The final international match days for 2012 are now behind us with only a single friendly date left on November 14th. This means we are about to get into a serious run of fixtures in the Premiership from now until the new year. Fantasy round 8 has the look on paper to be a relatively tame weekend. Each team plays once this weekend with Chelsea traveling to White Hart Lane in the only fixture that includes two ‘big’ clubs.
Let’s start with the first match of the week as the current leaders visit Spurs who are sitting in fifth. The headlines will all be about John Terry who has elected to begin his four game suspension this week, leaving Gary Cahill to start with David Luiz in the Blues defense. Spurs have scored in every match this season and seven in their last three, making a clean sheet for Chelsea unlikely. Roberto Di Matteo has a full squad to choose from other than Terry with Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge possible set to return. On the other side it seems that Andre Villas-Boas is leaning toward starting Brad Friedel in this one over Hugo Lloris. The Portuguese manager needs to be careful he does not cause problems by rotating his keepers, until one of them shows he is clearly the starter, keep away from both in fantasy. With Benoit Assou-Ekotto out and Kyle Naughton a doubt, we may see Jan Vertonghen playing at left back again as he did for his country during the international break. Chelsea are averaging better than two goals scored per match this season, it’s hard to have much faith in fantasy defenders in this one. That leaves Fernando Torres, Edin Hazard, Gareth Bale and Jermaine Defoe all great players to start this week.
The next biggest match this weekend it the Tyne-Wear derby at the Stadium of Light. Both sides are comfortably mid table, but neither can be terribly happy with their starts. Sunderland have to be concerned that Steven Fletcher is the only Cat to have scored. Newcastle have not been great defensively this season but could be getting Tim Krul, Fabio Coloccini and Steven Taylor back on Sunday. Look for
The place to focus your fantasy moves this week are with Arsenal who visit Norwich who have surrendered nine goals in their last two matches. Load up on Gunner attackers this week with Gervinho, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski at the top of the list. They all seem certain to start but Olivier Giroud is a high risk fantasy option as if placed into the first team could have the biggest scoring day. Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and About Diaby will miss out while Jack Wilshire is not yet ready to start.
A fantasy midfielder who is starting at centre forward for Arsenal. That is an equation that has to be desirable in fantasy. The Ivorian seems to have remembered how to finish with five goals from eight appearances in the League and Champions League combined. We are not sure he will be in that position all season, but he is certainly worth starting in all fantasy leagues for the present.
Aston Villa look nothing short of horrendous. The loan bright spot has been the Aussie who scored four goals with ten assists for AZ Alkmaar last season. The Aussie looks has a chance to be a useful fantasy midfielder who comes at a value.
Speaking of value, you pretty much have to own Sterling in salary cap formats. The 17-year old is not going to put up huge numbers, but he looks likely to start at least until January, and has two assists on the season, so he is giving you something.
The Benin international was a fantasy stud last season. He has contributed neither a goal or an assist this season after seven goals and twelve assists last term. We think he will pick it up eventually, but Sunderland’s lack of attack makes it difficult to hold onto Sessegnon.
Walcott is the one player who did not come out of the international matches unscathed. He has not started a match since the season opener, and although he does have two goals and an assist, cannot be relied on in fantasy when playing less than thirty minutes a match.