Saturday, August 23, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
Saturday August 23
Saturday, August 16, 2014
There's still a couple of weeks to go in the current transfer window and it looks like Arsenal will be busy during that time. After the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona this week there is a real pressing need for another central defender in the squad and there's still a possibility of a defensive midfielder being added too. That central defensive issue will not be too pressing today hopefully, as Laurent Koscielny has recovered from the minor knock he picked up in the Community Shield victory over City last Sunday.
Arsenal looked very good in that game despite missing Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski. None of those players will be available today either with the German trio having just returned from their World Cup triumph and Walcott not quite ready yet after his injury last Janurary. I'm not sure if any of the three German players will be available this month and that's a little worrying with five games to play in two weeks.
There are still plenty of players available though and I expect Arsene Wenger will go with the same starting 11 as that which was so convincing against City with the possible exception of Oliver Giroud replacing Yaya Sanogo up front. Sanogo played well but I expect the boss to go with the striker he considers to be his first choice. I can't imagine he will rest players ahead of the trip to Besiktas on Tuesday night despite the importance of that game.
It's very important for Arsenal to win today to set themselves up for the challenges ahead. They lost the opening game at home to Villa last season and went on a good run after it, but they need to start off on the right foot to keep pace in what looks like being a very open title race. Every single Premier League point is very precious and the three on offer from Palace need to be grabbed with both hands.
Palace have been rocked this week with the departure of Tony Pulis after he worked wonders to save them from what looked like certain relegation last season. His departure came as a real surprise and who knows how the players are going to deal with it so close to the start of the season. If it has a negative effect on them Arsenal need to take advantage of that, but it's a game Arsenal should be winning anyway. Despite their heroics towards the end of last season Palace are still a limited team and Arsenal have more than enough quality to dispose of them.
I don't doubt that Palace will try to put pressure on a slightly makeshift Arsenal defence, but they have to get the ball first and that won't be easy for them. The chances are they will sit deep and try to defend in numbers and hope to score on the break or from a set piece. They won't find it easy to deal with the quality of players like Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez though and it could be a long hard afternoon for Palace.
I think Arsenal will win by a couple of goals at least and I won't be surprised to see Ramsey get his name on the scoresheet. It's impossible to know how the team might have fared if both he and Walcott hadn't picked up injuries around the same time in December/Janurary and he will be a vitally important player this season once he can stay fit. Arsenal's injuries over the last few seasons have been awful, but there seems to be genuine hope that they can be handled better this season.
The players will be straight back into action after the game as they're off to Tukey for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Arsenal have fared really well at this stage of the competition over the years and have always gone through with at least a couple of goals to spare over the two legs. It's really important for them to qualify again this season with the revenue the competition brings in as well it's ability to attract top class players to the club.
There's a nasty international break at the start of September, but it would be great for Arsenal to head into that break with a place in the group stages of the Champions League and seven or maybe even nine Premier League points. By the time the players come back from the break the squad should be at almost full strength to face the challenges ahead of them. The future is looking very bright at the moment and the players need to cash in on that feeling over the next few weeks starting with Palace today.
Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner now that there's over 1,000 teams in it. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.
Absolutely finally for today I'm also running my predictor league again this season. I'll be previewing every Premier League game every week throughout the season too. You can make your predictions here and then join my mini league with the code FD20D-AVD after you have set everything up.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.
Friday, August 15, 2014
I'll also be running my predictions league again just like I have for the past few seasons. The details of how to join both leagues are at the bottom of this post and I'll be posting my predictions for every single Premier League game throughout the season right here.
Saturday August 16
Manchester United v Swansea City
12.45pm BST, Old Trafford, Manchester
United had a very disappointing season last season and will have no European football this season as a result. The lack of European football could be a real help for them as they attempt to get back among the title challengers. Their home record last season was very poor by their standards, but they did well away from home and will be hoping for a vast improvement at home this season.
It's hard to look beyond Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata as the best fantasy choices in the United team although van Persie might have a slower start than the other two after coming back later from his World Cup duties.
Swansea weren't as impressive last season as they had been in their previous two seasons since promotion, but they still play some very attractive football and are capable of beating any team on their day. They have managed to hold on to most of their important players from last season and have even strengthened a little. I'm sure they would be happy to finish in mid table again and maybe have a good run in one of the cups.
Wilfried Bony again looks like a very good fantasy buy and Gylfi Siggurdsen could just regain the form he showed when he was with Swansea a couple of seasons ago.
