Team Talk Gameweek 29 – FPL Fantasy Football Premier League.
Welcome to GW29, or as I call it, Limbo Week. It’s a game-week with just five fixtures, due to it being FA Cup Sixth Round week. Now the fixture conundrum of not only this week, but also the next few weeks has been well highlighted in all other articles this week, so no need to fill you in anymore on that. But that doesn’t mean GW29 is any less significant, indeed far from it – I mean look at the positives – all the matches held on one day, surely a more simple choice for captain, no Suarez or Sturridge issues to keep us awake all night, you get a football free Sunday and you only have to sit through half of my usual Friday waffle…
Our game-week kicks off at lunchtime as West Brom host Man Utd at the Hawthorns. We then have a trio of 3pm kick-offs as the bottom two meet as Fulham travel to Cardiff, Crystal Palace host Southampton and Norwich entertain Stoke. And then, as quick as an Alan Pardew headbutt, our game-week is completed Saturday evening down at Stamford Bridge as this week’s London derby sees Chelsea play Tottenham. Let’s get around the grounds and catch up on the latest team news.
West Brom vs Man Utd (Sat 8 March 12.45)
And here meets two of the worst teams to watch in the division. West Brom sit just one point above the relegation zone and are winless under Pepe Mel – United sit 21pts above the relegation zone and are clueless under David Moyes, yet we have to be fair, the Reds are unbeaten in three league games, which is some sort of miracle right now. The Baggies record at home to United is nothing short of rubbish – they have never beaten the Champions at home in the Premier League and you have to go back all the way to 1984 for their last league home win over United. But we mustn’t forget that they beat United at Old Trafford in September and famously drew 5-5 in Fergie’s last game in charge at the end of last season. Wayne Rooney likes playing West Brom – he has scored six times in his last five PL starts against them.
West Brom midfielders Stephane Sessegnon and Claudio Yacob are both in contention for the game after recovering from injury, but Mel will have to do without Billy Jones and Diego Lugano through injury, while as has been well documented Nicolas Anelka is suspended, after being a very naughty boy. James Morrison and Chris Brunt are also doubts after picking up knocks.
Well, me old mucker Moysie certainly didn’t let me down today. He went on to say that it was good that Shinji Kagawa and Chicarito Hernandez got game time for their national sides – hold on, hold on….so….they’re good enough for their national sides but not United eh Davie Boy? Young Kags scored one and assisted one for Japan, but no Dave, don’t play him mate, we’ve got Cleverley. Oh and Hernandez….well he got injured playing for Mexico. So, yeah good one Dave, that worked out great didn’t it. Talking of young Tom, Moysie defended him very well (fancy a game at the weekend, Dave?), saying that Tom was always the first one on the training ground and did his best. Well, bloody brilliant – he gets into work on time and tries his best. Jeez Fergie, did you honestly choose this gormless simpleton to carry on your work? Oh and just to rub it in, Moysie’s secret weapon, you remember the one, Mophead Fellaini – costs Utd £27mln, plays crap, hurts his wrist (probably gesticulating wildly at his manager at half time), goes and plays for Belgian and hey BOOOOOM…scores. One plain message is very, very evident here – the players are not that bad (not you Tom) they just can’t (won’t) play for the dimwit.
Anyway, you probably want some injury news. Well, guess what, that thing didn’t give us any. Again. So i have had to do my own research and unfortunately come up with very little except that Phil Jones has returned to training this week and Johnny Evans is likely to be out for another three weeks with a calf injury. Illness to RvP and a small knock to Patrice Evra are not thought to be serious and they should both play tomorrow.
Cardiff City vs Fulham (Sat 8 March 15.00)
Possibly the biggest game of the weekend and surely for the loser a long and slow Premier League torture awaits, ending in Championship football. For the victor, there will be renewed hope and optimism that they can escape the drop. Recent form doesn’t really help us here as both teams have been awful – Cardiff have notched just one win in twelve, while Fulham have managed one win in ten – that kind of form suggests the clubs will be facing each other again next season! To be fair, there have been vague signs of improvements of late – Cardiff’s resolute defending last week at Spurs and Fulham’s first half performance vs Chelsea and encouraging displays vs Utd, Liverpool & West Brom. But its goals and wins, not improved performances, that will be key for these two now and by the end of Saturday we’ll know which one has the guts for the fight and which one is doomed. Fulham have gone thirteen games on the road without keeping a clean sheet, so expect Cardiff to score, while for those managers who like their stats, four of the last five games between these two have ended 2-1.
