Saturday, 29 August 2015

Arsenal's Trip To Newcastle Previewed

It has been far from a good start to the season for Arsenal with only four points and two goals from their first three games. One of those goals was an own goal too and no other team has scored less goals than Arsenal so far. Their real problems have been at home where they have continued on from where last season finished with a goal drought.

They did beat West Brom 4-1 at home towards the end of last season, but they are their only goals in their last six home games. The team have made plenty of chances in those games, but a failure to take those chances has led to even more calls for a striker to be bought before the transfer window closes. Of course it's not only strikers who score goals, but they are the ones expected to do so on a regular basis.

With City on fire already it's crucial for Arsenal to try to keep pace with them and they just cannot afford to keep dropping points at home in particular. Arsenal had a slow start to last season and were already out of the title race before they could find any real form. If they can't put a strong run together now they run the risk of this season going exactly the way of last season.

This time a year ago it was Mesut Ozil who was being asked to perform so soon after playing in the World Cup and this season Alexis Sanchez finds himself in the same boat. He came on as a sub in the opening game against West Ham with less than a week of pre season training under his belt and he has being playing catch up ever since. He is Arsenal's most important player, but it almost defeats the purpose to have him playing without a proper pre season and we can only hope he isn't adversely affected by it.

Before the season started I thought the Arsenal squad looked almost strong enough to challenge on all fronts, but I'm less inclined to believe it with every game. There are a few injuries of course as usual with Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky all out and the attacking options on the bench are very limited as a result. Arsenal brought both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain-Chamberlain on in the draw against Liverpool on Monday night, but they were the only attacking options available from the bench.

Those options won't change for the trip to Newcastle and it's just a matter of whether Arsene Wenger decides to change the team around. The case for Walcott to start ahead of Olivier Giroud can easily be made, but they are very different players and it really depends on how Newcastle approach the game. If Newcastle are going to come at Arsenal and leave space behind their defence then Walcott is the obvious choice, but otherwise Giroud is more likely to lead the line.

The boss can't predict how Newcastle will approach the game though and even if he could he will send his team out to play how he wants them to play. I don't see too many changes from Monday night and the second half performance against Liverpool was certainly a lot better than the first half. If they're going to win they have to perform for the whole 90 minutes though and they cannot afford to play for only half of the game.

The only doubts besides the injured players I mentioned are the two players who missed out late on last week with both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker still doubtful. Gabriel Paulista looked the part in that game and Calum Chambers improved after the break when Arsenal got a hold on the game. He struggled when Arsenal were under pressure in the first half though and he still has a lot to learn as a central defender.

If Koscielny and Mertesacker are not passed fit to play then I wouldn't be surprised to see Kieran Gibbs come in at left back with Nacho Monreal switching to the centre of defence in place of Chambers. It might be a bit tough on Chambers, but the team comes first and he needs to work on his game some more before he can properly challenge for a place. 

Chamberlain must be wondering what he has to do to get a place in the team and just like last season he seems to be the first player to be dropped when changes need to be made. It can't be easy for him to see Aaron Ramsey playing in his wide right role when he would probably be the best option in that position. He is prone to losing the ball in dangerous positions at times, but every single Arsenal player suffered from that problem in the first half against Liverpool.

I'm not knocking Ramsey as he was one of the better players last week, but the boss needs to find a different role for him if he is going to play him. If that means there has to be some rotation with Santi Cazorla or Mesut Ozil missing out then so be it, as I think the team needs the width and pace offered by Chamberlain. At the moment it seems the boss is picking the players he wants to play and then slotting them into positions rather than choosing a formation and then the best players to suit that formation.

Maybe Wakcott could come in on the left with Alexis central and Chamberlain on the right or Alexis could even be rested to the bench. If Ramsey is to be accommodated then Cazorla is the most likely to drop to the bench or he could push forward with Ozil sitting it out. For me they are all options which must be considered to try to change things and make Arsenal less predictable for their opponents.

