spence, Diarra, Diame, Noble, Taylor, O’Neil, Nolan, Jarvis, Vaz Te, Maiga, Maynard, Cole.

Current Form

Swansea – W

QPR 0-5 Swansea

West Ham – W

West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa

Prediction

Both teams opened their 2012/13 Premier League campaigns with 3 points, although Swansea slightly more emphatically, but I feel this game will be much more of a challenge.

Laudrup’s Swansea look very dangerous in possession and their new signings already seem a serious threat. West Ham, on the other hand, seemed to lack quality against a weak Aston Villa side, but I think the addition of Matt Jarvis will give them a real boost this weekend.

It’s a tough one to call, but with the home advantage, I believe Swansea will be victorious.

Swansea 2-1 West Ham

Aston Villa v Everton – Villa Park – 15:00

Team News

Aston Villa Striker Nathan Delfouneso will boost manager Paul Lambert’s attacking options after being cleared to play. The forward missed last weekend’s Barclays Premier League opening defeat by West Ham with a thigh problem but, like defender Chris Herd, will be included in the squad for the Villa Park clash.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), defender Richard Dunne (groin) and winger Marc Albrighton (foot) are still sidelined while youngster Samir Carruthers has an ankle problem.

Everton Manager David Moyes will make a late decision on whether to include Kevin Mirallas in his squad. The Belgium international has only had a couple of days’ training since signing on Sunday and although he has had intensive sessions Moyes is unsure about his fitness.

Sylvain Distin (back) and Nikica Jelavic (groin) are minor injury concerns.

Possible Line-ups

Aston Villa (from): Given, Guzan, Lowton, Lichaj, Stevens, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, N’Zogbia, Bannan, Holman, El Ahmadi, Ireland, Herd, Gardner, Delph, Bent, Weimann, Delfouneso, Hutton.

Everton (from): Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Hibbert, Neville, Gibson, Fellaini, Pienaar, Osman, Jelavic, Naismith, Mucha, Heitinga, Coleman, Anichebe, Barkley, Gueye, Mirallas.

Current Form

Aston Villa – L

West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa

Everton – W

Everton 1-0 Manchester United

Prediction

Villa looked very poor against West Ham, almost incapable of scoring a goal, but I’m sure when the likes of Bent regain top form this will change.

Everton’s surprise win against United will have caught many people’s attention, they fully deserved the 3 points in that match.

I think this match will be dependent on injuries and player fitness. Villa could struggle without Dunne at the back, whilst Jelavic is a key player for Moyes’ side.

Everton 1-0 Aston Villa

Manchester United v Fulham – Old Trafford – 15:00

Team News

Man United Robin van Persie is set to make his first start for Manchester United, following his recent move from Arsenal. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that the Netherlands international striker – who made his debut for the club as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat at Everton on Monday – will be promoted to the first XI for the visit of the Cottagers.

Ferguson has also confirmed Van Persie’s compatriot and fellow new recruit, full-back Alexander Buttner, will be involved, most likely starting on the bench, and that he will once again be without the defensive quartet of Phil Jones (back), Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling (both foot) and Rio Ferdinand (leg) that was unavailable for the Everton game.

Fulham Having missed last week’s 5-0 rout of Norwich, Clint Dempsey will again be missing from the lineup, while Kerim Frei (pelvis) and Philippe Senderos (foot) are also unavailable. However, Zdenek Grygera (knee) has been passed fit.

Possible Line-ups

Manchester United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Cleverley, Kagawa, Powell, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov, Macheda, Buttner.

Fulham (from): Schwarzer, Stockdale, Somogyi, Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Briggs, Grygera, Hughes, Riether, Halliche, Sidwell, Kasami, Duff, Diarra, Kacanicklic, Petric, Ruiz, Rodallega, Trotta.

Current Form

Manchester United – L

Everton 1-0 Man United

Fulham – W

Fulham 5-0 Norwich

Prediction

Sir Alex will be anxious to register the Red Devils first 3 points of the season against Martin Jol’s Fulham.

Despite losing against Everton, United looked very dangerous in attack. The addition of Shinji Kagawa to the side seems to have added the much needed creativity that the team lacked at times last season.

At the back, United have a number of injury concerns (we saw a makeshift defence against the Toffees on Monday) but Ferguson has since signed Alex Buttner, a player who should solve at least part of this problem.

Fulham started the season excellently with a huge 5-0 win against Norwich City. Even without star man Dempsey, they stormed to an easy 3 points in front of their home fans.

This game will be much different to what we saw last weekend. United rarely lose at home and with Van Perise set to start I think the Red Devils will steal the glory.

Manchester United 2-0 Fulham

Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers – Carrow Road – 15:00

Team News

Norwich Winger Elliott Bennett is sidelined with a knee problem, but new signings Sebastien Bassong and Javier Garrido, who now has international clearance for his season-long loan from Lazio, are both in contention, as manager Chris Hughton ponders his options following last weekend’s 5-0 defeat by Fulham.

