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    George's Fantasy Football Tips: Week Four



    Now that the international break is at an end we can all get back to what really matters: Premier League Fantasy Football. I can also continue to procrastinate by claiming that sorting out my Fantasy Team is classed as 'article work'.
    Forty-Three points was the average haul for Gameweek Three and there were plenty of talking points. As I’m sure many did, I predicted a high-scoring game between Liverpool and Arsenal and highlighted Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Alexandre Lacazette as key players. Liverpool blew the Gunners away and the previously mentioned trio for the Merseysiders were all pivotal, contributing a combined thirty-one points. Arsenal’s Lacazette, to the surprise of many, did not start the game and had little chance to make an impact when he did come on.
    Elsewhere, I tipped both Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling as potential major points earners in Manchester City’s trip to Bournemouth. The pair scored City’s goals in a 2-1 win and Jesus ended the match with a credible nine points to his name. Sterling would have finished on seven points but, following his controversial dismissal, three points were deducted from his score. Jermain Defoe also started the game for Bournemouth but made little impact.
    Raheem Sterling celebrates his stoppage time winner

    Admittedly, I did get my Huddersfield vs. Southampton prediction wrong. The Saints have drawn a blank in half of their eighteen Premier League matches since February’s EFL Cup final but I felt that they might’ve thrived in Yorkshire. Manolo Gabbiadini, however, didn’t get a sniff- his one potential chance could’ve came when Nathan Redmond decided to shoot instead of squaring the ball in the first half. Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier didn’t have much joy with my prediction that Spurs would comfortably break their Wembley hoodoo also unfounded following Chris Wood’s stoppage time equaliser.
    So overall the predictions made weren’t too far off the mark- a generous 7/10 maybe. But let’s see how I do this week!
    Manchester City will hope to offer a trickier prospect than Arsenal for Liverpool
    Manchester City vs Liverpool
    Both sides have started the season relatively well and guarantee goals. Liverpool tend to turn up for the big occasion and were unbeaten away from home against last season’s top six, winning two and drawing three. Their high pressing style can catch teams off guard and they’re lethal on the counter attack- their regular front three and new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could find some joy exploiting City’s inexperienced flanks and lack of pace at the back. Vincent Kompany's absence through injury is a major blow but Man City can still boast attacking threats of their own to rival Liverpool. Sterling, as previously mentioned, is suspended but the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sané and David Silva can tear even the best defences apart, especially on a pitch as wide as the Etihad. These are the kind of crucial games in which both sides have a decision to make: either to go for the win or simply set up to avoid defeat. The former is much more likely so I would predict both teams to score and to pack your side with as many of their forwards as possible.

    Wayne Rooney has scored all of Everton's league goals so far this season
    Everton vs Tottenham
    In recent years, Everton have generally had a poor record against Tottenham with their last win at Goodison Park thanks to stoppage time goals from Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavić in December 2012. Since then, two of the three encounters when Everton have been the home side have finished in score draws. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this encounter went the same way this time around. The strength of both sides is their central spine and this is where the game will be won or lost. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s home debut is bound to bring the best out of him as is the fact that it will be against a former side. Wayne Rooney has also been given a new lease of life since re-joining his boyhood club, scoring two goals in the opening three games. His latest controversy aside, Rooney is pivotal to Everton’s fortunes, as Ian Wright pointed out in a BBC article earlier this week. The only issue is whether he will feature for the Toffees, with his court hearing for alleged drink-driving set for the 18th September. On the other side of things, Dele Alli looked sharp for England during midweek and would be a decent bet for a goal or an assist- as would Christian Eriksen, whose ability to unlock any defence and yet remain criminally underrated is incredible. Harry Kane again failed to register a goal in August so it would seem almost inevitable that he will wake from his summer hibernation to once again spearhead a Tottenham title surge. I would expect the England striker in particular, out of all the above players, to open his account for the season this weekend.

    Marcus Rashford's pace could hurt Stoke

    Stoke City vs Manchester United
    Stoke have started the season relatively well and Mark Hughes has proved many of his doubters wrong in the process. Jesé Rodriguez was an impressive acquisition; if it weren’t for an unfortunate string of injuries he may well have still been at either Real Madrid or his parent club, PSG. Stoke have also attempted to bolster the centre of defence with Bruno Martins Indi, Kurt Zouma and Kevin Wimmer all brought in to offer some support for Ryan Shawcross. Stoke’s longest serving player, Shawcross has been their defensive focal point for the best part of a decade now but has struggled in recent years with persistent injuries. They never look as solid without him in the side and, unless the new signings step up to the plate immediately, it could be a tough afternoon. United haven’t won in the Potteries since 2013 but they are beginning to look like the classic counter-attacking side that they once were. They can absorb pressure comfortably with a world class goalkeeper and strong defensive line screened by Nemanja Matić before releasing their abundance of attacking power with the opposition caught upfield. I would expect United to win this one with a pacier player grabbing a goal- maybe an Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku or Marcus Rashford.

    Jonjo Shelvey (pictured centre) was sent off on the opening day for stamping on Dele Alli

    Swansea vs Newcastle
    Swansea City were tipped for relegation by many this season and losing Gylfi Sigurdsson was a huge blow. He was directly involved in twenty-two of Swansea’s forty-five goals last season but Sam Clucas did prove his capability at this level for Hull City. Able to operate on either flank or in a central position, Clucas could be a decent shout for an assist this weekend. The loan signing of Renato Sanches further proved how effective Paul Clement’s contacts are from previous coaching roles as well. The Portuguese is one of the most exciting prospects in Europe and should thrive in a side synonymous with keeping the ball on the floor. Up front, Tammy Abraham is steadily proving that he can cut it at the highest level, impressing for England on Under 21 duty this summer before opening his account for the season against Crystal Palace. Returning hero Wilfried Bony may well feature as well for the Swans. It would be a scriptwriter’s dream if he were to reignite his career with a goal this weekend, most likely from the bench. Newcastle registered an impressive victory over West Ham in their last game but the result was also aided by how poor the Hammers were. 3-0 may have flattered to deceive. Chancel Mbemba is likely to miss out through injury- a major blow to the Magpies’ already questionable defence. Jonjo Shelvey’s stupid sending off on the opening day summed up the worst part of his game but, when he is on song, he is a technically gifted player capable of the spectacular. He has a massive point to prove on his Swansea return tomorrow and will be itching to make sure that happens at the Liberty Stadium. I would expect Swansea to edge this one but Newcastle to push them all the way.

    Thanks for reading, hopefully I get at least one prediction right to justify continuing the series next week.

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    Item Reviewed: George's Fantasy Football Tips: Week Four Rating: 5 Reviewed By: George Kelsey
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