Insider Eye

By: Fantasy League 15th December 2011


Blackburn are the Team to Avoid for the second week in a row, but that's not really a surprise is it?



Team to Watch - Newcastle

Last week's debacle at Norwich should be used by coaches across the north east of England to instruct young footballers how not to defend.

Stand-in centre-backs James Perch and Danny Simpson had no interest in dealing with the crosses Norwich swung into the box, allowing Grant Holt and Steve Morison to get headers at goal unchallenged.

The Canaries duly ran out 4-2 winners, but Newcastle should be in a better shape when Swansea visit St James' Park.

The reported return of club captain Fabricio Coloccini and recognised centre-back Mike Williamson will put an end to the Toon Army's defensive worries.

At the other end of the pitch Newcastle have the in-form Demba Ba banging in the goals and he proved he has grace as well as power with a delightful first touch that led to one his brace against Norwich.

The Senegal striker already has 11 goals this season and will relish taking on a Swans defence that shipped four goals at Blackburn when they last left Wales.

Team to Avoid - Blackburn

Blackburn's late collapse against Sunderland last weekend was terrible news for the club, in more ways than just losing the three points.

It will have severely dented morale, but they also picked up injuries to several key players at a crucial time of the season – going into the busy festive period.

Jason Lowe, Gael Givet, Michel Salgado, Martin Olsson and Junior Hoilett all picked up injuries in the Sunderland game, and are being assessed ahead of the game on Saturday.

West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to Ewood Park at the weekend, and they are likely to prove a stern test for a depleted Rovers side.

If wingers Olsson and Hoilett don't make the match, Blackburn could have real trouble getting the ball to the in-form Yakubu, who has been their key-man this season.

Banker Clean Sheet - Chelsea

Chelsea have looked much better at the back in recent weeks, just look at their organisation against Newcastle and Valencia if you need any proof.

And, the way they shored things up in the second half on Monday night when previously unbeaten Manchester City were swept aside 2-1 should not be ignored.

The presence of young holding midfielder Oriol Romeu gives extra protection to the back four and Chelsea have won all three of the games he's started in the Premier League.

Andre Villas-Boas has also instructed his team to defend much deeper in an attempt to reduce the number of goals they concede from through balls.

The Blues should win a fourth league game in a row on Saturday when they travel to lowly Wigan, a side that has failed to score in two of their last three home games.

Injuries and Suspensions

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has been ruled out for six weeks with a spinal problem.

David Stockdale has been recalled from a loan spell at Ipswich as a result.

Newcastle centre-back Mike Williamson believes he is ready to solve their defensive problems by declaring himself fit to face Swansea on Saturday.

Manchester United have confirmed that midfielder Darren Fletcher will take an extended break from football due to health problems.

Blackburn face the prospect of being without Jason Lowe, Gael Givet, Michel Salgado, Martin Olsson and Junior Hoilett for the next few games, after all picked up injuries against Sunderland at the weekend.

Arsenal defender Andre Santos will be sidelined for up to three months after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle.

Manchester City defender Gael Clichy will be suspended for the visit of his former club Arsenal after being sent off against Chelsea on Monday night.

Newcastle midfielder Dan Gosling will serve a three-match ban following his red card against Norwich at the weekend.

Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul will be suspended for the visit of Sunderland on Sunday, after his was sent off at Stoke.

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Bolton at the weekend, and will miss the visit of Liverpool on Sunday as a result.

New Players

Keep an eye on our Ins & Outs page for details of all the arrivals and departures on the Fantasy League Player List.

The Fantasy Football Show

For more insight and analysis ahead of the weekend's Premier League action listen to our podcast, The Fantasy Football Show by clicking here.

Fantasy League have made their predictions for the weekend. Do you agree? Which teams do you think are the ones to target? Please leave your comments below...

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