Saturday, 24 December 2011

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek 18

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. The games are coming thick and fast for all teams at the moment, and there's every possibility of squad rotation in some of the bigger teams. That might make it a little tricky for those trying to select the strongest possible fantasy team.

I did very badly with my last set of predictions, and I only managed three correct outcomes and six incorrect ones. It meant that I slipped to 11th place in my predictions league, and I'm now over 300 points behind the overall leader. I need to start getting some of my predictions right very soon, or my chances of winning the league will be over before the halfway point in the league.

Here's a look at how the top 10 in my predictions league stands.

 Pos Player  Week Total
 1  b_red_devils  150  1045
 2  ahujag  90  1025
 3  GGooner  105  995
 4  nitin004  20  950
 5  gooner2194  50  910
 6  sanziano  45  880
 7  lubu722  70  820
 8  Rutland Gooner  5  785
 9  Smashit_Tuckit  -5  760
 10  DK1247  35  755
Chelsea v Fulham Chelsea Vs. Fulham
                                          Monday December 26, 1p.m., BST
Chelsea have drawn their last two games, and they need to start winning again if they are to keep pace with the three clubs ahead of them. They are at home in for two games in a row, and six points are an absolute must for them. They have won six of their eight home games so far, and they are huge favourites to win this game too. 
Daniel Sturridge continues to be the best value buy among the Chelsea players.

Fulham were thrashed at home to Manchester United in their last game, and they won't be looking forward to playing against another one of the top clubs so soon. They rarely manage to win away from home, and they have only scored four goals in eight away games so far. It will be a huge task for them to get anything out of this game.

Clint Dempsey is the best fantasy bet of all the Fulham players.

I can't see Fulham getting anything from this game, and Chelsea should win comfortably.

Prediction 2-0
  Bolton v Newcastle Bolton Wanderers Vs. Newcastle United

                                             Monday December 26, 3p.m., BST
Bolton managed to win away to Blackburn in their last game, and it meant they won't be the team to spend Christmas day at the bottom of the table. They have lost seven of their eight home games so far though, and conceded 21 goals in the process. Despite their lack of points they could possibly find themselves out of the bottom three if they win this game.

Ivan Klasnic is Bolton's best performing fantasy player, but he has only managed one goal in his last five games.

Newcastle had a great start to the season, but they have only taken two points in their last six games. Their current injury problems are proving to be very costly, and their defence is no longer the best one in the league as a result. They have conceded 14 goals in those last six games, and they had only conceded eight in the previous 11 games.

Demba Ba is proving to be a great buy for any fantasy manager, but he will be off to the African Cup of Nations very soon.

I think there should be quite a few goals in this game with both defences struggling, and it will end up in a draw.

Prediction 2-2
Liverpool v BlackburnLiverpool Vs. Blackburn Rovers
                                            Monday December 26, 3p.m., BST
Liverpool are unbeaten at home and they have the best defence in the league too. Their biggest problem is their lack of goals with only 20 scored in 17 games so far. The loss of Luis Suarez to suspension very soon won't help their cause, and it could put a real dent in the aspirations to finish in the top four.

Take your choice from any of the Liverpool defenders to include in fantasy teams at the moment.

Blackburn have the honour of being the bottom club at Christmas, and that usually leads to relegation. They haven't won away from home yet this season, but they have scored in every away game. They need to start picking up points, but they could be in for a tough time in this game.

Yakubu is by far Blackburn's outstanding fantasy player with 10 goals in 11 starts.

I can't see Liverpool slipping up in this game, but they won't have it all their own way either.

Prediction 2-1
Man United v WiganManchester United Vs. Wigan Athletic
                                            Monday December 26, 3p.m., BST
United went back to basics after their thrashing by Manchester City, but they have now rediscovered their goalscoring form. They have won six of their eight home games so far, and they will be massive favourites to beat a team in the relegation zone.

As long as Phil Jones is fit to play he's an excellent fantasy buy at the moment, and both Wayne Rooney and Nani have been in sparkling form recently too.

Wigan did really well to draw at home to both Chelsea and Liverpool in their last two games, but this game will be a different proposal. Only Fulham have scored less goals away from home than Wigan, and they will need to score to get anything out of this game. I think they look like they have a real chance of avoiding the drop this season, but this game will not decide their fate.

Ali Al-Habsi is by far Wigan's best performing fantasy player so far this season, and he has saved three penalties already.

I think United will win this game easily, and Wigan could be in for a tough game.

Prediction 4-0
Sunderland v EvertonSunderland Vs. Everton
                                           Monday December 26, 3p.m., BST
Sunderland have won two of their last three games, and it has given them some breathing space at the wrong end of the table. They have found it hard to win at home so far, with only two wins in eight games. If they're going to improve their league position they will need to improve that home record.

Seb Larsson is Sunderland's best fantasy player so far, but Stephane Sessegnon isn't doing too badly either.