Felix Magath (pictured above) says striker Kostas Mitroglou played 60mins for Greece on Wednesday but both he and William Kvist picked up hamstring injuries, so its unlikely either will feature at Cardiff. Damien Duff has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and Scot Parker will miss the game after picking up a knee injury in the week. Defender Fernando Amorebieta is making progress but is unlikely to make the game, while Clint Dempsey has returned to the MLS. Not much positive news there for Penfold.
With Solskjaer promising his team will be going all out for the win, he will have to hand late fitness tests to Jordan Mutch and Gary Medel, but both are expected to be ok. Craig Noone should be also be fine for game, while Andrew Taylor is unlikely to feature after picking up a knock. Captain Mark Hudson has, of course, been ruled out for the season.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton (Sat 8 March 15.00)
This is one of those tricky games to call, with both teams in mixed form. A win for Palace would be invaluable as they sit just three points clear of Sunderland and one gets the feeling that they will have to take advantage of their matches at Selhurst Park if they are to escape relegation. Southampton meanwhile, were somewhat unfortunate to lose at home to Liverpool last weekend and will be keen to get back to winning ways here. While everyone is banging on about Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw after their England appearances vs Denmark, don’t forget Rickie Lambert – he has scored three goals in his last two games vs Palace. Plenty of managers will have Southampton defensive exposure this week – you’ll be pleased to know that the omens are good for you as Palace have failed to score in their last four league games vs the Saints.
Palace striker Marouane Chamakh is a big doubt for the game with a hamstring injury, he’ll have a fitness test before the game, while there are also doubts over defender Damien Delaney and midfielders Joe Ledley and Kagisho Dikcagoi.
Mauricio Pochettino has very few problems for the game – in fact it’s just deputy keeper Kelvin Davis who is definitely missing with a long-term injury. Maya Yoshida and Victor Wanyama will need to be assessed as they both had long-haul journeys to play in midweek.
Norwich vs Stoke City (Sat 8 March 15.00)
Unquestionably, this game wins the award for “dull game of the week”. Norwich tight at home, don’t score many – Stoke rubbish on the road, not won in twelve games away, losing nine of those. Norwich haven’t conceded at home in four matches and will be looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing and demoralising defeat at relegation rivals Aston Villa while Mark Hughes will be hoping to find a magic ingredient that can bring some of their more impressive home form with them on their travels. Don’t expect much, stick a few quid on a 1-0 home win, but for heaven’s sake don’t stay in to watch the game – if you don’t believe me, check the facts – this fixture is the third lowest scoring fixture in Premier League history, with an average of just 1.2 goals per game. Therefore, use the time to do some painting or get some brownie points off your nearest and dearest – cos you’ll need every one of them with the big weeks coming up.
There’s good news for Chris Hughton and indeed many FPL managers with the news that Robert Snodgrass, Martin Olsson and Joseph Yobo all returned to training on Thursday and should all be available for the weekend. Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel is also hopeful of being in contention, though he will need a fitness test. Midfielder Johnny Howson is pushing for a start, but Jonas Gutierrez, Michael Turner and Leroy Fer are all still inured and will miss out.
Hughes is pleased to reveal that Peter Odemwingie trained this morning and could feature but Marko Arnuatovic picked up a small hamstring injury on international duty. Defender Geoff Cameron missed training today due to his late arrival back from playing for the US but he should play but Oussama Assaidi is still a few weeks away.
Chelsea vs Tottenham (Sat 8 March 17.30)
As has been well discussed this week, Spurs record at Stamford Bridge is awful – they have not won there in the league since 1990. Is that likely to change this weekend, nah of course not – Jose doesn’t do home league defeats does he? The only teams to have taken any points from Chelsea at home this season are West Brom and West Ham, so unless before the weekend Spurs become West Hotspur or West Pretenders, my money’s on a home win. The one encouragement for Spurs is that they have looked a better side away from home – in fact no side has picked up more points than Spurs away from home. And of course there’s good ol’ Emmanuel Adebayor – he certainly prefers life away from the Lane – can’t blame him – seven of his eight league goals have come on the road and he has scored in three of his last four starts vs Chelsea – so where there’s Ade, there’s hope.
The great news for Chelsea and most of us is that Eden Hazard’s ankle injury is not serious and The Special one confirms he is “good and fine to play”. Phew! Ashley Cole picked up an injury in training yesterday and won’t be available for the Spurs game, while David Luiz is fit again after turning out for Brazil in midweek, although he, Oscar, Willian and Ramires will all need to be assessed after travelling far and wide in midweek.
The good news for Tim Sherwood is that defenders Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul are both fit and in contention to play. The bad news is that Christian Eriksen is very doubtful to play, while Danny Rose, Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches are all ruled out of the game.
I wish you all the very best for Limbo Week – score well.
Thanks for reading Team Talk Gameweek 29, this article was written by Cookie.