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Chelsea and Spurs lead the way despite an Arsenal Double Gameweek

Gameweek 20 preview: Theo to thrill against Magpies


Just where he’ll be spending the majority of his 2013 remains to be seen – although counting the extra money that Arsenal will be paying him seems to be a decent bet – but Theo Walcott (£8.5m) will end 2012 facing Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.

He’s likely to be facing them in his favoured forward position too, as Arsene Wenger continues to bow to the demands of the England man, whose period playing as a forward is seen as crucial to his decision over whether or not he’ll sign a new contract with the Gunners.

Walcott’s relocation upfront in recent matches has seen the likes of Olivier Giroud (£7.9m) and Gervinho (£6.8m) shunted to the sidelines, and with Walcott looking to link up with Lukas Podolski (£8.2m), Santi Cazorla (£9.6m) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£7.2m) against a Newcastle side who have lost their last four away games and are without a win on the road all season, the Gunners could well be set for a successful ending to their year, with Walcott contributing to that more than most.

Newcastle’s last defeat saw them concede four goals at Old Trafford, where Javier Hernandez (£6.9m) scored a last gasp winner the likes of which Manchester United have made their trademark over the Premier League era.

With Wayne Rooney (£12.0m) reportedly missing for the next two to three weeks with a knee problem, Hernandez is likely to be given another start upfront alongside Robin van Persie (£13.9m) when West Brom come to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

This is of course another match that Sir Alex Ferguson will expect his side to win as they continue another march towards the Premier League title, and with the Scot demanding the best of his players going into the New Year then a win is surely what he’ll get – with Hernandez ready to contribute towards that.

The game of the weekend is surely Everton’s meeting with Rafael Benitez and Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, when fifth faces third at Goodison Park.

Benitez had a decent record against the Blues of Merseyside in derby games when manager of Liverpool, but this Everton side is much stronger now and will fancy their chances of upsetting the European champions and a manager who they would love to get one over.

David Moyes is still missing Marouane Fellaini (£7.5m) though, and Benitez and his side will be looking to take advantage of that, with Juan Mata (£9.6m) again ready to impress after becoming Boxing Day’s matchwinner at Norwich and Fernando Torres (£9.8m) no doubt wanting to impress against his old neighbours.

Sunday also sees a schizophrenic Liverpool go to bottom club QPR where Steven Gerrard (£9.3m) will be looking to score for the fourth successive game, whilst Gareth Bale (£9.7m) will be hoping to make it four goals in two games as he goes to Sunderland on the back of his hat-trick against Aston Villa – those of us who had him as captain are still wearing our smug smiles.

Villa haven’t been smiling following that 4-0 loss to Tottenham and the 8-0 defeat at Chelsea either side of Christmas, and if they are to bounce back at home to Wigan then Christian Benteke (£6.7m) is sure to be vital.

Stoke will be more confident going into their meeting of the red and white stripes at home to Southampton, and after his double strike helped see off Liverpool on Boxing Day Jonathan Walters (£6.4m) is sure to be a popular choice amongst Tony Pulis’s men.

Kenwyne Jones (£5.0m) could well be an astute cheap choice if you are in need of a forward, but if you’ve got much more to spend then it might be worth casting an eye towards Carrow Road as Manchester City look to bounce back from their loss to Sunderland as they go to Norwich.

Carlos Tevez (£9.5m) scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season, and he’ll be looking for a repeat performance for the champions just as their crown begins to slip.



Gameweek 12 preview: Big points for the Little Pea?


Did you all enjoy that international break as much as Zlatan Ibrahimovic did? Thought not. Do you want us to get on with the real stuff again then? Thought so.

When we left the Premier League it had just been lit up by a second half showing from Javier Hernandez (£7.6m) at Villa Park, where his two goals and well angled volley off Ron Vlaar’s backside turned Manchester United’s 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win in the manner which seems to be in United’s DNA.

Sir Alex Ferguson responded to the goals by promising Hernandez a start in Saturday evening’s clash with Norwich City at Carrow Road, and then almost immediately withdrew both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie from their international squads with the kind of injuries that only midweek national service can bring out.

Key to Ferguson’s thinking may have been that of his four recognised forwards only Hernandez wasn’t scheduled to play in an international this week, and so with the ‘Little Pea’ not shooting off to Mexico he’s had a full week of training and setting his sights on Norwich’s less than convincing defence.

One or both of Rooney (£11.8m) and Van Persie (£13.7m and still rising) are almost certain to play on Saturday, but perhaps not from the start as Ferguson entrusts his frequent super-sub with what would be only a second Premier League start of the season. Hernandez might not be a long term option for your team but if you need a forward for this weekend alone then there aren’t many better choices, although there is Luis Suarez (£10.0m).

Now elevated to the status of one of only five players in Fantasy Premier League who’ll cost you a double-figured amount of millions to purchase – Rooney, Van Persie, Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard before you ask – there is a compelling argument for Suarez being the most watchable player in the English game right now.

Another goal at Chelsea last weekend made it three in his last three and eight league strikes this season for the Uruguayan, who shares top spot the Premier League’s scorers’ chart alongside Van Persie but will be looking to go out on his own when Wigan come to Anfield on Saturday.

