Welcome back all! I am sure we can all breathe a bit of relief that we are now fully through the International Break. Sweating on the fitness of key players is never good for the Fantasy Manager's sanity. The likes of Sanchez (returning late after playing nearly 180 minutes during the break), Fabregas (pulling out of Spain's matches completly) and Tadic (nursing a knock sustained from International duty) all returned with various complaints but seemingly should feature this week. It is advisable, however, to ensure you have some sort of bench coverage in the event one or more doesn't regain fitness. Of the 3, I'd imagine Sanchez to be the likliest to play regardless of fatigue, Tadic to be likely used and Fabregas still above 50-50. Seeing as all 3 are currently in my squad I have to pray that all make the starting 11!
Let's take a quick look at Saturday's Fixtures:
Chelsea v West Brom
Everton vs West Ham
Leceister City v Sunderland
Newcastle v QPR
Stoke vs Burnley
Arsenal v Mancheste United
Obviously all eyes will be on Arsenal hosting a defensively worrying Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium. Boasting the electrifying Alexis Sanchez in their attacking ranks, Arsenal will look to tear a make shift United defense to shreds. Although Arsenal have had their own problems at the back with Debuchy and Koschielny both long term absentees. Wayne Rooney will look to continue his purple patch of form and become the all time leading scorer in this fixture, only needing a goal to mark the feat. Either way the result pendulum swings, this should be a cracker of a match!
Manchester City will be looking to kick start their title defense after falling 8pts behind Chelsea in 3rd. This has been a good fixture for the Sky Blue in seasons past, however Swansea City have made their own waves in the league this season with some impressive victories boosting them to 5th place on 18pts after 11 matches. Although the Swans have managed such a great start, I imagine City will be too much at the Etihad, especially with Sergio Aguero seemingly scoring for fun.
Chelsea will look to continue their stellar run in the league this season, standing as current, unbeaten league leaders, when they face West Brom at the Bridge. I think we can all predict the outcome of this match, with Chelsea netting no less than twice in each home game this season. But I think I speak for everyone when I say a clean sheet would be much appreciated from Jose Mourinho's presumptive champions.
Newcastle v QPR seems a bit harder for me to predict: One one hand Newcastle have rocketed up the standings with an impressive run fo results, while their woeful early season form is still not completly gone from memory. So the question is: How long can Pardew and Newcastle sustain this form? QPR haven't been looking likely to avoid the drop this season, but Charlie Austin has broken out of his shackles to spur a fine run of scoring form. With Coloccini out in the heart of NUFC's defense, I expect a much tighter game than form tables might suggest.
It will be interesting to see if Bojan will be able to fulfill his potential at Stoke City now that he has begun to find some form for the Potters. With Victor Moses also imposing himself on the attack, Stoke City have started to become a bit more attractive to the fantasy manager. Hosting a goal shy Burnley at the Britannia Stadium, and having won their past 3 home matches, Stoke City look primed for a fruitful Week 12.
Everton have been a bit of a bogey team for West Ham over the years, but with the Hammers flying high and Everton yet to really kick start the kind of campaign they had last season, any result could be possible. West Ham have already proven to be able to knock down the big boys with a memorable win over Manchester City a few weeks back. With doubts still surrounding Leighton Baines, the West London club might finally have the opportunity to break their abismal record at Goodison Park.
Leceister v Sunderland doesn't really thrill for fantasy purposes, but each side will be desperate for 3pts to aid their ailing campaigns. The Foxes will look in real trouble of facing the drop if they can't get the results to start falling their way after an early season 5-3 victory over United that seems like centuries in the past now.
As for my team, I have stuck to my original set up and gone with: Courtois, Ivanovic, Trippier, Bertrand, Hazard, Di Maria, Tadic, Fabregas, Sanchez, Bojan, Costa bench: N'Zogbia, Moore, Kelly, Gazz.
Fairly happy with my starting 11, even with the doubts over Tadic and more so Fabregas. I am a bit worried my bench is too thin so I am hoping Eden Hazard will produce the goods today at the Bridge. He has been good for me each time I have picked him!
How did your teams shape up? Who did you draft in during the Pre-Deadline Chat?