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This week will be a crucial one in determining the end of the season standings… For Fantasy Managers and the EPL table alike!

With some potentially high scoring games like The North London Derby, Manchester City’s trip to Aston Villa, Everton hosting Reading it will be of SUPREME importance that you select the right players to get a slice of the action…

Manchester United are expected win their home game over Norwich City, i expect a regulation 1-0/2-0 win for the home side.

Chelsea take on West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge and with Romelu Lukaku unable to play all signs point to a thumping home win – unless the “Curse of West Brom” strikes again… i have the slightest of hunches that it might just be an upset, but i reckon it’ll be a Blues win. Frank Lampard will be keen to make up for last week’s penalty miss and i see no reason why he shouldn’t score his 200th Blues’ goal at home today. Some headlines are just waiting to be written in tomorrow’s newspapers i tell you…

Southampton host QPR with new Saints’s boss Mauricio Pochettino hoping to pick up valuable points and steer the team away from the relegation fight. Harry Redknapp will make an uncomfortable return to St Mary’s. He was at the help when the Saints were relegated in 2004/05. Expect the Soton fans to make the day miserable for the Rangers.. that too on the occasion of ‘Arry’s birthday!! My bet’s on Rickie Lambert to win it for Mauricio’s second home win.

Swansea host Newcastle a week after their historic win in the Capital One Cup and i expect Alan Pardew’s men to notch up three points in what could be an interesting match for the neutrals to watch.

Wigan host Liverpool – and here’s the thing – i expect Wigan to win this one. Wigan’s annual “end of the season relegation staving battle” usually claims a few high profile scalps and i fancy L’pool to be on the hit list this season.

All bets are off for the North London Derby – just make sure you have no defenders of goalkeepers from this game. With Gareth Bale and Santi Cazorla in inspired form in the EPL and the likes of Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Adebayor, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele just waiting to grab the limelight, expect this to be a totally mental goal fest!!

The only problem with Aston Villa vs Manchester City is that NOBODY knows what team Roberto Mancini will start with!! Only Yaya Toure and David Silva are (near)confirmed starters – how the front line of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko is started off is beyond anyone’s guess!! Still the City defense has a great chance to notch up another clean sheet, if they keep Christian Benteke under control.

Now that the round up’s wrapped up, here’s the main agenda – my picks!

