With my Sunderland tip Jozy Altidore dropped from the Sunderland starting XI slightly oddly by the now departed Paolo Di Canio, I didn't make the best of starts to last week's suggestions. Though the American did appear off the bench in the second half he wasn't able to alter what turned out to be a thumping at the hands of the Baggies, and duly was awarded just the solitary point. My other tip, Spurs' Christian Eriksen, did a little better gaining three points for over an hour on the pitch and a clean sheet for his side. He was perhaps unlucky not to gain more as the North London side created chance after chance against Cardiff, but thanks to some inspired goal-keeping from Marshall in the net for the Red Bluebird Dragons (or whatever their name is now) were only able to secure the win with a brilliant last gasp goal from Paulinho.
I was a little more successful in advising who to avoid though. Despite playing over an hour for West Ham, Mobido Maiga failed to be involved in either of their goals and gained just 2 points. Likewise I begged Paolo Di Canio not to pick David Vaughan for the clash with West Brom, and the Italian duly obliged with the Welsh Wizard's sleeve not even making the bench. So perhaps it turns out I'm better at spotting the negatives than the positives, this probably isn't particularly surprising!
So, onto this weekend's tips. At the Stadium of Light it seems likely that Interim Head Coach (to use the official title) Kevin Ball will remain in charge for Liverpool's visit, so who is there to watch and avoid in the first game in the post Di Canio-era, as well as the rest of the weekend's fixtures?
Sunderland Player To Watch: Emmanuele Giaccherini
The Italian international was hailed as a real coup for Sunderland when he was signed in the summer, and was one of the players that many fans (including myself) were most keen to see play. However, so far his appearances have failed to live up to this hype. His lowest point so far came last weekend when he was dragged off at half time against West Brom by Paolo Di Canio. Amongst the fallout from the Italian's departure, it's emerged that his countryman felt far from happy with how he'd been treated by his new manager.
Whilst the little attacker was unhappy out wide under Di Canio, he flourished when positioned more centrally by Kevin Ball and, along with the rest of the team, seemed much happier on the pitch. Scoring once against Peterborough, the Italian was central to Sunderland's positive performance and could've had more goals if his finishing was slightly cooler. With Steven Fletcher out injured, and Fabio Borini ineligible to play against his parent club, it seems very likely that the Italian will resume his place in the hole behind Jozy Alidore this weekend. Hopefully feeling a bit happier and more confident Giaccherini will be able to produce the goods again.
General Player To Watch: Samir Nasri
With David Silva out injured, the Frenchman has had an opportunity to impress again in the early stages of this season. This was a chance he took with aplomb against Manchester United during the derby at the weekend. As well as scoring, his link-up play down City's right-hand side with Aleksander Kolarov was key to many of their side's attacks.
Away against an Aston Villa side that have slowly been slipping since an impressive opening day performance against Arsenal, I'm expecting Nasri to get a lot of luck. Villa's defence is by no means water-tight, and Lambert's attacking ideals should result in a lot of space for the Frenchman down the flanks of their defence.
Sunderland Player To Avoid: Jack Colback
Jack's one of my favourite Sunderland players, and at times does seem to be maturing into a very good left-back. However in fantasy terms he has a huge draw-back - he's listed as a midfielder rather than a defender. This means that he doesn't get as good a reward for any assists or goals bagged when he roves forwards, and nor does he get the rewards in terms of clean sheet points when he does the work at the back. So, for those reasons, he's sadly my Sunderland fall-guy for this week.
General Player To Avoid: Stephane Sessegnon
I'm not being churlish, I still love Sub-Saharan Soprendo, but just as it was utterly inevitable that the little Beninian would score against us last week, it's also pretty nailed on that following on from a busy performance he'll turn in an average and ineffectual one against Manchester United. That's just Sess for you, as the West Brom fans so happy with their new boy last week will soon learn!
The Roker Report League
Last week's leader John Downing is this week tied for first place on 329 points with Dany Dougherty's safcnono. Just behind the two leaders on 326 points is Kat Holyman's Spoon Allstars. There's then a bit of gap down to fourth place and Daniel Parker's Llama of Destiny on 320 points (with, as predicted, Hatem Ben Arfa in tow - booooo!). Fifth and sixth are then completed by John Sullivan on 316, and James Robinson on 313.
There's also been a bit of chopping and changing amongst our writers this week. Craig Clark retains his place way out in front in 45th with 282 points. Luke Bowley has then leaped up the standings to 77th on 271 points, with myself trailing a little way behind on 260 points in 123rd. Then, further back again, we find David Boyle in 246th on 237 points, Stephen Goldsmith in 290th on 224 points and finally, of course, Simon Walsh in 341st on a lowly total of 201 points.
Just one new name catching my eye as I scanned the names column this week, and clearly Dan Lewis spent more time coming up with puns than picking his team as he's all the way down in 304th with the excellent Le Saux Solid Crew.