You’ll have read elsewhere and witnessed for yourselves just how much Suarez carries the Liverpool attack – although Raheem Sterling (£5.3m) continues to prove popular after our early nod in his direction – but the forward does come with a cautionary tale, with his four bookings so far this season leaving him just one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. He’ll be fit and available for Wigan though and looks a good bet to find the net.

He’s wanted in Manchester if you believe certain stories, but for now Roberto Mancini will have to make do with just selecting from Aguero (£11.0m), Carlos Tevez (£9.5m), Edin Dzeko (£7.5m) and Mario Balotelli (£8.6m) – it’s a tough life – and once again internationals are likely to play their part for the visit of Aston Villa to the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero played for Argentina in Riyadh on Wednesday whilst Tevez didn’t, and with Dzeko and Balotelli also in midweek action then it could pay to bank on Tevez to be the hero against the Villains.

Elsewhere on a Gameweek which could generate a lot of points, the North London derby promises goals and a battle between Santi Cazorla (£9.4m) and Gareth Bale (£9.7m). Spurs defender Steven Caulker (£4.8m) has also shown that he’s got an eye for the net in the past week and could be a good long-term option.

Chelsea’s trip to West Brom is far from simple and with Hazard (£10.2m), Juan Mata (£9.5m) and Oscar (£7.8m) all looking somewhat sluggish against Liverpool last week they could struggle, whilst Everton’s Marouane Fellaini (£7.6m) and Nikica Jelavic (£8.5m) will hope to team up again at Reading.

The meeting of the division’s bottom two at Loftus Road might not look to have many points on offer, but QPR’s Junior Hoilett (£5.8m) is likely to be central to everything the home side do against leaky Southampton, and the presence of our third key player to watch this Gameweek could benefit both Rangers and you.


Gameweek 11 preview: Rebel without a clause


Theo Walcott still hasn’t signed a new Arsenal contract.

He hasn’t signed it at the time of writing, he’s not likely to have signed it by the time you’re reading this, and he probably still won’t have signed it when you come back to these pages ahead of Gameweek 12.

If Walcott (£8.7m) wasn’t so bland as to make a legion of football fans yearn for the post-match interviews of Michael Owen then his dispute with Arsenal could almost be portrayed as a dramatic stand-off, with the nippy winger-but-wants-to-be-thought-of-as-a-forward and Arsene Wenger drawing pistols at dawn and seeing which one backs down first.

In reality it’s just a stare-off, which will only end one day when one of the parties gets bored and decides that their time will be spent better elsewhere, be it Walcott wandering off to pastures new or Wenger realising that one of the most dynamic players in the Premier League really is worth hanging on to after all.

What it has created is a situation in which Walcott is determined to perform well to simultaneously try and prove that he’s worth keeping hold of and to impress potential future employers at the same time.

Recent goals in the Capital One Cup and the Champions League have staked Walcott’s claim for a starting berth in Wenger’s league team, and with Gervinho injured and Jack Wilshere suspended for Saturday’s home game against Fulham, the Frenchman could do worse than to hand a starting place to a player who will be desperate to impress.

Of course it would be a gamble to transfer Walcott into your team given the uncertainty over his position at Arsenal, but ahead of a Gameweek which could go one of several different ways given the fixtures it might just be a gamble worth taking, especially when you consider his differential potential (he’s owned by 1.3% of teams), the possibility that he could be played upfront and the idea that he’ll be playing for another team in January. Liverpool have been linked, and he’d start every week there.

For now he’s still at Arsenal though, where Olivier Giroud (£8.4m) and Santi Cazorla (£9.4m) will be other players worth considering if you think that the Gunners can beat Fulham at home on Saturday. Bacary Sagna (£5.4m) is a defender worth keeping an eye on now that he’s returned to the team and dislodged previous Fantasy favourite Carl Jenkinson (£5.0m).

Elsewhere, this intriguing Gameweek offers up very few strong defensive options given the close nature on paper of many of the matches, but one of the strongest surely comes at Goodison Park where Everton take on a Sunderland side who have scored just once in their last five in league and cup – and that goal came from Newcastle’s Demba Ba.

Leighton Baines (£7.6m) could be a wise move as Everton bid to end a run of four straight draws, with Nikica Jelavic (£8.5m) and last weekend’s top points scorer Marouane Fellaini (£7.2m) sure to be popular picks.

Manchester City haven’t convinced recently and their match with Tottenham on Sunday looks to be one which will include goals, whilst Chelsea will be backed to beat Liverpool especially given that Juan Mata (£9.4m) will return after missing the Swansea game and Oscar (£7.8m) will look to repeat the goal he scored in the Champions League in midweek.

Cheap striking options over the weekend can be found in Reading’s Jason Roberts (£4.5m) and Arouna Kone (£6.5m) of Wigan but for our final forward we look towards Manchester United, and not towards the player you think.

Whilst Robin van Persie (£13.5m) now features in over a third of teams, Wayne Rooney (£11.8m) can only be found in 8%, and as United click ominously into gear you have to assume that that number will only go up.

He may have missed a penalty against Arsenal last weekend but Rooney made up for that with an assist, and as @shots_on_target suggested last weekend he could be the way to go ahead of a welcoming set of fixtures for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, starting with Aston Villa on Saturday.


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