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9 of the 10 games from GW34 have been played so far with only Man United taking on Aston Villa in the Monday night match remaining.
Luis Suarez will make the headlines this week, no doubt on both the back and front pages thanks to what looks like an attempted bite on Ivanovic.
Unquestionable talent as a footballer- Suarez is excellent, however the other side of his game appeared today in Liverpool’s 2-2 game with Chelsea. I think I can sum up his performance as follows.
Assist, handball, yellow card, spot of lunch, last gasp equaliser.
From a #FPL perspective this was enough to see him bring home all 3 bonus points and 11points in total. It would seem that the FA will have to take action so if Suarez is in your team at the minute.. you will need to start looking at replacements. Hopefully the FA will make a decision on any retrospective action within the next 24 hours.
Elsewhere… and yes other games have taken place this weekend, Gareth Bale came back where he left off with a goal, assist and all 3 bonus as Spurs came from a goal down to beat Man City 3-1.
Per Mertesacker scored the only goal of the game and fantasy owners that held onto Big Per after he was suspended have been rewarded with over 20 points in the last 2 games alone!
Crouch scored the first goal for Stoke on Saturday against his old club QPR taking all 3 bonus points and ensuring that QPR are all but relegated pending Steve Mc Queen signing on an emergency loan in the next few days.
Sessegnon for Sunderland was a very popular selection last year, not so much this season. Di Canio’s arrival seems to have revitalised him as he bagged another goal and takes all 3 bonus points in their impressive win against Everton.
Elsewhere, Kevin Nolan showed us some of his early season form with another goal and a 3pt bonus haul, Ryan Bennett took the plaudits for Norwich, Jack Cork for Southampton and Newcastle forward Gouffran all with maximum bonus point allocation.
As per usual tweet us @FantasyYIRMA – do YOU agree with the bonus points this week?
Who got bonus that surprised you?
Who didn’t get but should have in your opinion?
Let us know and we will be happy to Retweet
|20 Apr 15:00||Fulham||0 – 1||Arsenal|
|20 Apr 15:00||Norwich||2 – 1||Reading|
|20 Apr 15:00||QPR||0 – 2||Stoke City|
|20 Apr 15:00||Sunderland||1 – 0||Everton|
|20 Apr 15:00||Swansea||0 – 0||Southampton|
|20 Apr 15:00||West Brom||1 – 1||Newcastle|
|20 Apr 15:00||West Ham||2 – 0||Wigan|
|21 Apr 13:30||Tottenham||3 – 1||Man City|
|21 Apr 16:00||Liverpool||2 – 2||Chelsea|
|22 Apr 20:00||Man Utd||v||Aston Villa|
The sun is shining and Michu (£8.0m) is scoring goals. It suddenly feels like August again doesn’t it?
Swansea’s Spaniard made one of the most spectacular entrances into Fantasy Premier League that we can remember, scoring four goals in his first three games and finishing the year 2012 on 13 strikes. All whilst handily listed as a midfielder.
The goals saw his Fantasy price rocket up from an initial £6.5m, with his ownership percentage increasing each week as a result. However since a goal against Manchester United just before Christmas, Michu has scored just four in 12 games since then. As a player who doesn’t contribute many assists (just two in that time and three all season), the Spaniard started to lose support.
The early season additions to many teams still sees his ownership percentage at a huge 44.1%, above the likes of Luis Suarez (39.8%), Robin van Persie (37.8%) and indeed everyone else, and after a recent return to goalscoring form there will be even more managers who are willing to take him on board in the closing weeks of the season.
Strikes against Tottenham and Norwich in the past two weeks have taken Michu’s tally to 17 goals this campaign, and after Swansea missed out on playing last weekend he has a double gameweek on the horizon in a bid to find even more.
This weekend though he faces a home game against a Southampton side who have failed to win away at a team ranked above them in the table all season, and so Michael Laudrup’s side will be confident of delivering a victory which will keep them in the top half of the table.
Michu is almost certain to be key to those hopes.
Elsewhere on a Saturday which is likely to go a long way towards determining who will be relegated this season, Norwich host a struggling Reading outfit who still look set to go down despite goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (£3.9m) earning them a point from a goalless draw with Liverpool last weekend.