I don't think there will be too many changes though and I can only hope the players can put in a 90 minute performance this week. With a dreaded international break coming up a win is essential and the players must understand the importance of the three points. Things will look a lot better going into that break if the team are on seven points and they can come back ready to push on and get their Champions League campaign going too. 

The team were able to play a much more open game away to Palace a few weeks ago and hopefully they will find Newcastle as easy to attack. Newcastle have two points from their three games and will be looking for their first win of the season and hopefully they can be drawn out of their shell. If they attack Arsenal I think Arsenal will pick them off, but if they sit back and defend it could be a long hard afternoon for Arsenal.  Either way the players and the boss have to find a way to get the three points and make sure Arsenal stay in touch with the teams above them.

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


Friday, 28 August 2015

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek Four

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I didn't do too badly last week with six correct outcomes and four incorrect which moved me up to third in my predictions league as you can see from the table below. It's not too late to join in and the details of how to do so are at the end of this post.

POSPlayer NameBadgesThis WeekPTS
 1 (2)  Wayne Hubbard +30160
 1 (1)  Rutland Gooner +15160
 3 (4)  Michael Sheehy +60105
 4 (5)  goonerdhanesh +8080
 5 (3)  Malcs +1565


Saturday August 29

Newcastle United v Arsenal

12.45pm BST, St. James's Park, Newcastle 

Newcastle worked hard to get a good point away to United last week and have only lost once in their first three games. They haven't won any of those games though and the pressure will be on them until they get their first win of the season. It won't be easy for them at home to a team who are expected to challenge for the title, but Arsenal haven't had the best start by their standards either.

I'm not sure which Newcastle players might do well for fantasy managers, but Papiss Cisse usually does well when he gets to play and Tim Krul is getting to make plenty of saves at the moment.

Arsenal have had real problems scoring at home, but they have won their only away game so far. They will hope for Newcastle to have a go at them which might give Arsenal the space they crave in the attacking third. If they are going to keep pace with the leaders this is a game they have to win.

At the moment none of the Arsenal players are doing particularly well for fantasy managers, but players like Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil will all do well in the long run.

I think Arsenal will get the space they want away from home and win by a couple of goals. 

Prediction: 1-3

Aston Villa v Sunderland 

3pm BST, Villa Park, Birmingham 

Villa were beaten for the second game in a row last week and still look like they will struggle at the wrong end of the table this season. They struggled to score goals last season and nothing I have seen so far makes me think that has changed. A home game against the team with the worst defensive record so far could be just what they need at this stage. 

I still can't see any Villa players setting the fantasy world alight, but Micah Richards has the potential to do well for them.

Sunderland got their first point when they came from behind to draw at home to Swansea last week. They have conceded more goals than any other team so far, but at least they are scoring goals. If they can get something from this game it might just give them the belief they need to kickstart their season.

Jermaine Defoe looks like the one Sunderland player who might make an impression for fantasy managers.

I think this will be a very close game and an important one for two struggling teams and it might just end in a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Bournemouth v Leicester City

3pm BST, Dean Court, Bournemouth 

Bournemouth got their first ever Premier League points in a 4-3 win away to West Ham last week. They had failed to score in their first two games, but looked a lot more like the team who won the Championship last season against West Ham. It will still be a struggle for them to stay up, but that win will boost their confidence and they have every chance of getting another three points in this game.

Callum Wilson got a hat trick last week and could be a good buy for fantasy managers if Bournemouth can continue to impress like they did in that game.

Leicester got a good point at home to Spurs last week and are sitting pretty in second place with seven points from three games. Claudio Ranieri seems to have continued on the good work of Nigel Pearson from late last season and only City have scored more goals than Leicester. They have every chance of getting another three points in this game and continuing their great start to the season.

Riyad Mahrez seems to be a must have player for fantasy managers at the moment with Marc Albrighton just behind him.

I think this will be another very tight game and it might just end in a draw too.

Prediction: 2-2

Chelsea v Crystal Palace

3pm BST, Stamford Bridge, London 

Chelsea got their first win away to West Brom last week, but the game was hardly without incident yet again as they got their second red card of the season. Their seemingly watertight defence has looked very vulnerable with only Sunderland conceding more goals so far. They will want to get their first home win of the season, but Palace won't make it easy for them.

