Premier League Fantasy Football: Players Critical to Week 7 Success
While the Premier League season itself undoubtedly entertains any football fans out there, the fantasy version of the sport provides many a wannabe manager out there with the chance to shine.
With the ever-changing schedule of the league campaign, the team of any fantasy manager changes with the week as points slowly steepen in value.
As is ever the case, Week 7 presents another opportunity to make use of the fixtures on hand: Here we’ll pick out one player from each matchup who is likely to notch points.
Whether it’s because of the opposition they’re facing or the form they’re currently enjoying, each of the following 10 players deserves consideration when forming your line-ups this weekend.
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Opposition: Reading (H)
After enjoying the best early start of any side in this season’s Premier League, Swansea City have fallen from the lofty heights of first place and are now settling into the mid-table spots having failed to score in their last three games.
Michu was a massive part of that early campaign success and the Spaniard should once again bear fruit when his side go up against Reading on Saturday.
The Royals are wallowing in 19th place and have the second-worst away defence in the Premier League to go along with that position, conceding an average of 2.50 goals per game when away from the Madejski.
Michu is listed as a midfielder but prefers to play just behind the main striker, providing plenty of scoring opportunities alongside Danny Graham.
Michael Laudrup’s men have relied largely on their midfield for goals this season and Michu is the side’s top scorer across all competitions.
Reading are yet to keep a clean sheet this season and with Nathan Dyer providing ammunition along with Pablo Hernandez from the flanks, Michu should enjoy ample opportunities against promoted opposition.
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Opposition: Wigan Athletic (A)
After enjoying such a fine start to the 2012-13 season, any number of Everton players could be named as standout figures this weekend.
However, Marouane Fellaini sticks out more than others, and that’s for more than just the obvious reason that he’s commonly the talent man on any playing pitch.
Fellaini has scored three goal and made one assist so far this season, and has made a habit of acquiring big bonus points, being at the very centre of anything positive the Toffees do.
The Belgian giant also belongs to the team that has scored the most headers this season with five, opening up the chance to add to that tally this weekend.
Roberto Martinez is a fan of playing three at the back and it’s quite likely that Everton will pounce on that lack of defence.
The Latics have conceded an average of two goals per game at the DW Stadium this term and Fellaini is likely to continue his rampage in support of Nikica Jelavic, with Wigan his latest victims.
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Opposition: Manchester United (H)
While he didn’t finish the 2011-12 season in the greatest scoring fashion, Demba Ba has done magnificently to revive the prolific form he enjoyed at the beginning of the last term.
The Senegalese international may be experiencing contract issues off the pitch but this has hardly affected his attacking success, scoring six league goals already this season.
What’s more, Ba has a very successful track record against Manchester United and in his two Premier League matches for the Magpies against the Red Devils, has managed to score on both occasions.
Sunday will test as to whether three can prove to be the magic number for the striker who, along with Papiss Demba Cissé, can be a deadly combination on their day.
The north-east outfit play host to a Red Devils defence that is currently plagued by injury and if Newcastle are ever to score goals against the English giants, now would be the time.
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Opposition: QPR (H)
Under Steve Clarke’s tutelage, West Brom have looked like a completely different outfit and their defence has been a particular highlight of their early season romp to the top six.
The Baggies have been significantly strong at the back and are yet to concede at the Hawthorns this season.
Gareth McAuley proved last season what a capable Premier League player he can be and the opportunity for a clean sheet would certainly appear viable against bottom of the pile QPR.
Along with the chance for a clean sheet, points are also on hand for McAuley in attack as the former Ipswich man has made his talent clear from the set piece.
Clarke’s centre-back scored two goals last season, and is just one goal away from matching that in the current campaign.
As West Brom continue to improve, it seems that McAuley’s form appears to improve as a direct result.
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Opposition: Fulham (H)
Of 33 games against promoted sides in the Premier League, Fulham have won only three matches, conceding 47 goals in the process.
Such a record would appear to suggest that Fulham will have a tougher time at Southampton than their respective seasons so far would suggest.
In their return to the English top flight, Southampton seem to be looking at Rickie Lambert as their version of Grant Holt at Norwich City last season.
Lambert has netted four goals in just six games and, more importantly, has displayed confidence doing so, failing to be intimidated by the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United.