Like Michu, Robert Snodgrass (£6.3m) scored in the last game at Carrow Road – Norwich’s 2-2 draw with Swansea – and the Scottish midfielder is likely to be a key element to the Canaries’ attempts to break down the Royals on Saturday, when Snodgrass will be looking to improve on his record of five goals and six assists this season.
FA Cup finalists Wigan are another side battling the drop, and although they could find it tough this weekend as they return to London to face West Ham, they do so offer intriguing cheap forward options in Arouna Kone (£6.6m) and Callum McManaman (£4.5m).
QPR simply have to beat struggling Stoke if any hope of them staying up is to remain, and so Loic Remy (£5.9m) is certain to be one to watch, whilst Sunderland’s Adam Johnson (£6.7m) is sure to be key to his side’s hopes of a second successive win as they host a strong Everton outfit.
Sunday’s matches bring together four of the top seven in a couple of big-hitting clashes, and whilst Tottenham will be hoping for the return to fitness of Gareth Bale (£10.5m) ahead of their match against Manchester City, it is a return to form that Suarez (£11.1m) will be after as Liverpool host Chelsea. After hitting 11 goals in 10 matches, the Uruguayan now hasn’t managed any in his last four.
Monday night will see Manchester United expect a victory from their home clash with Aston Villa, and whilst Van Persie (£13.6m) managed to find the net for the first time in 12 and a half hours of football for United against Stoke last weekend, it could be Wayne Rooney (£12.1m) who steals the show this time.
Stationed in a deeper role against Stoke, Rooney will be determined to return to a position further forward here, and he could just make struggling Villa pay.
As Fantasy Premier League introductions go, it will be hard for anyone to ever beat the one made by Eden Hazard (£9.5m).
A staggering six assists and one goal in his first three games saw the Belgian explode onto the English football scene, but it also meant that the seven goals and seven assists he registered over Chelsea’s next 27 league games were made to look a little disappointing.
The Blues face a busy end of season schedule featuring matches in both the FA Cup and Europa League, and although that means that Rafael Benitez is sure to rotate his squad across those competitions surely he can trust Hazard to deliver when he needs him too.
Four goals in his last seven appearances for club and country show that the Belgian might just be finishing his first season in England on a high note, and ahead of Chelsea’s game with Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday he could be just the man to trust.
Staying with Chelsea, an injury to Ashley Cole in the FA Cup win over Manchester United also means that Ryan Bertrand (£3.9m) could be a useful cheap addition to your squad ahead of the meeting with Sunderland, who have struggled to score goals all season and are now without the injured Steven Fletcher.
Elsewhere, another full-back could be worth keeping an eye on.
Glen Johnson (£6.5m) has scored three of his last four Premier League goals against his old club West Ham, and with the Hammers making the trip to Anfield on Sunday without the ineligible Andy Carroll then the right back will be confident that he can play a part in what would be a seventh home clean sheet in the last 10 for Liverpool, as well as getting forward and looking to improve on hitting the post against Aston Villa last week.
Speaking of Villa, they go to Stoke in a huge game for their hopes of avoiding relegation, and after Christian Benteke (£7.2m) scored again last weekend then he could be the man to back there.
Gareth Bale (£10.9m) and Robin van Persie (£13.6m) have been men to back for the majority of the season, and after both became the first men to pass 200 points for the season last weekend they both have big games in which they’ll be hoping to increase their tally this time around.
Bale and Tottenham face Everton at White Hart Lane, and given that the visitors will be without Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar for a second successive week then they could find goals hard to come by. There aren’t many better in the division than Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen (£6.5m) at keeping out the opposition at one end whilst providing a goal threat at the other.
For van Persie, Monday night brings a Manchester derby which has been spoiled slightly by Manchester United’s dominance at the top of the table – but should still be watchable nonetheless.
The Dutchman didn’t get credited with the goal at Sunderland last weekend after we’d given him our big build-up, but perhaps he can make up for that at Old Trafford as United seek to take yet another step towards the title.
