GW18 Preview: Wayne Rooney can take armband as Luis Suarez faces Manchester City
Liverpool have been too far up the table to really take much notice of their great rivals Manchester United this season, but as Brendan Rodgers’ Reds and their star man face a couple of tricky games on the road, David Moyes’ key performer could come to the fore.
Such has been his mastery of all that he’s surveyed this season, there will still be Fantasy bosses who opt to give Luis Suarez (£13.2m) – a player now owned by almost 50% of managers, and one who has registered a staggering 77 points in his last four games (or 154 if he was your captain throughout) – the captaincy as Liverpool go the fortress Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day, but some tasks might prove to be beyond even him.
Instead it could pay to focus on United forward Wayne Rooney (£11.3m), who recovered from an apparent injury to register two assists in the win over West Ham, and who has a couple of simpler assignments on the horizon than Liverpool’s Uruguayan.
As Suarez goes to City and then Chelsea before the New Year, Rooney faces matches first at Hull and then Norwich, before following those up with home clashes against a hit-and-miss Tottenham and an uninspiring Swansea.
If United are to get back in touch with current league leaders Liverpool and the rest of the chasing pack then they are perhaps going to have to pick up 12 points out of those available 12, and Rooney will certainly be key to those efforts in the continued absence of Robin van Persie through injury.
Danny Welbeck (£7.1m) will be a key man too, and with youngster Adnan Januzaj (£4.9m) starting the last three league games he could also be a useful cheap addition should you need one.
Elsewhere, that summit meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool will see the hosts as huge favourites given their terrific home record this season.
With Sergio Aguero still out it’ll be Alvaro Negredo (£9.7m) and Edin Dzeko (£6.7m) who Manuel Pellegrini turns to for goals, but Yaya Toure (£9.8m) scored against the Reds in each of the last two seasons and found the net with a penalty and a free-kick in his last two games.
Also scoring for fun is the Everton defender Seamus Coleman (£6.3m), who has netted in three of his last five matches as well as helping keep two clean sheets.
Blues players should be given serious consideration on Boxing Day as they welcome rock bottom Sunderland to Goodison Park, where Romelu Lukaku (£8.8m), Kevin Mirallas (£7.3m) and Ross Barkley (£5.1m) could all be in the points.
Another of the division’s form players is the Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye (£6.5m), who has registered the full three bonus points in two of his last three games and will be a key man as the Geordies host Stoke at St. James’s Park.
Yet Cabaye’s 8.7% ownership looks massive when you compare it to the measly 1.3% currently enjoyed by Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor (£7.7m).
The Togolese forward came in from the cold to score twice in Spurs’ 3-2 win at Southampton, and as the North Londoners face home games with first West Brom and then Stoke before the New Year his differential potential could be huge for your team.
Adebayor should certainly be considered as a serious alternative to Olivier Giroud (£8.8m), for whom the goalless draw with Chelsea marked a fourth start without a goal and extended a run of just three strikes in his last 12 Premier League games.
Aaron Ramsey (£7.6m) has now netted just twice in his last seven too, with plenty of pressure surely placed on both as the Gunners go to West Ham.