What’s more, the Whites have won just one of their last 21 away games against promoted clubs and after recording their first win of the campaign, Nigel Adkins’ Saints look like a capable squad.
Martin Jol’s side have been imperious at Craven Cottage in recent seasons, but are not the same collective when playing away from home and have conceded an average of 2.33 goals per away game.
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Opposition: Norwich City (H)
Currently the highest-scoring defender in fantasy football, Branislav Ivanovic continues to make Chelsea’s right-back position his own and parades the right flank with increasing strength.
Chelsea have the best defence in the English top flight which is probably a huge contribution to the Blues sitting at the top of the English top flight.
Roberto Di Matteo’s side have conceded just a goal every other game and Norwich City currently have the worst attacking record in the division as far as attacking is concerned, failing to score in 67 percent of their games.
Ivanovic has netted on two occasions so far this season and is a major threat from set pieces as well as open play. Add to that the highly-likely occurrence of a home clean sheet and the Stamford Bridge stalwart looks like a certain winner—providing you can afford his price tag.
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Opposition: West Ham (A)
After a fairly lacklustre debut campaign in the Premier League, Gervinho is finally coming good and has been dominant so far this season, scoring five goals already this campaign.
The Ivorian is looked upon predominantly as a wide midfielder but Arsene Wenger has started to utilise his player in a more central position of late, an initiative that has started to yield goals.
After netting and assisting in the midweek win over Olympiakos, Gervinho is in a rich vein of form and will be looking to continue that consistency at West Ham.
The Gunners lost their first game of the season last weekend and will be hoping to bounce back in a big way when they travel to Upton Park.
West Ham will by no means be an easy opponent to overcome but the possible absences of Alou Diarra, Joey O’Brien, Winston Reid and Jack Collison could tell.
The Hammers will be hard to restrain but while a clean sheet may not be on the cards, the visitors could well get on the scoring sheet with Gervinho the Gunners’ in-form attacker.
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Opposition: Aston Villa (H)
Tottenham are yet to keep a clean sheet this season but are starting to turn their season around and are due a defensive showing.
Spurs are coming off the back of a 3-2 victory over Manchester United and morale will be soaring within Andre Villas-Boas’ camp heading into this weekend’s fixture.
Aston Villa have been below average when attacking away from home so far this season, scoring just two goals in three away league matches.
Brad Friedel has maintained his No.1 spot at White Hart Lane this campaign, keeping Hugo Lloris out of the starting setup and while he may be 41 years old, the American shows the age of someone far younger.
Friedel remains one of the strongest stoppers in the English top flight and with Tottenham’s form improving, their veteran’s performance continues to improve along with it.
With a host of summer purchases amongst their ranks, AVB’s men are finally starting to mesh as a unit and despite some defensive absences, Friedel and his teammates have the ability to restrain an inconsistent Villa attack.
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Opposition: Manchester City (A)
Since coming to Sunderland, Steven Fletcher has done nothing but prove that his £12m price was indeed justified, scoring five goals in the four Premier League matches he’s played as a Black Cat.
The north-east club won this fixture last season thanks to a Ji Dong-Won goal and if they are to replicate that feat this time around, it’s massively probable that it will be as a result of Fletcher—their main scoring asset—getting on the scoresheet.
Add to that the fact that Manchester City are yet to keep a clean sheet this campaign and it would appear that Martin O’Neill’s side can keep their unbeaten streak going.
Despite coming into the side after the season had begun, the Scotsman has quickly emerged as Sunderland’s top scorer and if anyone is to heap further misery on the Citizens’ 2012-13 season, it’s Steven Fletcher.
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Opposition: Stoke City (H)
Peter Crouch may be in fine scoring form for Stoke City, but has scored just once in ten appearances against his old club.
Apart from the lanky frontman, Tony Pulis has little in terms of attacking options and Pepe Reina would appear to have an easy time on his hands unless Crouch can create scoring chances.
The Potters have won none of their last 13 Premier League away games and have never won away at Anfield in the top flight in 49 attempts.
Reina hasn’t been in his most impressive form so far this season but undoubtedly has the potential to be a fine stopper on his day: It’s just a matter of recalling his finest form.
What’s more Liverpool and Stoke have a habit of playing out bore draws, making for a likely clean sheet for the home side.