At the other end, QPR and Reading face must-win home games in their battles against the drop, and with Southampton and Wigan both capable of capitalising on the nervousness that is likely to be all around Loftus Road and Madejski Stadium respectively, then Rickie Lambert (£7.1m) and Arouna Kone (£6.6m) could take advantage. Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez (£5.1m) has also scored in his last two games.
Santi Cazorla (£9.6m) has only scored in his last one, but he could be the man to watch ahead of Arsenal’s trip to West Brom, where the Gunners will be looking for a seventh win in nine.
What do you think? Who is in your team and who is your captain choice?? Drop a comment below or tweet us at @FantasyYIRMA
Thanks to @RotoZdroik for his guest post looking at Captain options for Gameweek29.
FPL: YOU’RE THE CAPTAIN
The list of captain options is extremely small this weekend due to the FA Cup. Out of the six matches, only four of the clubs are in the top half of the table. Two of those teams are Swansea and West Brom in eighth and ninth place, respectively. In a week with only six matches, your captain pick may be more important than usual.
- Luis, Suarez, Liverpool
- Gareth Bale, Tottenham
- Moussa Sissoko, Newcastle
- Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
- Grant Holt, Norwich
Most owners will have the task of deciding between Suarez and Bale. Those two have been the hands down hottest players in recent weeks. Robin van Persie isn’t even up there with them. Bale has seven goals in his last five games, receiving bonus points in all of them. Suarez’s form doesn’t extend to five games, but in his last two which Liverpool has dominated, he has four goals and two assists.
Suarez gets my pick for the top captain option this weekend, mainly because he’ll be at Anfield. In the last match between these clubs, Spurs took the win 2-1 at White Hart Lane with Bale getting the goal and assist. The Reds have been a much stronger team at home this year which gives them the edge in this one.
If you have Bale, it’s hard not to captain him right now. I know I listed Suarez above him, but you can’t really give one of these players a true advantage. No one has been able to stop Bale in all competitions and it’s going to take a lot in this one even on the road. As this is the biggest match of the weekend, hopefully we’ll get to see a few goals.
Sissoko didn’t find the score sheet in his last match which was the first time of his short Premier League career. Stoke is solid defensively, but you can’t really trust them on the road. Newcastle has been very good at St. James’ Park and Sissoko should capitalize on that.
This goes back to hoping there are plenty of goals in this match. Gerrard has fallen off a bit lately, but he has stepped up to the challenge in bigger games this season and scored when it counts the most. I’ll definitely take him over some of the other lesser options out there.
The last spot goes to famed goal poacher, Grant Holt. He’s having a rather disappointing season with only five goals and three assists, but he should get plenty of chances at home against Southampton. The Saints have lost two straight matches giving up six total goals to Newcastle and QPR. Norwich should be able to score a couple and that starts with Holt up front.
*Stats up-to-date as of Mar. 5
Adam joined RotoExperts in 2008 as a member of the Scout/Player Updates Team. Throughout the years, Adam has written articles encompassing a number of sports. If you like your Fantasy advice full of numbers and straight to the point, look no further. Find him (@RotoZdroik) on Twitter, to get a daily take of what’s happening in the sports world
Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick, Gareth Bale impressed again and a Manchester United player ended up as the top points scorer. Gameweek 28 was a pretty standard one in truth.
Now though, with the forthcoming FA Cup quarter-finals creating havoc with the fixture schedule, Gameweek 29 is going to prove to be far from normal. Only 12 of the 20 teams are in action, with six matches spread across Saturday and Sunday, as no players from Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal kick a Premier League football. This one isn’t for the faint-hearted.
In honour of the altered Gameweek, we’re going to switch up the latest Fantasy Yirma preview and instead of the usual fare, we’ll give you a game-by-game breakdown of a weekend which could ultimately prove vital to just how your season ends up. As well as that, we’ll give you a player from each match who we’re tipping to score you some points.
Hold on tight for Yirma’s six appeal…
Norwich v Southampton, Saturday, 15:00
The Canaries have won just one of their last 11 matches, and with boss Chris Hughton declaring that this heralds the start of ‘a big month’ for his side then the pressure is sure to be on at Carrow Road. Southampton will also be eager to make up for their loss to QPR last time out, and so this has the potential to be a tight, low-scoring affair.
