DEFENDER: Phil Jones (£5.3m) – Home v Burnley
There seem to be very few constants in Louis van Gaal’s constantly shuffled Manchester United pack, but defender Phil Jones has now started the last nine league games and played all but two minutes of them.
United are probably due a home clean sheet and should be backed to keep one at home to lowly Burnley, who whilst frequently potent at Turf Moor have often failed to find the net on their travels.
MIDFIELDER: Mesut Ozil (£8.9m) – Home v Leicester
Not always the most trustworthy of players during his time in English football, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has nonetheless bounced back into form since his return to the Gunners starting lineup, scoring against Aston Villa and Tottenham.
He picked up 21 Fantasy points in those two games, and at home to a struggling Leicester City side he should be in a position to help the Gunners bounce back from their North London derby loss in style.
FORWARD: Olivier Giroud (£8.4m) – Home v Leicester
This is the sort of game in which Olivier Giroud usually shines for Arsenal, and the Frenchman should be front and centre as the Gunners go for goals against Leicester.
Giroud has scored three goals in his last four home league appearances at the Emirates Stadium, and if he starts here then he really should be increasing that number.
THE OUTSIDER: Jermain Defoe (£6.0m) – Home v QPR
Two goals in three games since his return to the Premier League indicates that Jermain Defoe hasn’t lost any of his razor-sharp instinct since he’s been away, and the former England forward will have QPR in his sights as the Premier League’s most miserable away record comes to the Stadium of Light.
Defoe has the quality to pull Sunderland away from the likes of their opponents here, and the home fans will expect him to do just that.
THE CAPTAIN: Eden Hazard (£10.8m) – Home v Everton
This is Chelsea’s last game of Diego Costa’s suspension, and whilst it is true to say that that has affected the team’s potency as a whole, they will still get plenty of chances to find the net at home to an Everton side which still fails to convince.
Jose Mourinho’s side are now seven points clear at the top of the table and they won’t be in a mood to let that lead shorten, and Eden Hazard will be crucial to that effort as they host their visitors from Merseyside.
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…