It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. The latest international break is over and it's back to club action for all of the players. There are some very interesting games this week, and I'll try to give my opinions on the factors affecting each game.
It's a big week for the clubs playing in European competitions, as they will have to start playing twice a week for the next few months. The depths of their squads will be tested, and other teams will relish the opportunity of taking the scalp of a depleted team given the chance.
I'm running my predictions league again this season, and the details needed to join it are at the end of this post. I only managed one perfect scoreline last time with three correct outcomes and five incorrect. It meant I moved up to fifth in my predictions league, and I'm hoping to improve on that position this week.
Here's a look at how the top 10 in my predictions league table stands.
Pos Player Week Total
___ ______ ____ _____
1 iancampbell11 5 210
2 antonios_ronny_s 20 195
3 BenAFCBeast 50 185
4 nawa87 25 185
5 JamrockRover 25 145
6 RSun624 70 115
7 TheDognash 70 100
8 AFC_Ollie95 -30 95
9 Meikku -10 75
10 Rutlnd Gooner -15 75
Saturday September 15
Norwich City V West Ham United
12.45 pm BST, Carrow Road, Norwich
Norwich started off the season with a heavy defeat, but they have managed a couple of draws since then. Their home form is going to be crucial if they are going to stay up, and three points in this game would be a real boost.
At the moment it's hard to recommend any Norwich players for fantasy managers.
West Ham had a very good win in their last game with Andy Carroll making a real difference for them after his arrival on loan from Liverpool. He picked up an injury though and he will miss this game as a result. His absence could see them struggle in front of goal again.
Kevin Nolan seems to be the most likely player to perform for fantasy managers with Matt Taylor possibly being a good buy too.
I think Norwich might just be able to do enough to take another point from this game.
Arsenal V Southampton
3 pm BST, The Emirates Stadium, London.
Arsenal haven't conceded a goal yet this season, and they eventually managed to score a couple in their last game too. Their team looks like it will get better as the season goes on, but they have to win games like this one.
Santi Cazorla looks like a very good fantasy buy, and just about any Arsenal defender could be worth a punt too.
Southampton have looked impressive in attack in all three of their games so far, but their defence has let them down. They will have to be very strong defensively in this game or they could be in for a very tough afternoon.
Ricky Lambert looks like he's going to be the best performing fantasy player for Southampton this season.
If Southampton play as openly as they have done so far they could be taught a real lesson by Arsenal.
Aston Villa V Swansea City
3 pm BST, Villa Park, Birmingham
Villa managed to pick up their first point with a draw at Newcastle in their last game. It still looks like this season could be a long hard struggle for them, and homes games like this are must-wins if they are going to avoid a relegation dogfight.
Villa have a few players who look capable of making an impact, but none of them are doing so at the moment.
Swansea have started off this season where they finished last season. They're playing attractive football yet again, and getting their rewards too. They're second in the table at the moment, but realistically a top 10 finish would be a real achievement for them.
Miguel Michu, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routeledge look like the best fantasy choices in the Swansea team, but both Michel Vorm and Angel Rangel could be worth considering too.
I think Villa might be able to battle hard enough to take a point from this game.
Fulham V West Bromwich Albion
3 pm BST, Craven Cottage, London
Fulham started with a very good 5-0 win and followed it up by losing narrowly away to Manchester United, but they were well beaten by West Ham in their last game. Their home form is always good in the Premier League, but it won't be easy for them against an unbeaten West Brom side.
Damien Duff and Mladen Petric are the top performing players for Fulham so far, but that might change with the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov.
West Brom have won both of their home games so far and drawn their only away game against Spurs. They're third in the table and playing some good football too. If they can keep their key players fit this could be a good season for them.
Shane Long, Peter Odemwingie and James Morrison all look good at the moment, as do Gareth McAuley, Ben Foster, Jonas Olsson and Liam Ridgewell.
I think Fulham might just get the better of a high scoring game.
Manchester United V Wigan Athletic
3 pm BST, Old Trafford, Manchester
United have won two of their first three games, but they have looked very shaky in defence. They have conceded five goals in those games and only the goals of Robin van Persie have saved them. They will be hoping the knock he picked up on international duty doesn't keep him out of the team.
Van Persie is an obvious choice for fantasy managers with Wayne Rooney injured. Antonio Valencia looks like he could be a pretty good but too.
Wigan have looked good again this season after their fantastic end to last season. They do have the ability to get very badly beaten away from home every so often, and they will have to be strong in defence in this game.