Centre-half Steven Whittaker (ankle), midfielders Jacob Butterfield (knee) and David Fox (knee) and defender Elliott Ward (ankle) all continue their rehabilitation.

QPR New signing Jose Bosingwa is in line to make his debut. The 29-year-old former Chelsea right-back may be part of a reshuffled Hoops defence after last week’s 5-0 home loss to Swansea.

Only Alejandro Faurlin and Kieron Dyer are definite absentees as they both lack match sharpness following long injury lay-offs.

Possible Line-ups

Norwich (from): Ruddy, Garrido, Turner, Bassong, Martin, Pilkington, Johnson, Howson, Surman, Snodgrass, Holt, Rudd, Vaughan, Morison, Hoolahan, Tierney, R Bennett, Lapin.

Queens Park Rangers (from): Green, Cerny, Murphy, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Bosingwa, Hill, Nelsen, Fabio, Traore, Derry, Park, Diakite, Park, Dyer, Taarabt, Hoilett, Wright-Phillips, Ephraim, Mackie, Johnson, Zamora, Cisse.

Current Form

Norwich – L

Fulham 5-0 Norwich

QPR – L

QPR 0-5 Swansea

Prediction

Both sides started the season in appalling fashion, both losing by 5 goals. As a result, this game will be extremely interesting.

QPR looked poor defensively against Swansea, but the addition of Jose Bosingwa should boost the side’s back four. Norwich will field pretty much the same side that played at Craven Cottage.

In my opinion, QPR have the stronger team and despite being away from home, I think they’ll take the points.

Norwich 1-3 QPR

Southampton v Wigan – St Mary’s Stadium – 15:00

Team News

Southampton Midfielder Jack Cork remains the only injury concern as he is still recovering from an ankle knock picked up in pre-season and which rules him out for the first home match of the season.

Tadanari Lee played 70 minutes for the development team this week after a foot injury and could be involved.

Wigan Manager Roberto Martinez is monitoring the fitness of three players, while it remains to be seen whether or not forward Victor Moses has already made his last appearance for the Latics.

Wide man Jean Beausejour missed last Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat by Chelsea due to a soft tissue problem and will be assessed, along with fellow midfielders James McArthur (back) and Shaun Maloney (dead leg), who both had to be substituted during the contest, with Wigan last night confirming they had accepted a bid for him from the London club.

One of the hosts’ stand-out performers against the Blues was Moses and he could be a Chelsea player by the weekend, with Wigan last night confirming they had accepted a bid for him from the London club.

Possible Line-ups

Southampton (from): Davis, Gazzaniga, Richardson, Butterfield, Clyne, Fox, Shaw, Hooiveld, Fonte, Seaborne, Stephens, Chambers, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Cork, Chaplow, De Ridder, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Puncheon, Hammond, Davis, Lambert, Lee, Rodriguez, Sharp

Wigan (from): Al Habsi, Kone, Alcaraz, McArthy, Caldwell, Jones, Crusat, Watson, Di Santo, Maloney, Moses, Pollitt, Gomez, McManaman, McArthur, Boyce, Boselli, Fyvie, Ramis, Beausejour, Stam, Lopez, Figueroa, Miyaichi.

Current Form

Southampton – L

Manchester City 3-2 Southampton

Wigan – L

Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

Prediction

Nigel Adkins’ Southampton looked very impressive against the Premier League Champions last weekend. They gave them a real scare as they almost stole 3 points.

Wigan however looked fairly average against Chelsea after conceding twice in the opening 10 minutes.

Martinez’s side look very different to the team we saw at the end of last season and the imminent departure of Victor Moses will not help their cause.

Southampton will be still be buzzing after their promotion from the Championship last season and I think they’ll win their first 3 points of the season against Wigan.

Southampton 3-2 Wigan

Sunderland v Reading – Stadium of Light – 15:00

Team News

Sunderland Steven Fletcher could make his debut after his switch from Wolves was completed before the Friday deadline. The 25-year-old striker joined for an undisclosed fee and could start in the Black Cats’ first home game of the season at the Stadium of Light.

Wes Brown (knee ligaments), Phil Bardsley (ankle) and David Vaughan (ankle) are still recovering from injuries and will miss out.

Reading Brian McDermott has no fresh injury doubts. Jem Karacan is still working his way back from a broken ankle while Jimmy Kebe (hamstring) will not be available until after the international break.

McDermott does welcome striker Jason Roberts back from suspension but a calf problem, coupled with a lack of match fitness, means the 34-year-old is unlikely to be involved from the start.

Possible Line-ups

Sunderland (from): Westwood, Mignolet, Cattermole, Larsson, Gardner, Campbell, Wickham, Richardson, Kilgallon, Colback, O’Shea, Ji, Meyler, Bramble, McClean, Elmohamady, Saha, Cuellar, Fletcher, Sessegnon.

Reading (from): Federici, Taylor, Gunter, Cummings, Gorkss, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey, Harte, McAnuff, Guthrie, Leigertwood, Tabb, McCleary, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Roberts, Hunt, Robson-Kanu, Church, McCarthy.

