It's good to be back. There's no doubt the international break threw up some thrilling ties, such as France's comeback against the Ukraine, and in particular a world class performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, but it always feels like something is missing from life when we're forced to go without Premier League or fantasy football for the best part of two weeks. I found the break particularly frustrating as Week 11 was a poor one for my Yahoo Fantasy Premier League team and for Tottenham, which has left me in an extended bad mood, so I'm hoping both will show improved performances in Week 12.
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The week ahead looks like this ...
Week 12 Fixtures
Arsenal v Southampton
Cardiff City v Manchester United
Everton v Liverpool
Fulham v Swansea City
Hull City v Crystal Palace
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle v Norwich City
Stoke City v Sunderland
West Bromwich v Aston Villa
West Ham United v Chelsea
Can you spot a standout fixture? I'm not sure there really is one this week, but let's look at them one by one.
Arsenal at Southampton brings together two of the most fashionable teams in the Premier League right now, with the Gunners top of the league and the Saints flying high in 3rd. It's likely to be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend and the one I'll be trying to find a stream for on Saturday afternoon, expecting to see Arsenal bounce-back from the their defeat at Old Trafford in Week 11 with a narrow victory in front of their home fans.
Cardiff host Manchester United and this a game I'd expect David Moyes' men to win, having seen a vast improvement in their form over the past six weeks, so a Red Devils attacker should be considered. The Merseyside derby between Everton v Liverpool is the early Saturday kick-off so we'll get line-ups before the Yahoo deadline, but aside from checking Luis Suarez has made it back unscathed from his long haul journey from South America I wouldn't be loading up on too many players from either side, with these games typically tight affairs with plenty of yellow and red cards over the years.
Fulham v Swansea is a difficult one to call, with both sides having tough starts to the season. Fulham in particular are having a rotten time of it and their form at Craven Cottage has dipped alarmingly, so I'm leaning towards an away win for Swansea, but again I don't advocate heavy investment. One game that does trigger some interest is Hull City at home to Crystal Palace. Hull have lost three of their last four league games but should have enough to dispatch the Eagles at the KC Stadium, so a home defender and Robbie Brady (if fit) would seem sensible.
I'll admit I'm concerned about Tottenham's trip to Manchester City. Manuel Pellegrini has got City playing extremely well at home while Spurs are struggling for goals and are fresh off the back of a disappointing result against Newcastle. It looks like a home win to me so I suggest including a City player or two, and would avoid Spurs completely. Moving on to Newcastle, they'll be feeling confident after that surprise win at White Hart Lane and should fancy their chances at home to a Norwich side who don't travel well. This is one game I expect to focus on, with the likes of Tim Krul, Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy all worth considering.
Stoke City against Sunderland doesn't really get the pulse racing, and until we know whether Sunderland's revival is limited to home games then I'd be wary of picking many players from Stoke in case Gus Poyet has the Black Cats up for this one. It's also difficult to recommend getting too invested in the Midlands derby, with a draw my prediction and a risk of tough tackles and cards for West Brom and Aston Villa players. Finally, Chelsea have the potential to provide value at West Ham but it's yet another derby match and Jose Mourinho's men have been poor in their past two league matches, so there is a risk of a repeat and also a risk of rotation. However, if we get a decent press conference out of Mourinho which gives us an idea of their team then a defender could be on my radar, as the Hammers have struggled for goals.
Not too much to get excited about, but our focus should probably be on the likes of Newcastle, Hull, Manchester City and Manchester United.
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The Week 12 player recommendations follow on the next page ....