Everton have only scored two goals in their last four games, and only Wigan and Swansea have scored less than them so far this season. Their fortunes will continue to flounder as long as they continue to struggle in front of goal. They have managed to win three of their seven away games so far though.

If I had to pick an Everton player to include in a fantasy team I think Royston Drenthe would be the best candidate.

I think Sunderland will manage to score the goals that Everton are struggling to get, and take the three points.

Prediction 2-0
West Brom v Man CityWest Bromwich Albion Vs. Manchester City
                                            Monday December 26, 3p.m., BST
West Brom won their last two games away from home, and it moved them into the top half of the table. They have lost five of their eight home games so far though, and they will have to play very well to get anything from City. It looks as if Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie are starting to play well together, and that could help their cause.

There are no real outstanding fantasy performers in the West Brom team, but Chris Brunt does chip in with a few points every so often.

City have only lost once away from home so far this season, and they have scored 25 goals in their eight away games. Their squad is so strong that they can rotate their players over the Christmas period, and still have a good enough team to keep winning. They have to be favourites to win yet again.

David Silva and Sergio Aguero are absolute musts for any fantasy team, and Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards are all worth having too.

I'd love to see West Brom take something off City, But I just can't see it happening.

Prediction 1-3
Stoke v Aston VillaStoke City Vs. Aston Villa
                                        Monday December 26, 7.45p.m., BST
Stoke rested a few of their better players in the defeat to Manchester City during the week, and they will be looking to bounce back in this game. They had previously won four games in a row, and they will be looking to put pressure on seventh placed Newcastle.

Jonathan Walters has been Stoke's best performing fantasy player this season, but since they returned to form his points tally has dropped off.

Villa were a little unlucky to lose at home to a late Arsenal goal during the week, and they played better in that game than they had been playing recently. They are conceding a lot of goals from set pieces, and that's not a good statistic for any team playing against Stoke. They have won only one of their eight away games so far, and they will do well to get anything out of this game.

Gabriel Agbonlahor is still the only Villa player worth considering for any fantasy manager at the moment.

I think Stoke will punish Villa's defence from set pieces, and take all three points.

Prediction 2-0
Arsenal v WolvesArsenal Vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
                                           Tuesday December 27, 3p.m., BST
Arsenal just about managed to bounce back from the defeat to Manchester City by winning away to Aston Villa on Wednesday night. They were missing a few players for various reasons, and the team suffered as a result. They will relish a home game against a struggling team to help them keep the pressure on the teams above them.

Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen are absolute musts for fantasy managers in my opinion.

Wolves are only one point above the relegation zone, and they have lost six of their eight away games so far this season. Their defence are very error prone, and they will have to be at their very best to avoid a drubbing.

If I had to choose a Wolves player for a fantasy team I think Wayne Hennessey would be the best option.

I think Arsenal should win this game comfortably.

Prediction 3-0
Swansea v QPRSwansea City Vs. Queens Park Rangers
                                            Tuesday December 27, 5p.m., BST
Swansea are a very tough team to take on at their own stadium. They have only lost one of their eight home games so far, and they have only conceded two goals in those games. As long as they can keep getting results at home they will have a good chance of staying in the Premier League.

Michel Vorm is racking up the fantasy points in goal for Swansea, and most of their defenders are worth buying at very good prices too.

QPR have taken only one point from their last five games, and they have slid dangerously close to the relegation zone. They need to halt that slide, and they will probably add a few players in January to aid their cause.

At the moment Heidar Helguson is QPR's best fantasy bet with five goals in his last seven games.

I think Swansea will continue their fine home form with another win.

Prediction 2-0
Norwich v TottenhamNorwich City Vs. Tottenham Hotspur
                                     Tuesday December 27, 7.30p.m., BST
Norwich have done really well since their promotion, and they have won half of their eight home games so far. They are a handful for any team, and they will certainly give high-flying Spurs a run for their money.
The Norwich team changes so often that it's difficult to predict which players will play and score fantasy points for them.

Spurs have a few injuries at the moment, but they still have plenty of quality in their team. They have fallen a little bit behind the two Manchester teams, but they get to play their game in hand in a couple of weeks. If they are to reach their goal of Champions League football for next season they will need to keep playing as well as they are at the moment.

Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor are the best fantasy bets for Spurs at the moment, with Rafael van der Vaart's injury problems surfacing again.

I think Norwich might just have enough to take a point off Spurs.

Prediction 2-2

That's it for today, but as always feel free to tell me where I might have gone right or wrong as the case might be.

It's not too late to join the over 1,000 other teams in my fantasy league, and there are prizes for the top three teams at the end of the season. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.

To join the predictions league, just go to the site and set up your predictions. Then use the code F688F-JCO to join my league. I'll update the league table in my predictions every week.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook too.

I'm also a member of a very good and very active Arsenal group on Facebook, which you can join here.

See you tomorrow.

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