United need to get off to a good start under their new manager and I think they will do just that with a two goal victory.
Leicester City v Everton
3pm BST, King Power Stadium, Leicester
Leicester are back in the Premier League after after five years in the Championship and they will be keen to stay up. They haven't added an awful lot to the squad which won the Championship last season and they could face a tough battle to retain their status. They had a very good home record last season with 17 wins and only two defeats in their 23 games.
It's not easy to see which Leicester players might make a big impression for fantasy managers this season, but Marc Albrighton and Casper Schmeichel are both possibilities.
Everton did very well last season but they couldn't quite break into the top four. Their away form was probably their biggest issue last season with only eight wins in 19 games despite having a good defensive record on the road. They have managed to sign Romelu Lukaku permanently from Chelsea and that could be their best piece of transfer business.
The usual suspects of Lukaku, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Tim Howard all look to be the Everton players most likely to succeed again with Lukaku maybe as the best bet and Ross Barkley an outside shot too if he can stay fit and get more game time.
I can see this being a very close game and ending in a draw which should make both teams a little happy at least.
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City
3pm BST, Loftus Road, London
QPR spent an awful lot of money when they were last in the Premier League two seasons ago and a fair few of those players are still in their squad. Despite their budget they only scraped through in the last minute of the play off final against Derby and avoiding relegation has to be their first priority. Their best piece of business could be failing to sell Loric Remy as he could score the goals they need to stay up after returning from his loan spell at Newcastle.
Remy might not be a bad fantasy purchase and Steven Caulker gets his fair share of goals as a defender which means he has to be considered too.
Hull did well after their promotion last season and ran Arsenal very close in the FA Cup final too. They have managed to make it through to the final qualifying round of the Europa League and they could find this season difficult if they have to play European football too. They had a fairly good defensive record for most of last season at home in particular and they will need to find that defensive stability again.
Robert Snodgrass, Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor are all worth considering for fantasy managers as is Robbie Brady if he can rediscover his form from before his injury last season.
This has the makings of another draw with another newly promoted team at home to a team who over performed last season.
Stoke City v Aston Villa
3pm BST, Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Stoke continue to be a tough team to beat at home season after season with only the top four losing less games at home last season. They finished ninth last season which was their highest finish in the Premier League and they will hope to improve on that this season. Their problem is their lack of goals, but the purchase of Bojan Krkic might help to solve that problem.
Krkic could be worth a punt for fantasy managers and he's available at a good price with Geoff Cameron and Asmir Begovic possibly worth considering too.
Villa had a battle against relegation for all of last season and just about managed to stay up. If they're going to do any better this time they will need to find some consistency and improve their home form too. They haven't added too much to their squad yet and it looks like this season could be a struggle again.
Ron Vlaar might not be a bad fantasy purchase with Christian Benteke worth considering when he comes back from injury and Charles N'Zogbia a possibility after missing all of last season through injury.
Stoke's home record should be enough to see them take all three points in this game.
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland
3pm BST, The Hawthorns, Birmingham
West Brom only finished one place above the relegation zone last season and they won less home games than any other team. They also lost less games than any other team in the bottom half of the table, but drew too many games for their own good. They have taken a chance in appointing Alan Irvine as their manager and they need that gamble to pay off.
It's not easy to predict any West Brom players who might do well this season, but I have a feeling Stephane Sessegnon might not do too badly.
Sunderland managed to avoid relegation last season after looking dead and buried with only a few weeks to go and they will look to build on that. They have added a few decent players to their squad and Gus Poyet will want to push them towards the top half of the table. Their 11 home defeats last season were just not good enough and they need to make the Stadium of Light a tougher venue for teams to visit.
Vito Mannone and Adam Johnson look like the most obvious candidates in the Sunderland team for fantasy managers with Conor Wickham worth considering too if he can find his form of late last season.
I can see this being a very close game which could go either way, but I think it will end in a draw.
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
3pm BST, Upton Park, London
West Ham will be worried that Andy Carroll is injured yet again as they struggled to score goals far too often last season. They can't afford to drop out of the Premier League again with a move to London's Olympic Stadium coming in two years time. Added to that there is a desire among the fans for the team to play some good football which isn't easy with Sam Allardyce in charge.
Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Guy Demel are all fantasy possibilities although Winston Reid might be the best option along with whoever gets the nod in goal for West Ham.
Spurs have had very few transfer dealings in the summer and will be hoping new boss Mauricio Pochettino can work his magic on their team. They bought an awful lot of players last summer though and some of those might perform a little better in their second season. Their away record was as good as any other team in the league last season and they will hope to continue that this season.