Chelsea defenders still look like they should be avoided even if Cesar Azpilicueta keeps getting fantasy points while Diego Costa is improving and should be followed by Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard with Pedro worth considering too. 

Palace got their second win of the season at home to Villa last week. Their only defeat so far was at home to Arsenal the previous week and they have a very good record away from home under Alan Pardew. They will have to be at their best to get anything from this game, but they away record under Pardew suggests they will give it a go.

Yohan Cabaye still looks like the best fantasy choice in the Palace team and Wilfried Zaha could to well too.

I think Chelsea will have their work cut out to get the three points, but they will just manage to do so.

Prediction: 2-1

Liverpool v West Ham United

3pm BST, Anfield, Liverpool 

Liverpool got a good point away to Arsenal on Monday and are still unbeaten with seven points from their first three games. They haven't conceded a goal either, but they have struggled to score goals. A home game against a team who have lost their last two games surely offers them a chance to get a few goals and another win too.

Liverpool's defenders look pretty good for fantasy managers at the moment while Christian Benteke and Phillippe Coutinho might not be bad options either.

West Ham had such a good start to their season with a win at Arsenal, but it has gone rapidly downhill since then. They lost their last two games at home to teams they can't afford to lose to and need to get a win to get back on track. A trip to a Liveroool team growing in confidence is hardly the ideal game for them at this stage, but they will approach it like they approached the Arsenal game and hope for a similar outcome.

Dimitri Payet looks like a good prospect for fantasy managers while Cheikhou Kouyate has had a very good start to the season too.

I can't see anything other than a Liverpool win in this game and they might even score more than one goal too.

Prediction: 2-0

Manchester City v Watford

3pm BST, Etihad Stadium, Manchester 

City have won their first three games in good fashion and haven't conceded a goal in the process. They are the highest scorers in those first three games and look determined to put in a much stronger title challenge than they did last season. They have a very good home record over the last few seasons and will be strong favourites to make it four wins in a row.

City players are performing very well for fantasy managers at the moment with all of their defensive players worth having while Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling are very good buys too.

Watford are still unbeaten after three games, but they haven't registered their first win either as they have drawn all of their games. They weren't involved in a single scoreless draw last season in the Championship, but they have drawn their last two games 0-0. They will have their work cut out to get anything from this game and the chances are they will suffer their first defeat of the season.

Watford's defenders have done very well in recent weeks, but this might not be the best week for fantasy managers to have them.

Despite their best efforts I don't think Watford have much chance of getting anything from this game and will almost certainly lose.

Prediction: 3-0

Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion

3pm BST, Brittannia Stadium, Stoke

Stoke lost their opening game at home to Liverpool, but they did well to take a point from each of their next two games away to Spurs and Norwich. They are always a hard team to beat at home and they will want to get their first home win of the season as soon as possible. A home game against the bottom club offers them the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Mame Biram Diouf has done well so far for fantasy managers and Xherdan Shaqiri looks like he might just be a good buy too.

West Brom have had a tough start to their season with defeats at home to both City and Chelsea leaving them at the foot of the table. They ran Chelsea close last week and got their first goals of the season too so the signs are at least encouraging for them. A trip to Stoke is never easy and West Brom need to get something from it, but they will do well not to lose.

Boaz Myhill looks like he could be the best of the West Brom players for the moment at least.

I think Stoke should be good enough at home to win this game by the odd goal.

Prediction: 2-1

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton

5.30pm BST, White Hart Lane, London

Spurs have only taken two points from their first three games and need to get their first win under their belts. Their only defeat came on the opening day away to United, but their home form wasn't the best last season and they need to perform better at home this season. They won't find it easy at home to Everton, but they need to get that first win at home in particular.

At the moment Nacer Chadli has been the best of the Spurs players for fantasy managers, but surely Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen (although he is injured this week) will come good too.

