Gameweek 8 Preview – Almost There

We’re almost there folks – the second international break of the season is almost at an end. These international breaks seem a long drawn out bore, but with Gameweek 8 rapidly approaching on the horizon, it’s time for us to preview the upcoming action.

Captain contenders

Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Santi Cazorla are my three main contenders this week.

Man United face Stoke at Old Trafford, and while Robin van Persie will be a hugely popular captain choice, a word of caution: Stoke have only conceded 5 goals this season, despite facing Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. It’s unlikely to be a walkover.

Van Persie was rested for Holland’s first international game against Andorra, so his chances of starting look good, but with Man United facing Braga on Tuesday night in the Champions League, we should be mindful of possible rotation.

Many Fantasy managers, as ever, will dismiss Luis Suarez as the one who just misses the target all the time. But I’m backing the Uruguayan as a brilliant captain choice for his clash against Reading at Anfield.

Suarez has had 76 touches in the opposition penalty area this season. That’s over 30 ahead of the nearest player, and incredibly, the whole Sunderland team! Astonishing. He’ll get plenty of chances against the Royals and I’m backing strong returns.

Finally, Cazorla, and the little Spanish wizard could be a shrewd captain choice against Norwich at Carrow Road. The Canaries have conceded 17 goals already this season and Cazorla’s sheer involvement in Arsenal’s attacks gives him a great chance of returns.

For those who like to dabble with alternative captain choices, Dimitar Berbatov and Kevin Nolan are my choices for you mavericks.

Berbatov is widely expected to return from injury to lead the line for Fulham’s home clash with Aston Villa, while Nolan welcomes Southampton to Upton Park.

Sorry Saints fans, but Southampton are fast becoming whipping boys with their open style of football, particularly away from home, and it’s hard to see West Ham not notching a couple of goals. Nolan will be there or thereabouts.

Clean sheets

Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal are my clean sheet favourites this week. All have a good chance of keeping out Stoke, Reading and Norwich respectively. All 3 have desperately struggled for goals and I don’t see that changing.

In the less secure bracket, Man City could sneak a clean sheet at West Brom, while Fulham could keep out Villa. Elsewhere, I think we’ll see plenty of goals and clean sheets could be sparse.

3 Wise Men

Following the success of this feature in Gameweek 7 (with my 3 tipped players returning a combined 24 points), I’ve tipped another 3 unfashionable players for a good Gameweek and beyond.

John Arne Riise

With 3 assists already this season, Riise’s ambitious left-flank runs are paying off nicely. He really is getting forward a lot. Aston Villa rock up to Craven Cottage this weekend, and with a rocket shot also in his armory, I would not be surprised to see Riise return further attacking points, with a good chance of a clean sheet too.

Esteban Granero

The summer signing from Real Madrid caught my eye in the defeat to West Brom in Gameweek 7. Granero’s fine vision and eye for a pass supplied the assist for Adel Taarabt’s well-taken goal, while Granero’s consolation goal against the Baggies was a superbly placed effort that oozed class.

On all corners and free-kicks, Granero always has potential to score points, and with Everton, Reading and Southampton at home in the next 5 Gameweeks, Granero could be worth a gamble at just 5.5m.

Olivier Giroud

Giroud’s confidence is high after notching his first Premier League goal at West Ham in Gameweek 7, followed by a last ditch equaliser for France against Spain this week, despite only coming on for the last 3 minutes.

A starting role against Norwich this weekend looks almost assured, and with the likes of Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla supplying the ammunition, there’s no doubt he’ll get chances against a woeful Norwich backline who’ve conceded 9 goals in their last 2 games. Indeed, Giroud had double the chances of any forward last Gameweek, with 8 attempts on goal.