With the Champions League back in full swing this week there are two critical options to consider for your Week 7 fantasy squad. (1) Potential injuries to key Premier League players and (2) Potential rotation based on mid week matches. Thankfully the squads selected by the Premier League representatives mid week will give us a window into possible squad selections for the weekend. Obviously Diego Costa and Raheem Sterling will be of huge concern for rotation. Jose Mourinho has already stated Costa's hamstring may need time to recover at some point, especially after featuring in Chelsea's 1-0 victory over Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday. We have already seen Brendan Rodgers drop the likes of Raheem Sterling to give the electric winger a rest, of course this was to disasterous effect as Liverpool went on to lose 1-0 to Villa the following match. But considering how important each player is to their team respectively, we can only groan at the headache this will cause all of us for Week 7. My strong advice is to have a solid bench option at the ready. Okay let's take a look at Week 7's upcoming fixtures:
Week 7 Fixtures:
Aston Villa v Man City
Liverpool v West Brom
Swansea v Newcastle United
Man Utd v Everton
Chelsea v Arsenal
Tottenham v Southampton
West Ham v QPR
Upon reflecting on the fixtures for Week 7, Liverpool, Leicester City, Swansea, and Tottenham stand out as having the biggest potential for points. I would add consideration to Chelsea, West Ham, and discounted players from Southampton even though they face a stern test against an inconsistent Spurs, but goals wouldn't be out of the question for both sides here. Chelsea have been extremely dominant in the league this season and given Arsenal's continually growing injury list (as if this were anything unusual), I expect Chelsea to boss the midfield with Ramsey's absence and take all 3pts. As for Utd, they have been given another blow with Anders Herrera being ruled out with a rib injury and Everton pose a quite physical threat to Utd's weakened defensive line. My approach would to be keep your discounted players such as Di Maria or Tadic/Pelle for each respective tricky fixture, but to look elsewhere to finalize your starting 11. Okay let's take a look at which players to consider for Week 7:
Kasper Schmeichel - This is the first time the Foxes shot stopper has graced my player picks, but given his lowered price after the loss to Crystal Palace and the upcoming fixture against Burnley, how could I not? Burnley have been good defensively but woeful in front of goal and a turn around doesn't appear likely anytime soon. For only 4mil, Schmeichel is my budget keeper option for Week 7 and is currently in my starting 11.
L. Fabianski - A draw with Sunderland last game week brought a decent haul of points for the Swans #1. With a home match up against an absolutely dire Newcastle, Fabianski will look to be a solid keeper choice for Week 7. If Newcastle had showed some life against Stoke City on Monday, I might have reconsidered this recommendation, but given their woeful performance and apparent lack of desire from any of their players (possibly with the exception of Colback), 6.69mil seems a relative steal for another solid point return.
Adrian - Another relatively cheap keeper for Week 7 with a slightly lowered price due to the YC and 2-1 loss to Utd at the weekend. But West Ham have a favorable home match against QPR, who haven't exactly been setting the Premier League alight upon their return from the Championship. Adrian won't be a popular choice given the alternatives, but at 6.29mil, he is my differential keeper pick of the week.
T. Courtois - As expected, Chelsea's Belgian keeper kept Aston Villa off the score sheet, albiet without many saves to add to the win/clean sheet bonus. Still priced at a low 7.33mil, I expect Chelsea to boss an injury ravaged Arsenal at the weekend. I doubt we will see the same scoreline as last season when the two met at the Bridge, but Mourinho does indeed organize a staunch defense. Even in the event of a goal conceded, Courtois should have many more opportunities for saves unlike against Villa.
Cresswell - The West Ham defenseman has been a great budget option all season and is still a very affordable 3.07mil. With the visit of QPR I expect the leftback to continue getting decent returns with a solid shout of a clean sheet bonus for Week 7. Certainly a good move to find the funds as a viable bench option, but also a decent selection for your starting 11 if you need to afford the bigger players elsewhere.
P. van Aanholt - The young Dutchman is becoming a regular on the player picks threads and for good reason, he keeps returning outstanding phantom points. Stoke City are due to meet Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, and even with their recent 1-0 victory over a free falling Newcastle, I don't expect Stoke to carry much of a goal threat. I expect PvA to hold a decent chance to pad his great phantom returns with another clean sheet.
