Let’s preview this weekend of Premier League action, as we do every Thursday. We look at (I) best match for a neutral (II) most fantasy friendly match (III) studs and duds and (IV) a prediction of a weekly best eleven lineup.
I. Arsenal @ Manchester United:
The Gunners are confident of a win at Old Trafford
after scoring 15 goals in their first 4 games, but may be without club captain Cesc Fabregas.
one has a slight hamstring problem, so fantasy managers should monitor that developing situation for a bit more clarity tomorrow.
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is still a few weeks away from a return to action, so it looks like Nemanja Vidic may partner Jonny Evans in central defense. But I think it will be the offensive stars on display in the final third of the pitch this weekend – as Arsenal have been scoring goals with ease – and will be led by Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, and Arshavin.
Arshavin (10.9M) has failed to replicate his goalscoring touch
after an amazing first half-season to end last term, and will be looking to get on the scoresheet
at Old Trafford
– he scored a hat trick against Liverpool last year, in case we have forgotten… and he seems to get up for the “Big stage.” He looks like he’s 12 years old, but the 28 year old is at the prime of his career and will be integral to the Gunners’ offensive attack this season despite his slow start domestically.
United, as always, will be led by Rooney (11M) who has already scored 3 goals and picked up 6 bonus points this season – perhaps he’ll even get on penalty duties now as well after Michael Carrick missed his chance against Burnley.
These games are always difficult to predict but the goalkeepers Foster and Almunia just don’t inspire the same type of confidence in me as say a Cech, Reina, or even Van der Sar. Thus, I expect a few goals here.
Prediction: 2 – 2 Draw
II. Burnley @ Chelsea: Frank may be in a funk,
may be this year’s Stoke – surprising the top teams with an organized defense and heroic goalkeeping performances, but Chelsea have too much firepower here at home.
The only concern from a fantasy football perspective for the Blues is the starting lineup – will Ancelotti dare rest Lampard or Drogba before the international break as he “rested” Anelka, Malouda, and Carvalho in gameweek 2 and Essien and Deco in gameweek 3?
Rotation in Chelsea’s lineup has to be the only concern for managers, but once again – just as last week – we expect Drogba and Lampard to come good. I almost expect Drogba to score more than I expect him not to score at this point. (In fact, the only way his goalscoring run will come to an end is if I draft him into my team).
Kidding aside, Chelsea are surely the team to beat in the league this season. New proven manager. Same proven players – all fit and with something to prove after failing to live up to expectations domestically and in Europe last year.
will take some confidence into this one after knocking Chelsea out of the Carling Cup last season, a game that saw Didier Drogba get a 3 match ban for tossing a coin at fans
in the crowd. We poked quite a bit of fun at Drogba
last year for his Champions League antics against Tom Henning Ovrebo,
but for all his emotion, he’s matured just a bit at 31 and perhaps will be less of a liability as a “diver” and ticking time bomb – and will remain the top striker in the fantasy Premier League game this season. Torres, Rooney, Adebayor
and perhaps even Defoe and Bent will give him a run for his money – but when he’s on (as he is now) he’s just absolutely amazing. Fun to watch.
So, yeah – Drogba and Lampard with a goal each, and perhaps an additional goal from a secondary playmaker like Deco, Ballack, Essien, Malouda or Kalou in this one. Sorry Burnley fans.
Prediction: 3 – 0 Chelsea
III. Studs and Duds: Stoke are home to Sunderland, and I guess I say this every week – but sooner or later Sorensen / Shawcross / Faye have to concede, right? 2 clean sheets out of 3, and they are bargain basement buys – so fantasy managers will keep investing in them – and perhaps they are now “For Real,” after two 0-0 draws with Liverpool last season and a few more clean sheets to get going this year.
Still, I can’t count on them as studs this week with Steve Bruce’s Sunderland coming to town. I think Bent / Jones are a bit more of an ask than Kevin Phillips and James McFadden. Birmingham are worthless from an attacking sense, so Stoke players jump onto the stud/dud fence this week rather than continuing as studs. A downgrade, surely.
In terms of defensive returns, I like Tottenham’s Cudicini (4.5M) and Bassong (5.1M) as cheaper stud options this week with Birmingham in town. Liverpool and Chelsea defensive studs look great as well with Bolton
and Burnley, respectively – but of course, are pricier. Glen Johnson is the best bet from an attacking sense, but will cost you an arm and a leg.
Attacking wise, studs come from Man City and perhaps even Everton and Aston Villa – who despite getting knocked out of the Europa League
– still have firepower in Young (8.3M)
and Milner (6.9M). For Everton, it’s Pienaar (6.5M) and Cahill (8.4M) who could cause Wigan’s defense some more problems. I expect Everton to win that game.
“Cheaper” attacking studs could come from the Wolves (Keogh and Milijas have looked lively) and Hull (Hunt, Altidore and Ghilas could provide returns) matchup. If there are goals in that one, those 5 players should be involved.
IV. EPL Gameweek 4 Best Eleven:
D: G Johnson – A Cole – W Bridge
M: A Young – Milijas – Gerrard – Pienaar – Palacios
F: Drogba (c) – Robinho
Subs: Sorensen – Keogh – Gardner – Craddock
- Premier League Gameweek 3 Fantasy Preview
- Premier League Gameweek 2 Fantasy Preview
- Premier League Gameweek 1 Fantasy Preview
- EPL Gameweek 35 Fantasy Preview: Pinch Me, I’m Better than George Best
- EPL Gameweek 38 Fantasy Preview: It’s Been a Hull of a Ride