Current Form

Sunderland  – D

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland

Reading –  DL

Reading 1-1 Stoke

Chelsea 4-2 Reading

Prediction

Sunderland played well to earn a point at the Emirates last weekend, whilst Reading came from behind to draw against Stoke.

McDermott’s side were in action again in midweek, they looked bright against the European Champions, Chelsea, they led 2-1 before eventually losing 4-2.

I think this will be a fairly boring fixture. Although, Sunderland will be boosted by the signing of Steven Fletcher from Championship side Wolves and I think they’ll win this match.

Sunderland 2-0 Reading

Tottenham v West Bromwich Albion – White Hart Lane – 15:00

Team News

Tottenham Defender Jan Vertonghen is likely to make his debut after Younes Kaboul was ruled out with a knee injury.

Luka Modric will not feature with the playmaker still linked with a move to Real Madrid, but Michael Dawson is available despite holding talks with QPR over a potential move this week.

Emmanuel Adebayor is available after his transfer from Manchester City went through on Tuesday, but Scott Parker (Achilles), Giovani Dos Santos (muscle) and Heurelho Gomes (ankle) are out.

West Brom Steve Clarke hopes to have a full squad to choose from. The Scot may even be able to call on the services of Graham Dorrans as the midfielder’s daughter continues to make progress from having contracted meningitis.

There are no injury concerns for Clarke, whose side beat Liverpool last weekend, with summer signing Markus Rosenberg in contention for a place in attack.

Possible Line-ups

Tottenham Hotspur (from): Friedel, Cudicini, Dawson, Gallas, Dawson, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Vertonghen, Caulker, Naughton, Bale, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Rose, Livermore, Sandro, Bentley, Jenas, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Townsend, Defoe, Kane, Adebayor.

West Bromwich Albion (from): Foster, Myhill, Reid, Olsson, Yacob, Ridgewell, Morrison, Long, El Ghanassy, Brunt, Thomas, Allan, Jara, Lukaku, Mulumbu, Gera, McAuley, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Odemwingie, Dawson, Jones, Tamas, Fortune.

Current Form

Tottenham – L

Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham

West Brom – W

West Brom 3-0 Liverpool

Prediction

Although West Brom had a great start against Liverpool last weekend, I think Tottenham will overpower them, especially with the return of Emmanuel Adebayor.

Tottenham 3-0 West Brom

Chelsea v Newcastle – Stamford Bridge – 17:30

Team News

Chelsea are likely to be without captain John Terry due to a neck injury, but David Luiz (knee) is expected to be fit after sitting out the 4-2 victory over Reading in midweek.

Marko Marin remains unavailable because of a hamstring injury.

Newcastle United Manager Alan Pardew will make late checks on captain Fabricio Coloccini and striker Demba Ba.

The pair were among nine men who missed or were rested for the 1-1 UEFA Europa League play-off draw at Atromitos on Thursday night, the Argentinian with a thigh problem and the Senegal international with a sore shin.

Pardew is hoping both will be fit after training in London this evening, although Cheick Tiote (calf) and Shola Ameobi (hamstring) remain doubts.

Possible Line-ups

Chelsea (from): Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Malouda, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Piazon, Torres, Sturridge, Turnbull.

Newcastle (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Santon, R. Taylor, Tavernier, Coloccini, Perch, Williamson, S. Taylor, Simpson, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Obertan, Marveaux, Gosling, Anita, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Cisse, Ba, Campbell.

Current Form

Chelsea – WW

Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

Chelsea 4-2 Reading

Newcastle – W

Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham

Prediction

Both Newcastle and Chelsea have enjoyed perfect starts to the season. In my opinion, this will be the most exciting match of the weekend.

Chelsea have the home advantage and the greater run of form, I think they’ll just win this match.

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle

Sunday 26th 2012

Stoke v Arsenal – Britannia Stadium – Kick-off 13:30

Team News

Stoke Dean Whitehead is serving a one-match ban after he was dismissed last weekend at Reading.

American defender Geoff Cameron is available after signing in the summer, while Jermaine Pennant could return to the squad after recovering from the thigh injury which kept him out from the game at the Madejski Stadium.

Arsenal Arsenal will need to assess goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has a minor rib problem, but England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) is fit again, along with reserve keeper Lukasz Fabianski (back).

Defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will again miss out, along with Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), while midfielder Jack Wilshere continues his rehabilitation from an ankle injury and Bacary Sagna stays out with a broken leg.

Possible Line-ups

Stoke City (from): Begovic, Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Upson, Higginbotham, Wilkinson, Shotton, Wilson, Whelan, Etherington, Pennant, Delap, Palacios, Jones, Jerome, Crouch, Walters, Sidibe, Ness, Kightly.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Diaby, Cazorla, Walcott, Arteta, Podolski, Gervinho, Fabianski, Arshavin, Ramsey, Giroud, Santos, Djourou, Coquelin.

Current Form

Stoke – D

Reading 1-1 Stoke

Arsenal – D

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland

Prediction

Both Arsenal and Stoke started the 2012/13 campaign with draws last weekend. This will be a tough second fixture for the Gunners, Crouch and co will be tough opposition, especially with the home advantage.

