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Week One Countdown: An Early Look Ahead

New signings, new managers new tactics so much to take on coming into the opening weekend. Are you at the rate my team stage?

Harry's back "triiffic"
Harry's back "triiffic"
Karina Hessland

Ok we are on countdown now.  In less than two weeks you will have points on the board but will you be a happy NMAer or not?

With this in mind here are a few week one thoughts and questions.

Arsenal V Crystal Palace

Home win, well it should be on paper.  Now that the gunners have ended their trophy drought and added to the strength of their squad they should be looking to start the season with a convincing statement.

Palace are a hugely improved side under Tony Pulis but not one who's away form convinces you.  The gunners may still have a few nightmares after last seasons opening day home banker went wrong.  Add to that we know Palace are a party spoiler team plus Glen Murray is back in the goals.

The question with this one is which of the attacking weapons makes your 11, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Alex Sanchez or Aaron Ramsey?  Second question who plays at CB if BFG is rested?

Burnley v Chelsea

Perhaps the biggest ever gap between two Premier League squad wages. On paper a 2, 3 goal away win is the expectation.  However this feels like it may not be so easy.

For Burnley, on the opening weekend where everyone starts equal it's a cup final for them and their fans.  Under the floodlights on a Monday summers evening the atmosphere will be up.  I like Eden Hazard in the one however he has yet to start or I think play in a preseason game.  There may be Chelsea interest in my side but it will be limited.  How fantastic would it be for the league if the ultimate minnow can cause a surprise week one.

Liverpool v Southampton or Liverpool Saints v the Ronald Koeman selection if you prefer.

Boy does this look tough for the new look Southampton side.  There can rarely be a side that after such a successful season has allowed their starting 11 to be butchered as much.

Saints fans I know say the side look sharp and are playing a fast counter attacking style in their preseason games.  That is the way to punish Brendan Rodgers attack minded Liverpool team.  With concern over Daniel Sturridges hamstring could Rickie Lambert be the one who comes back to haunt the Saints.  Could the Liverpool injuries mount up and a saints team record a famous result?

Manchester United v Swansea City

One more that will excite many fantasy fans.  Louis Van Gaal's ability to organise is clear and a likely front three of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata is scary.  However we know LVG also has a rep of making such dramatic changes his ideas take a while to be adopted.

Swansea are still a settled side and one without the hassle of europe this season that will help.  You can see the Utd three center back exposed in a likely midfield duo of Ander Herrera and Tom Cleverley/Darren Fletcher and at his price Siggy tempts a little.  Wilfried Bony showed what he can do to defensives lacking in aggression and pace.  I kind of expect a Manu win but maybe more like the old days needing a late winner or come from behind job.

Newcastle v Manchester City

A banana skin tie.  Once again remember anything goes on week one weekend.  Newcastle player for player are a side some distance behind the Champions.  But with the vocal support they will get and super sunday star billing they will make City work for any win, as long as the don't get blown away early that is.

Sergio Aguero is always the question with City.  Too often injured but when fit a fantastic player.  He wasn't fully fit for the world cup and only joined training last week.  You would think him fit enough but even if he starts his lack of match practice mean you may only get 60mins from him.

Shame Yahoo have classed Siem De Jong as a forward.  I really think he will be a phantom machine but this seems a game just to watch and observe.

Stoke City v Aston Villa

Villa have just recorded their worst Premier League season result, their fans don't like their manager and their summer signings are found on the sole of your shoe after walking the dog.  On the positive side Villa are an away specialist and won against the odds on the opening day last season.

Stoke meanwhile achieved their highest ever Premier League finish (did you know that) which came after most Stokies were against Majk Hughes appointment.  There feels some value in their team here but who?

Leicester City v Everton

Everytime I look at this one I see a 1-1 scoreline and everybody content to get a point on the board.  Everton will start favourites especially after a record 28M signing of Romelu Lukaku.  With the ever improving Ross Barclay sat in behind Everton bring pace and power and a solid back line make Everton a solid side.

Leicester though won the Championship clearly.  They reflect their managers attitude in style and effort.  A couple of decent signings have been made and at home they will be stubborn.

If this was last seasons budget I like Leighton Baines in this one to rack up the phantoms, maybe score a set piece special as well.  But this season he may be a little rich in every game bar the doubles.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland

Hmmm now here is a game I'm sure there is value in somewhere.  WBA have changed tactics with their management appointment this time around and it will be interesting to see if they can hold their nerve if it doesn't start well.

Sunderland were a tough team under Gus Poyet built around a very solid defence/keeper.  But I remain unconvinced that Connor Wickham was on no more that a hotspot sequence late last season so scoring goals may be their issue again.

Chris Baird may be a fantastic out of position signing if he starts.  While young Berahino (5.57m people) could thrive under the supply from Graham Dorrans, Chris Brunt and others.  I probably won't go with him but should team news suggests he will start I will think a little deeper.

Queens Park Rangers v Hull City

Many us just cannot resist Robert Snodgrass in his new midfield role (removing dribble from the corner of my mouth).  But to make it difficult for you I do have a couple thoughts.

  1. He has only just joined Hull so is not in full flow with his teammates thought processes.

  2. He was always a home bird when the 20pt games came.

  3. He played to the right of a lone front man at Norwich, meaning he could push up.  Hull seem to be going with two up top hence Snoddys starting position may be deeper and more so away from home.

QPR are back and always awesome to follow Harry Redknapp has decided LVD is onto something and started using a 3 man defence.  Im not sure how this is going to work with the 3 players I assume play.  Richard Dunne is without pace so would need to sit central in the trio.  Rio has more but has lost his acceleration.  HIs superior technique means he should also be sat in the central role.  If I'm Steve Bruce I would use a simple tactic of moving pacey handful Shane Long onto whichever of these two gets the short straw playing wide.

QPR do have pacey wing backs if not great defenders.  These out of position players may tempt week one.  Of the two Armand Traore is the pick so it is very frustrating to see him classified as a midfield player.

Finally in this game Charlie Austin give you an excellent pick for the money as an alternative forward pick.  He will get chances and against the Hull defence may get easier ones that expected.

West Ham v Tottenham

Big Sam will do extremely well to survive to Christmas let alone this whole season.  It seems fans and the board are against him so he will need a good start or may become the first sacking of 2014/15.

An opening day fixture against Spurs at home would normally do.  The Hammers have a very good record against them.  Problem is, it's likely they face a spurs side feeling a little more positive, a little more driven with a squad starting to settle and a manager who thinks picking a  30m signing to start may actually be a good idea.

We all have Lamela as a bench filler or better but the desire not to go two's up with Spurs means many will stay away from true fantasy specialist Christian Eriksen.  The dane should be on set pieces and if the hammers players are distracted by the rumours over their manager it may be the time to pick him.

However, lets be using our heads.  West Ham have been a powerful home team under Sam.  You can expect as strong a character as the big man to ignore any instructions from up above and play to the plan that has beaten spurs in sequence.

Still an away win to pile the pressure on Sam would not be a surprise.  From a fantasy view I don't see huge points but depending on my starting 11 Lamela may make the starting lineup.

So there we have it.  Just a few rambles as I wish it was next Saturday already.  Sunday morning rumours say RVP may not start the season and Daniel Sturridge has hamstring concerns has made a mess of my early draft.  Back to the drawing board.

How is your draft teams looking?