After a spectacularly fruitful return in the last outing, comes GW17…

Top story for the week – as reported by Captain Obvious – is that Chelsea and Southampton are not playing, so that will create quite the selection dilemma for scores for Fantasy Managers, as the likes of Juan Mata, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic and recently Fernando Torres – will leave a gaping hole in the team sheet, and will lead to major reshuffling to earn a decent score this GW to keep pace with teams who do not feature them…

Also, Southampton have some impressive FF picks – Jose Fonte, Nathaniel Clyne, Jason Puncheon, Rickie Lambert – who will be unavailable this week as well.

In terms of Fantasy scoring, Liverpool vs Aston Villa and Manchester United vs Sunderland should be the games FF Managers must keep an eye on. Expecting clean sheets for both home teams and a heavy return from Liverpool/United forwards’ shouldn’t be surprise most Managers.

Manchester City are still smarting from last week’s stoppage time loss to United, and will look to make amends at the ground which bolstered their late title challenge last season – Newcastle United. Couple that with the Toons’ woeful form this season, and any dropped points at the Sports Direct Arena will prove to be nothing short of an upset for Mancini’s men.

Norwich have quietly emerged as one of the in-form teams in the EPL, notching up 4 cleans in the last 8 matches that they have gone undefeated, with upset wins over Arsenal, Manchester United (and Stoke City, if i may add..).

Yet another week, yet ANOTHER London Derby as QPR will host Fulham. Will ‘Arry FINALLY lead the Rangers to their first League win this season??!

Stoke City host Everton in match that should threaten Stoke’s 6 match unbeaten run – they have 4 wins and 2 draws – a record matched by only Manchester United. While facing the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic, expect the Potters to concede goals at the “fortress” that is the Britannia Stadium, but don’t be surprised if they score some of their own via Jonathan Walters, Michael Kightly, Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch.

Tottenham vs Swansea should a match with goals being scored freely at both ends. Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey will all to get their names on the score-sheet while surreally impressive Michu, along with Jonathan de Guzman, Nathan Dyer will look to cause yet another upset in North London.

Arsenal travel to Reading, a few weeks after the miraculous 5-7 Capital One Cup match… That euphoria has settled now that the Gunners have been dumped out of the same by  Bradford City and the under pressure squad will take the opportunity to get back to winning ways at Madjeski against the woeful hosts who look destined for relegation. While there may not be a goal fest like the last time these sides met, an Arsenal win is the least that is expected tonight.

Without further delay,  here are my picks for Gameweek 17:

  • Goalkeepers:
  1. Jose Reina (High)Liverpool, having finally managed to field an injury free back-line,  have chalked up a couple of impressive defensive displays at home. Aston Villa are still looking a like a team bound for relegation, and the Reds should look to notch yet another win in their ascent up the table. Will Pepe finally stop with his erratic goalkeeping habits and add another regulation clean sheet under his belt?
  2. David De Gea (Medium) – The Manchester United goal keeping dilemma seems to have been settled – for now. The Spanish shot stopper has earned his starting spot and should have one of best seats in the house as he surveys the one way traffic that is expected at the other end.
  3. Mark Bunn (Low) – John Ruddy’s absence has led to an abrupt defensive imbalance at Carrow Road, just when they’d chalked up 4 cleans sheets in 5 matches. Mark Bunn faces a Wigan side who are terrible on the road. Can Chris Houghton’s men eke out another 1-0 win over the Latics? i fancy – yes!
  • Defenders:
  1. Leighton Baines (High)Stoke City have arguably the best defensive record (at home) in the EPL, but also one of the worst goal-scoring records (at home) as well. For Everton to win the match, scoring a lone goal might just put the result beyond the Potters. Add to that the possibility that a penalty might just be conceded by the Jolly Green Giants, and Baines’ inclusion makes a lot of sense. Will the man with this page created for himhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/And-on-the-8th-day-God-created-Leighton-Baines-left-foot/155901457798052?ref=ts&fref=ts – strike this weekend?!
  2. Glen Johnson (Medium) – After a lengthy spell of indifferent performances, Englishman Johnson has put ins some of his best performances in the Reds shirt over the last two matches. Before a home match against Aston Villa, now would be a great time to jump on the Johnson bandwagon!!
  3. Sebastien Bassong (Low) – Speaking of bandwagons, Bassong is another player who seems to have stuck a purple patch. 3 goals in the last 5 matches along with a clean sheet, and the returns have been impressive for any Managers who picked up the Cameroonian. His transfer price too has spiked by 0.5M. Seems like a sound investment in my books.
  • Midfielders:
  1.  Santi Cazorla (High) – The Gunners are officially in crisis – for the umpteenth time this season. The diminutive Spaniard has been one of the few bright spots for the Gooners this season. As Wenger’s men look to dig themselves out of yet another hole, expect Santi to take the lead and pave the way for a much needed win for Arsenal.
  2. Yaya Toure (Medium) – The Ivorian returns to Newcastle, 7 months after he won them the match against the Toons and effectively, the EPL title. With a host of forwards lacking form and City playing catch up to United’s 6 point gap at the top of the table, expect Toure to put in an imperious performance once again.
  3. Anthony Pilkington (Low) – The former Manchester United youth player is one of the key factors behind Norwich’s dominant run in the past few matches. An attacking midfielder with an eye for flair, his goal scoring threat and a low price tag make him a great investment.
  • Forwards:
  1. Wayne Rooney (High) – First off, read this – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9746388/Manchester-Uniteds-Wayne-Rooney-targets-revenge-mission-against-Sunderland.html – Then take into account that Rooney has scored 4 goals and assisted another in the last 2 matches. THEN you tell me it’s not a good idea to appoint him Captain in my Fantasy team. Go on, i’ll be patient……
  2. Jermain Defoe (Medium) – In a season where the headlines are dominated by the likes of Michu, Robin van Persie (ugh!), Carlos Tevez among others, Jermaine Defoe is quietly notching up impressive performances in EPL and the Europa League. Against Swansea, expect the nimble Englishman to break the 10 goal mark this season.
  3. Jamie Mackie (Low) – Owing to injuries to most of the forwards at Loftus road, Mackie – who seemingly enjoys the patronage of new boss Harry Redknapp – will look to make the most of the chances coming his way. Fulham are hardly threatening when away, and with the Rangers desperately waiting for a win, expect the Scottish international to help the cause.

That’s my take on the Gameweek 17.

Here’s to a bumper return (i need a punch line.. badly!!)

Cheers,

DesiEPLFantasyManager.

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