If Wigan are going to get a few goals this season Franco Di Santo could be the man to do it, and Shaun Maloney might chip in a few fantasy points too.
I think United will have too much in attack for Wigan and should take all three points.
Queens Park Rangers V Chelsea
3 pm BST, Loftus Road, London
QPR have conceded nine goals in their first three games, and currently sit in the relegation zone. They brought in a lot of new players in the transfer window, and they need to find a settled team very soon to avoid another season fighting the drop.
At the moment QPR players are better off avoided, and their defenders are a definite no.
Chelsea have won their first three league games, and scored plenty of goals in the process. I haven't been overly impressed with them, but they have the firepower to finish off any of the lesser teams in the Premier League.
Eden Hazard is probably a must buy player for fantasy managers, and both Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard are in good form too. Chelsea defenders also look a good bet too, as they continue to get their names on the scoresheet.
I think Chelsea will have too much firepower for a poor QPR defence and take all three points, but the most interesting part of the game could be the handshake debacle beforehand if both Anton Ferdinand and John Terry are passed fit to play.
Stoke City V Manchester City
3 pm BST, The Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Stoke have started the new season with three draws, and they are never an easy team to beat at home. They will be up for this game, but their inability to score goals could make it hard for them.
Ryan Shawcross is probably the best fantasy bet among the Stoke players, but Charlie Adams might not be too bad a bet either.
City haven't played well so far, but they have still taken seven points from their first three games. A win in this game would be a real boost for them before they get the Champions League "group of death" up and running in midweek.
With Sergio Aguero injured Carlos Tevez is the most obvious choice among the City players, and Yaya Toure is in pretty good form at the moment too.
I think Stoke will put it up to City, and they might just sneak a draw.
Sunderland V Liverpool
5.30 pm BST, The Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Due to the cancellation of their game with Reading a few weeks ago this will be Sunderland's first home Premier League game of the season. They have managed a couple of draws so far, and a win in this game would be a good start to their campaign.
Steven Fletcher looked good in his Sunderland and he could be the man to score the goals they need with James McClean and Seb Larsson possibly providing them. The Sunderland defenders look a decent prospect for fantasy managers too with Simon Mignolet in goal possibly the best bet.
Liverpool are in the relegation zone after taking only one point from their first three games. They are shipping too many goals and they need to get some points in the board very soon or their new manager will feel under pressure.
Luis Suarez is probably the Liverpool player most likely to do well, but they are finding it tough to score at the moment.
I think Sunderland will heap more misery on Liverpool by winning a close game.
Sunday September 16
Reading V Tottenham Hotspur
4 pm BST, The Madjeski Stadium, Reading
Reading have only taken one point from their opening two games, but they haven't looked too bad in those games. They carry a real goal threat, but they will need to tighten their defence to survive in the Premier League.
Pavel Pogrebnyak looks like he might score a few goals for Reading and fantasy managers this season.
Spurs haven't won a game yet and their defence looks quite brittle too. They need to string a few results together while also playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League and it's not an easy task.
Gareth Bale is probably the Spurs player most likely to do well, but Gylfi Sigurdssonn and Emmanuel Adebayor could also shine if they can find some form.
I think both clubs will still be looking for their first Premier League victory after they draw this game.
Monday September 17
Everton V Newcastle United
3pm BST, Goodison Park, Liverpool
Everton had a great start to the new season, but West Brom brought them back to reality in their last game. They need to win this game to keep pace with the teams at the top of the table, but it won't be easy.
Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic all look like they could be good point scorers for fantasy managers this season.
Newcastle have looked quite good so far despite having some tough games. This will be another real test for them, and their European exploits will make things very tough for them over the next few weeks.
Hatem Ben Arfa looks like he's going to shine this season, and surely it's only a matter of time before Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse start banging in the goals again.
I think Everton will have enough to edge a very tight game.
Finally for today don't forget to join my Fantasy Premier league for the
new season with prizes for the top three teams. To join up just go to
the site and use the
code 17031-6252 to join my league when your team is
set up. If you were in my league last season you should automatically
be given a choice to rejoin it once your team is set up. There are over 900 teams in my league at the moment, and I'm hoping to match last
season's total of over 1,000 teams.
I'm also running my predictions league again, and it's open to anyone
who wants to join too. It's an easy game to play with points awarded for
predicting the outcomes of every Premier League game. To sign up just
go to the site and use
the code FD047-YLG to join my league once you have registered.
That's it for this week but as always feel free to tell me where I may have gone right or wrong as the case might be.
See you next week.