Hello all, have you been enjoying the international games? Maybe you have but there seems more interest in Roy Keane and Harry Redknapp's latest books. Still a Sunday afternoon roast with England on the TV will do for me.
Anyhow with the countdown onto week 8 a few questions for you
Question 1 - With Spain and Germany losing to two of the smaller international sides, can Crystal Palace end the unbeaten run of Chelsea?
Palace have already beaten Chelsea in 2014 with a dramatic 1-0 win in March which handed the title back into Man City/Liverpool hands. Chelsea owe them one for that. The Palace side in March was a much better defensive side under Tony Pulis but not one as attack minded as the optimistic Neil Warnock version.
Palace come into this one on the back of a defeat and hold a 2 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats record 10 goals scored 12 conceded. Chelsea are top of the league 6 wins, 1 draw 21 scored, 7 conceded. Only an away day at Man City stopped them holding a perfect record.
On paper a typical Chelsea 2-0 looks likely but there does seem to be a preoccupation with being tired after international breaks. Palace should then be fresher mentally and if the pro's are correct sharper physically, we will see though. On hamstring watch Diego Costa played for Spain but I don't see a Costa benching here. Too tough a game and Jose will want to apply pressure to their only serious rival by applying their focus to the league at least until the Champions League gets to the knock-out rounds.
I hold Costa at 9m and with his current price only 10m I may well sell this week and pick him up on the barn door. I have done this three times so far. The first two Costa me (boom boom) 5 goals the other was when he played at City and my replacement flopped. Needless to say I'm a little bit concerned to go against the leagues top marksman. Any thoughts with the price I have him?
Question 2 - How many of you will not go Costa, Kun and Falcao this week?
They look the likely front three for many don't they. Costa and Falcao face tough away games after international games and only Argeuro has the joy of a home fixture.
There are others to tempt you. Danny Welbeck hosts Hull, Papris Cisse is on fire and hosts a Leicester side not looking watertight. Graziano Pelle will get chances home to Sunderland while comebacking Daniel Sturridge faces the awful QPR defence. Finally, for the brave Lukaku has a Villa side conceding plenty without Ron Vlaar.
Question 3 - Will Raheem Sterling start?
Maybe it's me, but at 19 I could have played 7 days a week and twice on Sundays! Ok, I will accept that I'm no Premier League footballer but these are some of the prime athletes in the world with the very best knowledge and processes available to them.
Football is not the same physical game that it was in the late 70's early 80's and the pitches are nowhere near the same. Didn't one of the great Liverpool sides win the title with something like 18 or 19 players in a bigger league?
Enough moaning Stall and back to the question. England play this evening and Sterling will have a full week until the game. True they play Real Madrid midweek (what a game at Anfield) but I cannot see why you would rest Sterling prior. Pool have had a number of bad results leaving them 9pts behind Chelsea already. The title looks lost but the Champions League race is wide open. With a sequences of CL groups game left Pool need to win the easier games and QPR home or away are currently an easier game.
Question 4 - Is Landon Donovan the greatest USA player ever?
One for our American readers really. I have only ever seen him play for his country in World Cups and in his short loan periods with Everton.
He won his 157th cap against Ecuador and was given a hero's ovation when subbed in the 41st minute. USA's all time top goalscorer retires for his country at 32 years of age with 57 goals in 157 games.
With the pool of players USA will have and the money invested in the college system they will at some point have a player who you can argue is the best player in the world. Hopefully this will be when they are the clear second best team in the world behind England. So, is he the very best so far and what is your favourite memory of the man.
Question 5 - Who is this weeks trap pick and must have pick?
Diego Costa at Palace.
Cesc Fabregas at Palace
Radamel Falcao at WBA
Angel Di Maria at WBA
Raheem Sterling at QPR
Daniel Sturridge at QPR
Alexis Sanchez v Hull
Danny Welbeck v Hull
Kun v Spurs
Pell v Sunderland
Tadic v Sunderland
Cisse v Leicester
Question 6 - Who is this weeks alternative pick to the obvious?
With those listed in question 7 being in many teams who is the value pick that will set you apart from the pack this week?
Adam Lallana outplayed and outscored Sterling and Hazard was the man for Chelsea in week 7. Stewart Downing flopped when I finally pick him as did Hulls Robertson also when not in my side.
Maybe its the Manu players you don't have RVP and Mata. Perhaps Super Mario will spark into life. Could Oxlade-Chamberlain/Cazorla outscore Welbeck and Sanchez. After Ulloa trolled many in week 7 could he put Pardew under even more pressure. Could king Troll Lukaku continue the pressure on Villas defence. Maybe Downing goes back to the point of the diamond at Burnley and back into the points. Finally Gabriel Obertan was awesome at Swansea so what about him as real wildcard.
Question 7 - Can any of Arsenal, Liverpool or Man Utd keep a clean sheet this week?
As a trio their defending has been poor to terrible this season. For that reason alone none of them look realistic title challengers even this early in the season.
Arsenal do have home advantage in week 8 but face a Hull side full of confidence and importantly a better Hull side that last season. Further Arsenal have a huge injury/suspension list.
Liverpool have suffered from their inability to put teams away early. Last season they blew teams apart in the opening 20-30 minutes which relieved the pressure on the back four and should they wish allowed them to sit and play on the counter with the pace of Luis Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling. With the goals having dried up they cannot get away with the odd errors and that has piled pressure on the back four. Further Gerrard really offers less and less in the defensive front as his legs age.
Man Utd travel to WBA with Jones, Evans and Smalling perhaps out (maybe Jones is back). Having let Vidic, Rio and Evra all leave in one summer they were always going to struggling. Not buying a proven dominant CB was careless. Young Marcus Rojo has looked ok and importantly kept that temper under control. What they don't need is to face a quick and full of confidence forward and that is just what they face this weekend in Saido Berahino