  • Goalkeepers:
  1. Joe Hart (High) – Last week Hart produced a brilliant save to deny Lampard a penalty and earned a massive 5 points as well for the effort. A clean sheet as well saw him earn 11 points – but Frankly (geddit?!!) nobody in their right minds must’ve seen THAT coming. This week however, a clean sheet will hardly surprise Fantasy Managers. i expect the City attack to have lots of possession and with traffic due to the other end of the pitch, i reckon Hart will have one of his more leisurely days in goal.
  2. David De Gea (Medium) – i re-iterate – this match should be a regulation 1-0 win for the Red Devils, who will field a young side who will be content with keeping possession and more interested in not conceding goals. And if the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Robert Snodgrass do manage to find a way past Vidic and Co. expect the Spaniard to keep the Canaries at bay.
  3. Artur Boruc (Low) – i expect a Soton win today. And with an increasing assured look and disciplined team – barring last week’s 6 goal mad cap thriller – it shouldn’t be a surprise if Boruc notches up his third clean sheet of the year.
  • Defenders: 
  1. Branislav Ivanovic (High) – With Lukaku illegible to play against parent club, Peter Odenwhingie still not completely winning over the Baggies after that bizarre transfer saga and Shane Long a suspect owing to injury, Chelsea have a great chance to stamp their authority over a West Brom side who will be extra cautious in defence. Ivanovic will be allowed venture forward today and might score off a set piece as well.
  2. Pablo Zabaleta (Medium) – The Argentine is right lauded as “Mr Dependable” at the Etihad, and for good reason too. Deputizing as Captain till Vincent Kompany comes back from injury, the armband had further boosted Zabaleta’s credence at City, with a few writers even claiming he should be awrded PFA Player of the year. Lofty praise indeed. A great asset in attack and in defense, Pablo’s a Fantasy buy that stays in the team all season long.
  3. Joey O’Brien (Low) – If all goes as per script, West Ham away to Stoke City should be the dullest match of the weekend, and quite possibly the season. With both the Kevins – Noble and Nolan doubtful to start, Stoke should be looking forward to add yet another clean sheet to their already impressive season tally, hopefully with a goal scored at the opposite end.
  • Midfielders:
  1. David Silva (High) – Along with Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure, quite possibly the only name assuredto be in the starting XI when the city team sheet rolls out. The Spaniard will be aware of the looming 15 gap that could open up after United’s early match against Norwich. Supplying assists and scoring the odd goal or two from the heart of midfield, he will have to be on top of his game if City are to thump Aston Villa and reduce the points deficit between themselves and United.
  2. Frank Lampard (Medium) – Fat Frank is hellbent on over taking Bobby Tambling’s 203 goal tally and forever etch his names in the annals of Chelsea’s err… history. He missed the chance last week to go to 200 and will be looking to make up for it at home against the Baggies. It’ll be quite the story, ehh?!
  3. Stephane Sessegnon (Low) – Last week, Martin O’Neill seemingly realized how boring Sunderland were and decided to go “radical” with a 4-4-2. 😐 So Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher were paired up front but most importantly, Sessegnon was sent wide to the right. And although they lost, Sessgnon has quite possibly his best game this season with a goal to show for his efforts. A home game with the same line up might boost his troops and surely, they need it. And so O’Niell will need and encore from the prodigal Beninese international.
  • Forwards:
  1. Wayne Rooney (High) – With an eye on the UEFA CL match against Madrid next Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson might rest some key players like Robin van Persie (ugh!), Patrice Evra and Danny Welbeck. But resting Wayne Rooney will be borderline scandalous – ask any United fan and you’ll hear the same. With Wazza not among the goals for a while now, a home match against Norwich provides a great opportunity to reclaim form and build up momentum for the showdown on Tuesday.
  2. Rickie Lambert (Medium) – i admit, i am a HUGE Lambert fan. The Englishman has had a brilliant season in the top flight & i feel terrible he can’t make it to the English National team. Ironic, considering they might need his services during the inevitable penalty shoot outs. Lambert will be raring to win 3 points for Saints in their relegation scrap against QPR. Through goals or assists, he shall deliver.
  3. Danny Graham (Low) – Last week, Graham showed a hint of a blossoming partnership with Steven Fletcher when paired together. He will be desperately hoping to score in front of the home fans, who still haven’t accepted him due to his not so flattering comments about Sunderland years ago.

Note: Of course i haven’t picked any players from the North London Derby because… come on! You’d be spoilt for choice too!!

How will these picks perform this week!? We shall know soon…

Cheers,

DesiEPLFantasyManager.

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Aaaaand we’re back!

After yet another round of pointless international friendlies, which have resulted in a lot of players probably injured and facing the prospect of a lay off.. ESPECIALLY if you a member of the Arsenal starting XI…

My focus this week, are mainly the players who didn’t play mid week – they will surely be well rested and looking to capitalize their opponents’ fatigue..  it’s my perspective – hope it works…

A quick round up though on the matches this weekend – it’s yet ANOTHER London Derby as Arsenal face Tottenham Hotspurs at the Emirates in the biggest derby of all – the North London Derby!! All form can be thrown out of the window and keep no hopes of a clean sheet in this one – avoid Arsenal and Spurs defenders/goalkeepers like the plague! Plenty of attacking options for Spurs – Gareth Bale (i hate to admit it but i really think he’ll score today), Clint Dempsey, Aaron Lennon (if he’s up against Santos or Vermaelen, i’m afraid i know who’ll win) and former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor that Spurs will *score* is a forgone conclusion.. Arsenal have a long injury list with most of the midfielders suspect for the big match… Yet again, there’s a high possibility that Aaron Ramsey will start in right wing (:|).. Now if only he translates some of his “promised potential” into a real performance, he’s make for a great Fantasy Buy, but until then the highly jaded Santi Cazorla seems the safest FF bet from Arsenal’s ranks…

Elsewhere, Manchester City take host Aston Villa in what i consider should be an easy win for the Champions.. but the whole world claims it’s  a classic “trap game“… Can Christian Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann improve on their result against Man United and claim a result at the Etihad Stadium?! Or will Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and co. ensure a regulation win over the Villans?

