GW13 Preview: Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker makes BFG case for the defence
This week we’ve once again decided to shun the glory seeking midfielders and forwards and give you a preview focused entirely on improving your team’s defence (Andre Villas-Boas, take note).
Clean sheets and bonus points are up for grabs over a Fantasy weekend which features winnable games for plenty of the division’s elite, and although Arsenal might find it tough as they go to a Cardiff side who’ve beaten Manchester City and drawn with Manchester United at home this season, with a defender such as Per Mertesacker (£5.6m) in their team they’ll head to South Wales with confidence.
The big German registered a huge 11 points in the victory over Southampton last weekend thanks to being fouled for a penalty and keeping a clean sheet, feats which made him eligible for two bonus points from the Fantasy gods.
Mertesacker took a while to settle into the English game after he joined the Gunners from Werder Bremen in 2011, but he is now seen as his side’s main man at the back, and will be crucial to his team’s hopes of registering more points as they seek to prolong their time at the top of the table.
Cardiff may have scored twice in their draw with Manchester United, but prior to that they’d registered only one goal in their previous three games, and the likes of Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny (£5.3m) and Kieran Gibbs (£5.4m) will be targeting another clean sheet.
Elsewhere, Manchester City’s stellar home form has made their defence feel extremely comfortable when they play at the Etihad Stadium, where they’ve kept four clean sheets in six home Premier League games this season.
Pablo Zabaleta (£6.0m) played a part in all of those shutouts, whilst the signs are that Costel Pantilimon (£4.9m) will continue in goal for City in their domestic matches at least.
The latest one of those sees them host Swansea on Sunday, a match that is likely to see many Fantasy bosses lose faith in full-backs Angel Rangel (£5.4m) and Ben Davies (£5.0m), with the pair set for a torrid afternoon.
Better full-back choices are likely to come from Liverpool, who go to a goal-shy Hull City side who’ve scored just once in their last three home games this season.
An injury to Reds left-back Jose Enrique (£5.8m) has opened the door for the interesting (and cheap) youngster Jon Flanagan (£4.5m), but it might pay to go with the more established Glen Johnson (£5.7m) for this contest in which the England man is going to be looking to get forward at every opportunity.
Manchester United’s trip to Spurs has the potential to be a goalfest and so we’re going to overlook that particular fixture this week, and instead look at Chelsea’s home test against a Southampton side who are suddenly running into some tricky fixtures.
The Saints’ previously sturdy defence is going to come under pressure at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea’s John Terry (£6.4m) and Branislav Ivanovic (£6.4m) will fancy keeping a clean sheet against an attack that, for all Southampton’s success, have still only scored four goals on the road all season.
At the other end of the country, a resurgent Newcastle go in search of a fourth straight victory when West Brom come to St James’s Park, and they’ll be helped in that quest by the return of full-back Mathieu Debuchy (£4.9m) from suspension.
The Baggies could only draw 2-2 with Aston Villa last time out despite leading 2-0, and Paul Lambert’s side will hope to build on that comeback as they host struggling Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Despite a couple of notable home wins during his time in charge, Gus Poyet hasn’t yet seen his team pick up a point or even score a goal away from the Stadium of Light, a run that Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar (£4.5m) will be determined to see continue.