Arsenal looked dangerous last week despite being unable to find the back of the net. I think the goals will come with time, we could see a few in this fixture.

Stoke 1-2 Arsenal

Liverpool v Manchester City – Anfield – 16:00

Team News

Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard, striker Luis Suarez and defenders Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson all return to the squad. The quartet were rested for the UEFA Europa League win over Hearts on Thursday, while striker Andy Carroll, who travelled but missed out with a hamstring problem, will be assessed in the next 48 hours.

Centre-back Daniel Agger is suspended after his red card last weekend but fellow defender Jose Enrique could return after a knee injury kept him out at The Hawthorns.

Manchester City The Barclays Premier League champions are without last season’s top scorer Sergio Aguero after the Argentina striker suffered a knee injury in last week’s defeat of Southampton and is expected to be sidelined until mid-September.

Midfielder Gareth Barry (abdominal) is set for a reserves outing but defender Micah Richards (ankle) is still out of action.

Possible Line-ups

Liverpool (from): Reina, Kelly, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Gerrard, Lucas, Allen, Downing, Suarez, Borini, Jones, Coates, Enrique, Henderson, Shelvey, Spearing, Adam, Sterling, Carroll.

Manchester City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, K Toure, Savic, Clichy, Kolarov, Nasri, Milner, Johnson, Y Toure, De Jong, Rodwell, Silva, Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko.

Current Form

Liverpool – L

West Brom 3-0 Liverpool

Manchester City – W

Man City 3-2 Southampton

Prediction

Liverpool’s poor start to the season could continue against Manchester City. I can’t see them beating the Premier League champions in this match.

Liverpool 0-2 Manchester City 

Chris is the founder of The Boot Room. He is a Swindon Town supporter, having lived in Wiltshire for most of his years. His work has also featured on Squawka, Bleacher Report and Eurosport.

Everton

3 to buy, 3 to sell – featuring Everton and Tottenham stars

The Boot Room

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A few interesting encounters fill up the card for GW7. The most notable match is that of Tottenham vs Man City – the two top sides in the Premier League. You’ll want to avoid defenders from either side for this fixture, but make sure your squad is full up of top attacking talent. Other appetising matches include Middlesbrough vs West Ham (two teams who love nothing more than losing) and Hull vs Chelsea, where the result is certainly no foregone concussion. For this game week, you’ll want to make the following changes… wildcard, anyone?

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IN:

Theo Walcott – Arsenal (£7.6m – 4.7% ownership)
There seems to be a certain cycle to Walcott’s form which repeats with a tedious inevitably – Walcott scores a couple of goals here and there, demands to start up front, gets his chance, plays awfully and then hibernates. This isn’t a great omen, but at the moment he’s in stage one of this cycle – scoring goals. England’s (not quite) next big thing bagged himself a brace in the Champions League midweek and will surely get a chance to start in an advanced role against Burnley. His relative cheapness for an Arsenal player makes him a strong risk to take this gameweek – but you’ll probably want to transfer him out a few weeks later.

Yannick Bolasie – Everton (£6.1m – 6.1% ownership)
The pacey Congalese winger has walked straight into Everton’s starting XI since his move from Crystal Palace, displacing Gerard Deulofeu and notching a few assists here and there. Everton’s match against the Eagles means Bolasie will face his former side for the first time and will be eager to make an impression – just imagine the headlines. With Romelu Lukaku in great form, Bolasie is the ideal provider for the big striker to continue his goalscoring spell. At £6.1m too, he’s a bargain choice.

Troy Deeney – Watford (£7.0 – 6.2% ownership)
Watford have started the season in impressive fashion, mainly thanks to a certain Etienne Capoue’s highly unusual goalscoring streak (and if you haven’t got him in your FPL side, why on earth not?!). In the attacking department, Ighalo and Deeney haven’t been the explosive duo that we saw at the start of last season, but both have contributed their fair share to Watford’s good run of form. With an easy run of fixtures over October, a Hornets striker is bound to get a few more goals under his belt, with Deeney looking the most likely bet. Besides, Capoue’s form can’t last forever (or could it?) – so someone will need to pick up the goalscoring responsibilities soon.

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OUT:

Eden Hazard (£9.9 – 21.9% ownership)
The Belgium winger, following a dire season last campaign, appeared to be back to his best when he started the season. However, Chelsea have appeared to be very slack in recent matches, with none other than Diego Costa being the main source of attacking inspiration. Hazard is a fantastic player but may still be suffering from a 2015/16 and Euro hangover, so it’s best to get him out of your team until he hits form, which will no doubt be soon. In the mean time though, there are plenty of cheaper options.

Erik Lamela (£6.9 – 8.7% ownership)
Just like Hazard, Lamela had a strong beginning to the campaign, leading Spurs fans to believe this season might actually be the one where he justifies his mammoth transfer fee and fulfils his potential. However, just like Hazard, he has tailed off since the opening games which has led to a decrease in his value. With Manchester City to face next, it seems far more likely that Son will be the source of attacking inspiration – whilst Lamela will be an ineffective points scorer.