N. Taylor - Another Swansea representative on my player picks this week, and as stated above, I feel the Swans will have a very decent chance of a clean sheet over Newcastle. At a bargain price of 5.62mil, Taylor offers you the ability to free up funds to buy the more premium players elsewhere.
Richie de Laet - Moving slightly up into the mid price range for defenders, the former Man utd youngster has been in fine fantasy form for the Foxes this season. Averaging 9pts a game at 7.81mil, de Laet proves good value for the home match against an utterly goal shy Burnley. Even in the unlikely event Burnley turn their poor goal scoring fortunes around, de Laet will reward your team with plenty of phantom points.
Alberto Moreno - Okay, yes, I know, I know, recommending a Liverpool defender given their terrible record as of late is ludacris right? Well the young Spaniard has already showed his attacking potential and ability to bombard the flanks. Call it a hunch, but I feel Liverpool will turn around their horrid defensive crisis at home to West Brom. Still nicely priced at 7.83mil, the young fullback is my hunch/dark horse pick of the defenders this week.
Eric Dier - Southampton have been in incredible form given their summer exodus of their top talent and Spurs have been inconsistent defensively this season, but Dier has been able to get himself into attacking positions with frequency. After a rare blank return last week, I expect Dier to bounce back even with a testing game at home to the Saints. Nicely priced at 6.90mil, Dier will normally return attacking and defensive phantom points even in the event of losing the clean sheet.
G. Sigurdsson - Playing behind the striker, taking free kicks, and playing at home to a toothless and uninspired Newcastle side, what is not to love? Must have for me this week. I have already listed a plethora of inexpensive keeper and defender options so finding the funds for the Icelandic midfielder won't be a hassle. I expect Siggy to get double figures in Week 7.
Raheem Sterling - This is a really tough one given the fact he has already been rested once this season and has Champions League duty as well. But Brendan Rogers and Liverpool were already burned by leaving him on the bench against Aston Villa, in my mind, he has to be playing the majority of matches. Granted Brendan Rodgers is correct in stating he doesn't want to tire out the youngster, but Sterling's speed and trickery will be sorely missed if he is left out for the weekend. He is certainly a premium pick at 13mil, but completely worth the investment as long as he starts. We will watch what happens in the CL on Wednesday, but my plan is to risk him for Week 7 and keep a handy sub on the bench.
Cesc Fabregas - We here at the blog that have long followed Jeremy and Neal when they wrote for Yahoo had a set of guidelines to run our fantasy teams by. One of these guidelines inevitably was players facing their former clubs tend to score or perform well. Especially at his discounted price, I am savouring the idea of Fab4 putting a goal in against his old beloved club. With the threat of Costa possibly earning a rest (it will happen at some point), you can rest assured Fab4 will be facing his former mentor and Chelsea look primed to take all 3pts at the bridge. It might be a bit cheeky to buy him in at 12.01mil, but I expect the Spaniard to boss the midfield at the weekend.
Di Maria - The newly arrived Utd midfielder had a quiet match against West Ham, but I expect him to continue being the bright spot of Utd's attack. Taking free kicks is always a bonus and with hard hitting Everton coming to Old Trafford, I expect Di Maria to once again prove his worth. This might be a tricky fixture, but Di Maria will return his value more often than not regardless of fixture.
Tadic - Consistently returning value and a major bright spot in the Saints midfield, Tadic is proving to be a great replacement for the departed Lallana. Although Southampton face a tricky away test against Spurs, I always rate players who take free kicks for their respective teams. This usually equates to fantasy returns regardless of the match up. Since Spurs have been up and down this season, I see no reason not to keep Tadic in your team, or buy in at his current price of 8.59mil.
Erik Lamela - The young Argentine has been keen to banish the bad memories from his first season at Tottenham and has been putting in some excellent performances for Spurs this season. Although he went negative last week, he can be forgiven as the North London Derby can be a nasty affair. I expect Lamela to bounce back in Week 7 and is still an incredibly low 4.23mil. My midfield enabler for the week, if not season at that price.
