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.