Arsenal

Fantasy Football Spy : Red Devils duo must start, but Rio sits…

MaiconBerbatovWelcome to this weeks preview of the fantasy football weekend. With many games of interest, including the ArsenalTottenham London derby, Manchester United at home to swine flu infected Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool’s resolve to be strongly tested by their visit to Fulham, it looks like being a tricky weekend for fantasy managers to decide who to play and who to bench for the games this weekend. Using our vast football knowledge, tips from insiders, astrology, water divination and the talents of Derek Acorah, we have come up with the following guide for this weekend on who to start and who to sit…

GOALKEEPERS

Start : Craig Gordon (Sunderland), Brian Jensen (Burnley), Shay Given (Manchester City), Edwin Van Der Sar (Manchester United), Peter Cech (Chelsea)

With Burnley’s excellent home record and Hull in turmoil, Brian Jensen could be worth a start this week, especially with his record of saving penalties. Sunderland’s Craig Gordon also looks good value as the Black Cats look to bounce back from last weeks defeat against West Ham. Given should have few problems with Birmingham even at St Andrews, with United and Chelsea taking on Blackburn and Bolton, it is hard to argue against including either Van Der Sar or Cech should they be available.

Sit : Pepe Reina (Liverpool), David James (Portsmouth), Tim Howard (Everton), Vito Mannone (Arsenal), Gomes (Tottenham)

Liverpool’s result against Manchester United may be the turning point of their season, or it may not. It is too early to say and with a tricky game at Fulham, it may not be the best time to start Reina. Portsmouth face a resurgent Wigan and this looks like being a tough afternoon for David James. Everton face Aston Villa which usually results in an open and high scoring encounter, meaning both Tim Howard and Brad Friedel may be worth avoiding. Lastly with Arsenal and Spurs taking on each other, and last season being a 4-4, I wouldn’t be hoping for too many points from Mannone or Gomes from this one.

DEFENDERS

START : Dunne (Aston Villa), Vermaelen (Arsenal), Alexander (Burnley), Turner (Sunderland), Shawcross (Stoke City), Vidic, Evra (Manchester United)

Richard Dunne has been in superb form this season and scored against his former club Man City. A trip to his new club Everton could therefore see him amongst the goals. Another who seems a threat to the scorer most games is Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal and with Burnley facing out of sorts Hull, veteran right back and penalty taker Graham Alexander could be worth a punt. Stoke’s improved form should see them trouble Wolves at the Brittannia and Ryan Shawcross looks a threat at set plays, the same can be said of both Turner of Sunderland and Vidic of Man Utd. I also expect Evra to have a solid game, if not scoring, then creating down Blackburn’s right.

SIT :  Any Blackburn or Bolton defender, Daniel Agger / Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

With very tough match ups this week, any Blackburn or Bolton defender looks a worry. Liverpool duo Agger and Carragher showed improved form last week but they will be under scrutiny at Fulham and I am not yet convinced that Liverpool are quite out of the woods defensively. The shock news could come at Old Trafford however with Sir Alex mooted to be considering dropping England international Ferdinand and bringing in Jonny Evans instead.

MIDFIELDERS

START : Fabregas (Arsenal), Lennon (Tottenham), Valencia (Manchester United), Elliot (Burnley), Lampard, Cole.J (Chelsea)

Cesc Fabregas is pretty much a starter every week such is his form at the moment and the fact that he is facing Tottenham will give him added incentive to perform well. The same can be said for Aaron Lennon who’s pace will create problems for Arsenal down the right, if he is recovered from injury. Luis Valencia has found his form for United of late and should do well against Blackburn and Wade Elliott will be hoping to inspire Burnley against Hull. Lastly Chelsea duo Joe Cole and Frank Lampard were irrepressible against Blackburn last week, Bolton may meet a similar fate at the Reebok on Saturday.

SIT :  Gerrard (Liverpool), Fletcher (Manchester United), Cahill, Fellaini (Everton), Malouda (Chelsea)

Injuries will probably keep both Steven Gerrard and Darren Fletcher out of their sides games at the weekend, though both will be close and may be worthy of consideration of they are fit, especially Fletcher whom United have missed sorely in recent games. Everton duo Cahill and Fellaini have not really been in top form this season and it is hard to see them doing well against an improving and talented Aston Villa side. Florent Malouda has plenty of talent but at the moment, the best he seems to get at the weekend is a place on the Chelsea bench.

ATTACKERS

START : Van Persie (Arsenal), Adebayor (Man City), Drogba, Anelka (Chelsea), Rooney, Berbatov (Manchester United), Crouch (Tottenham)

The London derby should be a fertile ground for goals and both Robin Van Persie and Peter Crouch will be after them. It’s hard to see Birmingham City’s defence being able to cope with Emmanuel Adebayor back in the team and looking for goals, while the strike forces of Manchester United, likely to be Rooney and Berbatov, and Chelsea’s of Drogba and Anelka both look like they could have excellent weekends against Blackburn and Bolton Wanderers. If you want an outsider, take Burnley’s David Nugent to get amongst the goals again against Hull.

SIT : Torres (Liverpool), Defoe (Tottenham), Davies (Bolton), Cole (West Ham), Keogh (Wolves)

He was risked last weekend, but it is hard to see Fernando Torres being fully 100% fit for the Fulham game. The Spaniard may well start but if Liverpool do go in front, expect him to be hauled off as close to half time as possible. Jermaine Defoe sits out a ban and so should not be selected. Kevin Davies will struggle against John Terry and Carlton Cole may not find the Stadium of Light an easy place to go to, to get a goal. Wolves striker Keogh, impressive at times, may find that the improved form and physicality of Stoke too much to deal with.

Whatever team you pick, best of luck for the fantasy weekend! If you have any tips of your own, let us know them below!

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