Jamie Vardy (£9.8m – 14.6% ownership)
No-one can blame Jamie Vardy for continuing his infamous party – a Premier League winners medal and a silver boot would satisfy any striker of his calibre for the next decade. But while Leicester make impressive strides in the Champions League, their league form has been mediocre in comparison to last season. Besides, Islam Slimani seems to be the lead striker now and has impressed since his big money move to the title holders. His high ownership percentage and diminishing price makes Vardy the prime candidate for you to drop from your strike force, but it would still be wise to keep a Leicester player in your side.

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Fantasy League

Fantasy Premier League: Who to have in your team for GW6?

The Boot Room

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Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Game-week 6. Writing this and having intensely assessed twitter and the very busy message boards of FF247 since about 2000 hours on Friday night, I would say that there are more than just a handful of you about to begin a week long tinker of the old first half-season wildcard.

If you don’t have it, don’t worry these tips may well still apply to you, most probably as you search for a makeweight to getting Sergio Aguero back in your squads ahead of his unleashing against Swansea City this coming Saturday. Do you sacrifice the other half of the big Manchester two in Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Manchester United or are you upgrading your second (or third) striker with the almost inevitable downgrade of a premium midfielder?

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Whichever your avenue, read on to find out whom you can bring in to ensure that you might make the transition as smooth as possible and if you do have the carte blanche of a wild card then you really can construct a squad to your exact taste. Well it’s hard to fit them all in as there are genuinely that many choices doing so well at present that you will have to narrow down your favourites simply. You WON’T get them all in, so let’s just make peace with it readers.

OK so the main man of the week is Aguero of Manchester City and assuming you aren’t smugly removing him from the cotton wool of your bench and dusting off the cobwebs, then you are using at least one transfer to bring him back in (unless you are on a wildcard). If you can do a straight swap from one of your existing to him, then do it.

We’ve seen the Ibrahimovic to Aguero move being mooted aplenty these past couple of days and being honest, it is not something we would advise as the Swede has produced even when his team hasn’t. Removing him just doesn’t seem to add up on the face of it and we would advise looking at your other two striking positions. If this means a downgrade of one then there are plenty of decent cheap striking options and also value elsewhere as ultimately you are probably going to have to cut corners elsewhere in your team to accommodate as many premium players as you can in this season which is ripe with big hitters already bringing in the fantasy points.

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Goalkeepers

Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace, 4.4m) The Eagles raised an eyebrow this summer when they picked up the French No. 2 goalkeeper from Marseille with some saying he’d be straight into their fantasy squads. Well a battle across the first few weeks to achieve full fitness ensued and then he had to fight with three other first team goalkeepers for the position. Since Alex McCarthy left for Southampton Mandanda has played in the last three matches ahead of both Wayne Hennessey and Julian Speroni. Although Palace haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of these, Mandanda has added a bonus save point in each of his last two and more importantly one would assume, made the position his to lose. He has also lost value in not playing the first two rounds and to our benefit, can now be picked up for a reasonable £4.4M.

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, 4.0M) Speaking of goalkeepers without clean sheets but with save points banked, we now look at England Under-21 cap Jordan Pickford of Sunderland. Now the thought of Sunderland may have some of you running, but on closer inspection four save points in his last and only three games mean the youngster has 11 points in total on the board without a clean sheet to boost that. That isn’t bad at all for £4.0M and spending just £8.4M on two goalkeepers (if paired with Steve Mandanda) might appeal to many of you to keep the funds spared as much as possible for further up the pitch.

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Mentions:

Eldin Jakupovic of Hull City saved a penalty against Arsenal and appears through saves alone to be holding on to the goalkeeper jersey at the KCOM despite the recent signing of David Marshall. Jaku is a nice alternative to Pickford for not much more.

Hugo Lloris of Tottenham and Heurelho Gomes are two other goalkeepers who are guaranteed to start for their clubs and who have favourable forthcoming fixtures with them. This is for those who like to spend a bit on keepers and Lloris seems to be the easiest and cheapest way to access Tottenham who have had three shut-outs. Watford are yet to record a clean sheet but the fixtures across the next five, despite three being away, make for tasty reading.

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Defenders

Kyle Walker – The flying full back has the most bonus points of any defender so far with 7 and it will only be a matter of time before he opens his goalscoring account for the season too we think. With two assists and back to back clean sheets it won’t be a surprise to hear he is the top-scoring defender so far with 33. This will only increase as will his price inevitably. He is towards the higher end of the financial scale for a defender but if you have actually seen him play, you will see that he likes to dribble, overlap and cross. There is room for improvement on his passing but I would simply refer you back to his points and bonus totals so far.

John Stones – The headline here would be ‘City Defender for £5.0M’ but there is of course more to it than that. Wait, is there? Perhaps not, seeing as he was rested/rotated for the last match against Bournemouth and he has only amassed seven points so far in roughly four games. So can we assume that normally he’ll play in the league? We think in all probability he will but we would back this up with the advice of having a playing reserve for those times that Pep reckons he needs a little rest. In summary we are being blinded a little by his club and his price, due to the fact he began the season at Everton, but maybe this is one risk worth riding out.

