Welcome one and all to your weekly dose of assessments, summaries and predictions. It’s fair to say the season has thrown up a few surprises to far, so trying to put together a reasoned forecast for this weekend is going to be difficult. Aside from Chelsea, and possibly Arsenal – it’s probably fair to say no one has really got going yet so judging form and predicting results has a feel of pin the tail on the donkey about it. I could sit here and tell you to get your iTeams loaded with Chelsea defenders, or Leicester attackers, but truth be told you can’t say with any certainty that anyone – aside from possibly Costa, should be a shoe-in for your line ups. To make things even more difficult – this gameweek most of the big boys all play early, and just for that extra headache – we have the small matter of a couple of local derbies thrown into the mix. In regards to the big decision of who to make your talisman it already seems a long time ago when it was just the default option to leave Suarez as your captain to virtually guarantee points. This season we separate the men from the boys as we have to gamble on who brings home the double points. At this early stage it already looks a safe assumption to hand Di Maria the armband, the ex-Real Madrid forward has had an impressive start to his Old Trafford life and looks set to be heavily involved in Manchester United’s goal return this season.
So…. Onto the seemingly impossible job of dissecting the games and trying to figure out who might get some points. The Early kick off sees the Merseyside Derby roll into town. If there was ever a fixture that throws the form book out of the window – this is it. Only the form book isn’t written yet, and there isn’t a window to throw it out of either. There is however a massive, gaping hole – in both North West Clubs defences. Both have been horrendous at the back so far – Everton have conceded a mere 13 and Liverpool just the 8. Expect therefore this one to finish 0-0. Both clubs need a win to kickstart what has been a turgid beginning to a season where much was hoped for following record investment. Liverpool hope to have Daniel Sturridge back in contention following his much publicised injury with England and he could be the difference in what I think will be the usual tense, tight game. The match might come too soon for Seamus Coleman, which could see John Stones played out of position again, which is a worrying prospect when you put Raheem Sterling into the opposition’s line up. Naismith has started brightly for the visitors and will fancy his chances against a Liverpool back line which has a mistake or 2 in it almost every game.
Prediction : 2-1
One to Watch : Raheem Sterling
Unusually for Saturday at 3 o’clock – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all play, which means we will have to gamble on who to transfer in, as you won’t be able to get everyone you want. Fancy Falcao to get off the mark? Yaya to finally get going? Stick with trusty old Costa? (I say old… I’m not having he’s 25, he’s in his late 30’s at least. Paper round must have been tricky up to Christ the Redeemer every day tho). As I said earlier there is no way to predict who will guarantee the points, and being so early in the season – no one has enough cash in the bank to afford a midfield of Fabregas, Di Maria and Silva with Falcao and Costa up top. These are the defining games to pull clear in your mini leagues, or make up ground when you failed to captain Costa when he got the hat-trick the other week (can’t have just been me surely?).
Chelsea host Aston Villa, which on paper should be a demolition. Chelsea are red hot, got a point at the Champions last time out and face a Villa team bereft of most of their players due to an outbreak of illness at the club. Costa and Fabregas have been heavy point scorers so far and I expect them to get amongst the goals again. Villa defended well at Anfield recently but facing Chelsea is a whole different proposition, especially if most of them are in bed watching on the TV. Benteke might be nearing a return, but with no football in months – it’s surely too risky to throw him straight back in.
Prediction : 3-0
One to Watch : Diego Costa
Crystal Palace v Leicester brings together the 2 clubs surely nobody had on their accumulators last weekend. Palace won with relative ease at Goodison (so much for the Pulis hangover huh?) and Leicester produced the performance of the season so far when they smashed 5 against Man United. Ulloa looks a brilliant buy for the Foxes with 5 in 5 so far, and Jamie Vardy might aswell retire now as he will never replicate a performance like his last. A goal and 4 (that’s FOUR) assists. Anyone who captained him – I recommend you put tonight’s lottery results on quick. Leicester look to have the form, and their red hot attack might be too much for The Eagles but then Palace have Jason Puncheon. Enough said.
Prediction : 1-1
One to Watch : Leonardo Ulloa
Hull City v Manchester City next up. Easy away win right? I doubt it, not this season anyway. I imagine City will have too much for Hull in the end, but you just never know. If Yaya could forget about his birthday cake and remember he’s a footballer, then his battle in the middle against Huddlestone could be titanic. Jovetic might still be unavailable, so Dzeko could get another chance to get his league season started. Jelavic for the Tigers looks to have found his early Everton form, and the unknown Hernandez alongside him gave us a glimpse of his capabilities on his debut. They would probably be too much for Liverpool or Man Utd, but City have a much harder core.