John Ruddy and Norwich City have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 games… But this week they’re up against the team that’s scored the most goals in the EPL yet – Manchester United. With Wayne Rooney possibly out of the game with an injury, and Robin van Persie “supposedly” injured, all signs point to last week’s hero Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will most likely start against the Canaries.. Will he grab the opportunity and further threaten Rooney’s position as a forward?!

Perhaps the most interesting match up this weekend neutrals and Fantasy League players is the bottom of the table fight between Southampton and QPR.. Both teams will throw everything and the kitchen sink at the opposition goal, so expect Djibril Cisse, Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Esteban Granero, Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin to score points off goals and assists…

Without further delay!

  • Goalkeepers:
  1. Tim Howard (High) – i’m gambling today’s spot for the High spot knowing very well that Joe Hart plays against Villa at home AND Petr Cech against West Brom for Howard, because he is the keeper facing 18th place Reading and i fancy for my chances for a clean sheet. Of course, we’ve seen that the Toffees can’t keep a clean sheet to save their lives, but if there’s a chance to turn the tide this should be it..
  2. Mark Schwarzer (Medium) – After last week’s erratic performance, the Australian ‘keeper saved a penalty and scored 5 for the effort.. This week Craven Cottage welcomes notoriously goal shy Sunderland. Fulham are always a sure bet to win their home matches, but can the defense deliver as well?
  3. Jussi Jaaskelainen (Medium) – Yet another team with similar situation like Fulham, West Ham have had an impressive start to the season, currently sixth in the league with a clinical 1-0 over Newcastle last week. They face Stoke City who are also hardly a dangerous opponent away from home – at least when it comes to *scoring* goals. Reid and Co. eke out a similarly clinical result once again?
  • Defenders:
  1. Patrice Evra (High) – i’m just as surprised as you are, but one good look at the fixtures this week Patrice Evra could emerge as one of the better defenders this week. Norwich do struggle to score, with Grant Holt employed as the lone striker upfront.. The Canaries midfield should have a busy time keeping United’s attack under control, leaving Holt with little service.. Man. United are also great at setpieces, with Evra having scored off a header earlier against Newcastle. Seems like a reasonable bet…
  2. Aleksandar Kolarov (Medium) – i nominate Kolarov today not for his defensive skills BUT his attacking contributions… And with Mancini deploying the Serbian as a free agent on the left flank, i expect him to lay in an assist or, or maybe score a breathtaking free kick! Of course, Mancini may rest him altogether… So a risk, in its own way…
  3. Steven Caulker (Low) – Yet another goal scoring defender, Caulker could take advantage of the defensive frailties that Gooners have against set pieces, having scored two from two in his last two matches, one against Sweden and one against Manchester City last week. And if he lays a cold turkey, i can only be too pleased!
  • Midfielders:
  1.  David Silva (High) – All signs point to it – last season’s Spanish wizard is back.. Those who saw last week’s game against Tottenham will attest to the same. His game was dynamic, creative and sharp – the smart chip to assist Dzeko’s winner was truly the icing on the cake. He seems to be refreshed and hungry, and will be crucial to City’s dominance in the EPL.
  2. Steven Pienaar (Medium) – The South African had a great start to the season and was a FFan favourite until the double Yellow at QPR. With the Toffees facing Reading and with Everton playing some of the best football in the league, expect him to the take the Reading defense to the cleaners along with Marouane Fellaini.
  3. Adam Lallana (Low) – As i said, the Battle of the Bottom Dwellers will be won by the team that scores the most. The Saints skipper is the chief architect of all their attacks, and also a set piece specialist. Can he inspire his team to a much needed win against QPR?!
  • Forwards:
  1. Sergio Aguero (High) – Yet another City player featured today, Aguero will benefit massively from Silva’s return to form.  A classic goal poacher and a tireless athlete, he should score at least a goal against Paul Lambert’s defense if all goes as per script..
  2. Javier Hernandez (Meduim) – With Rooney and van Persie considered “suspect” for the match against Norwich, Little Pea will be a handed a rare League start which is a fair deal considering his past week’s rescue mission heroics. One of the best goal poachers in the League currently, he will have to deliver if Man. United are to stay on top of the table at the end of the week..
  3. Christian Benteke (Low) – Andreas Weimann may have scored two goals last week against United but it was the Belgian (seriously, what do those Belgian mothers give to their kids for breakfast?!) who was singled out for praise by Sir Alex Ferguson. The 7million pound buy looks like one of the best across the league, and if any player can breach the Citizen’s defense today, Benteke is the man for the job!

