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Our look ahead to week seven of the Barclays Premier League with fantasy player picks.
Swansea v Reading
Swansea have been struggling after a bright start to the season. They aren't scoring goals, and their defence - the key to their form last season - has been their own worst enemy this season. If they can cut out the mistakes, they should have enough to see off Reading, despite the Royals' deserved point against Newcastle United. Michu is the pick here, if you haven't already gotten off the bandwagon. Ki Sung-Yueng could be a nice differential pick (two decent matches in a row) while Ben Davies is your cheapest ticket for the potential Swansea clean sheet.
Man City v Sunderland
This one doesn't look pretty from a fantasy perspective. As Neal wrote about the other day, this isn't last season's Manchester City. They continued their "meh" start to the campaign drawing against Dortmund in the Champions League, again conceeding a goal, albeit against very good opposition.
At the weekend, they'll face draw merchants Sunderland who will set up to frustrate the champions. For me, this has all the hallmarks of a Yaya Toure match. He'll be the one to rescue Manchester City late on when all the twinkling toes around him have worn down. For Sunderland, I think this is a stay away match. I wouldn't bet on Steven Fletcher contuing his run of one shot, one goal per match. But then again, I wouldn't bet against it.
Chelsea v Norwich
Surely this is another demolition in the making. Norwich have been horrible at times, giving up five goals to Liverpool last week and Fulham on opening day. Chelsea have only dropped points against QPR, and that match was a real "must-win", desparation effort from Rangers.
The problem here is that a) Chelsea players are expensive, and they all are listed as defenders or forwards. Unless you want Ramires on your team. You'll have to choose Fernando Torres who is reasonably priced, but as likely to go missing as he is to score; Eden Hazard who has been quiet for a few weeks; Juan Mata who has been great recently and taking kicks, but who is now the most expensive fantasy player on the team. Meanwhile their entire back five are safe, but costly, bets.
West Brom v QPR
QPR shouldn't be much of a speed bump for the West Brom bandwagon. Though the Baggies are dealing with injuries, they have Peter Odemwingie returning from suspension. He may go straight into the line-up to replace Chris Brunt. I don't think Romelu Lukaku will start, but he'll still likely be an effective substitute. James Morrison is a good pick, but as Neal has pointed out before, he's now properly valued in the Yahoo! game so no bargain there.
The question for West Brom is at right back where they don't have anyone to play. If Gonzalo Jara does recover from his own injury, he could be a great bargain. Otherwise, Gabriel Tamas is even cheaper and could be played out-of-position on the right again.
Wigan v Everton
Everton take their fantasy-favorite squad to Wigan this week. This won't be another 3-1 romp from the Toffees, but why sell now? I would encourage fantasy managers who loaded up last week to diversify this, but there's no sense in selling your core players like Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines, Kevin Mirallas, Tim Howard, or Nikica Jelavic.
West Ham v Arsenal
Another London derby! Arsenal, after playing a full-strength side on Tuesday, face they physicality of Big Sam. Well, of one of his teams. You're not selling Santi Cazorla or Kieran Gibbs, but you're not investing in the Gunners here. And while I would be nervous if I were a Jussi Jääskeläinen owner, I do think he'll get enough save points to offset whatever odd goal he allows.
Newcastle v Man Utd
You would have to think that Manchester United would boss this match, but I'm not expecting a classic and I'm probably staying clear for fantasy purposes.
Southampton v Fulham
Who wins here - the Saints' porous defence, or Fulham's road woes? I'm cautiously optimistic that Southampton can score so Ricky Lambert, Gaston Ramirez, and Adam Lallana are worth fantasy investment. On the other side, even on the road I would bet on Damien Duff and Bryan Ruiz. Mladen Petric is a little more of boom-or-bust player but this is Southampton we're talking about so don't hesitate if you want in.
Liverpool v Stoke
I think Liverpool will find it tougher going against Stoke. Don't sell if you've grabbed Luis Suarez or Steven Gerrard on the barn door. But remember that Stoke have shut out Arsenal and Swansea, drawn with Manchester City, and only lost to Chelsea (at Stamford Bridge) to a last-gasp Ashley Cole goal.
Tottenham v Aston Villa
So Jan Vertonghen finally scores the week after we all get off the bandwagon. Figures. Aston Villa are playing better as of late, but Spurs should be able to play them off the field. They should be able to... but will they? This is a classic trap game, on the back of their "historic" win at Old Trattford. And Aston Villa will be determined not to let the likes of Gareth Bale run riot. I would expect, however, Jermain Defoe to get back to his goal-scoring ways, and Moussa Dembele to continue to be a more fantasy-friendly Luka Modric. Vertonghen is a strong pick too, as he should continue to play out wide.