Saints forward Rickie Lambert (£7.2m) disappointed many as his fine recent run came to an end in the QPR game, and with Hughton struggling to partner Grant Holt (£5.9m) and Luciano Becchio (£5.1m) at the other end, this is a contest in which defenders could shine. Having started all but one match since he signed, Norwich full-back Javier Garrido (£4.7m) will hope to keep things tight at the back and get forward to try and add to his two assists thus far.
QPR v Sunderland, Saturday, 15:00
Will the Southampton win see QPR turn a corner or will it lead them down another cul-de-sac? In truth this could be seen as a pretty perfect game for Harry Redknapp’s side given Sunderland’s patchy away form, but the Rs frequently struggle when home expectations are high, and the visitors might find some momentum from bouncing back from two goals down to draw with Fulham last time.
Stephane Sessegnon (£6.9m) hasn’t hit the heights he scaled last season but his goal against Fulham was a second in a row, and the midfielder from Benin gets the nod in a contest which could well see both sides score. QPR’s hopes for a goal are likely to rest on Loic Remy (£5.7m), whilst Junior Hoilett (£5.6m) made a first start since November at the weekend and also provides an added threat.
Reading v Aston Villa, Saturday, 15:00
Reading really need to win this one ahead of trips to Manchester United and Arsenal, and they’ll be buoyed by the fact that Villa have only won two of 14 on the road this season. The home side will know that these three points will only look more important the longer the season goes on, and if they can stay in the game until close to the conclusion of it they can capitalise on Villa’s likely nervousness.
Brian McDermott isn’t averse to a bit of forward rotation, but with Pavel Pogrebnyak suspended he’s likely to have to rely on Adam Le Fondre (£5.0m) from the start, with the skipper Jobi McAnuff (£4.7m) another certain starter. ‘Alfie’ gets the not due to his goalscoring prowess though, but the Royals will of course have to watch out for Christian Benteke (£7.0m), who scored the winner when these two met in November.
West Brom v Swansea, Saturday, 15:00
An attractive match on paper, and one for fans of both sides to celebrate the giant strides that their clubs have made this season. However, Swansea have only won one in seven on the road and they face a Baggies side who have won the same amount of Premier League home matches as Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal this season. Steve Clarke’s side could just nick a close but entertaining contest.
They badly missed him at Chelsea last weekend, and Romelu Lukaku (£6.5m) returns here in a match in which his strength and power could prove telling. In a match in which the Baggies may be on top, Michu (£8.4m) could find it tough to improve on a run of scoring in just one match in his last eight, whilst Jonathan De Guzman (£5.7m) might find it difficult to make his midfield presence felt.
Newcastle v Stoke, Sunday, 15:00
Neither of these two are in particularly good form, with Stoke winning just one in their last eight in the league and hosts Newcastle never looking that convincing. Alan Pardew’s side will have targeted this clash for a victory though, especially off the back of the late loss at Swansea last time out, and the Geordies’ French connection can combine and help deliver what would be a hugely welcome three points.
The amount of new players in this Newcastle side can mean that the team can be somewhat hit and miss, but Yohan Cabaye (£6.6m) has been in the north-east for a while now and can show much-needed leadership skills in what could become a bit of a battle. Moussa Sissoko (£6.5m) is also likely to find plenty of fans given his recent goalscoring form at St James’s Park, but the vote goes to his compatriot.
Liverpool v Tottenham, Sunday, 16:00
Undoubtedly the weekend’s glamour league fixture, this promises to be a terrific watch for the neutral given the two sides’ recent form. Liverpool have scored nine goals without reply in their last two league matches, but Spurs are unbeaten in 12 since their last trip to Merseyside when Everton beat them in December. An exciting contest looks in store, with both sides likely to find the net and get the pulses racing.
