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The FPL Jingle Blog – Gameweek 2

Howdy and welcome! To the FPL Jingle blog, my name is Stephen, co-host of the FPL Jingle podcast. I will be your guide and one stop shop for all things fantasy related to get you ready to dominate each gameweek by giving you all the latest team news, stats as well as my own predictions for each match up. So let’s not waffle on any further and get down to business!

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Aston Villa v Everton: 

Starting with the home side here and it is safe to say the Lions did not get off to the best of starts for the season. Entering into a game against the newly promoted and in the eyes of their own manager, Scott Parker, under prepared. You would have been forgiven then for thinking that an Aston Villa win would have been the formalities of this weekend’s fixtures (as I did).  You would be dead wrong however as Bournemouth, playing a 3-4-2-1, proved to be a stern test and ultimately too much to handle. Goals from Jefferson Lerma and Kieffer Moore proved that Villa still have a ways to go in terms of gelling as a team under Steven Gerrard.They created little in the ways of chances with their best chance being a Jalen Ramsey shot from outside of the box forcing a save from Travers (COYBIG).

I realise that saying all this makes it all sound very doom and gloom but this isn’t the case. Villa have a good squad and Gerrard has proven to be a successful manager in Scotland leading Rangers to their first premiership title since they went into liquidation. All the pieces are there for them to be a successful side. They can play some nice attacking football and with players like Couthinho, Watkins, Ings, Bailey and Buendia they have the fire power. Once they click they can be a scary team and this week’s match up against Everton is a prime opportunity.

Everton have gotten off to what many would describe as a predictable start. An opening day loss to Chelsea was probably to be expected but perhaps not in the matter with which it occurred. Bar an Abdoulaye Doucoure blunder in the box to bring down Chilwell for a penalty they might have left Goodison park with a point. 

New signings like Tarkowski, Coady, McNeil, Onana and Gueye will help bolster the team in the defense and midfield, especially after losing Ben Godfrey to what looked like a serious injury. These new signings will need to hit the ground running if the Toffees are to avoid a repeat of last season and find themselves in another relegation battle. The main problem that they have is their inability to score goals. When you are relying on playing young Anthony Gordon up top with Demari Gray and McNeil either side with your recognised striker out injured long term and your back up being Solomon Rondon (who was suspended this game) you are going to struggle.

Aston Villa are also not great opposition for Everton to try and bounce back against however, with Villa winning 4 of their last 6 meetings and the other 2 being draws. 

The history makes Aston Villa the favourites for this game with a 53% win probability and are 1.80 odds with the bookies which seems about right here. I fancy Villa to get their first win and points of the season here in their home opener and compound the pressure and unease on this Everton side. Look for Coutinho to play a key role and a potential change in the front 3 as I think Watkins might be likely to start, possibly on the right.

Southampton v Leeds: 

Switching things up and looking at the away side first, Leeds have been very active in the transfer window with both in and out goings. Losing key starters in Raphinia and Kalvin Philips to Barcelona and Man City and replacing them with Tyler Adams and Luis Sinisterra. They haven’t been the only incomings as Jesse Marsch has used his RB connections to also bring in AAronson and Kristensen from Salzburg and also Marc Roca from Bayern Munich to add some much needed depth to a squad that was ravaged but injuries last season and almost found itself back in the championship. 

With a fully fit squad and a full pre season under Marsch the team rocked up to play a Wolves side that had done little in the way of summer additions, missing their only recognised striker after Fabio Silva went out on loan to Anderlecht (not that he was any good anyway) and their captain on the bench as he was nearing a loan move to Everton. They then showed a steely resolve as they came back from a goal don early on to win the match and will be high on confidence heading to the sunny south to slay the Saints.

Southampton in the meantime will be licking their wounds and be hoping to forget last week ever happened after suffering a somewhat humiliating 4-1 defeat to Spurs in the Tottenham Hotspur stadium (For god’s sake come up with a catchier name!). With new owners in the door meant an influx of cash to spend on players and they wasted no time in doing exactly that, signing GK Bazunu (COYBIG), CB Kotchap, CDM Lavia, CM Aribo and ST Mara to add some freshness to what was becoming a small bit of an identity less squad. 

