Another gameweek is here, and it’s time to make our predictions on the games to come. What players should you consider for your fantasy team this weekend? We give you some insigts. It’s time for Pick of the week.
Let’s start with the schedule for the last round before Christmas. The round kicks off Saturday morning with Manchester City vs Crystal Palace. This match looks like a sure win for the home side, but keep in mind that Man City are missing most of their strikers for this match. Agüero is out until January, Dzeko does not seem to recover in time from his calf injury, and Stevan Jovetic will probably not feature this weekend as well. That means Manuel Pellegrini must rely on young Jose Poso up front, when trying to get to the chances against a hard working Crystal Palace. It’s still a match City must win in order to keep up with Chelsea on top of the league table, but City has struggled a bit in front of goal lately.
Later on Saturday, there are six more matches. In-form Manchester United, whose win streak is now at six, is visiting Aston Villa, and has an excellent chance of grabbing their seventh win in a row. Villa finally lost to West Brom last time around, after 5 matches without defeat. We believe this can tip both ways, but United’s strikers might be the thing that tips the scale in their favour. Both Rooney and van Persie are looking sharp these days, and will surely grab a few chances at Villa Park.
Both Everton and Swansea are very unpredictable this season. Swansea is going to Hull this Saturday, and will be looking to pile on their misery with a win. Wilfried Bony is in good form with four goals in their last five matches. Everton will be going to St. Mary’s for a difficult away match, although Southampton is in free fall with five losses in five matches, including the Captial One Cup exit this midweek.
Tottenham has had a strange season so far. No consistency in terms of results at all, but they are still in the fight for the lucrative top four spot, only four points behind West Ham, who currently holds that last spot. Spurs favourite Harry Kane has been forceful after making his breakthrough in the first-team, being last or second-to-last on four goals in their last seven matches in the league. This is good news for Spurs fans, who may have gotten some serious doubt whether Roberto Soldado is the right man for Tottenham. When he scored against Everton in late November, he had played 627 minutes without finding the net for Spurs, and he admitted it was emotional to finally end his goal drought. Burnley are visiting White Hart Lane this Saturday and must, despite winning against Southampton last weekend, accept being quite the underdog against Spurs.
West Ham has impressed us all this season. They find themselves forth in the Premier League and that is certainly no fluke. They have been solid in the back, Downing is having a renaissance on the left wing, feeding Sakho, Valencia and now also Carroll up front. Downing is also getting into goalscoring chances and has netted three times this season. Leicester will be visiting on Saturday, still looking for their first win since beating Man United 5-3 on September 21. That’s 11 matches without a win, and are now looking at a gap up to a secure spot on the table. Hammers will be firm favourites for this game, and nothing but a win is good enough to keep leading the pack who is chasing the fourth place.
Sunday is a great day for football, and what exiting matches we have in the works. Super Sunday will kick off with the Tyne-Wear derby at St. James’ Park. Being in good form, Newcastle will be favourites for this game against Sunderland, despite the heavy 1-4 defeat at Emirates last Saturday. These matches are impossible to predict, and this is the match no-one wants to lose. We believe this is wide open, but won’t be surprised if guys like Sissoko and Cissé will play instrumental roles in this classic. Let’s hope for a good match, and no incidents the riot after Sunderland’s 3-0 victory in 2013.
The second match on Super Sunday is also a big match, featuring Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield Road. Liverpool’s season has been bumpy, and the contrast from last year’s second place finish has been enormous. Despite losing 3-0 to rivals Manchester United last weekend, the performance from the previous matches was much better. Liverpool also beat Championship leaders Bournemouth 3-1 in the Capital One Cup in the midweek, and will be looking to build on that result. Arsenal will be eager to revenge their heavy 1-5 defeat from last season, which Arsene Wenger has admitted he will forever be haunted by. Arsenal are having the advantage before this very important match, with 5 wins in six matches in all competitions. Five points ahead of Liverpool, he is hoping to strike a blow to Liverpool’s battle for the Champions League spot. This is a match Liverpool can’t afford to lose, while Arsenal can climb up to fourth position with a win. Theo Walcott is finally back in training, and in contention for a starting-eleven spot. This is good news for Arsenal ahead of a tight Christmas schedule.
On monday night, the round will finish with Stoke vs Chelsea. Stoke put on a good performance against Arsenal two weeks ago, but almost threw a 3-0 lead away with the match ending with a 3-2 win, but could not beat Crystal Palace last weekend. Peter Crouch has been in good shape lately, but Stoke will be getting their hands full with Chelsea launching their attacking artillery. This should be Chelsea’s game, but no team enjoys coming to Britannia on a cold monday winter night.
Pick of the week
So, here are our selected ones this weekend, one for each position.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (MCI) £6m
Manchester City are not allowing many teams to score on Etihad. In the last five matches in all competitions, City has kept a clean sheet four times, the fifth being a 4-1 win against Sunderland. For £6m, Joe Hart is probably your best pick for a goalkeeper this weekend, unless artists like Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha wants things otherwise.
Defender: Gael Clichy (MCI) £5.5m
Another City player claims this spot, and that is not very surprising. We believe Manchester City is among the teams with the best chance of keeping a clean sheet this week, and Clichy is the City defender that has been most consistent in terms of starting eleven spots. The 9 latest Premier League matches have featured Clichy from the start, making him the preferred option before Kolarov. There are no reasons to change this, and Clichy should be a safe, and not too expensive, pick in your defence.
Midfielder 3: Christian Eriksen (TOT) £8m
Tottenham is playing Burnley at home this weekend, and with both Eriksen and Harry Kane in shape, this should be a comfortable win for the London club. Eriksen has been shining recently, and looks full of confidence. Three goals and two assists in the previous six matches is a proof of this. Eriksen is our midfielder pick this weekend, but many other names should also be considered: Downing (WHU), Hazard (CHE) and Mata (MUN) are also perfectly reasonable choices.
Attacker: Charlie Austin (QPR) £6m
Whatever points QPR is grabbing this season is coming from Loftus Road. West Brom is three points ahead of QPR before this match, and it would be a massive victory for the R’s if they managed to get a win on Saturday. Charlie Austin is involved in most of the goals QPR score, either by scoring himself or assisting others. Austin is back in action after a one match suspension, and will be zealous to prove himself once again in front of his home fans. Being a cheap option for a consistent performer up front, Austin is our main pick this weekend. Other strikers that you may choose to accompany Austin on top are Robin van Persie, Diego Costa (as always) and Papiss Cissé. Be advised, though, Cissé lost the League Cup quarter final in the midweek because of illness, and will be facing late testing to see if he’s ready to play this weekend.
That wraps it up for now. Good luck with your teams this weekend, remember the entry deadline 20 minutes before kick-off, and you may change your lineups up to 10 minutes before kick-off.