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Adam Smith – As with Kyle Walker, Adam Smith of Bournemouth makes consecutive appearances in Tips but this is one guy who at least this week has Manchester City out of the way and is one step closer to a decent run of fixtures. As mentioned by Kop last week, this guy has a goal and assist and three bonus points to his name and faces off against Watford, Hull City, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Stoke City in five of their next seven. Even Everton and Tottenham who make up the seven are home games for the Cherries and Smith has found the net in Boscombe this season already – against Manchester United.

Jose Holebas – Alright the eagle-eyed, photographical memory types or downright obsessed amongst you will also spot that Holebas was mentioned last week. I am researching, honest! It’s just that I am naming a wildcard squad and well, Kop is obviously a very good tipster. But it should be clear to see why Holebas is in here. £4.5M as a left winger who can take advantage of clean sheets and has already scored this season. The German-born Greek is on three yellow cards so buyers beware (borrowed from Guy Sanchez, that one. Love it!) if you pick him up. He is preferred to Darryl Janmaat simply on price alone.

Jordi Amat – This guy plays every minute for the Swans and can still be picked up for £4.1M. With each passing week, Swansea are working their way through their difficult fixtures so he could be stowed on your bench until City, Liverpool, Arsenal and United are negotiated but he is an enabler who is actually a playing option and for a wildcard, what’s not to love about that?

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Mentions:

Christian Fuchs is the big Austrian left back who announced after the Euros that he was quitting the national team to better himself at club level – it’s working. A clean sheet and an assist against Burnley will have caught your attention but it is his joint-best 124 points in the BPS (with Kyle Walker) that is catching our eye. The fixtures are a mixed bag but the next four home games all have clean sheet potential (Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough).

Jonny Evans is £4.5m and plays every minute for West Bromwich Albion who you know will keep their fair share of clean sheets. Unspectacular but he is sure steady in the ‘go-to’ team for your bog standard 6 points from a defender

Martin Kelly is the ex-Liverpool man who has been given his chance through what can only be described as a nasty turn of fate but with best wishes to the recovering car crash victim, Pape Souare, we in the FPL world also must take our chance. Kelly is taking the place of the Senegalese and we can have him for 4.4. Nice little alternative if you don’t want to follow the Steve Mandanda pick.

Leighton Baines or Seamus Coleman is the eternal question. Has been for as long as FPL has existed, well at least since Coleman signed for Everton. Anyway, that Ronald Koeman has turned Everton sexy overnight makes us sit up and take notice and they are nearly keeping clean sheets (the Middlesbrough goal on Saturday was assault and should not have stood) adds to the appeal. Now Coleman scored on Saturday and Baines is/could be on penalties so you need to make our own mind up on this one but we would lean on Baines for the spot kick duty.

Hector Bellerin as Kop described last week is the best buy if money is no object for a defender. His statistics are very impressive even if they are not transferring in to big points just yet.

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Midfielders

Raheem Sterling – Sterling continues to be a favourite for Pep it seems. Three goals, three assists and five bonus points so far points to him being absolutely fantastic value for the £8.4M and the £2.3 million of difference in price with Kevin De Bruyne is reflected in just one point (KDB has 39 to Sterling’s 38) and the England man has played 11 minutes less.

Philippe Coutinho – For this position you could take any of the Liverpool midfield as has been well documented in the past few weeks. Coutinho has looked very sharp and comes in cheaper than compatriot Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane so it is the budget friendliness of Cout’ that gets him the nod here. He has scored more fantasy points than the rest of the Liverpool team and has the most bonus points too. From first hand observation of him on Friday night, he looks to be in very good shape for future assist and goalscoring points.

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Michail Antonio – The England international has been spitting in the wind recently as it doesn’t matter how many he scores, West Ham lose four goals. He’s going to need to up his game and get five next week we suspect. The purchase of the midfielder-cum-right-back is an inadvertent way to cream points off Dmitri Payet’s stream of creativity without forking out the extra £2M. Payet appears to be feeding Antonio, with three assists in two matches for him, so having him is a nice way of covering the Hammers attack. You can rest easy knowing that if you have Antonio and West Ham get a set-play, you’re in with a chance of some points.

Robert Snodgrass – The Scotland captain-in-waiting (come on Strachan, surely?) has set the Premier League on fire so far with his array of point scoring from open play (Leicester), free kicks (Burnley) and the penalty spot (Arsenal). Yeah and he takes corners too and is probably the fittest man in the Premier League as he runs constantly for ninety minutes and it’s great testament to him having been out of the game for 16 months with a cruciate knee injury. He is just £5.7M and has a fixture list reading from Game-week 8 of Bournemouth (A), Stoke City (H), Watford (A), Southampton (H), Sunderland (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Middlesbrough (A) and Crystal Palace (H).