Everton were beaten at home by City last week, but they put up a good show at least. They have started better this season than they did last season and they need to do a lot better after a very disappointing 11th place finish. A trip to Spurs is never easy, but their 3-0 win at Southampton in their only away game so far will certainly help their confidence.

Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone have all done very well for fantasy managers so far and look like they could continue to do so too.

I think this will be another game which could go either way and will probably end in a score draw.

Prediction: 2-2

Sunday August 30

Southampton v Norwich City

1.30pm BST, St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton 

Southampton haven't had a good start to their season and have only two points from three games where they were expected to take more points. They exited the Europa League in midweek too and need to get their season up and running. A home game against a newly promoted team should give them a good chance to get the first win they need.

None of the Southampton players have excelled for fantasy managers so far, but Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane and maybe Cedrric Soares are all worth considering.

Norwich have started best of the three promoted teams and have played some good football to get four points in their first three games. I didn't think their chances of staying up were good before the season started, but they look a lot better right now. A trip to a Southampton team who have not clicked so far offers them the opportunity to add to their points tally.

Nathan Redmond and Wes Hoolohan have both done very well for fantasy managers so far and are available at a good price too.

I think this is another game which could go either way and it could easily end in a draw too.

Prediction: 1-1

Swansea City v Manchester United 

4pm BST, Liberty Stadium, Swansea

Swansea have had a good start to their season with five points from three games and they're still unbeaten. They proved to be a handful for any team last season and it looks like nothing has changed for this season. They did the double over United last season and will feel they have every chance of winning this game.

Bafetimbi Gomis has had a good start for fantasy managers and looks like a good bet as does Andre Ayew.

United are unbeaten in their first three games and haven't conceded a goal either, but they have struggled to score goals. They did manage to score them in their Champions League qualifiers though and they need to find some of that attacking flair in the league. This will probably be their toughest test in the league so far and a good test of how good they are.

Now that he has eventually managed to score Wayne Rooney might be worth considering for fantasy managers, but the United defenders and goalkeeper still look the best bets.

I think this will be yet another very close game and a draw is probably the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 

That's it for this week.

See you next week.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Arsenal v Liverpool Preview

Arsenal bounced back from the opening day disappointment against West Ham by winning away to Palace last Sunday. It was a game they had to win with City starting so impressively and with Chelsea struggling to win points and shipping loads of goals. It's going to be a long hard season for all of the teams hoping to challenge for the title and it's important not to let any team get too far ahead and to press home any possible advantage over any of the other teams.

City have started so well that they already look like the team to beat while Chelsea have struggled, but they will come good and will be right up there too. United are still unbeaten and haven't conceded a goal either, but I haven't been impressed with them at all and they will have to improve an awful lot if they are going to challenge. The other team besides Arsenal hoping to challenge for the title is Liverpool and we'll get a chance to see how serious that challenge might be when they visit Arsenal tonight.

I can't say I've been impressed with Liverpool so far either and they have a long way to go to reach the level of a team who have title aspirations. They have won their opening two games though even if Lady Luck has shined on them in those games and they kept clean sheets in both of those games too. A trip to Arsenal tonight will be a lot tougher than their previous games, but those victories will have given them some confidence.

Liverpool have sold their best player this summer and last summer too and have tried to reinvest the money from those sales to make their team better. Of course they didn't want to sell either Luis Suarez or Raheem Sterling, but when players want to leave it's very hard for any club to keep them. I don't think the players they signed last summer went any way towards improving their team and it remains to be seen if the ones signed this summer will have the desired effect.

Christian Benteke looks like he will at least bring them some of the goals they were missing last season after Suarez was sold and Daniel Sturridge spent almost the entire season injured. Whether they have the players to supply Benteke with enough chances is another question and I'm not so sure they do. I think the best Liverpool can hope for is fourth and their defence will have a big part to play in their chances of finishing there.

They have kept clean sheets in their first two games and limited their opponents to very few chances, but Arsenal will give them a lot more problems tonight. Benteke has done well for Vilła in the past against Arsenal and he certainly has the pace to cause them problems on the break. I would imagine Liverpool will try to sit deep and defend while trying to hit Arsenal on the break at any and every opportunity.