After snatching an early goal through talisman & captain James Ward Prowse they then did what all Southampton sides under Hassenhuttl seem to do and that is leak goals. Not to take any credit away from Spurs as they put in a great performance, Kulusevski in particular but this is something that has become a bit of a meme in the past couple seasons (as conceding 9 goals in 1 game multiple times a season is likely to do). 

They will be hoping to forget about this game and move forward with the first home game of the season on the sunny seaside but history is not entirely in their favour either. While they do have a 42% likely win percentage they have won just 2 of the last 6 meetings against leeds, with the peacocks winning 3 of the last 6. This is the kind of game that is likely to see both teams scoring and could go either way but would not be surprised to see it end in a draw.

Arsenal v Leicester:

I will try my best to be objective here but as an Arsenal fan my bias my slip through at times so my apologies in advance! At the start of the season Arsenal had what many considered to be the perfect pre season. Made some key signings in Jesus and Zinchenko, won all their games, scored 9, conceded only 1 and Jesus was on fire and became the highest owned player in FPL history heading into week 1 so as you can expect expectations were the highest they have ever been. Then reality strikes and you are playing Crystal Palace in Selhurst Park on the Friday night opener for the season in a fixture which has been notoriously tricky for them. No pressure.

And yet for the first 20-30 minutes of the match you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Man City or Liverpool. Arsenal were fantastic and completely controlled the game, resulting in a Martinelli goal from a pre planned corner set piece move. Then the second half started and Arsenal started to revert to type and Palace dominated and created some great chances. But where last season Arsenal may have folded, having the likes of Ramsdale in top form and a MOTM from what feels like new signing Saliba allowed Arsenal to hold on and eventually get a 2nd to kill the game.

Now as they make their home season debut there is no reason to think that they won’t be able to build on this and Leicester will be a tough but welcome challenge. Over 200+ thousand people have transferred out Jesus already but personally I think they are mad. He is guaranteed to start every game up top bar injury or if he is dire need of a rest. The rest of the team will likely remain unchanged with the eventual issue of the wing backs once Tomiyasu and Tierney are back fit.

The Foxes head into this game in perhaps not the best of moods. Rodgers, while not overly vocal, has said he would like to make additions to the squad as they are the only team in Europe’s top 5 leagues to have not done so. They lost Kasper Schmeichel to Nice for what seems like a steal, Tielemans may soon follow and Fofana has been very active on social media amid rumours of a bid from Chelsea. But credit to Rodgers here as he got that side ready to go against Brentford as for the first 60 minutes they bossed it. Maddison looked back to his best, Dewsbury-Hall had carried over his form from last season and Vardy was well…… Vardy.

Where they fell down was that once Brentford made a few changes and changed the formation they just didn’t recover. Whether Rodgers just didn’t think he had the personnel on his bench to make an impact on the game, only he truly knows. The types of goals they conceded as well felt very preventable, proving that some of their defensive woes from last season might not have fully gone away.

The Gunners will be the heavy favourites for this one with a 66% predicted win percentage and having won 4 of their last 6 meetings (3 of them to nil) it will take a massive effort from the Foxes here to get a result. Personally, I don’t see anything but an Arsenal win here and will be starting my Arsenal players for this one. 

Brighton v Newcastle: 

The first match up of the weekend so far that features 2 winning teams and it has to be said, both were in convincing fashion. Just 1 was a bit more expected than the other. Graham Potter has done a brilliant job at Brighton, bringing in his philosophy and style of play and not yielding despite the pressures he was surely under at the start of his tenure and it has paid dividends. Having their highest place finish in the league in their history last season, Potter has worked his magic (I know) to transform this side into a well drilled one where everyone knows their roles and fits into his system. 

A great example of this was the game against Man United where they got their first ever win at Old Trafford. They completely suffocated United whenever they played out from the back, nearly capitalising on this in the first minute of the game. The shape they set up with and the way they were able to play themselves out of danger was ultimately led to their 2nd goal as well. Welbeck looked to have a new lease of life and if ST Undav can finally prove to be the piece that the Seagulls have been missing all along, a good striker, then they could look to improve on last season.

A team also looking to improve on last season will be Newcastle. A full summer under their Saudi owners and Eddie Howe has resulted in the signings GK Pope, LB Targett being made permanent and CB Botman. Fans would have been hoping for more and there is still time in the window but there have been no recent links as of writing and what also must be noted is that financial fair play will hinder how much business they can do in 1 window. 

