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Looking Ahead (Week 8): Return to Premier League Action!

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With only one more round of World Cup Qualifiers to go (oh how we loath the long international breaks!) we can now start to turn our attention back to the Premier League! Our only concern is that our top picks for this weekend's up coming action return in one piece! What are the fixtures and teams you should be focusing on for week 8 you ask? Let's discuss!

Lukaku will certainly be a top captain choice this week
Lukaku will certainly be a top captain choice this week
Michael Steele

Finally, finally, we can start to regain our focus and have our lust satisfied with the return of Premier League action this weekend. Much like a junkie scraping to get the next "fix", we ache for the return of Yahoo Fantasy Football for week 8! We have a glut of solid match ups that will involve high investment, but picking the right fixtures will be key to vaulting up the standings after a rather disappointing week 7 for most. Let's take a look at the upcoming fixtures that you should be considering, as well as some that may have just been off your radar!

The Strong Fixtures:

Arsenal v Norwich City - Probably top of the "Strong" category for good reason, Arsenal are in sensational form, even with the slight slip up at West Bromwich Albion, as they remain joint top of the league. Arsenal will welcome a struggling Norwich City side to the Emirates which bodes well for high fantasy returns. With only 1 goal scored on the road this season (away to Stoke), Arsenal's defense takes a huge jump up in our thinking, with Szczesny and Kierran Gibbs likely to court many mangers this week. Arsenal's attack should prove too much for Norwich, much like Chelsea proved in the latter stages of last game week, so no one could fault you for finding space for Olivier Giroud with the likes of the Ozil/Ramsey combo. While this has been a tricky fixture for Arsenal in the past, but given their current form, I expect to see a high goal ration paired with a solid CS. Verdict: High investment for Arsenal's defense/attack.

Everton v Hull City - Having finally come down to earth from their unbeaten start, Everton look prime to forget their first loss away to Manchester City last game week by punishing a relatively lofty Hull City. Although Hull City have made a solid start upon their return to the Premier League, without midfield maestro Robby Brady (out +4 weeks after a hernia operation), they will struggle to find the creative spark to pull one over away to a strong Everton side. While high investment is likely, you need not look further than Lukaku and Leighton Baines, who will form the bulk of Everton's fantasy returns. For outside picks, Kevin Mirallas, Sylvan Distin and Tim Howard look solid differential material as I don't see Hull City getting onto the score sheet this week. Verdict: Find the cash for Lukaku and Baines, but no need to go too far into Everton's defense/attack.

Chelsea v Cardiff City - Having struggled away to Norwich City last game week, Chelsea were ultimately saved by their strong bench in the form of Eden Hazard and new boy Willian. Chelsea should be too much for a Cardiff City side that won't be a force away from home. It will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho can incorporate all of his expensive toys into one side, as rotation hurt many a fantasy manager with Demba Ba preferred to Samuel Etó. The correct investment will be key here then, with many top name vying for roles within the squad. One assured place seems to go to Oscar, who keeps his place behind the front striker in the "hole". It would be my assumption that Etó returns to the starting fold with Ba failing to cement a place in only his first start to the season. Chelsea's defense looks a solid investment, albiet an expensive buy so pick one, maybe 2. Verdict: Oscar is a must, moderate investment in defense, but be cautious with Chelsea's attack.

The Interesting Fixtures:

Newcastle v Liverpool - What to do with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge? Both have been a revelation for Liverpool's attack and have formed a monster of a front duo. The big question is: Which one do we keep? This is an particularly tough one to answer because Suarez can pump out the phantom points in an off week and Sturridge is on an incredible goal scoring streak. Bottom line, Liverpool's current form has them joint top of the league along with Arsenal largely thanks to both players and now may not be the time to jump off the bandwagon. Newcastle has struggled from the start of this season and has yet to find a good run of form, but they are always able to produce a surprising result (4-4 against Arsenal anyone?). Which ever way you decide to go, one of Liverpool's strikers will be a must given their current streak as Newcastle will concede goals even at home. I feel this will be another Liverpool win, but probably closer than one might expect. It might be time to offload Gerrard/Enrique to afford other expensive players this week and Mignolet is probably not the safest buy given Loic Remy's goal scoring form. Verdict: Keep Liverpool's attack (at least one of Sturridge/Suarez) but be weary of their defense as NUFC can score goals.