That's nothing new for Arsenal of course as it's the standard practice for most clubs coming to play them. The tactic worked perfectly for West Ham in the opening game, but they were helped by defensive errors from Arsenal too. Arsenal just didn't turn up for that game and they will have to play an awful lot better against Liverpool.

Arsenal were an awful lot better in winning away to Palace last week and the attitude and commitment they showed in that game are exactly what's needed in every single game. They simply can't afford to have an off day or be off the pace as any team in the Premier League are capable of taking advantage of any team which isn't at the races. West Ham looked so good against Arsenal, but they have lost at home to Leicester and Bournemouth since then.

In team news there are no players returning to the squad to add to those who were available for the Palace game last week, but crucially there are no new injuries to report either. I would imagine there will be very little change from the team which beat Palace and the most likely starting line up will be the one which started that game. Players such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may feel they should be in the team, but hopefully that will make them try even harder when a chance comes their way.

It looks like Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck will be back after the international break to add to the players looking to play week in and week out and the headaches for Arsene Wenger will increase. They're headaches he will be delighted to have of course and they should make the team stronger and more competitive. 

I think Arsenal have the players and the know how to get the three points tonight as they showed against Liverpool last season. They beat them easily at the Emirates in the league and showed up Liverpool's defensive deficiencies. I don't think Liverpool's defence is any better than it was then despite two clean sheets do far and I hope Arsenal can show it up for what I think it is.

Of course they have to be wary of the threat posed by Liverpool, but having Akexis Sanchez in the team again is such a boost for the players and fans. He still has a bit to go to be at full fitness, but he showed last week how much he has to offer and how much the team needs him. He's the player Liverpool will be afraid of and he's the one most likely to make the breakthrough for Arsenal.

I'd love a thrilling display from Arsenal where they blow Liverpool away and lay down a marker for the other teams challenging for the title. I'll gladly take a win no matter how it comes though as the three points are just so important in every single game. Arsenal did well at home in particular to the other teams at the top of the league last season and they need more of the same this season.

If they can get at the Liverpool defence from the start I think chances will come their way and hopefully they can take those chances as soon as possible. They can't do what they did against West Ham and lose concentration either side of half time and throw two stupid goals away. If they give Liverpool something to build on it could be a very tough night and they just cannot afford to do that. 

I'm hoping the lessons of that West Ham game have been learned even if this team has a history of forgetting lessons of the past. I think they will put in a performance which Liverpool will find it difficult to cope with and will win by a couple of goals once they can put away the chances they make. A win could see Arsenal move up to as high as fourth place which would be a good return after that terrible result on the opening day. Let's the hope the players can realise how important those three points are and go out to put in a performance which will win them.

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 

Tha's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek Three

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I didn't do too well last week with one perfect scoreline, three correct outcomes and six incorrect. It means I'm down to fourth in my predictions league as you can see from the table below and I'm already a long way behind the leaders.

Hopefully I can improve over the coming weeks and put up a challenge at least. It's free to play for anyone who wants to join in and the details can be found at the end of this post.

POSPlayer NameBadgesThis WeekPTS
 1 (2)  Rutland Gooner 1+120145
 2 (5)  Wayne Hubbard 1+140130
 3 (4)  Malcs +5050
 4 (3)  Michael Sheehy +2545
 5 (1)  goonerdhanesh -400


Saturday August 22

Manchester United v Newcastle United

12.45pm BST, Old Trafford, Manchester 

United have won their first two games by the same 1-0 scoreline and bored us all in the process. I have been completely unimpressed by them in those two games, but it's hard to argue with two wins and two clean sheets. A home game against Newcastle should give them the opportunity to extend that run to three wins.

At the moment United's defensive players look the best bet for fantasy players with Chris Smalling costing more than the others.

Newcastle looked promising in taking a point at home to Southampton in their first game, but were well beaten by Swansea last week. It's still not easy to know which way their season will go, but the signs aren't too promising at the moment. A trip to United won't be easy for them and they will do well to get anything out of this game.