Etienne Capoue – Well this guy needs no explanation, surely? It isn’t too late and at £4.9M is still brilliant value. The question being, do you play him as fourth midfielder or is he your first substitute? If it is the latter, then there can be no more assured than the Frenchman who is exceeding everyone’s, including his own expectations.

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Mentions:

Alexis Sanchez still features in fewer teams than the likes of Hazard, Coutinho and Sterling to name but three with just 13.8% ownership. Now we know that those on a wildcard will have him and Kevin De Bruyne as must haves and we understand that. With the flexibility of unlimited transfers now is definitely the time to have them in. This limits the rest of your team somewhat unless you plan to ditch Ibrahimovic or Aguero. That is for your personal choice but the ‘big two’ in midfield, (sorry Eden) need to be mentioned.

Nacer Chadli had a decent start to his career in the Black Country with a couple of goals and a couple of assists – to score an eye-watering 21 points – on his home debut. You won’t be surprised to hear he is now West Brom’s joint top point scorer after playing JUST TWO of their games. This could continue and next up are basement-dwellers Stoke and Sunderland. A two week punt isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

Yannick Bolasie is the perfect antidote for those who can’t fit Romelu Lukaku in to their strikeforce but still fancy some Everton attacking coverage. This guy is heading to becoming a brilliant bit of transfer business by the Blues and the link up with the Belgian could be a fruitful and mutualluy beneficial partnership which could reap both points for us fantasy managers and European football at Goodison. The DR Congo international who is just £6.0M and has picked up two assists in his last two, the last of which saw him complete his first ninety minutes, is simmering nicely.

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Forwards

Romelu Lukaku – If you haven’t had him for the last two weeks then it’s hardly worth buying him now is it? You will probably be one of the 1,287,456 of fantasy managers who claim that they can never ‘get him’ at the right time. We jest of course, but it seriously does looks like Lukaku is going to be worth getting in to your wildcard teams owing to current form, which shows no sign of letting up, his relatively fair price, his history of being able to do it at this level – his goal record is phenomenal really, and the fact that Everton themselves have made their best start to a season in recent history. A very well connected contributor to this site has described Everton’s tactic of simply getting the ball to Lukaku at all costs as so simple but so obvious. That it appears to be happening is great news for us managers. Take heed!

Sergio Aguero – We’ve covered Aguero in depth in the opening paragraphs but as he has just been mooching about waiting for his suspension to be completed he has only been able to compete in one competitive game and that was in the Champions League against Borussia Monchengladbach. He scored a hat-trick. Take heed!

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The guy is going to be a makeweight for Aguero, Sanchez, De Bruyne or a combination of two of those or if you play your cards correctly, all three. Aguero seems undroppable so it has to be Zlats who takes one for your teams. A word of warning though. United’s new signing has blanked in just one game in – the away game at Hull – and has six bonus points, four goals and one assist so far. He hasn’t done anything to deserve the chop I’m sure you will at least agree? At least consider this when making your final decisions. His next two matches are at home and one of which is Stoke. Take (some) heed!

Mentions:

To see the Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford make the starting line-up against Watford in what Mourinho described on Thursday after the Feyenoord defeat as would be “the normal team” made us sit up and take notice. Could Rashford see some league game time? There is no doubt his direct play and trickery is applauded at Old Trafford and lots of United supporters would rather see him play than a few others. You might be lucky and be able to retain Red Devils coverage here if you decide to ditch Zlatan. It’s risky though but he who dares Rodney . . .

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Diego Costa would seem to be the favoured weapon of choice for many of you who need to lighten your attack to accommodate some premium midfielders. Hardly a bad choice when you consider he hasn’t blanked in any game this season and even when Chelsea looked all at sea against Liverpool this past week, the Spanish international still found the net for his fifth league goal of the season. The result against Liverpool wasn’t undeserved but it wasn’t Chelsea at their most lethal and they were played off the park by a sharp team so all talk of ditching Chelsea entirely is a little premature we think.

Finally one of our favourite Tips this week is Troy Deeney of Watford. Two goals in two games against West Ham (a brilliant arcing lob) and a penalty in the 3-1 win over Manchester United ahead of a beautiful run of games just makes senses. At 6.9M and with the captain’s armband and penalty duty, the Brummie just seems to make more sense than his strike partner Odion Ighalo who was one of the early-season sensations last time out but is yet to get going this. To answer the big question; no. No, we don’t think having Deeney and Etienne Capoue is too much Watford coverage. They have Burnley, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Hull in their next five all of which are winnable for a team who have scored seven in their last two. Their confidence is sky high at the moment and both are integral to their attacking play.

 

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Fantasy Premier League GW4: Analysing the fixtures

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Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Game-week 4 2016-17.

Welcome, welcome, welcome to our fixture analysis for the week! The first three weeks of the season are in the books and the transfer window has slammed shut until January. All was right in the world, and then… the first of many annoying international breaks. Surely planned for no purpose other than to simply to frustrate us.

The footballers themselves seem to enjoy it but to the clubs, their fans and, most importantly, the fantasy football managers, these matches are nothing but a chance for their players to get injured and suffer jet-lag ahead of week 4.

