It’s a rarity this weekend in that we have almost a full schedule of Premier League fixtures on the Saturday afternoon, with Stoke v Wigan kicking off at 12.45 and Man Utd v Aston Villa at 5.15. Sunday’s only game is a belter though, Liverpool taking on Arsenal at Anfield in a game that is must win for both sides but for vastly different reasons.
In fantasy terms however this could be a big week. Will Michael Owen keep his place in the Manchester United side for the game with Aston Villa, following his midweek hattrick? While Rooney seems almost certain to come back into the side, will Owen get the nod if Sir Alex opts to play with two strikers? If you have United midfielders Michael Carrick, Park Ji Sung or Darren Fletcher in your team, be aware also that they could be playing in defence at the weekend once again and that could seriously impinge their chances of getting a goal or two, or creating a chance, from midfield.
Another story brewing at Chelsea where Mikael Essien is out. Deco could get the nod, but with Michael Ballack sitting out the midweek draw with APOEL, he seems likely to come in alongside Lampard, Joe Cole and Mikel. Ashley Cole is also expected to return, as is Peter Cech and his silly headgear. Opponents Everton will miss Tim Cahill, who is suspended but Louis Saha will be a welcome return into the attack for David Moyes men.
The question on most people’s lips at Anfield is whether Fernando Torres and Alberto Aquilani will start for Liverpool against the Gunners. While last week came a little too soon for Torres, this week, following his substitute appearance in the loss to Fiorentina, he should get the nod. I have a feeling Aquilani may well get the nod too. He needs games and Benitez is now out of gambles. I can see Mascherano, Aquilani and Gerrard lining up behind Torres for Liverpool, so it may be wise to consider how that will affect the fantasy value of Lucas Leiva or David Ngog.
Other key match ups this week include;
Burnley v Fulham – Graham Alexander is always worth a punt, especially when Burnley are at home. Roy Hodgson’s Fulham have been in good form of late and Zoltan Gera has been catching the eye. Wade Elliot has been something of a surprise star for me in my Fantasy team and he could do the same for you.
Hull City V Blackburn – No Jimmy Bullard for Hull which is a blow. Geovani has been a disappointment at times this season and perhaps this is the game to start him in a run of scoring form. David Dunn is a worry for Blackburn, but should be fit for both his team and your fantasy XI.
Bolton V Manchester City – Tamir Cohen has been a star man for many unexpectedly this season but the Bolton man may struggle against Man City, especially after last weeks morale boosting win over Chelsea. No Bellamy for Man City at the weekend but Robinho and Steven Ireland could well start and both stand a great chance of earning some points against a lacklustre Bolton side.
Anyway, here is my Fantasy Team of the Week for the weekends games, I wish you the best of luck in your league this week!
Goalkeeper : Maarten Fulop (Sunderland) Back up : Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham)
Defence : Michael Turner (Sunderland), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Graham Alexander (Burnley) : Back up : Roger Johnson (Birmingham)
Midfield : Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Tamir Cohen (Bolton W), Stephen Ireland (Man City), Matthew Etherington (Stoke City) : Back up : Aaron Lennon (Tottenham)
Attack : Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Back up : Fernando Torres (Liverpool)