Gisele is an Arsenal supporter
Three Premier League Gameweeks in just 7 days – the footie overload is intoxicating. Let’s preview this weekend’s action looking at (I) the best match for a neutral (II) the most fantasy friendly fixture (III) studs and duds and (IV) a prediction of a weekly best 11 lineup with substitutes as well.
I. Chelsea @ Fulham:
The West London Derby actually means something nowadays as Roy Hodgson has turned Fulham into a European trophy contender.
It’s been a big week for the Cottagers coming off a 1-0 win at Portsmouth on opening day, then securing the signature of winger Damien Duff from Newcastle on a 3-year deal, and now getting their Europa League campaign underway.
Similarly, Chelsea have shown a new found resilience this season under Carlo Ancelotti – twice coming back from 1-0 defecits (home to Hull and at Sunderland) to win their first two competitive matches of the season. A perfect 6 points out of 6 then.
In this fixture last year, Clint Dempsey scored twice, including an equalizer in the 90th minute for a 2-2 draw. Will last year’s EPL surprise package, Mark Schwarzer, deny the likes of Lampard, Drogba, and Deco this weekend as well?
A big question mark concerning fantasy footie managers will be Chelsea’s starting 11 – especially in midfield.
But whoever is out there, I expect more of the same from Ancelotti’s
men – with Lampard
(12.5M) and Drogba
(10.5M) the main catalysts.
The final concerning question mark for fantasy managers will be taking another look at the Chelsea back line. I heavily backed Chelsea and United’s defense for the opening two gameweeks – the fixtures looked amazing – Birmingham, Hull, Sunderland, and Burnley! Surely United and Chelsea could pick up 3 clean sheets out of those 4 matches, if not all 4. But in fact, United and Chelsea combined for only one clean sheet out of those four “easy” matches. An aberration in my opinion, not a developing trend.
No time to panic after just two weeks, but something to keep an eye on. If Chelsea can keep a clean sheet at Fulham, managers will restore their confidence in the expensive Cech (6.5M) and Cole (7.0M) especially if popular budget options Sorensen (4M) and Hart (4M) falter with tougher schedules in the coming weeks.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 0
II. Portsmouth @ Arsenal:
This one is a no-brainer
. Though Liverpool did beat Aston Villa 5-0 in their last meeting, and play at Anfield
on Monday night, I have to give Arsenal the “most fantasy friendly fixture” nod this week based on two good performances – one against Everton
and one against Celtic
in The Champions League.
The Gunners will be thoroughly tested in weeks 4 and 5 – at Manchester United and at Manchester City – but they should pick apart Portsmouth with ease this weekend. Investment in Arsenal players in the short term may be a mixed bag then with difficult looming fixtures as well as a second Champions League game against Celtic, but looking at gameweek 3 as a snapshot independent of other weeks, this looks like a superb opportunity for Wenger’s young men.
At the back, new signing Thomas Vermaelen (6.5M) should keep Portsmouth’s woeful offense away from Almunia’s (6.0M) goal, but it is defender Alex Song (5.5M) who fantasy managers should keep a very close eye on. Song is listed as a defender but played the holding midfield role against Everton – (similar to Vincent Kompany or Phil Neville last season) and could be the defensive pick of the season if he can hold on to this spot. He faces competition from the likes of Denilson and Diaby, and who knows what formation Wenger will put out when Nasri and Rosicky are fit again – but in the mid-term, I am very high on Song’s potential.
The usual suspects Fabregas (10.6M), Arshavin
(11M) and RvP
(10M) should carve open Portsmouth at home. Keep an eye on Eduardo (8M) in this one, too, as he is always lethal when he starts. David James is a great ‘keeper, but the firepower is too great, and the team is playing too well.
Prediction: 3 – 0 Arsenal
III. Studs and Duds: What are fantasy managers to do with their Sorensen (37% owned) / Hart (19% owned) cheap goalkeeping combo as Birmingham take on Stoke City? Stoke conceded 4 at Liverpool while Birmingham kept a clean sheet at home to Portsmouth, so I have to give Birmingham the slight edge here. A 1-1 draw would disappoint owners of both ‘keepers, and amazingly we have yet to see a draw in the league this season after 16 games played, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the streak will come to an end, and these two teams will play to a draw. Go with your gut then, as this is a true coin flip. The same is said for Shawcross, Carr, Faye, R. Johnson, etc. – they all straddle the stud/dud fence this week.
Manchester City players are studs this week at home to Wolves despite Wolves’ nice away win at Wigan
on Tuesday. The team has too much quality and even beat Barcelona in a friendly match yesterday.
Wayne Bridge (5.5M) and Robinho
(9.5M) are the stud picks for me on the left hand side, because Wolves right back Richard Stearman
(4M) looked far from comfortable
. If Stearman
doesn’t improve, Bridge and Robinho
will run riot.
Sunderland players are studs for me despite the 3-1 loss to Chelsea mid-week. I don’t need to reiterate how valuable Darren Bent (7M) and Kenwyne Jones (7M) are to that team. Both are studs again.
Burnley’s historic upset of Manchester United
aside, I still think their players are duds this weekend at home to Everton
got pasted 6-1 to Arsenal last week, but David Moyes
‘ side rarely performs like that two matches in a row. Despite GK Jensen’s (4M) heroics against United, I don’t recommend investment – as studs Saha
(7M), Jo (7.5M), and Cahill
(8.5M) are more than capable of turning the mood from happy to sad at Turf Moor in a hurry.
IV. EPL Gameweek 3 Best Eleven:
D: Alex Song – Glen Johnson – Wayne Bridge
M: Gerrard – Pienaar – Arshavin (C) – K. Dyer – Huddlestone
F: Bent – Rooney
Subs: Sorensen – McFadden – Carr – A. Dawson
(You too can have this excellent team for the low cost of 100M. You can use code 2274-957 to join the Never Captain Nicky Butt League at premierleague.com)
- Premier League Gameweek 1 Fantasy Preview
- Premier League Gameweek 2 Fantasy Preview
- EPL Gameweek 26 Fantasy Preview: 2/3 Down, 1/3 to Go
- EPL Gameweek 37 Fantasy Preview: Everyone Drop Wayne Rooney, Now!
- EPL Gameweek 31 Fantasy Preview: Back to Business