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GW18 Preview: Wayne Rooney can take armband as Luis Suarez faces Manchester City

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José Mourinho urges Wayne Rooney to go public over Chelsea transfer - video

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.

@Mark_Jones86

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Gameweek 18 preview: Santi presents Wigan with a problem

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Santi is coming to Wigan, and perhaps he should be coming into your team too.

We all know that this is a special time of year, a time to look forward to and dread in equal measure.

That’s right, the Fantasy Cup starts on Saturday, and including Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla (£9.7m) in your Fantasy team could see you gain the edge over your opponent and secure a spot in the next round quicker than reindeers move on Christmas Eve.

Of course it’s easy to react to a player’s stellar performance in a previous game – such as Cazorla’s hat-trick at Reading – and immediately put him in to your team in the hope that he will repeat such a world-beating display, but there is a genuine reason behind putting your money on Arsenal’s Spanish star succeeding at Wigan in Saturday’s early kick-off.

It’s called the Marouane Fellaini problem.

Everton’s Belgian ace was fortunate to only receive a three game ban for his headbutt on Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross last weekend, but nonetheless he has still presented the many Fantasy bosses who own him with a dilemma. Those who have the luxury of some extra money stashed away – and we all need that at this time of year – will probably be thinking that they could go one of five ways.

But Gareth Bale (£9.5m) still isn’t back from injury, Eden Hazard (£9.5m) has gone off the boil somewhat and David Silva (£9.4m) hasn’t found the net regularly enough. There is of course Juan Mata (£9.5m), but Chelsea face an Aston Villa side who have just brilliantly beaten Liverpool, whilst the ex-Valencia man played the vast majority of Wednesday’s Capital One Cup match against Leeds in midweek.

Bringing in Cazorla should of course come with the warning that Arsenal’s Boxing Day game against West Ham has been called off due to Tube strikes, but the club are reportedly looking to play that match in early January, raising the prospect of a double Gameweek in the near future for their Spanish star.  Santi’s gifts should be well received.

Elsewhere this weekend the match between Newcastle and QPR brings together one team who have been on a steady decline in recent weeks and another one who have just experienced their campaign’s only high point.

Harry Redknapp’s Rangers will head for St James’s Park following the Adel Taarabt (£5.6m) inspired 2-1 win over Fulham last weekend, but Newcastle know that they simply have to win this match following their recent struggles, and they showed enough promise in last weekend’s loss to Manchester City to show that they will give their visitors problems.

Demba Ba (£8.2m) scored his 11th league goal of the season in that match, and he could be turned to again as Alan Pardew’s side look to puncture any QPR optimism immediately.

On Sunday Robin van Persie (£13.8m) and Wayne Rooney (£12.0m) will again team up as Manchester United face a tricky trip to Swansea, which they should be going in to only three points clear at the top of the table given that Manchester City face a home match with Reading on Saturday. Sergio Agüero (£11.0m) and Yaya Touré (£7.9m) look to be the players who’ll impress there, although Javi Garcia (£5.0m) is an intriguing cheap choice following his goal last weekend.

The Fellaini-less Everton go to West Ham where Nikica Jelavić (£8.2m) will be looked to for goals, whilst Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has hinted that he could be ready to rest Raheem Sterling (£5.7m) for the home match against Fulham, meaning that even more onus could be put on Luis Suarez (£10.3m) – although the Uruguayan hasn’t scored in his last four games.

The popular Stoke duo of Asmir Begovic (£5.6m) and Shawcross (£5.8m) will face a tough task as they go to Tottenham, whilst Southampton’s Rickie Lambert (£6.1m) and Jason Puncheon (£4.8m) will be looked to to impress against struggling Sunderland.

West Brom’s fine form may have stuttered somewhat, but they can pick it up against Norwich at The Hawthorns, where James Morrison(£6.3m) can be counted on to provide a threat to the visitors.

@Mark_Jones86

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