Yaya Toure - The Ivorian had a stand out season for Man City in 2013-2014, but has been a shadow of his former self in the current campaign. He once had his price vaulted into the upper regions of the premium midfield picks but his poor fantasy performances this season have brought him back down to earth to a very affordable 10.92mil. Given his recent form you could argue Yaya hardly warrents inclusion in this week's player picks. But players tend to break out of their slumps at some point and away to Aston Villa could be his chance. Call it my dark horse pick of the midfielders for Week 7, as it may take a brave manager to include Yaya this week.
Mile Jedinak - How the Australian has failed to be in my squad at all this season I can't explain. His phantom point production is off the charts and boosted more so by getting onto the score sheet last week against Leicester City. His price is hefty at 13.64mil, but the match up isn't that bad away to Hull City and Crystal Palace are playing like a team that will escape the relegation battle this season. My differential premium pick for Week 7.
Stewart Downing - The former Aston Villa and Liverpool winger is having an outstanding fantasy season for West Ham tucked in behind the strikers. Slightly less expensive than Jedinak at 11.96mil, but more likely to get involved in the attack, a home fixture to QPR looks good for fantasy returns. I am struggling to find a way to fit Downing into my side as he will prove a great differential.
Wilfred Bony - Gomis started ahead of Bony as he continues to regain match fitness, but I expect to see him amongst the starting line up against Newcastle at the weekend. His physical presence and eye for goal looks spot on to return value at a price of 10.88mil. With the deliveries from Sigurdsson's free kicks, I would be shocked if he didn't score on Newcastle.
Mario Balotelli - Yes, I know, another Liverpool player in the picks when the Red's have hardly been playing their best football. But they have in fact kept a huge amount of possession each match and their fortunes will surely turn at some point. With Sturridge still ruled out, Balotelli will continue to be the main man for Liverpool's attack. After returning a decent haul of 15pts without a goal in the Merseyside Derby, I expect Mad Mario to finally open his Premier League account against West Brom at Anfield.
Diego Costa - One word: Undroppable. And yet Mourinho keeps playing mind games with the football community stating Costa's hamstrings are not fully fit and will eventually need to be rested to recover as much as possible. But yet again, Mourinho keeps playing the deadly striker and surely given his run mid week in the Champions League and in the Premier League, he is due for a rest at some point. But can Mourinho rest his best attacking threat against Arsenal in the London Derby? I can't get into the mind of Jose, but my gut says just play Costa and have a decent bench option in case he is indeed rotated. We all know what happened the last time Mourinho said Costa was a doubt...
Ulloa - The Foxes striker had a quiet match in the 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace, but I expect Ulloa to get amongst the goals yet again when Leicester City host Burnley. Although Burnley have been good defensively, West Brom managed to give them a hiding last week and their spirits may be a bit broken after the 4-0 loss. At 8.60mil, Ulloa seems a perfect buy this week, especially for a player that has adapted so well to the Premier League in his first season.
G. Pelle - Another striker who has adapted beautifully to the Premier League and helped Southampton to an incredible start to the season. His goal last week alone was a master class and even a tricky away fixture to Spurs shouldn't scare you off. If I didn't feel the midfield options were slightly better this week, I would be grabbing Pelle. Certainly a keeper if you have him at his discounted price.
Dzeko - A solid point return from his brace against Hull City and still priced lower than Aguero at 14.22mil, Dzeko is my striker of choice if you want to opt for Man City coverage. While Aguero may take the penalties, he is usually subbed earlier in the match, so Dzeko offers a more long term threat for goal.
Okay that does it for me and another Kellz Player Picks. I hope this will help you sort your team for Week 7. I am currently sitting on Schmeichel, Bertrand, PvA, Cresswell, Sterling, Tadic, Sigurdsson, Fabregas, Di Maria, Balotelli, Ulloa w/ Costa, Kelly, Moore, Courtois on my bench. I have a lot of thinking to do with regards to Costa and I may have to sacrifice Ulloa or Sterling to fit in the Spanish/Brazilian. I am also giving a huge consideration to Stewart Downing who seems to be getting back to his fine fantasy form he displayed at Aston Villa. On a pure match up stand point, I may opt to drop Di Maria for Downing, am I crazy? probably, I guess I will let the beer decide!
How are your early week teams shaping up? Who do you think will perform well in Week 7?