Gameweek 2 – Premiership Fantasy Football 2015/2016
The second gameweek of the Premier League kicks off with Manchester United making the trip to Villa Park in the first Friday night Premier League fixture since Arsenal hosted Newcastle at Highbury in 2003, which saw Thierry Henry score two goals with a third coming from Gilberto Silva to guide the Gunners to a 3-2 win in what was to become their ‘Invincibles’ season. After their shakey 1-0 win against Tottenham last Saturday, few will be backing United to repeat the feat that only Arsene Wenger has managed to achieve, but the Red Devils will be fancied in this fixture nonetheless.
Wayne Rooney (£10.5m) will be in many fantasy managers’ sights after notching an assist from a deflected ball off of Kyle Walker last weekend, and all signs point to him getting on the score sheet in this fixture. Afforded a starting berth in the central striker position for United, great expectations are rested on the former Evertonian’s shoulders after his last campaign as a central striker saw him notch 27 goals in 34 appearances back in 2011-12. Some managers may well be eyeing United’s defensive prospects too after an impressive performance in the first game of the campaign, with both Chris Smalling (£6.0m) and new signing Matteo Darmian (£5.6m) putting in impressive early performances. Despite the odds being against them, ‘Tactics’ Tim Sherwood will not be approaching the game with a losing mentality and new signings Rudy Gestede (£6.0m) and Micah Richards (£4.5m) will be looking to build on impressive debuts for the Villans against Bournemouth last weekend.
The most exciting matches of the weekend will be played out on Super Sunday, with Crystal Palace hosting Arsenal at Selhurst Park in the early kick off at 13:30. After a less than stellar performance against West Ham last weekend which saw Arsenal lose 2-0, Alan Pardew could be forgiven for thinking he has a good chance of coming away from the encounter with the 3 points. The Eagles put in an impressive performance in their 3-1 win over Norwich, with Yohan Cabaye (£6.5m) in particular impressing with his display. In spite of this, Arsenal will be eager to put in a big performance to silence their detractors, and talismanic Chilean Alexis Sanchez (£11.5m) looks set to make his first start of the season and could prove to be too much for the likes of stand-in goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (£4.0m) to keep at bay.
The late kick off sees one of the biggest games of the season played out at the Etihad, as champions Chelsea travel to face runners-up Manchester City. The Citizens put in a hugely impressive performance at The Hawthorns on Monday, dispatching West Brom with ease, largely thanks to immense performances from Yaya Toure (£8.5m) and David Silva (£10.0m). Record City signing Raheem Sterling was largely anonymous in the encounter, much to Liverpool fans’ delight, and question marks are hanging firmly over his £9.0m price tag going into the fixture.
Chelsea come off the back of a poor performance which saw them draw 2-2 against Swansea on Saturday evening and confidence in the Blues to deliver a winning performance will be low. Despite this, Jose Mourinho always has a plan going into the big games and will not go down without a fight. All eyes have been on the Chelsea boss and his latest controversy this week, as well liked club doctor Eva Carneiro was removed from the bench for running on to the pitch when Eden Hazard went down in stoppage time, leaving the Blues with just 9 men on the pitch after Thibaut Courtois’ (£5.5m) careless red card. In spite of all this, Chelsea will be strong contenders in the game, and the brutal Diego Costa (£11.0m) looks to be fit enough to start the match which could spell trouble for City’s defenders. Recently rated as the 6th best player in Europe by UEFA, Eden Hazard (£11.5m) has put in some fairly forgettable performances of late, but the young Belgian is unstoppable when he’s on song and could well regain his best form on Sunday. Either way this should be a spectacular game and likely the highlight of the weekend!
The Monday night game sees Bournemouth travel to Anfield in their maiden Premier League campaign, and Eddie Howe will be optimistic he can lead the Cherries to victory over a less than convincing Liverpool who edged past Stoke thanks to a sublime strike from Phillippe Coutinho (£8.0m) in the dying minutes of their match at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday. Christian Benteke (£8.5m) had a fairly meagre debut for the Reds and it’s clear that Brendan Rodgers will need to experiment to fit the powerful Belgian into the frame for Liverpool, having moved on another target man in Andy Carroll back in 2013 because he didn’t fit the team’s plans. The Anfield faithful will be hopeful that Roberto Firmino (£8.5m) will be handed a start after an impressive (albeit short) debut against the Potters and the pressure will certainly be on Rodgers to claim a key victory amidst their tough run-in over their next 6 away fixtures. Shrewd managers eyeing differentials from the Bournemouth ranks may want to consider Matt Ritchie (£6.0m) and Marc Pugh (£5.0m), who both enjoyed stellar campaigns in the Championship last season and showed some promise against Aston Villa at the weekend. Equally Cherries striker Callum Wilson (£5.5m) has piqued some manager’s curiosity after notching 20 goals in the Championship, and he was instrumental in securing Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League.