Juan Mata’s move to Manchester United ensures that, much like in Fantasy football, it has been another week in which the creative, attacking players have hogged the headlines.
Every now and again though, we like to switch the attentions to the men at the back, and so this look at the forthcoming midweek matches is going to focus (pretty much) entirely on the defenders. That’s right folks, it’s the case for the defence!
With this being the last week in which you can use your January wildcard, establishing a good, consistent backline will be crucial for the weeks and months ahead.
It might not have seemed like it back when the season started, but Chelsea’s John Terry (£6.7m) is about as consistent a defensive force as you can get in this campaign, playing every minute of every Premier League match so far.
The Blues captain is one of very few players from the ‘big’ teams who you can rely on to be out on the pitch week in, week out, and as Jose Mourinho’s men host West Ham on Wednesday both the manager and his skipper will be expecting a clean sheet.
Admittedly Chelsea then enter the lion’s den at Manchester City next week, but the following few fixtures all look incredibly kind and so if you can overlook that one then Terry should be a solid addition. He’s scored twice in the league this season, but after bagging more goals in each of his previous three campaigns he could well be due a strike or two as well.
Terry’s teammate Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.3m) should also be worth consideration ahead of a match that Chelsea should win easily – we’ll bow to the pressure of the attackers here and say that Eden Hazard (£10.6m) is a strong captaincy pick – as should Gary Cahill (£5.7m) after he remarkably registered two assists in the win over Manchester United.
The week’s top two matches, Liverpool against Everton on Tuesday and Tottenham versus Manchester City on Wednesday, both look to have the potential to be end-to-end, thrill a minute contests which are likely to see both teams find the net, and so we’re not interested in them this midweek, especially with injury likely to rule Everton’s free-scoring Seamus Coleman out of the Merseyside derby.
For clean sheets then, we can look towards Swansea’s home clash with a Fulham side who have failed to find the net in five of their last seven away league games.
The Swans haven’t been in great form themselves lately either, but in Wales international Ben Davies (£4.9m) they have a left-back who has been hugely consistent since breaking into the team and also provides something of a goal threat when coming forward.
Crystal Palace managed clean sheets in four of their last six home games, and they’ll fancy making it five from seven as they host Hull City in a match in which the likes of Danny Gabbidon (£4.3m), Damien Delaney (£4.4m) and Joel Ward (£4.2m) could be crucial for them.
Arsenal’s defence will be put under pressure as they go to Southampton, but Laurent Koscielny (£5.6m) and Per Mertesacker (£6.6m) have been up to most challenges asked of them this season, with the German (somewhat of a bonus point magnet) also proving to be a threat in the opposition penalty area.
Manchester United have just bought a player who always provides that threat in Juan Mata (£9.4m), and whilst the discussions over whether or not to pick him in your team can be reserved for another day, their defence should have a fairly comfortable evening when they host Cardiff on what should be Mata’s debut on Tuesday.
Such assumptions have cost Fantasy bosses already this season of course, but after his goal against Sunderland in the League Cup and having started 10 of the last 12 Premier League games, Jonny Evans (£5.0m) should be worth some consideration.