So that’s my list for Gameweek 12. Lets hope they deliver!

Cheers,

DesiEPLFantasyManager

Hello again! i need a new line to start my articles with… think’ it’ll be too pompous if i come up with a signature line?! Do i have a dedicated audience for one…?!

i’ll dive right into my predictions for GW7 – here goes nothing!

  • Goalkeepers:
  1. Petr Cech (High) – Chelsea host Norwich City at Stamford Chance. With the Canaries not really firing on all cylinders and the Blues tendency to utterly dominate lower ranked teams, this weekend provides a great chance for you to invest in the Blues back line – and the Czech shotstopper – to earn bumper points off a clean-sheet.
  2. Brad Friedel (Medium) – The American is one of the most important reasons to Spurs’ success this season. With Hugo Lloris battling for the No.1 spot, the 41 year old – you read that right – is making sure he’s on top of his game, without conceding goals off silly mistakes and giving it 100% (possibly more) while making crucial saves. Aston Villa at home presents him with a seemingly easy chance to notch up a clean sheet – one that has eluded him in a long while now.
  3. Vito Mannone (Low) – The Italian is benefiting greatly from Wojciech Szczesny’s absence. He will take his spot between the sticks again this weekend against West Ham. After 2 cleans sheets at the start of the season – and a horrible mix-up last week against Chelsea – this fixture may yield a clean sheet to the Gunners; as long as they avoid gifting goals off seemingly harmless situations.
  • Defenders:
  1. Branislav Ivanovic (High) – If all goes as per script, the Chelsea vs Norwich should be a clean sheet victory for the Blues. With the Chelsea midfield setting up innumerable chances to score for their team mates, Ivanovic – who has already scored 2 this season, might just end up scoring another one. 7 points seem like a possible return from the Blues’ right back.
  2. Kieran Gibbs (Medium) – The Englishman has quietly notched up excellent performances for the Gunners this season – enough to warrant a call up to the senior National team. With his penetrative runs across the left flank, it’s not too long till he he consistently starts getting points for assists.
  3. Goran Popov (Low) – Westbromwich Albion’s bubble still hasn’t been burst in the EPL – and it would surely be considered a minor upset if QPR beat them at home this weekend! With injuries affecting key players, expect Popov to lay 90 minutes and score points off a clean sheet.
  • Midfielders:
  1. David Silva (High) – After a blockbuster start to life in the EPL last season, Silva is struggling to replicate his imperious form this time around. But last week’s display showed that the Spaniard is getting back in the zone… and with Sunderland coming over to the Eastlands, this could be the game the Blues’ finally see Silva firing on all cylinders.
  2. Yohan Cabaye (Medium) – Last season, the Frenchman nicknamed “Dreamboat” scored a spectacular goal as Newcastle thumped Manchester United 3-0. With a win in their Europa league match midweek by the same margin, the midfielder is making all the right noises before this week’s big match up against the Red Devils. Can he deliver an encore?
  3. Adam Lallana (Low) – Southampton won their last home match, against Aston Villa. With some confidence finally returning among the sqaud, this week’s match against notoriously inconsistent Fulham provides another opportunity for them to exploit home advantage – and expect all attacks to pass through their skipper.
  • Forwards:
  1. Wayne Rooney (High) – Should Rooney be considered as a midfielder these days? With a glut of striking options and with their midfield either injured or inconsistent, Rooney’s grand plan to play in a deeper position is materializing – and with a match against a physical Newcastle on the cards, expect “Wazza” to roar back into form – and in front of the goal – to complete a remarkable comeback from injury.
  2. Jermain Defoe (Medium) – Yet another Englishman on my list today is the Spurs striker, who is enjoying the benefits of Andres Villas Boas’ ne regime at White Hart Lane – and admittedly Adebayor’s injury too. Aston Villa at home – surely another goal for Defoe?!
  3. Rickie Lambert (Low) – The Englishman (yes, i noticed the trend) is finally performing like he was expected to, with 4 goals scored in 6 matches. With a home game against Aston Villa, victory maybe suspect for the Saints – but a goal by Lambert is for sure.

Here’s to a great weekend of football ahead!

– DesiEPLFantasyManager.

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