With one more round of the international play-offs to go, we still haven't hit the "all clear" on the injuries front. We have already seen the likes of Erikson go down over the break, possibly relegating the midfielder to the side lines for a number of weeks. We can only hope our other potential player picks will stay healthy through their respective play-offs and friendlies. As we slowly turn our attention back to the Premier League we see a number of match ups highlighted from a number of teams not normally on our buying "wish list". Let's take a look at each fixture and the impact they might have on our development for a Week 12 squad.
Everton v Liverpool - Our first big match up of the weekend and a bitter derby match at that. The bottom line to this match up is that both sides will go hard for the win and the clean sheet on either side looks about as likely as Hondouras winning the World Cup. If you still have SAS as your primary two strikers, this could be the match where you might consider just keeping Suarez. While I lean towards Liverpool getting the result, playing away at Everton is always unpredictable. This could either be a 2-2 or a narrow win. I wouldn't be looking to add any of Everton's attack, but if one man is going to score it will be Lukaku, we know he can rise his level of play for big matches, just ask Manchester City. VERDICT: Keep the discounts you have on Suarez + Coutinho, but I wouldn't invest in either defense and Everton's attack probably isn't worth it this week.
Stoke City v Sunderland - Not much to get excited about for this match up, although Sunderland have begun to show some promise under new manager Gus Poyet. I wouldn't be looking to much beyond a defender for Stoke City, but this may be a match where a gamble on Adam (taking penalties) or Arnautovic (taking direct free kicks) may pay off, I just don't have the courage to put in either. As for Sunerland, they won't be offering much from the attacking stand point in my opinion, but those with Phil Bardsley will be pleased about his Barn Door price and current run of fantasy points. VERDICT: Not much to love from either side, but defensive picks seem best for this situation. I wouldn't be looking much elsewhere otherwise.
Newcastle v Norwich City - I hope everyone was able to grab Loic Remy and Tim Krul on the Barn Door, as their prices have shot up. Newcastle at home to a still floundering Canaries is my highlighted match up for the weekend. Newcastle will be bouyed by their recent form, taking 6 huge points off of Chlesea and Tottenham respectively. Remy, Cabaye, Cissoko, Santon, and Krul could all be in for a decent return this week. Although Norwich City got a big result against West Ham last game week, I don't rate their chances away from home. VERDICT: Invest in Newcastle defense and attack (no one could blame you for taking a player from each position), but don't get over greedy.
Hull City v Crystal Palace - This is just going to be one of those game weeks where the unlikely teams will have the strongest match ups. Hull City haven't been spectacular this season, but they have played for the results when it matters and home to bottom of the league Crystal Palace warrents some investment. We don't have team news yet, but we will all be watching to see if the long international break has helped Robby Brady to over come his recent hernia troubles. Otherwise, Hull City will be looking to keep the clean sheet against a goal shy Crystal Palace, who have been utterly atrocious on the road. Curtis Davies looks a decent buy this week. VERDICT: Invest moderately between Hull City's defense and attack (at most one from defense and one from attack), you can forget Crystal Palace players.
Arsenal v Southampton - The Saints have quietly built a fantastic squad and by the looks of their current season, have a team completely capable of European football next season. It will remain to be seen if they can keep the pace in the top 6 come Christmas, but some thing tells me they can and will. However, away to Arsenal is a different story and I expect the home side to take the win, albiet in a tightly contested match. I really can't given a good prediction on the scoreline, but a 2-1 isn't out of the question. Arsenal need to bounce back from their title credential loss to Manchester United and will be looking to make a statement. I wouldn't get overly exicted to buy in on either side of the coin, but certainly some investment will be required. VERDICT: Keep the discounts you have on the big name players (move some to the bench if you have to in Southampton's case) but dump the rest.