This was always going to be between two names – although Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho (£6.6m) deserves an honourable mention – and it is home advantage which just sees Luis Suarez (£10.8m) get the nod ahead of Gareth Bale (£10.5m). The Premier League’s top goalscorer has been in devastating form recently, and although you really do need to have both him and Bale in your team at the moment it is the Uruguayan who could win the day here.
We live in an age of comparison, from television meerkats with funny accents to the best footballers on the planet.
Everything can be contrasted, scrutinized and pored over in great detail, and there are always those ever-helpful statistics available to back up whatever point you want to make, and to shout down those that you don’t agree with.
The kings of the comparison – in a football sense anyway – are of course Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but to many calling both ‘kings’ simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
Apparently it’s not enough to simply enjoy the fact that we are currently lucky enough to be able to watch two of the greatest players there have ever been, instead we have to constantly compare and contrast the pair, pointing out weaknesses in one that are strengths in the other.
The worldwide availability of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s fixtures each and every week only adds to this craze, but whilst people are guilty of constantly comparing Messi to Ronaldo, this has created a skewed argument in which the pair are compared to everyone else. In that situation, there are only going to be two winners.
As a result of this, is has become impossible to discuss some of the finer talents in world football today without making an indirect link to everyone’s favourite Argentinean and Portuguese.
Take the forthcoming Premier League action at Anfield on Sunday, when we’ll be privileged to see surely the Premier League’s two most exciting players go head-to-head.
Robin van Persie has of course achieved great things in his maiden season at Manchester United – just as everyone knew he would – but the Dutchman comes alive when the ball is in the penalty area, he doesn’t generate that same buzz when that ball is at his feet further from goal as Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale do.
Anyone with an even vague knowledge of this season’s Premier League must be aware of just what an impact these two players have had on their respective sides this season. Suarez’s at times one-man attempts to transform Liverpool from a mid-table team in transition into one capable of challenging for Europe have been a compelling watch, whilst Bale – with a more experienced team around him – has been spearheading Tottenham’s hugely impressive tilt at Champions League football.
You don’t have to look too hard to see comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo in both players. Suarez’s often mesmerising close control – seemingly keeping the ball as close to his feet as possible – can draw a likeness with his fellow South American, whilst Bale’s athleticism, pace and power can be favourably linked with the former Manchester United man.
Yet instead of focusing on these traits which make the Premier League duo so good, it is often the negatives which get talked about with both.
Perhaps it comes from a desire to leave Messi and Ronaldo on top of the perches that they rightfully deserve to sit on, but Suarez and Bale don’t draw the same kind of admiration.
Suarez of course has a previous incident on his rap sheet – one that has been discussed and debated far too often to warrant going over it again – but both he and Bale are also frequently accused of bending the rules in order to seek an advantage. Of diving, in other words.
Ronaldo received similar attention during his time in England, and whilst it is true that both the Liverpool and Spurs man have exaggerated contact on some occasions, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern player who hasn’t. Look, here’s Gary Neville.
It pays to focus on the negatives with some players and not others though, and whilst that doesn’t look like happening with Messi and Ronaldo any time soon, for some reason it does with those who constantly seem to live in their huge shadow.
Can we not just enjoy watching them though? Enjoy the terrific pace, power, finishing ability, skills, trickery, team ethic, leadership and outright quality both possess?
Surely it’s about time we can, and Anfield on Sunday will be a good place to start.
Many Thanks to Amin from www.ToKnowTheGame.com for this guest post looking at the Tottenham – Arsenal match up this weekend.
Follow Amin on twitter at @asakhia
Let us know your score predictions in the comment section below.
As always – if you would like to Guest Post on #FY contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The North London Derby: Mind the gap
Arsenal head into the North London Derby looking to cut Tottenham’s lead to just a single point. Throw Chelsea into the mix as well, and once again it looks like it will end up being a real scrap for those top-four positions. Barring an absolute miracle in Munich, Wenger’s eight trophy-less years are sure to extend to nine, so the minimum target for the Gunners this year has to be Champions League qualification. They’re on a fairly decent run at the moment in the league (28 points from their last 36), so whether they can take that form to White Hart Lane on Sunday remains to be seen. Wenger has never finished below Spurs in the league and says:
“The game on Sunday will have a psychological importance for the rest of the season, of course.
