It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. Both Liverpool and Swansea played twice in the last Gameweek but neither of them will be suing this week. It means fantasy managers who filled their teams with their players will have to do their best to find a good team.
I didn't fare too well last week with two perfect scorelines, three correct outcomes and six incorrect. It means I've dropped to sixth in my predictions league, but like Arsenal I have given up hope on a top four finish yet. Here's a look at how my predictions league stands.
Pos. Player. Week. Total
___. _____. _____. ____
1. antonius_ronny_s 90 1640
2. ahujag 50 1290
3. RSun624 35 1265
4. birchy1962 100 1225
5. AblockGooner 35 1215
6. JamrockRover 50 1185
7. Plasticninja 5 1090
8. Meikku 55 1085
9. b_red_devils 130 1060
10. Rutland Gooner -25 1030
Saturday February 23
Fulham v Stoke City
12.45pm GMT, Craven Cottage, London
Fulham are never any easy team to beat at home, but they are still only six points clear of the bottom three. A win in this game would give them some real breathing space. They have only won five of their 13 home games so far though.
If Dimitar Berbatov is up for it he can be an excellent fantasy choice, but who knows if he will be or not.
Stoke beat Reading in their last game to halt a run of six games without a win. They're still in the top half of the table but only just and their defensive solidity from earlier in the season seems to be gone. They have only managed one win and eight goals in 13 away games.
Stoke players aren't exactly setting the world of fantasy football alight at the moment.
I think this will be a close game and Fulham might just edge it.
Arsenal v Aston Villa
3pm GMT, The Emirates Stadium, London
Arsenal went out of the FA Cup last Saturday and Bayern Munich as good as eliminated them from the Champions League on Tuesday night. It means all they have left is the fight to qualify for next season's Champions League starting with this game. The other three contenders all have away games which could prove tricky and it's a real chance for Arsenal to put some pressure on them. Only the top two have won more home games than Arsenal and only United have scored more home goals than them.
Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have to be the fantasy players of choice in the Arsenal team.
Villa managed to climb out of the bottom three by beating Newcastle in their last game and they will be looking to build on that. It was their first win in nine league games, but at least they are scoring goals now. They have conceded more away goals than any other team though and they have only won two of their 13 away games.
Christian Benteke is in fine form at the moment and well worth considering for fantasy managers as is Charles N'Zogbia since his return from injury.
I think Arsenal have to win this game and they will do so by a couple of goals.
Norwich City v Everton
3pm GMT, Carrow Road, Norwich
Norwich are only six points above the relegation zone without a win in nine games. They have drawn their last three games though and they seem to have found some defensive strength again. They have only been beaten three times at home in 13 games with not too many goals scored by either side in those games usually.
It's hard to know what Norwich players to pick but there is some value in Mark Bunn, Sebastien Bassong and Robert Snodgrass.
Everton have slipped back to sixth place with only one win in their last five games and were well beaten by United in their last game. They have only managed four wins in 13 away games, but they have drawn six of those games. If they are to continue pushing for a top four spot they really have to turn some of their draws into wins.
Marouane Fellaini is still Everton's outstanding performer and available at a good price too while Leighton Baines can be a great asset on his day.
Both teams could do with a win but I think they will both have to settle for a draw.
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United
3pm GMT, Loftus Road, London
QPR are rock bottom of the table without a win in five games and only two wins all season. They are seven points from safety with 12 games left and it's looking quite grim for them. They need to take something from this game, but eight defeats in 13 home games would seem to suggest otherwise.
I don't think there are any QPR players worth considering for this game in particular.
United have a 12 point lead at the top of the table with 12 games to play and they have taken 22 points from their last eight games. They have the best home record, the best away record and are top scorers at home and away as well. They struggled defensively for a while, but three goals conceded in their last seven league games seems to suggest they are improving at the back.
Robin van Persie is an absolute must for fantasy managers despite his price and Patrice Evra is looking very good too.
I can't see anything other than yet another win for United.
Reading v Wigan Athletic
3pm GMT, Madjeski Stadium, Reading
Reading may have lost their last game, but 13 points in seven games has seen them only one point away from safety. They've only lost three of their 13 home games and scored quite a few goals in the process. A home win against one of the two teams below them is an absolute must for Reading at this stage in the season.
I can't see any Reading players who might make an impact for fantasy managers.
Wigan are two points behind Reading and in an all too familiar relegation battle. They have lost eight of their 13 away games and struggled to score goals in the process. As it stands Wigan have the worst defence in the league too.
Now that he's back from the ACN Arouna Kone could be the player to save Wigan and score a few fantasy points too.
This is a really big game for both clubs and I think they will share the spoils.
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland
3pm GMT, The Hawthorns, Birmingham
West Brom had a very good win away to Liverpool in their last game to end a sequence of six games without a win. They have won seven of their 13 home games and only the top two teams can beat that. They have a very good defensive record at home too with only City conceding less goals than them.
West Brom tend to spread their fantasy points among the team and none of them standout for fantasy managers.
Sunderland have only taken one point in their last three games to halt their recent good run. They're still six points clear of the relegation zone, but another couple of wins would see them safe. They have only won three of their 13 away games though and only scored 14 goals in the process.
Simon Mignolet is probably the best fantasy choice among the Sunderland players with Stephen Fletcher and Adam Johnson possibilities too.
I think West Brom's good home form will be enough to see them through.
Sunday February 24
Manchester City v Chelsea
1.30pm GMT, Etihad Stadium, Manchester
City have taken only two points in their last three games and fallen 12 points behind United at the top of the table. They have won nine of their 13 home games though and have the best defensive record at home. They could be 15 points off the pace before this game if United beat QPR on Saturday.
It's hard to know which City players to choose with them faltering, but Pablo Zabaleta looks a good bet to me.
Chelsea have been very inconsistent this season, but only United have a better away record than them. They have an awful lot of attacking options and only United have scored more away goals than them too. If they can win this game they will be only one point behind second places City.
Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard and Cesar Azpilicueta all look very good for Chelsea at the moment.
This is a game both teams have to win but I can see it ending all square.
Newcastle United v Southampton
4pm GMT, St. James Park, Newcastle
Newcastle moved four points clear of the relegation zone with a couple of wins in a row before they lost their last game. They have won six of their 13 home games and will be looking to take all three points off another team at the wrong end of the table. The transfer business they did in January looks like it might be enough to keep them in the league.
Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko could be the players to score the fantasy points that keep Newcastle in the Premier League.
Southampton are ahead of Newcastle on goal difference only, but they have become a very hard team to beat. They have only lost three of their last 16 games and look very likely to survive for another season in the Premier League. They have only managed two wins in 13 away games though and only Villa have conceded more goals away from home.
Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon are the Southampton players most likely to perform for fantasy managers.
I'm predicting a lot of draws this week and this is yet another one.
Monday February 25
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
8pm GMT, Upton Park, London
West Ham have taken only four points in their last six games, but they're still seven points clear of the drop zone. They're not an easy team to beat at home with only three defeats in 13 games and a good defensive record too. They will look to impose their own particular brand of football on Spurs.
I can't see any West Ham players worth taking a punt on for fantasy managers at the moment.
Spurs are unbeaten in 10 league games and only a point off third placed Chelsea. Only United have won more away games than Spurs and they have being scoring quite freely away from home too. If results go their way they could be within two points of second place if they can win this game.
Gareth Bale is in flying form at the moment and a must have for fantasy managers.
In a game of contrasting styles I think neither team will manage to get a win.
That's it for this week but as usual feel free to tell me where you think I may have gone right or wrong as the case might be.
See you next week.