Did your players survive? Did you survive? For many of us this international lull has been a time of fantasy introspection. ‘To wildcard or not to wildcard’ as the Bard once famously put it. Some of us planned our teams for the first three weeks and hit the wildcard button just as planned and full of confidence, while others have tossed and turned through the night debating the choice.

Favourable Fixtures

Everton – Sunderland (a), Middlesbrough (h), Bournemouth (a)

Transfer deadline day came and went and Everton managed to ward off interest in Romelu Lukaku.

They also addressed their most pressing need: a viable backup for the streaky Lukaku. The arrival of Enner Valencia will not set the league on fire but it will give Ronald Koeman options when the Belgium international enters one of his inevitable goal droughts.

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The league bestowed on Everton a kind set of opening fixtures and they have certainly taken advantage. The Toffees look poised to continue their hot start with three very winnable fixtures on the horizon. A trip to Sunderland (one point from three) could well be their most difficult test over the next month. Last season was a rollercoaster affair, with the teams combining to net 11 goals the two times they met.

Their next foe, newly promoted Middlesbrough, will likely park the bus and play for a point at Goodison Park as they attempt to survive their first season back in the big time. Relegation fodder Bournemouth are likely to employ the same strategy, but we fancy Everton have enough class to overcome both teams. Adding Lukaku, Ross Barkley or Leighton Baines could pay dividends over the next several weeks.

ArsenalSouthampton (h), Hull (a), Chelsea (h)

Stop the press! Arsenal finally bought the striker and central defender they have needed for the last three seasons. You can debate whether the players are a perfect fit for Arsene Wenger’s system, or whether they are a notable upgrade from the players already on the roster, but they finally have the depth that would have seen them mount a legitimate challenge for the title last season. Better late than never, we guess.

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The arrival of Lucas Perez will push Olivier Giroud and means Alexis Sanchez can return out wide where his game is better, and the signing of defender Shkodran Mustafi means Arsenal now have a player whose name will never be spelled correctly. One can only hope Arsenal fans will serenade him with The Circle of Life when he opens his Arsenal account.

Looking at their upcoming fixtures the Chelsea game looms on the horizon, but facing Burnley and Swansea in the following weeks make Arsenal a team you should invest in over the next five weeks. Alexis Sanchez is the obvious attacking choice, but a punt on Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla or even Theo Walcott could see you climb in the rankings.

TottenhamStoke (a), Sunderland (h), Middlesbrough (a)

Tottenham have negotiated a tricky opening trio of games and have five points to show for it. Fans should be satisfied with draws against Everton and Liverpool, and a hard fought victory over Crystal Palace. Most importantly, they sit one point ahead of Arsenal. For now.

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The deadline day acquisitions of midfielders Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou beef up Spurs strength in depth, while an early season goal from Erik Lamela has reminded people that he plays for Spurs. With the defence fit, boss Samwise Gamgee’s most pressing issue now is figuring out why his striker seems to have lost his nose for scoring. Speaking of slow starts, Pochewotsit’s have failed to find the back of the net in the first-half this season.

Their next three matches should see that change though. A trip to Orc Arena could prove challenging as Stoke attempt to avoid relegation but Spurs are talented enough to overcome such thuggery. Sunderland and Middlesbrough are likely to pose much less of a threat. The problem with exploiting their fixtures is figuring out who will score their goals.

Worth a look…

Crystal Palace – Middlesbrough (a), Stoke (h), Sunderland (a)

Continuing the trend of picking teams that play Middlesbrough, Stoke and/or Sunderland, we present to you Crystal Palace for your consideration. The arrival of Christian Benteke finally gave the Eagles a legitimate scoring option, and keeping hold of Wilfried Zaha has shown that the owners are keen to improve on last season’s 15th place finish.

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Despite a rough start that has seen them drop two of their opening three fixtures, Alan Pardew’s men will fancy their prospects for points in the next month. The Middlesbrough-Stoke-Sunderland axis has surrendered a total of 13 goals thus far. Just what the doctor ordered. It may take him a bit to acclimatise himself but we think Palace’s next three opponents make Benteke one to watch in the coming weeks.

Be wary of…

Swansea – Chelsea (h), Southampton (a), Manchester City (h)

We realise you likely do not have any Swansea coverage in your team, but our job is to make sure of that. It isn’t that Swansea are that bad, they just have a brutal schedule over the next month. And they are just bad. A quick check of their squad confirms Gylfi Sigurdsson does still play for the team. Unfortunately, no one else of note does. Poor Siggy. Where is Michu when you need him?

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If the prospects of Chelsea and City are not enough to scare you off, they face Liverpool and Arsenal after that. It realistically could be the end of October before Swansea win another match. Stay far away until then.

Well that is it for me this week lads and lasses. As always, I enjoyed out time together and appreciate your reading this article. Best of luck to you all in the coming weeks. Cheers!

Make sure you check out Fantasy Football 24/7‘s website if you want more excellent hints and tips.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by mcmetha

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