Let’s get back to work as Gameweek 4 of the Fantasy Premier League is upon us.
I. Chelsea @ QPR: This London derby is the most interesting from a neutral’s perspective, if you ask me. QPR added loads of players during their summer spending spree, but have they had enough time acclimating to their teammates, much less to the Premier League?
We shall see this weekend. Chelsea were crushed by Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup 2 weeks ago and will be looking forward to bringing back their international players in one piece. Lots of moving parts here, but you have to think Chelsea are the clear favourites despite the away fixture.
Eden Hazard is the main man from a fantasy perspective – scoring an impressive Cristiano Ronaldo-esque 11 points per fantasy game in his first few gameweeks. And Fernando Torres is worth mentioning – though he may trail world class mainstays Carlos Tevez and Robin van Persie in our thinking, he’s certainly worth a shout as the team is built to feed their creativity into the Spaniard. So Mata, Hazard, and Torres are the main bets to continue their scoring spree.
QPR will look to start with new transfer signing Esteban Granero [5.5m] once again after he featured for 84 minutes in his debut in the 3-1 loss at Manchester City. It seems that the talent Adel Taarabt [5.8m] has found the Fantasy Premier League wilderness – he hasn’t featured in the last 2 matches, but perhaps Mark Hughes will roll him out at home? Risky on all levels.
Bobby Zamora [6.4m] has 2 goals in his last 2 games so you could do worse than deploying him as a 3rd striker despite the presence of Berbatov and others in the same price bracket. If QPR score, he could be involved.
In the end, Chelsea’s star studded lineup will be a bit too much for QPR’s new signings, even at home. You’d be in decent shape with some Chelsea exposure – Hazard or Torres would be nice…
Prediction: 1-2 Chelsea away win.
II. Wigan @ Manchester United: Arsenal have a superb matchup at home as well, but we have to stick with Sir Alex’s men at Old Trafford.
Robin van Persie is an injury concern [still no word on whether he will be fit to start], and his price tag is exorbitant but he’s banging in the goals – is he essential once again?
2-3 goals should be expected from Manchester United so one of RVP or Kagawa [also a slight concern with a back problem] is a must have entering this one [barring these injuries in the midweek internationals keeping them out]. Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck are other options – a bit riskier in terms of playing time, but they have the potential to shine with 60+ minutes each. At the back, Rafael [5.6m] is a bargain if he can keep his starting role, but Sir Alex has been known to rotate [De Gea was benched last time out against Southampton] so there’s always a danger when your name isn’t Vidic or Van Persie.
To be fair to Wigan, they’ve played very well this season – Franco di Santo [5.5m] has 2 goals in 3 games, and he’s full of confidence, while Shaun Maloney [5m] has a goal and an assist, but neither look promising this time around. Roberto Martinez has done an excellent job with the Latics but the unbeaten streak will end at 2.
Prediction: 3-1 Manchester United win
III. Studs & Duds: Arsenal. Arsenal. Arsenal. Three [quiet] clean sheets in a row for Wenger’s men and Gibbs and Jenkinson are studs in our book. Up front it’s Podolski and Giroud the two stud selections while in the midfield, Santi Cazorla is the fantasy asset to acquire – also a stud – and pulling the strings in the Fabregas-esque role.
Manchester City players are studs despite the road trip to Stoke. Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure, that means you.
Sunderland and Liverpool is a fascinating game – Sunderland’s new stud and our Funny Feeling Friday selection last time out Steven Fletcher [7m] is full of confidence aided by the likes of Larsson, McClean, and Adam Johnson – but Liverpool will make it tough. The aforementioned players are on the stud/dud fence then. The same goes for Luis Suarez, who will be at the heart of all great things Liverpool are doing – but faces a tricky away trip.
Tottenham are at Reading after a disappointing draw at home to Norwich – and Gareth Bale’s price has fallen, but he’s still a stud on the road. Dembele, Bale, and Adebayor are all studs and should come good. AVB has yet to record a win but I think he gets it this weekend. Honorable mention goes to Reading’s cheap striker Pogrebnyak [4.9m] – who scored at Stamford Bridge – and proved he can score against anyone. Will he beat Friedel or Lloris?
West Brom players have been studs all year but they are duds at Fulham. The same goes for Wigan players. No love for the “W’s” I guess. Everton and Newcastle is a toss-up so play your Cisse, Baines, Pienaar, Ben Arfa, Taylor and Fellaini’s but understand that it could go either way – perhaps a 1-1 draw.
Aston Villa are home to Swansea so Bent is a stud despite the slow start [0 goals in 3 games, price down to 8.3m] while Michu for Swansea is on the stud/dud fence. He can’t score every week, can he? I don’t think so. Still start him, he’s cheap, but lower your expectations for this one. I think Aston Villa will score 1-2 goals and get a draw/win.
Norwich and West Ham is the most difficult to predict. West Ham were woeful on the road at Swansea but superb in two home wins [against Aston Villa and Fulham]. Norwich’s quality is somewhere in that same level. So West Ham shouldn’t be fazed. Norwich don’t keep the ball as well as Swansea so you have to think West Ham will do a bit better in this one. Kevin Nolan is cheap, as is Mark Noble [4.9m - really cheap] so you could do worse than those midfielders on the stud/dud fence.
IV. Gameweek 4 Best Eleven:
D: Gibbs – Baines – Vidic
M: Kagawa* – Hazard – Noble – Cazorla
F: Van Persie* – Tevez – Berbatov
Subs: Howard – Riise – Snodgrass – Vlaar