Gameweek 9 Premier League fantasy preview part 2

Posted by John Culea

The game of the season to date; a monster match with all sorts of story lines leads up to Sunday's kickoff.

Three Europa League matches that always impact weekend Premier League games were played on Thursday with one long distance road trip involving Tottenham. Spurs had a dreary draw while Liverpool and Newcastle each had home games and managed 1-0 results.

The Sunday matches:

A massive derby for Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool seeks to bring their season back to .500. Currently in 12th position, Liverpool is 2-3-3 and continues to have trouble scoring goals. In eight matches, the Reds are a fantasy disappointment and have found the net just ten times. Their defense is so-so with 12 goals conceded.

Liverpool may be without GK Pepe Reina who faces a late fitness test for a pulled hammy. Brad Jones did well on Thursday, getting a clean sheet against a potent Anzhi Makhachkala that had won nine of 12 domestic matches. Liverpool won the game 1-0 on a goal from forgotten Stewart Downing, one of the four transfer flops that Kenny D brought in last season. Even so, don't look for Downing to start on Sunday or register any goals in Premier League competition.

Luis Suarez continues to be more mouth than money for Liverpool. Once again on Thursday, he cut a frustrated figure, mouthing off at the referee (and getting a yellow card) and was unable to score. He has five of his team's PL goals and will be hard-pressed to get one past the Everton defense.

Raheem Sterling was an interesting sub against Anzhi, coming in for defender Glen Johnson for the second half and provided energy and purpose. He scored last week against Reading for the Reds first home result. Another bright spot for Liverpool was Oussama Assaidi who looked terrific. Whether Rodgers will start them is another matter, but Sunday's starting XI may be an interesting mix. Rodgers' pet, Joe Allen, came on as a sub for Shelvey, but clearly is not as good as Shelvey or the rest of the midfield candidates.

Giggle of the week was Daniel Agger heading the ball out of the Anzhi GK's hand and kicking the ball in the net. A violation of the rules, but funny.

Everton holds down the fourth spot in the PL and at 4-3-1, is looking for a home result to widen the gap between their local rivals. The Blues have scored 15 goals and given up nine. A major talking point will be if Marouane Fellaini will play on Sunday. His team-mate Kevin Mirallas, who is a forward and not a physio, says the Belgian aerial threat will be recovered from a knee injury and play. Fellaini has three goals and an assist in seven games and with 30 shots, is a focal point in the offense and a hope for fantasy managers.

Nikica Jelavic, Leighton Baines, and Victor Anichebe are goal-scoring threats, but Steven Pienaar will miss the match following two yellow cards at QPR. Darron Gibson could return from injury.

The Magpies are coming off a 1-0 Europa home result over Club Brugge thanks to a second half goal from Gabriel Obertan who is not likely to see much action in any of Newcastle's PL games. Contending for playing time will be Sammy Ameobi and his brother Shola after they ignited a spark for Newcastle. The two brothers combined on passes with the younger Ameobi setting up Obertan with a great assist.

Alan Pardew rested nine of his players who started in Sunday's coma-inducing draw with Sunderland. Newcastle, now in 11th place must find the spark it had last season or the only outside tournaments it will be playing in next season will be the FA and Carling Cups. Ben Arfa and Ba did not play on Thursday, but Papiss Cisse did. Ba, last season's scoring sensation has zero goals and assists in seven PL matches.

WBA is a solid 4-2-2 and in 7th place. Steve Clarke's move into management has been a revelation. The Baggies are in a virtual tie with Spurs and West Ham and a point out of a Champions League spot. A number of players are set to return including Brunt, Jones and Reid. WBA has been a solid fantasy team for defensive numbers including three clean sheets.

Look for big scoring in this one. The Saints (more like the 'Aints) are 1-1-6 and in 18th place and have let in a league-high 24 goals while scoring 13. Manager Nigel Adkins says he thinks he might become the first PL manager to be sacked this season and for good reason. He has Rickie Lambert with four goals scored, but chose not to start him in one game. Adam Lallana has four assists, so there are fantasy points from that tandem. Adkins' defenders might consider wearing flak jackets.

Spurs at 4-2-2 will be coming off their 1-1 draw in Slovenia. Emmanuel Adebayor was not with the team, but his endorsement for an energy drink on a sideboard was in full view. TBA is if Gareth Bale will show up. He disappeared from White Hart Lane last week to be with his girlfriend who gave birth to their first child and did not go with the team to Maribor. Also missing and doubtful for Sunday's match is Dembele. Assou-Ekotto is out injured. Gallas traveled to Slovenia but did not play. After Chelsea torched him last weekend, one wonders about his involvement Sunday.

AVB started Townsend and Defoe up front Thursday, but only Defoe is likely to be on the pitch Sunday.
Lloris started in Slovenia but Friedel should be the choice for Sunday's match. Huddlestone was in the first XI Thursday, but was beaten badly for the opening goal and looks to have pine duty Sunday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal following a Defoe deflection rescued a point for Spurs who have had three miserable draws in Europa League play this season.

Clint Dempsey played the final 15 minutes and hopes to reward fantasy managers with the points he produced on a regular basis last season. He has one goal in five matches this year and looked gassed against Chelsea.

Vertonghen continues to impress on defense, and goal/assist potential for his fantasy holders.

Chelsea-Manchester United

Wow! Sir John can hardly wait for this one.

John Terry begins serving his four-match FA ordered suspension and Frank Lampard will be lost for the game with a calf injury. Shinji Kagawa is doubtful for Man Utd after he went down with a knee injury against Stoke. Chris Smalling might return. SAF's defense is a national disaster. The backline has surrendered 11 goals and although the team came back from two goals down to beat Braga at home on Tuesday, there is nothing to suggest De Gea will not be picking balls out of the back of his net on Sunday including one delivered by Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic who has scored three goals in eight PL games.

United leads the league with 21 goals scored. RvP and Rooney have accounted for eight of them. The two also have seven assists. Man U is in second place, four points back of leader Chelsea and tied on points with Man City.

Chelsea looked awful against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. The 2-1 loss was to an excellent team; however, the Blues fielded nearly all their regulars. Hazard began on the bench but replaced Lampard when he went down with an injury. Petr Cech was a monster in the net and had nine saves. He will need that kind of form against the likes of van Persie, Rooney, Nani, and Valencia. Based on his impressive play on Tuesday in which he scored a brace, Chicharito may find himself in SAF's starting XI. Chelsea has only surrendered six goals this season; however, that could easily double before the sun goes down at Stamford Bridge.

Juan Mata is in superb form and may be on course to be the Premier and fantasy league player of the season. He has been at his best because of the speed of Hazard, Oscar and Ramires. If Fernando Torres realizes he cannot take time to use a golf tee to set up his shots, the Spaniard may find the net on Sunday.


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