Prediction : 1-2
One to Watch : Sergio Aguero
Manchester United v West Ham will be a game both can’t wait to get started, but for very different reasons. West Ham produced a brilliant display against Liverpool running out easy winners after a blistering start. Stewart Downing running rings around Steven Gerrard? No you didn’t imagine it – it actually happened. United started well themselves but a combination of questionable refereeing and self capitulation, found themselves blitzed by a 5 star Leicester. No better way to banish the record of surrendering a 2 goal lead, to then lose, for the first time in 800 odd games than playing a Big Sam team eh. Easy. I expect a response from United and I expect one of the many superstars to be leading the charge. I’m going for Falcao, he’s brilliant and class is permanent isn’t it?
Prediction : 2-0
One to Watch : Falcao
Southampton v QPR brings Harry Redknapp back to the only place where he has really failed as a manager. Expect boos, and goals, but mainly boos. QPR look very nervous at the back and Southampton have taken the idea of them fighting relegation, and laughed in its face. Schneiderlin and Wanyama have added goals to their growing array of attributes this season, and with the impressive Pelle scoring and assisting in numbers already – this could be a long afternoon for Rio and Caulker. Clyne is the highest scoring defender so far this season in FiT, but in fairness any of the Saints backline are worth investing in. If I was to pick a banker of the weekend, this is the one. Sorry Rangers fans!
Prediction : 2-0
One to Watch : Morgan Schneiderlin
Sunderland v Swansea see’s this season’s draw specialists host the team yet to share points this term. Dyer and Routledge have started really well and could see Sunderland’s winless run extended into October. Gylfi Sigurdsson is probably in most iTeams by now after his avalanche of assists in the first few games, so there will be plenty of managers hoping he gets back on the points trail here. No Sunderland striker has found the net this season yet – a case of same story different season for the Black Cats in that regard. I’m going for a draw, although Connor Wickham has to get started soon surely? Unless of course, he decides to save his goals until his team are in danger of going down again.
Prediction : 1-1
One to Watch : Nathan Dyer
Saturday’s late kick off serves up the small matter of the North London Derby. What started so well for Spurs has fallen away in the last few games, so a visit to their bitter rivals will not seem an attractive option. Arsenal on the other hand have started the season unbeaten and are averaging 2 goals a game already. Before you load your team with Arsenal players – it’s worth noting they play the penultimate game next week, and it’s away at Chelsea. FiT favourites Ramsey and Sanchez could prove the difference for Arsenal, with the visitors looking lightweight up front. Remember when Spurs spent £26m on Roberto Soldado to score their goals? Spurs need to rediscover the winning touch quickly but I wouldn’t bank on it starting here. With Theo Walcott nearing a return the likes of Ozil, Cazorla and Welbeck will be keen to keep their names on the teamsheet. Home win for me.
Prediction : 2-0
One to Watch : Alexis Sanchez
The solitary game on Sunday see’s the… err… blockbuster clash between West Brom and Burnley. The Baggies finally got their first 3 points of the season at Tottenham last weekend, scoring their first goal since the opening weekend in the process. They take on a Burnley side looking to keep a 4th consecutive clean sheet, who have failed to find the net themselves since the opening weekend of the season. Expect chances therefore to be few and far between. The form book says this is a nailed on 0-0 draw but since the Premier League doesn’t do it by the book, Burnley will probably win 5-3. I’m going for the former, but the latter is just as likely.
Prediction : 0-0
One to Watch : Saido Berahino
Monday Night Football gives us Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher playing with formations and arguing about who was the better player between Scholes and Gerrard again this week, as Stoke City host a winless and out-of-sorts Newcastle United. Goals might be at a premium again in this one with Stoke scoring just 4 in 5 games and Newcastle failing to find the bag in 3 of their 5. The campaign to remove Alan Pardew from his position softened a little with Papiss Cisse coming back from injury and off the bench to grab 2 goals in the last game, and if he can regain the sort of form he showed during his first few games on Tyneside – Newcastle’s season could be about to change. As for Stoke, I’m one of the people who believes Bojan will come good having watched him strut around with swagger and grace alongside Messi not so long ago. Peter Crouch found some form last time and I’ll go with him to be the difference in this one.
Prediction : 2-1
One to Watch : Peter Crouch
So that’s your lot, thanks for tuning in – and remember, this is the first week in a long time where we do not see any of what you might call the ‘big sides’ playing on Sunday, so the main choices for transfers and captains pick will have to be made before 2.50pm. Choose wisely, this could be the week where you pull clear in your mini league or lose ground because your gamble backfired. Good luck and if you do make the wrong choice, just remember – there’s always next week.
This post was written by FiT Admin