Papiss Cisse is probably the Newcastle player most likely to succeed for fantasy managers, but maybe not in this game.

I can't see anything other than a win for United in this game and they might even score more than one goal too.

Prediction: 2-0

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa

3pm BST, Selhurst Park, London 

Palace had a good win away to Norwich in their opening game and gave Arsenal a hard game on Sunday, but they lost 2-1. They have been impressive in attack, but they do look vulnerable at the back and there could be a lot of goals in their games. They have better results away from home than at home under Alan Pardew, but they will still fancy themselves to win this game.

Yohan Cabaye and Wilfried Zaha look like the best fantasy bets in the Palace team at the moment, but they could easily be joined by Jason Puncheon and others.

Villa lost at home to United last week and they barely managed a shot in anger in the game. They did win away to Bournemouth in their first game, but again they didn't offer much in attack in that game and it's hard to see where their goals will come from this season. There are a lot of new players to bed in, but the departure of Christian Benteke could cost them their Premier League place.

I don't see which Villa players might impress for fantasy managers at the moment, but that might change as their new players settle in.

I think Palace should have enough in attack to win this game by a couple of goals.

Prediction: 3-1

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur 

3pm BST, King Power Stadium, Leicester

Leicester are just off the top of the league with two wins from two games and six goals scored in the process. They have conceded three goals in those games though and they could be another team with plenty of goals in their games this season. They will think they have every chance of continuing their great start to the season in this game.

Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton are supplying plenty of points for fantasy managers at the moment while Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy are worth considering too.

Spurs have only one point from their first two games and need to get their first win under their belts. They did well on their travels last season and were a little lucky to lose their first away game to an own goal against United. They will see this as a good chance to get that first win, but they will have their work cut out against a Leicester team on the up.

I think this will be a very close game which could go either way and it might just end in a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

Norwich City v Stoke City

3pm BST, Carrow Road, Norwich

Norwich bounced back from their opening day defeat at home to Palace by winning away to Sunderland last week. They have played well and created chances in those two games and more of the same will give them every chance of staying up. It won't be easy for them against Stoke, but they have shown they are willing to give it a go and have every chance of getting something from this game.

Nathan Redmond and Wes Hoolohan have started well for Norwich and are worth considering at a very good price for fantasy managers.

Stoke got a good point away to Spurs last week after unluckily losing their first game at home to Liverpool. The arrival of Xherdan Shaqiri was a big boost for Stoke and he could be set to make his debut in this game. A trip to a newly promoted team offers Stoke a chance for their first win of the season and they will be anxious to take that chance.

Shaqiri looks like he might not be the worst choice for fantasy managers when he settles in.

This has the makings of another very close game and I think it will end in another draw.

Prediction: 2-2

Sunderland v Swansea City

3pm BST, Stadium of Light, Sunderland 

Sunderland were beaten away to Leicester in their first game and then at home by newly promoted Norwich last week. They barely escaped relegation last season and they could find it even harder to stay up this time. At least they're scoring goals, but seven goals conceded in two games is too much and Swansea could give them a tough time.

I can't see any Sunderland players setting the fantasy world alight, but Jeremain Lens and Jermain Defoe might do well as long as Sunderland keep scoring.

Swansea got a good point away to Chelsea and followed that with a home win against Newcastle. They look like they could do just as well as, if not better than, last season. A trip to already struggling Sunderland gives them an opportunity to extend their unbeaten start to the season and keep right up with the pace setters.

Andre Ayew looks a very good fantasy purchase at the moment along with Bafetimbi Gomis and the Swansea defenders should be considered too.

I think Swansea will be more than good enough to win this game.

Prediction: 1-3

West Ham United v Bournemouth  

3pm BST, Upton Park, London

West Ham got a very good win away to Arsenal in their first game, but they lost at home to Leicester last week. With a move to the Olympic stadium next season they need to have a secure season and their home form could be crucial for that. A home game against a newly promoted team who have lost both of their games so far gives them the ideal chance to get their first three points on their own patch.