In their opening game against Forest they didn’t even give the opposition a sniff. From the first whistle to the last they controlled the game and eventually battered down Nott’s resolute defence thanks to a wonder strike from Scharr capped off by a lovely finish from Callum Wilson. Newcastle still look 1 or 2 players off being able to challenge further up the table but with Eddie Howe at the helm they have 1 of England’s top young managers.

I expect this to be a tightly contested affair as I feel these are 2 evenly matched teams and the data backs this up with 3 out of the last 6 ending in draws. Expect defence to remain supreme here with not too many chances going either way.

Man City v Bournemouth:

The biggest 1 sided matchup of the weekend see’s the premier league champions take on the newly promoted side in a match that will be on this Saturday! (If you know you know) 

City are fresh off their win against west ham and no doubt that Haaland will be desperate to get back out there to keep this run of form going and prove that he will be a force to be reckoned with for the years to come. I feel I am just repeating what everyone else has already said but the man was designed and built to score goals. There is nothing he doesn’t possess. The rest of the team just need to perform to the same levels as last year and the sky’s the limit. 

De Bruyne looked to be back to form in the last game, making the typical slide rule pass that you and I can only imagine in our heads to set up the 2nd goal. So what do you talk about when this team has everything? For me it is the wingers. Grealish is coming into his 2nd season under Pep but doesn’t look like he’s quite got it yet like Rodri and Cancelo did in their 2nd seasons. He’s under performed in the last game and the Community shield and with Foden being the talent he is I feel it is only a matter of time before that switch happens. That then leaves the space free on the right for Mahrez and if the rumours are to be believed about Bernardo Silva to Barcelona that means 1less person for him to compete with.

Bournemouth meanwhile enjoyed a lovely welcome back to the premier league. Lerma’s goal after recycling possession from a corner and Moore’s great header making for 2 nice goals. The squad will need bolstering, something which Parker himself has admitted. They have done well in the window so far, GK Neto arrives from Barcelona and brings some big club experience, as does RB Fredricks on a free from West Ham. They have also splashed the cash on signings Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough and CB Marcos Senesi from Feyenoord. 

The aim for them will be to stay up this year and the aim for this game will be to try and stop it becoming a cricket score. They played a 3 at the back system against Aston Villa and I would expect them to do the same here. This game also poses as a bit of a free hit here for Parker as he can maybe try out some things and see what might work down the road without feeling the pressure of a result here.

Ultimately this game will not be who but more so by how much. Expect a bit of Pep roulette here as he likes to keep players fresh and against the lower teams he might fancy something crazy.

Wolves v Fulham:

A game between the Wolves and the Cottagers to see who can get their first win of the season. Reminds me a bit of little red riding hood there!

Fulham with be bolstered by the amazing performance they were able to put in against the Reds on opening day, taking the lead twice only to be pegged back both times. Mitrovic showed he may have finally figured this whole premier league thing out ya know. He was the talisman for them, holding up the play when needed, tracking back and winning fouls for his team as well as taking on and winning a penalty against Van Dijk. Something only a handful of players in the world can say. Pereira also looked good in behind the striker, Paulhinha did well on debut, Kebano and Decordova-Reid were good in possession on the flanks. I should be wary and say that this was just the opening week and a lot can change but coming into this game against Wolves, Fulham will fancy themselves to get something from this.

They will also be aided in the new signings that were made, GK Leno joins from Arsenal, RB Mbabu joins from Wolfsburg and CB’s Duffy and Issa Diop have all joined the squad to give them a lot of premier league and high level experience. They will need it to as it has become a bit of a joke that Fulham and Norwich are the 2 yo-yo teams of the English game. Too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premiership.

One team that’s avoided that moniker is Wolves, a mainstay in the premier league for a few seasons now they coasted the 2nd half of last season. Neither competing for Europe nor in risk of relegation, they just existed till the end of the season. Slowly but surely there has been some change occurring this summer, CB Nathan Collins (COYBIG) arrived seemingly to replace captain Conor Coady, Hwang Hee-chan was made permanent but the big flashy signing will no doubt be Portuguese LW Guedes from Valencia. 

If the last thing was anything to go by they will need him sooner rather than later as bar Podence they seemed to lack any real goal threat and with Jimenez out for an undetermined amount of time he could prove key. A good performance here against Fulham is needed as the same again may cause fans to get a little nervy.

