You know the drill. Before every Premier League Gameweek we preview I) The most exciting match from a neutral’s perspective II) The most fantasy friendly affair III) Stud & Dud player selections and IV) Our predicted best scoring starting XI. Let’s do it.
I. Manchester United @ Everton: This has to be the marquee matchup of opening weekend. Monday night football. Rooney visits his old club. Robin van Persie potentially makes his debut. What a strikeforce. Wow. Just wow. That’s all you can really say.
Everton are notorious slow starters under David Moyes, so all signs point to a Manchester United away win, but who will get the goals? RVP? Rooney? Kagawa? Young, Valencia, or Nani?
There are so many FPL questions thrown in the air, that we hope we can catch a few of them on the way down during this 90 minutes. Who’s on corners? Free kicks? Penalties? Will Valencia start at right back or will Jones? How will Cleverley and Kagawa combine?
Everton’s fantasy prospects are led, of course, by defender Leighton Baines and forward Nikica Jelavic. The inconsistent, frustrating Steven Pienaar is another mid-priced option who occasionally comes up with the big fantasy score.
I think Manchester United will come away with the victory. Will RVP grab his first goal? I think he will.
Prediction: 1 – 2 Manchester United away win
II. Chelsea Double Gameweek: Chelsea are at Wigan and home to Reading this week. The Champions League winners haven’t looked superb in pre-season but you have to assume 4 points at a minimum, and in all likeliness 6 points are the pretty straightforward target.
The studs on offer, of course, are Ivanovic and Cole at the back. Both are 6.5m and should start both games. [Bertrand at 4.5m is a wildcard left back in case Cole is rested but why would he be rested this early in the season?] One of Cahill or Luiz [both 6.5m] will partner Terry, but it’s a danger deciding which one will win the starting role. My gut says Luiz but it’s a massive risk for a fantasy manager to take. You could always just select Petr Cech and his headgear at 6.5m and 0.0m respectively. [Headgear included in 6.5m price.]
In the midfield, Hazard and Mata and are both 9.5m and good options for the captain’s armband. Ramires has impressed with his lung-bursting runs so at 7m he’s a nice potential value play. If Frank Lampard starts, he’s still on penalties, but he’s certainly losing a bit of pace and influence with age.
Up front it’s all one man: Fernando Torres. He’ll be an extremely popular choice this gameweek and why not? He scored against Manchester City in the Community Shield and fantasy managers will hope he has re-gained his confidence. I think Chelsea win both matches.
Prediction: 1-2 away win at Wigan, 3-0 win home vs Reading.
III. Studs & Duds:
For a comprehensive list of studs and duds, make sure to check out our season preview articles. But let’s still look at this weekend’s potential big time scorers or disappointments.
Suarez and Gerrard are studs at West Brom, despite the away trip. I like Arsenal’s Cazorla and Podolski, as well as their moderately priced defender Gibbs [5.5m] as studs at home to Sunderland.
Bargain studs now live at Craven Cottage – I love both Petric and Rodallega – just 6m each, and of course, though he’s expensive and unhappy, Clint Dempsey is worth a mention for the stud/dud fence. They’ve got Norwich at home.
I don’t know what to make of Aston Villa and West Ham besides the fact that it’s a massive claret and blue kit clash – but Bent and N’Zogbia for the away team are your stud selections. QPR are home to Swansea so Cisse, Zamora, and Taarabt all provide valuable stud options.
The Tottenham – Newcastle game gives us a few players for the stud-dud fence. We aren’t that high this season on Ba and Cisse so they aren’t studs, but at home, they aren’t duds either. On the fence then. Sigurdsson, Bale, and VDV are in the same boat in what looks to be, on paper, a difficult away trip. One of those trio will probably score – but who will it be? Big gambles…
Obviously both Tevez and Aguero are big time studs at home against Southampton.
Duds this gameweek are those Wigan, Southampton and Everton defenders who are taking on the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Sorry Al-Habsi and Figueroa lovers/owners – your boys are duds. Tim Howard, you’re a dud too.
Furthermore, those players on newly promoted teams or those new signings to the Premier League that we haven’t really seen yet can’t be classified as studs with little or no history in the game. We can only offer our best predictions for their success. Include them in your starting teams at your own risk.
Word of warning on Manchester United’s Kagawa – he played 90 minutes midweek in Japan with his national team so he may not receive the full 90 minutes against Everton on Monday. A short term dud warning then, though he’s still a tempting selection with RVP and Rooney potentially lining up in front of him.
IV. Gameweek 1 Best Eleven:
D: Kompany – Ivanovic – Gunter
M: Mata – N’Zogbia – Taarabt – Michu
F: Torres – Aguero – Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici – Joe Allen – K. Gibbs – Rafael