Arsenal look set to renew their (in)famously rivalry, affectionately known as the battle of buffet. We at 11G bring the battle of buffet with extra garnishing of add ons straight into your plate. And here is the injury report of Arsenal FC before our trip to OT.
Aston Villa v West Brom
Aston Villa have only lost one game at home in the league so far this season, but their away form is so poor that they find themselves in 16th place. The question has to be asked if Martin O’Neill left, as he knew they were a sinking ship. A win in this local derby is an absolute must for them, but their defence is nowhere near as good as it used to be over the last few seasons. The only Villa players gaining any fantasy points at the moment would seem to be Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, but at their current prices neither of them are a great buy.
West Brom seem to have got back on track, and they followed up their great win at Everton, by winning at home to Newcastle last week. They are a very entertaining team to watch, and the chances are there will be three goals or more in any game they play. Their away form hasn’t been great, despite that win at Everton, and their win at Arsenal. If you’re looking for a good fantasy purchase in the West Brom side both Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie are available at a good price, and scoring very well.
I can see this being a close fought game, with the teams ending up all square.
Everton v Wigan
Everton should have won away from home to Chelsea last week, but they had to settle for a draw. They played very well, as they have done all season, but their problem is their lack of goals. With only 18 goals in 16 league games they need to score more to climb the table. Both Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill are good fantasy purchases, as Baines tends to get the assists on almost all of Cahill’s goals. Cahill has managed eight of their 18 goals from his midfield role, and he could do with some help from the rest of the team.
Wigan managed to get a draw at home to Stoke RFC last week despite twice falling behind. In the end they probably deserved to win, but the draw kept them in the relegation zone. Like Everton their biggest problem has been a lack of goals, and they have only 13 goals in 16 games which is relegation form. Their only real player of any fantasy value is Charles N’Zogbia, and he’s behind most of their good work. Their only away win so far was against The Spuds, and they have only five goals on their travels.
I can’t see anything other than an Everton victory, and I am making this my banker result for the week which probably means that it will end up as a draw.
Fulham v Sunderland
Fulham played very well away to Arsenal last week, and they were unlucky not to get something from the game. Their home form has been pretty good, but they are drawing too many games, and they need to start winning some games very soon. They are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference, and the pressure on Mark Hughes will start to increase if they slip further back. In the fantasy stakes the only Fulham player worth gambling on would seem to be Clint Dempsey.
Sunderland beat West Ham last week to move up to seventh in the league, and they will be dreaming of European football for next season if they continue their progress. Their home form is excellent, but with only one win in eight away games, they need to improve their form on the road. They have a few interesting players for any fantasy manager, Nedam Onouha, Jordan Henderson, Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Wellbeck are all worth looking at. The trick is knowing which one to buy.
Fulham have drawn four home games, and Sunderland have drawn four away from home. That points to a score draw to me.
Stoke v Blackpool
Stoke RFC have a very good home record over the last few seasons, and newly promoted Blackpool will do very well to get anything out of this game. Stoke RFC don’t exactly play an attractive brand of football, but they do have a few useful players, and they are very good at set pieces. If I was forced to buy any of their players for my fantasy team I would veer towards Robert Huth, Matthew Etherington or Kenwyne Jones.
Blackpool didn’t play last week, as their ground was unplayable due to the adverse weather. They have won three and drawn two of their away games so far, and they will play their own game no matter how the game goes. They have been a very entertaining team so far this season with 52 goals scored in their 15 league games, and I think there will be a few goals in this game too. The two most likely Blackpool players to perform well in a fantasy team are Charlie Adam and Luke Varney.
Stoke RFC are very good at home, and they will make life very difficult for Blackpool. I think Stoke RFC will win, but I hope I’m wrong.
West Ham v Man City
West Ham got back to their losing ways last week at Sunderland, and they are still rooted to the bottom of the table. They have only lost three of their eight home games, but they have been poor away from home. Luckily for them they are at home in this game, and it will give them a chance. Despite the fact that he isn’t very good Rob Green is not a bad fantasy buy, and both Scott Parker and Frederic Piquionne are pretty good buys too. They need some other players to perform as well as those two if they are to turn their season around.
Man City have a fairly similar record away from home as at home, except that they have scored more goals on their travels. They will be without the suspended Carlos Tevez in this game, and he has scored 10 of their 21 league goals so far. It means that other players will get a chance to show what they can do, or not as the case may be. Fantasy wise Tevez is almost a must buy player after this week, and Joe Hart is the top keeper, but he costs a lot. If they scored more goals then David Silva might not be a bad buy either.
With City’s good away record I think they will win this game, but West Ham’s best chance is the fact that Tevez won’t play.
Newcastle v Liverpool
Newcastle have another new manager, and he has a five and a half year contract in his back pocket too. It should mean that he gets a good pay off when he is fired for not winning the league this season, as it seems that the better a manager performs for them, the more that is expected of him. Newcastle have played well at times this season, but if Pardew doesn’t have the players behind him then they could find their stay in the Premier League to be very short indeed. He’s not a manager that I think is particularly good, and he has a lot to do to get the fans behind him after Chris Hughton was sacked. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan are the two Newcastle players who have done best in the fantasy stakes so far, but Nolan is carrying an injury that has kept him out for a couple of games.
