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Dublin: 6°C Friday 25 September 2020
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Fantasyland: Top teams need to up the ante

Normally impressive sides such as Man United and Man City have stuttered on occasion this season.

Jermain Defoe has enjoyed an excellent start to the season.
Jermain Defoe has enjoyed an excellent start to the season.

MUCH LIKE LAST season, this year, there is little evidence to suggest that any side has the ability to completely dominate the league as teams such as Arsenal and Man United did in years gone by.

Similarly, player-wise, it seems unlikely that any player can replicate the incredible highs that players including Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry have reached in seasons past.

All of which can only be a positive development in relation to the unpredictability and level of skill required to flourish in Fantasy Football.

Two players to pick this week

Jermain Defoe: The striker has become a regular fixture in the Tottenham side during Andre Villas-Boas’ reign, having found himself out of favour in the latter half of Harry Redknapp’s tenure. Defoe has enjoyed a prolific start to the season, and at 7.8million, he undoubtedly represents value for money. The Portuguese manager has started him in every Premier League game thus far, so expect him to thrive against a Villa team that has endured a shaky start to the season.

Yaya Toure: It is with some hesitation that I recommend any City player, given Roberto Mancini’s Ranieri-esque compulsion to constantly tinker with his team. Yet Yaya Toure is as close to an ever-present as City have at the moment, and he’s consequently one of the top-scoring midfielders in the Fantasy League. He may have been somewhat overwhelmed by Dortmund’s midfield during the week, but he’ll be expected to prosper against a Sunderland side likely to do little other than defend in numbers.

Two players to avoid this week

Rio Ferdinand: Or any of the United back four for that matter, given how hesitant they’ve looked of late. All four defenders were partially to blame for at least one of the three goals conceded against Tottenham on Saturday, while both Evra and Ferdinand didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory as they went behind early on in the Cluj match. Moreover, victory is far from certain this time around, as they face a tough trip to Newcastle who have Demba Ba, in particular, showing sparkling form of late. Then again, no matter who they play at the moment, United look perpetually liable to concede.

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Per Mertesacker: Arsenal have been praised for bringing an ostensible solidity to their defence this season, with many citing the appointment of Steve Bould as coach as key to their prompt change in fortunes at the back. Yet the jury remains out, as it’s surely far too early in the season to reach a definitive verdict on the matter. This weekend will be a real test for Wenger’s men, as they face a Sam Allardyce-managed West Ham side, who have impressed at times this season. Allardyce also had a lot of joy when it came to fixtures with Arsenal during his time as Bolton manager, so expect the likes of Andy Carroll to give Mertesacker and Vermaelen plenty of problems this weekend.

Predictions

Man City 3-1 Sunderland

Chelsea 4-0 Norwich

Swansea 2-1 Reading

West Brom 2-1 QPR

Wigan 1-2 Everton

West Ham 1-2 Arsenal

Sothampton 2-2 Fulham

Liverpool 2-1 Stoke City

Tottenham 3-1 Aston Villa

Newcastle 1-2 Man United

How my team got on last week:

Reasonably well. A bit like Tottenham, I’m continuing to recover from a disastrous start to the season with some impressive results – the most recent of which saw my side secure an above-average overall weekly tally of 61 points. It could have been so much better though, if I’d had the foresight to make either Ba or Suarez my captain, rather than the considerably less successful Tevez.

Who’s leading TheScore.ie Primera Division?

Stephen Ruth’s Man Red’s have gained top spot and currently possess 437 points. Just behind them on 418 points is Riggins’ Rovers – the team of TheScore.ie columnist Neil Cullen

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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