“The outcome will give a big boost to the team who wins it, of course. But the winner will not necessarily finish higher at the end of the season. There’s still 10 games to go. In 10 games, a lot can happen.”
Spurs on the other hand are flying at the moment. Gareth Bale has been in devastating form this season, and with 15 goals already he is surely one of the front-runners for the Player of the Year. Additionally, AVB seems to have settled in quite well, and finally has Tottenham playing to the potential we all know they possess. He’ll be looking to Bale to fire them to another win and extend the gap to seven points:
“He’s proved that in different fixtures against different opposition, European included,” said AVB.
“He’s going to be a major threat in the game. You can’t allow him any kind of space. He can turn up in different places, unsettles opponents with his pace, his power his technique. Hopefully we can see him continue on this level of form and can continue to be decisive.”
Jenkinson/Monreal vs Gareth Bale: Depending on where Bale ends up playing, he will most likely come up against both Arsenal full-backs throughout the game. There’s been a lot of talk about Jenkinson being ready to take the mantle from Sagna, and Sunday provides him with probably his sternest test to date. The Frenchman is out injured, and is also likely to move on in the summer, so Jenkinson’s performance against Spurs will be of massive importance for his future. On the contrary, Monreal was brought in to provide stiff competition to Gibbs, and the Spaniard appears to be a more composed footballer. Again its early days in his Arsenal career, and we will surely get a better indication of his ability when he lines up against the Welsh whiz kid, Gareth Bale.
Jack Wilshere vs Scott Parker: A former England captain comes up against a future one. Both players will understand that the result of this game will hinge on how the teams perform in the middle of the park. Parker will be tasked with the responsibility of cutting down Wilshere’s marauding runs from midfield, and will also have to make sure he doesn’t get the time to pick out those delightful through balls to Theo & co.
It is setup to be a real attacking, free flowing type of game. Both teams will be desperate for a win in their quest for Champions League qualification, but I’m guessing neither of them would be too disappointed with a draw. Spurs look like the more complete team at the moment and will also have the added benefit of playing at their home turf. However, they’ve been on the receiving of back-to-back 5-2 thrashings at the hands of Arsenal, so it really goes to show that form doesn’t count for much in local derbies. The Gunners also boast the best away defensive record in the league, so Tottenham should be expecting a real battle on the pitch. I’m backing Arsenal to win by a goal, and eventually leapfrog Spurs to clinch the final top-four slot.
As we enter the final 10 Gameweeks of the season, form is becoming more and more important.
That old cliché about form being temporary and class being permanent is of course a correct one, but in these closing weeks it will surely pay to trust in those players who are doing well week after week.
Rickie Lambert (£7.0m) is currently one of those players, and fantasy bosses have definitely noticed.
Almost a quarter of Fantasy Premier League teams now feature Southampton’s Scouse striker, a forward who has racked up eight, nine and 11 points respectively over the last three Gameweeks as he’s scored twice and picked up three assists.
Lambert and the Saints welcome rock bottom Queens Park Rangers to St Mary’s on Saturday, and the forward will be eyeing even more goals there.
It’s an important game for the hosts, who have impressed in patches under new boss Mauricio Pochettino before suffering a 4-2 loss after making the long trip to Newcastle last time out.
Lambert scored his 100th goal for the Saints and his 12th in the Premier League this season in that game, and with the arrival of ex-Saints boss Harry Redknapp and his struggling side on Saturday, Lambert will be confident of finding the net again.
He scored against Rangers in a 3-1 win at Loftus Road in November, and with talk of an England call-up swirling around him then the forward can deliver and help move Southampton away from the relegation zone by beating a team who are firmly stuck in it.
One of the teams currently desperate to stay out of the bottom three are Wigan, and they face a tough task on Saturday evening when they welcome Liverpool to the DW Stadium.
The impact of Daniel Sturridge (£7.5m) at the Reds has been easy to see, and with the forward currently having only 7.4% ownership he could prove a strong differential choice in the closing weeks.