Fulham v Swansea - Fulham have looked a shadow of their normally mid table solid self and Swansea have had their honeymoon period in the Premier League dampened this season. But that being said, there should be goals in this match. I would be hard pressed to look for some decent buys in the Fulham squad, but if you happened to take Wilfred Bony on the Barn Door, there is no reason to think he cannot build off his brace against Stoke City last weekend. Remember Michu is still out so De Guzman (on free kick duties) might be a decent differential pick this week. I don't see either side keeping the clean sheet, so best to avoid defenders from this one. VERDICT: Bony is probably the only player worth it from this match up, I'd avoid the defense as I can see each side getting a goal at least.
West Ham v Chelsea - One of the lesser London derby's, but a derby none the less and both teams will be looking to bounce back from embarrassing displays last weekend. I can hardly think Mourinho will allow his side to play with the lethargic tempo they displayed against West Bromwich Albion and couple that with West Ham's outstandingly negative 4-6-0 formation, Chelsea should take this away win with ease. The risk for Chelsea players is what Mourinho will do for rotation, but you can expect the likes of Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Oscar, and Hazard to be amongst the starters. I'd be shocked if Chelsea didn't win this one 2-0 or 3-0. VERDICT: Invest in Chelsea's defense and attack (at least one defender and one midfielder/forward) but one from all 3 slots wouldn't be over doing it.
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Although this isn't a derby in its local rights, this has become quite a rivalry in recent years. Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Sunderland (the 4th consecutive 1-0 loss away to the Black Cats) and given their home match up I tip the cap to them for the win. Tottenham have looked lost in attack, although they have had a string of solid wins, they haven't put teams to bed. Roberto Soldado just hasn't lived up to the hype or price tag and his midfield back up in the likes of Erikson (injured), Lamela (not starting), Townsend (selfish), Siggy (inconsistent) and Paulinho (prone to go missing) just haven't given him the support he needs. I am not trying to put down Spurs, quite the contrary, I just feel they haven't lived up to the standard they have set with the power house midfield they have bought. This could be a real test for both sides and the team coming out victorious will surely use this match as a spring board. VERDICT: This is a hotly contested match and i'd be nervous to invest in either side. Best to put high discounted players to the bench or keep one in your starting 11 and pray.
Cardiff City v Manchester United - This is the type of match you'd expect United to waltz through. But things have been different this season under Moyes and they have dropped points in matches they wouldn't have last season. With the win over Arsenal at home last week, United should at least be fired up for getting back into the top 4 and closer to the summit. Of all the big teams playing this week, United have the best match up so their attack and defense looks a good bet this week. Rooney and Phil Jones are my top picks respectively. Although Cardiff City will be traditionally tough at home, I can't see them taking another 3-2 victory over a Manchester club. VERDICT: Invest in Manchester United attack and defense (all the better if you got RvP on the Barn Door, but most will opt for Rooney). I wouldn't be too excited about United's midfield prospects, so don't get overly greedy.
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa - Our third derby of the weekend and a tough Midland's match up. West Brom will be very aggrieved for not coming away with the win over Chelsea and I think they will use that fire in their home match up with bitter rivals Villa. This is another match up where defense is probably going to be more of a risk than reward so I'd avoid. Christian Benteke has yet to return to his early season form but the big Belgian loves a tough match up to announce himself (calling to mind Arsenal anyone?). I can't decide who will take this one, but I'd give a slight edge to WBA being the home side and Villa's doubts over key attacking players (Weinman and Agbonlahor). VERDICT: Invest small into either sides attack as I don't for see a clean sheet for either side. Amalfitano/Sessegnon or Benteke would be my top choices.
Okay, that's it for another Look Ahead and I hope you all enjoyed the read! My current side sits at: Krul, P. Jones, Ivanovic, C. Davies, Oscar, Coutinho, Ramsey, Ozil, Rooney, Suarez, Remy (capt) + Brady, Demichelis, Harper and Filler on the bench. There is still lots to consider like Brady's injury status and the inclusion of Amalfitano. This will be a very tough week as we just don't have one obviously appealing match up besides Newcastle and we all know how they can let us down!
How has your team shaped up? Who are you looking to bring in?