Manchester United v Southampton - One high flying team versus one struggling or consistent form. Seasons past you would be thinking I meant United as the dominant team and Southampton the one struggling, but this is effectively reversed. Both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie shook of the knocks that listed them as doubtful for the Sunderland match, but both failed to produce anything worth while. Given the riches of the other fixtures, I am probably avoiding investment for this match. However, United should prove too much at home for Southampton, regardless of current form but a draw wouldnt be out of the question. If you captured Januzaj on the barndoor then he might be the only United attacker you really need this week given form/price ratio. I'd avoid United's overly expensive defense given the opponent though. Verdict: Low investment in Manchester United's attack but no need to risk the defense against a "clicking" Southampton side.

West Ham v Manchester City - West Ham produced a stunning (and frustrating) win over their local rivals Tottenham last game week which will fill them with plenty of confidence as they welcome Manchester City. Obviously there is no need to invest in West Ham, but given their boost, will make Manchester City work hard for the win. This should be a routine away win for City, however given they possibilities of rotation after the international break, this might be one to limit investment in. If you have Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, or Kolarov at discount then certainly look to keep, but no need to go much beyond that. Verdict: Low investment in Manchester City's defense/attack with maybe just 1 or 2 players at most.

Aston Villa v Tottenham - I never thought I'd say this match would be close to call, but I truly believe Aston Villa will be tough for Tottenham to over come. They have found life without Benteke isn't as doom and gloom as many predicted and throw in the fact Tottenham had a shocker at home against lowly West Ham, anything can happen. I feel the quality of Spurs current side will prove decisive in the end, but it certainly wont be an easy task. Roberto Soldado (it is getting hard to recommend him isn't it?)"was dropped for leading cup scorer Defoe last game week, but I expect him to be re-installed to lead the line. Andros Townsend looked good for England in his debut and could be key to a Tottenham victory. The likes of Erikson, Siggy, and Paulinho should be on your radar but high investment is probably not worthwhile. Verdict: Low investment in Tottenham's attack, with 1 or maybe 2 players, but avoid the defense.

The Unpredictable Fixtures:

Stoke City v West Bromwish Albion - One to avoid on all fronts with the money needed to invest in the ''strong'' fixture list. A draw isn't out of the question for this one, but a win could go either way. Verdict: Avoid, but for a dark horse pick look at West Brom's Amalfitano.

Swansea v Sunderland - With a new manager comes new inspiration and usually a string of strong results which is why I have listed this fixture here. There really shouldnt be any investment worthwhile this week for this match, but if you feel Bony will return to the starting lineup, or Michu will be boosted by his first senior cap for Spain, then try to avoid otherwise. I would generally say Swansea will take the win, but Sunderland could prove a plucky opponent. Verdict: No investment needed unless you have a hunch.

Crystal Palace v Fulham - Not even going to comment, if you invest here then either you like living on the "wild side" or you have foresight to see the future. Verdict: AVOID!

I will certainly be looking at the first 3 fixtures for the bulk of my investment with a sprinkle from the rest. Although it does feel a bit risky to put all your eggs in one basket, so be sure to try and spread the funds around as best you can. My current squad: Cech, Baines, Debuchy, Kolarov, Ozil, Ramsey, Oscar, Erikson, Lukaku, Sturridge, Suarez with 3.17mil left. I haven't had much time to tinker with it but I will certainly be holding Baines, Kolarov, Ozil, Ramsey, Oscar, Lukaku and Suarez, the rest are up to change.

Good luck to all in the final matches of the World Cup Qualifying rounds, my side, USA has already qualified so that leaves me to watch the European matches with the hopes no one returns injured or faces the dreaded "late fitness test". How are your early team's shaping up? Anything you would like to add from the fixture analysis?

Look for Mo's player picks later in the week! Cheers!