Liverpool’s fixture list isn’t as demanding as the one faced by several of the teams around them, and after scoring in all but one of his five Premier League appearances for the Reds so far – picking up 31 Fantasy points in the process – Sturridge could shine in those games, starting with this trip to Wigan.
Elsewhere, Sunday sees Arsenal try to become the latest team to stop the juggernaut that is Gareth Bale (£10.3m).
The Tottenham man continues to rip through the Premier League, with his latest demolition job on West Ham on Monday night seeing his ownership increase even more.
Against Arsenal he’ll of course come face-to-face with his former Southampton team-mate Theo Walcott (£9.6m), and with the frequent madcap nature of these North London derbies meaning that clean sheets are unlikely to be on the agenda, both could find themselves in the points come the end of the afternoon.
Elsewhere, both Chelsea and Manchester United face winnable looking home matches against West Brom and Norwich respectively, but both sides go into the contest with forward issues. Rafael Benitez is again faced with the dilemma over whether to choose Demba Ba (£8.0) or Fernando Torres (£9.3m), whilst there is an injury doubt over Robin van Persie (£14.0m) for United. None of the trio can be trusted confidently.
Monday night sees Manchester City travel to Aston Villa, and whilst Yaya Toure (£7.7m) and Carlos Tevez (£8.7m) regained some lost friends with goals in the 2-0 win over Chelsea last time out, it is the fact that City kept a clean sheet in that game which should perhaps be of greater importance.
Defender Pablo Zabaleta (£6.2m) was a key element of that shutout, and given that he has now started City’s last 15 Premier League games the Argentinean is again likely to be an important part of the visiting back line.
Against a Villa side who have often struggled for goals this season, Zabaleta can keep things tight at the back whilst impressing further forward too.
It may have snuck up on you somewhat, but Steven Gerrard (£9.7m) is currently the fourth top points scorer in Fantasy Premier League.
Only Robin van Persie (£14.1m), Juan Mata (£10.1m) and his Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez (£10.7m) have picked up more points than the Reds captain, who has benefitted from a new fitness regime brought in by Brendan Rodgers as he’s played every single minute of Liverpool’s 25 league games this season.
The likes of Gareth Bale (£9.8m), Theo Walcott (£9.6m) and Michu (£8.4m) have all been passed by Gerrard in recent weeks, as the frequent niggling injuries which have dogged his last few campaigns and seen his team struggle along without him have become a thing of the past.
Seven goals and 12 assists tell their own story of a player who is arguably in his best form for five years, and the England captain could be a man to trust ahead of Liverpool’s double Gameweek.
Points look on offer for the men from Anfield in home matches against a West Brom outfit who have lost five of their last six in the league and then a Swansea team which will be playing just a week before their appearance in the Capital One Cup final. It must be noted that Liverpool travel to Zenit St Petersburg for a Europa League tie in between those matches, but Rodgers is likely to chop and change things for that one. It’ll be the league that he’ll be focusing on.
Gerrard – having picked up bonus points in six of his last nine matches – won’t be in a hurry to let go of that 100% league record, and off the back of his trademark goal against Manchester City last weekend he’ll be vital in his team’s hunt for points, and maybe yours too.
Despite the Englishman’s form, Suarez is still likely to be captaincy choice of the majority – and six goals in his last six games tells you just why – whilst the impact of Daniel Sturridge (£7.7m) at Anfield also makes him worth considering despite a niggling injury.
However with Liverpool now boasting the Premier League’s best home defensive record having conceded just 10 goals, a move for Glen Johnson (£6.4m) could prove wise given the right-back’s qualities going forward. The Reds are likely to be on the front foot in both of their matches, and Johnson could prove to be a key part of that.
Elsewhere the first of Swansea’s pair of matches is at home to bottom of the table QPR, and so there will be support for Michu and the increasingly popular Ben Davies (£4.6m).
Chelsea will be backed to beat Wigan at Stamford Bridge in a match which could see Fernando Torres (£9.4m) fire given the facial injury suffered by Demba Ba (£8.2m) – well, it could ― whilst Eden Hazard (£9.3m) will return from his ban. Wayne Rooney’s (£11.9m) renaissance might continue at home to former club Everton at Old Trafford, where Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea (£5.5m) will be looking to follow up what was only a fourth clean sheet of the season at Fulham last time out with another shutout.
