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    George's Fantasy Football Tips: Week Five

    Another week, another Fantasy League prediction. Gameweek Four certainly had its talking points and my tips were heavily involved in them (if you had Sadio Mané in your team then I’m sorry). Liverpool were put to the sword after Mané’s dismissal and the main architects of that were, as predicted, Sergio Agüero, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus. Along with Leroy Sané, the quartet alone racked up a combined forty-three points- just one shy of the Gameweek average!

    I got half of the Everton vs. Spurs prediction correct but the away side running riot came as a surprise. Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson are arguably Everton’s two key attacking threats but, on a poor day for the Toffees, they gained just three points respectively. On the other hand, I predicted that Harry Kane would emerge from his August hibernation and he certainly paid back that faith; netting a brace and amassing thirteen points for his efforts. Christian Eriksen grabbed the other, managing eight points to continue his excellent form so far this season.
    The dismissal that sealed Liverpool's fate at the Etihad
    With regards to Manchester United’s trip to Stoke, I predicted that buying some quick players designed for a counter-attacking system would be a shrewd investment. Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial came to mind, and the former two scored both of the away side’s goals in a 2-2 draw. They gained seven and six points respectively as a result.
    I definitely got the Swansea City vs. Newcastle United prediction wrong- the four players that I highlighted as potential high points earners for the home side brought in a total of eight points combined. Luckily this was the only one I got horrifically wrong so I can yet again justify writing another weekly instalment! And so, without further ado, here are my irrelevant and inaccurate thoughts…

    Virgil Van Dijk could feature for the first time this season
    Crystal Palace vs. Southampton:
    The sacking of Frank de Boer earlier this week was a shock with regards to how little time the Dutchman was given more than how the team had been performing. Steve Parish’s experiment did not pay off and, as a result, the Palace Chairman has, in a way, reverted back to type in employing an experienced, English manager. Roy Hodgson’s first job since leaving the National team role has been met with a mixed response. True, England were poor under his tenure but it must be acknowledged that the national job has made even the most decorated of coaches have a managerial meltdown (Fabio Capello anyone?). Hodgson’s previous club role saw him take West Bromwich Albion to their first top flight finish in Premier League history while he also oversaw a European final at Fulham two years before that. The league is much more open now than it was then following a significant financial injection but Hodgson’s record in the Premier League is worth considering before making a judgement on his suitability. Andros Townsend always performed for the new manager when they worked together on international duty and that could well be the case again this week. If Palace are to score their first goal of the season, I would expect the winger to have played a part in it or at least to have a good game this weekend. Southampton have scored just three goals so far this season but have conceded only four and there are rumours that Virgil Van Dijk could make his first appearance of the season after failing to force through a move to Liverpool. If his head is in the right place, he is one of the best centre backs the Premier League has to offer and would strengthen the Saints’ back line considerably. A solid defensive unit against a team who have not scored yet this season. This is destined to either finish 5-5 or be last on Match of the Day.

    Christian Eriksen's strike against Everton was his first of the season
    Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City:
    Tottenham’s Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund during the week was one of the most entertaining games of the season so far. The home side were excellent with Harry Kane in particular taking the plaudits after scoring two of Spurs’ three goals. Kane’s overall game is up there with the best- he can hold the ball up, link play with his teammates and finish with either foot or his head. I would expect his goal scoring form to continue this weekend if his performance during midweek and against Everton last Saturday is anything to go by. Another in form Spurs player has been Christian Eriksen, his next goal will make him the highest scoring Dane in Premier League history. He would be a logical acquisition if he is not already in your side- he is the third highest points earner so far this season and will surely thrive on a large pitch with plenty of space. On the other hand, Spurs’ opponents are not there simply to make up the numbers. Swansea are unbeaten away from home and will be looking to set a club record of four consecutive top-flight away clean sheets. Although I do not believe they will achieve this, they are no pushovers and Renato Sanches showed glimpses of his ability on his Swansea debut last weekend. If he is given space on a large pitch like Wembley then he is capable of doing damage and at £5.0, he does not break the bank either. Two good footballing sides, Spurs should win this one but Swansea are unlikely to be blown away.

    Could Philippe Coutinho light up the Premier League again this season?
    Liverpool vs. Burnley:
    Liverpool have endured a difficult week, being dismantled in last Saturday’s early kick off before throwing away three points during midweek against Sevilla in their Champions League opener. The loss of Sadio Mané to suspension could damage Liverpool’s prospects of continuing their 100% record at Anfield, but they have several top-quality players waiting in the wings. The obvious candidate for this role would be Philippe Coutinho, who featured for the first time this season in midweek to a positive reception from the Anfield faithful. He is arguably the only player Liverpool possess who is on the same level as Mané and would slot into the latter’s role seamlessly whether this be from the wing or in a false-nine central role. Another who could fill the Mané sized void for the next fortnight is Daniel Sturridge. The Englishman’s goal scoring record remains impressive but he continues to be side-lined by either his manager or injury. This would be the perfect time for Sturridge to claim a regular starting spot for Liverpool, get a consistent run of games under his belt and prove his doubters wrong. The concern is more whether he will be given the opportunity, not whether he would take it. For Burnley, Tom Heaton’s dislocated shoulder last week is a major blow. Nick Pope deputised well and will start again this week but an away trip to Anfield is a much more difficult prospect than a home match against a side yet to register a goal this season. With Sam Vokes and Chris Wood leading the line, the Clarets have two hard working forwards who offer a serious threat in the air. They could be good for a goal this weekend but I would expect Liverpool to win this one with the usual suspects (Firmino and Salah) starring.
    Rooney and Lukaku will be facing their former clubs for the first time on Sunday
    Everton vs. Manchester United:
    Everton have not had the easiest of starts to the campaign, facing three of last year’s top four already, but they have still conceded eight goals in their last three matches with no reply. In fact, they have managed just four shots on target in their last three matches. What better way to shake off that poor form than to go away to a side averaging three goals a game? United have looked like title contenders in their first few games and are blowing away the types of sides who managed to take points off them last season. Everton were unlucky not to win at Old Trafford last season but would happily take a point this time around. Low on confidence and likely to be tired from midweek European excursions, the Toffees will most likely sit back and hope for an opportunity on the counter attack. Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford and Romelu Lukaku’s first game against Everton since their summer switches will make this an even more interesting encounter. Lukaku will get a frostier reception from his previous employers but is likely to come away from this game happier than Everton’s new frontman. The Toffees know Lukaku’s game better than anyone but the Belgian’s form makes it likely that he will add to his already impressive tally for the season. Another potential sound investment could be another ex-Everton man in Marouane Fellaini. He is not a regular starter but with Paul Pogba injured he may be given his opportunity. As mentioned, Everton are likely to sit back to avoid getting caught out by United’s pace. If they manage to hold off the home side until the last twenty minutes or so, Fellaini, given his aerial prowess and ability to be a general nuisance, is a logical option to be thrown on as a target man in the hope of grabbing a scrappy goal or assist. At just £4.9, he could be a cheap points earner and free up funds for a more expensive player in your team.

    Thanks for reading, hopefully some of these predictions come off!
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    Item Reviewed: George's Fantasy Football Tips: Week Five Rating: 5 Reviewed By: George Kelsey
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