I think Christian Eriksen could possibly have a very good season for Spurs and Erik Lamela could do an awful lot better than last season too.
West Ham are never an easy proposition at home and I think they will get off to a winning start with a narrow victory.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
5.30pm BST, Emirates Stadium, London
Arsenal won their first trophy in nine years last season and they have added to the strength of their squad over the summer too. They need some defensive reinforcements though if they are going to go the distance this season. They were in the title race for much of last season and will hope to be in it again, but they will have to improve their record against the other contenders to do so.
Aaron Ramsey is a must buy for fantasy managers in my opinion with Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott (when he returns from injury) all good choices too along with Mathieu Debuchey from a defensive perspective.
Palace haven't added too much to their squad over the summer and the lack of purchases has led to Tony Pulis departing. He saved them from what seemed like certain relegation when he took over last season and they will need to find someone who can instill the same spirit in the team. They won't be looking forward to a trip to Arsenal after such a difficult week for the club.
Jason Puncheon did very well for Palace last season and could be worth a shot along with some of the Palace defenders if they can continue on from where Pulis left off.
Arsenal look to have too much firepower for Palace even with a few players out and I think they will win by a couple of goals.
Sunday August 17
Liverpool v Southampton
1.30pm BST, Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona and their chances will depend upon how they adapt to life without their star player. From where I see it they haven't brought in players to improve on the ones they have, but some of their players will have learned a lot from last season and could improve. I can't see them challenging for the title again unless they sort out their defensive issues, but they might still score a lot of goals.
Daniel Sturridge could be the Liverpool player to score their goals post Suarez with Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard worth considering too along with Adam Lallana and maybe even Dejan Lovern.
Southampton did really well last season, but they have sold an awful lot of the players who helped them to finish eighth in the league. A lot of those players have joined Liverpool and this game will have a very strange look to it from a Southampton perspective. The arrival of Ronald Koeman could be a good thing for Southampton, but it could take a while for all of the new signings to find their feet.
With so many changes in the Southampton team it's hard to know which players to choose but Jose Fonte and Fraser Forster could perform and Graziano Pelle is a possibility too along with Jay Rodriguez when he returns from injury.
Liverpool are a very tough team to get a result from at Anfield and I expect them to take all three points in this game.
Newcastle United v Manchester City
4pm BST, St. James Park, Newcastle
Newcastle finished safely in mid table last season without ever troubling the teams above them. They had a lot of trouble scoring goals and the loss of Loric Remy won't make that task any easier. They only won eight of their 19 home games last season and they will have to improve on that or Alan Pardew will find himself in a spot of bother.
It's not easy to predict great things from Newcastle players this season, but Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and new boy Siem de Jong all have a good chance of performing well.
City have to be among the favourites as they look to retain their title and they have added a few players to make their squad even stronger. They were the top scorers last season with over 100 league goals, but they were vulnerable away from home at times. The title race looks very open this season and City will feel they have every chance of their third title in four seasons.
The old reliables look to be good fantasy choices in the City team with Yaya Toure, David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta all good choices and Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Eden Dzeko all worth considering too.
I think City will have too much class for Newcastle and will win by the odd goal.
Monday August 18
8pm BST, Turf Moor, Burnley
Burnley did very well to get promoted last season and their sole aim this season has to be to stay in the Premier League. They only lost two of their 23 home games last season and only conceded 14 goals in those games. That home form could be very important for them if they are to have any chance of staying up, but they have to be favourites to finish last.
Some of Burnley's defenders might do well this season as they were very strong defensively at home in the Championship last season and Danny Ings might not do too badly either.
Chelsea have invested heavily over the summer and they're going to be a very hard team to beat this season. They had the best defensive record away from home last season and look like they have a very good balance between attacking and defending players. They look like the team to beat and Jose Mourinho will feel he has a team more than capable of winning the league.
I think Cesc Fabregas could have a very good season for Chelsea along with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard along with all of their defenders.
I can't see anything other than a Chelsea win in this game.
Finally for today I'm running my league in Fantasy Premier League yet again this season and there will be a prize of €50 for the winner now that there's over 1,000 teams in it. To join just go to the site and use the code 13125-4843 to join my league once your team is set up.Absolutely finally for today I'm also running my predictor league again this season. I'll be previewing every Premier League game every week throughout the season too. You can make your predictions here and then join my mini league with the code FD20D-AVD after you have set everything up.
That's it for this week.
See you next week.