Sergio Aguero’s (£10.9m) stunning goal against Liverpool last weekend might finally convince many that he is the Manchester City forward to bank on ahead of his side’s trip to Southampton, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor (£9.0m) is set for a return to the Tottenham squad for the home clash with Newcastle.
Whilst the Togolese was away at the African Nations Cup, Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke (£6.7m) picked up support from Fantasy bosses as the key man in his struggling team, and with the Belgian hitting five goals in his last five games to become one of the 26 players have reached over 100 points by Gameweek 26 he is sure to keep that support onside.
Villa face West Ham at Villa Park on Saturday, and with the visitors losing eight of their 12 away games this season, Benteke can improve on his tally even more.
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The closure of the January transfer window may excite manic Sky Sports News presenters, the Twitter rumour-mongers and Harry Redknapp, but Fantasy bosses are often better off just sticking to what they know.
At this point of the season – pretty much exactly two-thirds of the way through – you’ll know who you can rely on in your team, who you’ll be keeping an eye on bringing in and who you desperately need to get rid of. New arrivals into the division shouldn’t alter that.
Of course there are those new players who can arrive into the Premier League and immediately take it by storm – Papiss Cisse last season anyone? – but the bedding in period often needed by foreign imports makes adding any deadline day signing to your team a risk. At least this weekend anyway.
No, it would be better to go with the tried and tested ahead of an intriguing set of games, and there aren’t many players in the division this season who have proved their worth more than Tottenham’s Gareth Bale (£9.8m).
The Welshman’s fine solo goal at Carrow Road on Wednesday night was a 10th Premier League strike of the season, and with eight of those 10 coming in matches away from White Hart Lane – in which he can make more use of the space afforded to him – then the winger will be the man to watch when Spurs visit West Brom on Sunday afternoon.
The Baggies have only won two of their last 11 in the league, and so whilst you don’t want Bale running at you at the best of times it is likely to be especially tough for Steve Clarke’s men to cope with the confidence of the winger here. Bale could score big.
Elsewhere, the headline match of the weekend is probably the last one, as Manchester City welcome Liverpool in a contest which the hosts will need to win after dropping points at QPR last time out.
Sergio Aguero (£10.9m) returned to the team there and should definitely be considered here, but even though Liverpool are facing a tough game the eagle-eyed Fantasy bosses will have noted that they have a Double Gameweek coming up next time around which brings home matches against West Brom and Swansea. Luis Suarez (£10.5m) is only going to see his price go up. More on him next week…
Reading’s Adam Le Fondre (£4.7m) might be a slightly less talked about forward than Suarez, but he proved more than his worth with the two late goals which earned a point against Chelsea in midweek, and at home to Sunderland he’ll be backed by many to find the net again. If you need a cheap forward to supplement your big boys then there are few better options at the moment.
Defensively, the scope for clean sheets doesn’t look all too great this weekend, but although QPR’s match at home to fellow strugglers Norwich will be full of new Rangers players introducing themselves to one another, it might just see the home side keep it tight at the back.
After the 3-0 loss at home to Liverpool before the turn of the year, Redknapp’s boys have kept back-to-back clean sheets at Loftus Road against opposition of the calibre of Tottenham and Manchester City, as well as shutting out Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Canaries should offer little to be worried about then, and after playing 90 minutes in each of QPR’s last four games the on-loan Manchester United defender Fabio da Silva (£4.2m) could just be worth considering if you need to add a cheap defender to make room elsewhere.
At the other end of the scale Leighton Baines (£7.5m) is the game’s most expensive defender and he’ll be looking to follow-up his brace against West Brom when Everton entertain Aston Villa, but the Blues have only kept two clean sheets at home all season and so Christian Benteke (£6.5m) shouldn’t be discounted for the visitors.
Finally and not too far away at Wigan, the hosts will hope that the increasingly effective Franco di Santo (£5.3m) impresses as they host Southampton on Saturday.
That’s if no-one else has signed him by then of course…