 A tough game to call here as the home advantage will benefit Wolves but Fulham showed they have something about them this time around. Having said that, the last time Fulham beat Wolves was back in 2018. I am picking a Wolves win here but I think it will be close and I expect Podence to be the main man again with a potential Guedes debut.

Brentford v Man United:

The Saturday Night Football game of the weekend see’s the Bee’s take on the plucky Red Devils who are looking for their first points of the season. Seriously though, United and jokes aside this game looks to be another real test for Ten Haag and his side after losing their opening day fixture to a Brighton side everyone expected them to beat.

I could talk about the problems at United all day (it gives me great joy) but the reality is that they are in the rebuild period that Arsenal were/are under ever since Wenger left. The difference being that they never give the manager enough time or the resources they need to succeed and this is the challenge that the new manager faces. The squad is almost entirely the same bar the additions of LB Malacia, CB Martinez and CM Eriksen who might prove to be good additions in time but are not the solution. The squad needs a complete overhaul and some departures. 

If you needed any more evidence that this squad wasn’t good enough for United you need only look at last weeks game. The players will need time to adapt to Ten Hag’s system which is fair but some of the players just do not have the profile to fit it. Fred being the main example. Multiple times he was at the base of the midfield, receiving the ball from the CB’s only to play a short pass and put his own team under pressure. It was no surprise or mystery as to why he was the first sub off. 

Contrast that with Brentford who Frank has been able to mold in his imagine and reimagine after the departure of some of their key players. They were 2-0 down against Leicester away last week but they didn’t lose the faith in each other or the team. Frank was able to make a change to the formation and the team adapted well, coming back and scoring 2 well worked goals. Ivan Toney looks set to prove he isn’t just a 1 season wonder. They will be relishing the chance for a giant killing (if you can still call United a giant). 

United are the favourites for this game with a 50% in percentage but I can’t understand why. Ronaldo will be likely to start given how poorly they played without a recognised striker so will be interesting to see how he does, wouldn’t imagine much change otherwise. Brentford meanwhile have signed Damsgaard who might prove to be a nice addition and a viable asset. My prediction is a score draw.

Nottm Forest v West Ham:

An interesting game here as we see an interesting Forest side take an exciting West Ham. The home team are no doubt trying to get to know one another as The Garibaldi Forest (yes really, look it up) have added no less than 12 additions to their squad in an effort to stay in the premier league. The last time they were in the premier league was the 98/99 season so will be desperate to do all they can. You just wonder if it will be to their detriment, like with Lampard after Chelsea went out and signed everyone under the sun when the transfer ban was lifted and he wasn’t able to make it work and got the sack.

Either way they will need to be able to defend and they got a great bit of practice at that last week. Newcastle had them under the pump the whole game and weren’t able to create much themselves. Which wasn’t the style of play that got them to the premier league in the first place. From a fantasy point of view there isn’t much to get excited about here but maybe they can prove me wrong.

West Ham on the other hand look to have a number of interesting players. There is of course Jarred Bowen and Antonio but they have also added the likes of Scamacca from Italy and Maxwell Cornet from Burnley. While neither is likely to start for the time being they could prove valuable assets in the future. We already saw a bit of this with Scammaca who came on in the second half against Man City and forced a good save from Ederson, even if it was offside in the end. With how injury prone Antonio can be he will be valuable to the Hammers. Another player who will be valuable and at the centre of everything West ham do well is Bowen. He had a quiet game against the champions but I fancy him to bounce back in this game and make an impact. With the world cup coming up he will also be keen to stay in form and not give Southgate an excuse to drop him.

In the end I think West Ham will just have too much class and experience for this Forest side who are still trying to find their feet. I predict a clean sheet for the Claret and Blue to top it all off.

Chelsea v Tottenham:

The game of the weekend by a country mile! It is only gameweek 2 but we didn’t have to wait long for our first top 6 matchup of the season as we see the Blues take on Spurs in Stamford Bridge. An encounter that has seen its own bit of niggle over the years. While Chelsea might have been happy to get out of Goodison park with the win there is no doubt that Tuchel will be fuming with the performance. They looked disjointed and out of sorts. Tuchel has come out since the game and said that neither of his wing back’s were fully fit and that makes sense given what we saw on the pitch.

What doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is Chelsea’s transfer policy so far this window. Losing the likes of Christensen and Rudiger on free’s, loaning Lukaku back to Inter Milan, selling Werner for less than half what they payed for him 2 years ago and bringing in the likes of Sterling, Koulibaly and Cucurella. All fine players in their own right but Kouilbaly is 31 and joins the other CB’s of T. Silva (37) and Azpi (32), Cucurella costs 63 million pounds but Chilwell has that spot locked down unless I am missing something here and Sterling doesn’t really work as a striker.

There is still time in the window and I am sure the landscape will change before the window closes but going into this game Chelsea seem a bit lost at sea and it will be Tuchel’s job to guide them back to shore.

If you were to look across the city and compare to Spurs you would see a very different picture. They have delivered on giving Conte the players that he wanted to make this team his own and it shows. Son and Kane finally have someone they can rely on in the RW spot in Kulusevski. The Swede has been a revelation since he joined in January and when you combine it with the smart business of bringing in Richarlison, Bissouma, Spence and Perisic it is clear that Conte intends to compete on all fronts (PL, CL etc.).

They got off to a ropey start after conceding early against the Saints but recovered quickly and never looked back. If you were to think last year that spurs scored 4 goals with Son and Kane involved in 0 of them you’d have been laughed at. But that is the spurs we have to deal with now.

That is not to say it is all plain sailing, Romero had a scissor challenge late in the game that could have been red on another day.

Ultimately I think that if Spurs were to score 2 goals I could not see Chelsea matching that so they will look to keep it tight at the back and hit spurs on the counter using the pace of the likes of Sterling, Havertz and Mount with Reece James whipping in the balls from set pieces. Because Chelsea are at home I am going to go with a score draw here.

Liverpool v Crystal Palace:

The Reds broke their own rules going out in the summer and making a big money signing in Darwin Nunez. The Uruguayan arrives from Benfica a very raw prospect but with potential that is off the charts. He possesses very good pace while also being quite tall and good in the air, his finishing needs a bit of work which we saw from the game against Fulham but he is just such a different player to either Bobby or Jota. He seems to cause havoc with defenders and frees up space for the likes of Salah and Dias. This is a front 3 that I imagine becoming very deadly as the season wears on.

But going back to the here and now and Liverpool have had a bit of a shaky start given their exceedingly high standards. They would have not been expecting as stern a test as they got with Fulham at Craven cottage and may have been caught a bit by surprise. The midfield looked invisible at times as Fulham seemed to be able to progress the ball easily through to Mitrovic. Thiago going off injured during the game would not have helped but he was having a poor enough game. The biggest surprise of all was probably people’s first sighting that Virgil Van Dijk is indeed human! Giving away the penalty for Fulham’s 2nd with a challenge we are not used to seeing him make as he usually has cleared any danger ong before then.

It will be interesting to see how much they try and bed Darwin in before throwing him into the starting lineup but my guess would be very soon. When Jota is back fit that also begs the question as to where he fits into all this? He was unfortunate to get the injury last year when he did as Luis Diaz was able to capitalise fully and never looked back. Expect a response from the Reds on Monday Night Football here as they are back at Anfield under the lights.

Another team that was under the lights at their own home stadium last week was Crystal Palace. Keen to carry over the form from last season it was interesting to see Viera’s team lined up against Arsenal. With Eze in behind Edouard and Ayew and Zaha on the wings, this was a clear attempt to try and fill the whole left by Conor Gallagher and to a certain extent it worked. In the second half when Palace started to see more of the ball they were able to create chances and it lead to Eze having arguably their best chance. 

They didn’t add much in the summer in large part because they didn’t need to. They had already done a lot of work last season to clean house and give Viera a fresh slate and I think this was a great idea as now the players have had a full season together. Andersen and Guehi were spraying passes to Zaha and Ayew all night with great accuracy and they all have an understanding about where they are relative to each other. With Benteke gone that leaves the ST spot between Edouard and Mateta and I can see the 2 being rotated until 1 finds some form.

At the end of the day this is Liverpool at Anfield we are talking about and I can’t see anything other than a Liverpool win as another draw here or god forbid a loss with really put City in the drivers seat for the title. It sounds ridiculous to say that so early in the season but last year was decided by just 1 point!