Dimitri Payet looks like he could be a good purchase for fantasy managers this season.

Bournemouth have lost their first two games by the same 1-0 scoreline and are already looking like life in the top flight will be a hard struggle for them. They scored goals for fun last season, but have failed to find the net so far and have rarely looked like doing so. They need to get something from this game or they could find themselves getting cut adrift at a very early stage.

At the moment I can't see any Bournemouth players to interest fantasy managers until they at least start scoring goals.

I don't think West Ham will have it all their own way in this game, but I do think they will win.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunday August 23

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea

1.30pm BST, The Hawthorns, Birmingham 

West Brom were well beaten at home to City in their opening game and had to fight hard to get a 0-0 draw at Watford last week. They have failed to score so far and they won't find that easy to put right in this game. A defeat would leave them in a tricky position, but they will give their all to try to get something from this game.

Boaz Myhill is available at a good price for fantasy managers and usually does quite well too.

Chelsea haven't started the defence of their title too well with only one point from their first two games. After luckily drawing at home to Swansea they were well beaten away to City and they have already shipped five goals in two games. They can't afford to let the pace setters get too far ahead and this is a game they really have to win.

Chelsea defenders are usually very reliable for fantasy managers and they will surely prove to be in the long term while players such as Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas will come good too.

I think West Brom will put it up to Chelsea, but the points will just about go to the away team.

Prediction: 1-2

Everton v Manchester City

4pm BST, Goodison Park, Liverpool

Everton could only draw at home to Watford in their opening game, but they bounced back with a very good 3-0 win away to Southampton last week. With no European football to contend with they will hope to fare a lot better than last season when they finished in the bottom half of the table. A home game against a City team who are off to a great start will be a real test of exactly how good Everton are.

Ross Barkley continues to impress for fantasy managers at the moment while both Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone have done well too.

City won 3-0 away to West Brom in their first game andt then beat the reigning champions by the same score last week. They look up for the task right from the start this season and will want to open up as large a gap as possible over Chelsea in particular. They won't have it all their own way in this game, but they have to be favourites to win it.

David Silva looks like a must have player for fantasy managers while Seegio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany aren't far off that mark either.

I think Everton will give City a run for their money, but City look very good at the moment and will take all three points.

Prediction: 1-3

Watford v Southampton 

4pm BST, Vicarage Road, Watford

Watford have drawn their first two games and are giving themselves every chance of reaching their goal of staying up. I mentioned last week that there could be a lot of goals in their games and of course they went and drew 0-0 with West Brom. They will feel they have a good chance of getting their first win against a Southampton team who were well beaten at home by Everton last week.

Troy Deeney is available at a good price and he's not the worst choice as a back up striker for fantasy managers.

Southampton got a good point away to Newcastle in their first game, but they were well beaten at home by Everton last week. They could only draw at home in the Europa League on Thursday night and need to win away in Denmark next Thursday to progress to the group stages. They did very well last season after losing key players, but so far that formula isn't working out this season. 

Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane are possibly the best fantasy choices in the Southampton team while Jay Rodriguez is worth considering too not that he's back from injury.

It's not easy to know which way this game will go and a draw is probably the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

Monday August 24

Arsenal v Liverpool

8pm BST, Emirates Stadium, London 

Arsenal bounced back from their opening day disappointment by winning away to Palace last week. If they're going to put in a challenge for the title they need to find consistency and to win games like this against the top teams. It won't be easy for them at home to Liverpool, but they will be favourites to take the three points.

Alexis Sanchez is probably the best fantasy bet in the Arsenal team with Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud to be considered too.

Liverpool have been far from impressive in their opening two games, but they have six points out of six after two 1-0 wins. Their goal this season is a top four finish and ugly wins are part and parcel of achieving that goal. This will be a much tougher task for them though and they will do well to get anything out of it.

Christian Benteke looks like the Liverpool player most likely to score fantasy points, but their defenders have to be considered too if they can keep up their current form.

I think this will be another very close game and Arsenal will probably just about manage to sneak a win.

Prediction: 2-1

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 


That's it for this week.

See you next week.