Liverpool disposed of Aston Villa very easily on Monday night, and they’re now up to eighth in the table. A win in this game would see them as contenders for a top four spot again despite their poor season to date. Their biggest problem is keeping both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres fit, and without them they are a fairly average team. The only two players worth have in a fantasy team are those two, but it’s a big risk to buy them, as they miss so many games.
Newcastle have only two home wins, and Liverpool have only won one away from home, which all points to a draw. However, I think that Liverpool will just edge this game much to the anger of the Newcastle fans.
Bolton v Blackburn
Bolton got themselves into a very good position in the league a few weeks ago, but since demolishing Newcastle 5-1 they have only taken one point from two games. They have only lost one home game, and they have scored 17 goals in those eight games. However, their problem has been keeping clean sheets, and they probably won’t keep one here either. Their best fantasy players are Chung-Yong Lee, Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies who are all available at a good price, and are scoring plenty of points.
Blackburn won 3-0 against Wolves last week to help to erase the memory of their 7-1 drubbing by “Manure” the week before. Their home form has been good, but their away form has not been good for a few years now. It won’t be easy for them against a Bolton team that like to play good football, but can mix it as well when it is need, which it always is against Blakburn. Amazingly Paul Robinson is totting up loads of fantasy points in goal for Blackburn, and after a couple of barren seasons Morten Gamst Pedersen is now back in form too.
I think that Bolton will win this game to get their chances of European qualification back on track.
Wolves v Birmingham
Wolves were well beaten by Blackburn last week, and are only off the bottom of the table on goal difference. They have being playing well this season, but they have got very little for it in terms of points on the board. They need to start picking up points very soon, and it’s their home form that will save them if they can be saved. The only Wolves player worth picking for a fantasy team is Matthew Jarvis, and they will need more players to step up if they are to stay in the Premier League.
Birmingham’s still haven’t won away from home this season, and their away form last season was pretty similar. They have managed to draw five of their eight away games though, and they have come from two goals down on a few occasions too. Their stand out fantasy players are Ben Foster, Liam Ridgewell and Seb Larsson, who are all available at a good price, and performing very well.
It’s always difficult to tell how local derbies will end up, and this one is no different. I think that the most likely outcome is a score draw, which won’t be particularly good for Wolves, but Birmingham will be happy enough with it.
Tottenham v Chelsea
The Spuds will be flying high after winning their Champions League group this week. They have struggled in games immediately after Champions League games this season, and they would have wanted an easier game I’m sure. Then again I’m also sure that they would want to be playing Chelsea when the champions are going through a very bad run like their current one. The Spuds defence is their achilles heel, and they will need to have Rafael Van Der Vaart back if they are going to get a win in this game. Their two outstanding fantasy players so far are Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart, but Van Der Vaart might not be playing due to his hamstring injury.
Chelsea have only taken five points in their last six league games, and they seem to have forgotten how to score. It’s a far cry from the team that won their first five league games this season, and were considered odds on favourites to retain their title. Since then they have taken only 14 points from 11 games, and that’s not the form of a top four team, never mind potential champions. With players coming back from injury their excuses are running out, and they need to turn their performances and results around very soon, or the owner will start to tire of the manager. Their stand out fantasy performers have been Peter Cech, Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba, but at the moment none of them are performing well enough to consider buying.
This game has a draw written all over it for me, unless The Spuds push too far forward and Chelsea pick them off on the break.
Man Utd v Arsenal
“Manure” are the favourites to win the league now that Chelsea seem to be self destructing. Their form hasn’t been particularly great so far, but somehow they remain unbeaten in the league. There has been talk of them matching Arsenal’s invincibles by going through a whole league campaign unbeaten, but that is too horrible a thought for me to consider. The difference between that great Arsenal team and this average “Manure” team is huge, and I can’t imagine that they will match that incredible feat. “Manure’s” home form is very good, and they have won seven of their eight games so far which makes them firm favourites to win this game.Their best fantasy players are Nemanja Vidic, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov, and for me Nani and Vidic are musts, but Berbatov is too hot and cold to be included. Wayne Rooney may be a good buy if he ever regains any form, but not for the moment at least.
Arsenal stumbled through to the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night, and they now face a tough draw if they are to progress. Their away form is the best in the league, and their only defeat came away to Chelsea, when Chelsea were playing well. However, their defence is their weak point, and if they can’t defend well in this game it will be very difficult for them. A lot may depend on whether Cesc Fabregas is available to play or not, as “Manure” have not got central midfielders to match him, but if he can’t make it Samir Nasri’s contribution will be crucial for them. If I had to choose any Arsenal players for a fantasy team I would pick Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, although Chamakh could be out of favour soon if Robin Van Persie can stay fit. Cesc Fabregas is an absolute certain pick when he is back to full fitness, but when that will be is anybody’s guess.
I am an Arsenal fan, and I always predict a victory for them. This week is no different, s I think they will edge a tight game by the odd goal, but a draw wouldn’t be a bad result. They can even afford to lose if they can put up a good performance, but it would be great to get a win against “Manure” after losing so many games against recently.
As usual feel free to point out where I have gone wrong or right as you see fit.
Finally for today my son’s band have finally managed to put together their first professionally mixed recording, and you can listen to Don’t Drop Me by The Excuses here . If you have a few minutes to spare give it a listen as it’s pretty good.
That’s it for this week,