Fantasy Football Preview: Hammers and Saints chase top-spot; Mignolet to make it three?

Game-week three contains more blockbusters and the chance for surprise new league leaders, with players from West Ham United, Manchester City and Tottenham all tipped to shine.

Fixture analysis: There are two huge games on Sunday, with Liverpool hosting Manchester United and Arsenal welcoming Tottenham Hotspur to the Emirates. After United’s captivating but goalless last outing, and with Liverpool’s back-to-back 1-0 wins, it could be wise to spend your money on defenders rather than attackers if you are picking from the two sides. But if you have your eyes on Arsenal versus Spurs, history suggests goals are in store.

The other Sunday match sees West Bromwich Albion entertain Swansea City, and the Swans may take their early season frustration out on the Baggies having lost their opening two games.

Saturday’s early kick-off gives Manchester City the chance to put the 3-2 loss to Cardiff behind them, as they welcome a Hull City side who will do extremely well to take anything from the game.

Fresh from that shock win, the Bluebirds play Everton, and will hope Manuel Pellegrini’s claim that few teams will win at the Cardiff City Stadium proves to be true.

Expect goals and entertainment from Norwich and Southampton, as two of the summer’s savviest shoppers face off at Carrow Road. While West Ham (along with the Saints) will be eying top-spot, at least for a few hours, as they play Stoke City.

Player analysis:  Simon Mignolet (5.6) has had an outstanding start to his Liverpool career, and could be a good choice if you think the Reds can keep a third consecutive clean-sheet at home to Manchester United. He is also the top-scoring ‘keeper going into game-week three.

For a cheaper, if riskier, goalkeeping option, Allan McGregor (4.5) has started his Hull City career impressively. Should he keep a clean-sheet at the Etihad, he will add to his already impressive points total of 16.

In defence, the smart money could be spent on West Ham’s back-line, with James Collins (4.5) and Winston Reid (5.0) both good bets given the Hammers’ home match is against a Stoke City side they would hope to negate.

Manchester City’s Matija Nastasic (5.5) may also be a good choice on his likely return to the team.

If you feel Everton will bring Cardiff City back to earth this weekend, both Seamus Coleman (5.3) and Ross Barkley (4.9) are cheap but effective options in defence and midfield respectively.

At the Emirates on Sunday, two midfielders in particular may be worth investing in. After another impressive showing in Europe, Aaron Ramsey (5.5) will be hoping to continue his goal-scoring form against Tottenham. But the opposition also possess a midfielder who could prove to be one of the signings of the summer in the form of Paulinho (7.0).

With Lukas Podolski injured, Olivier Giroud (8.6) will be Arsenal’s main hope of goals; while Roberto Soldado (9.6) has every chance of continuing his fine scoring start.

For cheaper goal-scoring options, you may be wise to consider Norwich’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel (7.0) and Southampton’s Rickie Lambert (7.6) as they face off in my tip for game-of-the-day.

Pablo Osvaldo (8.0) is a risk, but he could start his Saints career with a bang and shoot Mauricio Pochettino’s side to the top in the process.

In a match impossible to call, Fulham’s Darren Bent (6.5) could show Newcastle United what they missed out on by scoring at St James’ Park. While in Crystal Palace’s early must-win game at home to Sunderland, Mile Jedinak (4.5) and Marouane Chamakh (5.0) are likely to be influential should the Eagles succeed.

Captain choice: I may have picked him last week with little effect (although at least he scored), but I can see Edin Dzeko taking out a lot of his and City’s frustrations on Hull City. He knows he has Alvaro Negredo breathing down his neck, and I expect a fine goal-scoring display from the Bosnian.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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