Goal takes a look at the best players to select or avoid, the bargain buys and the top choice for captain's double points ahead of this weekend's Premier League action
|START 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
Chelsea may have lost their last league outing, a 3-2 defeat against Stoke City, but one player left the match with his profile raised. German attacker Andre Schurrle (7.5) struck twice at the Britannia Stadium, also rattling the crossbar, in a fantastic individual display. Rested for the Blues' midweek Champions League clash with Steaua, the former Bayer Leverkusen man will be looking to fill his boots against Crystal Palace.
Returning from a one-match suspension, Wayne Rooney (8.5) remains one of the season's top performers, and the fourth highest-scoring striker. On Sunday he faces an Aston Villa side that slumped to defeat against Fulham last time out, while the 28-year-old has enjoyed previous encounters against the Villans. In fact, there is no side he has scored more Premier League goals against than Villa (10).
Manchester City playmaker David Silva (9.0) made his return from injury in Tuesday's win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, scoring the first of City's three goals in an astonishing comeback. The Spaniard averaged 5.6 points per game before his lay-off, scoring or assisting seven goals, and could be a useful differential, especially with Manuel Pellegrini's side in such devastating form at the Etihad Stadium.
After firing blanks in away trips to Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium, Romelu Lukaku (7.5) returns to Goodison Park where the Toffees face a lacklustre Fulham side. The Cottagers have lost their last three away games, conceding nine goals, and Lukaku, who notched in his last meeting with the west London club, will fancy his chances of adding to his eight Premier League strikes.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Having only scored in two of his last 10 Premier League matches, Olivier Giroud (7.5) is quickly losing appeal. His points tally had been propped up by assists, but he's not created a league goal in two months either. After firing a blank in his third straight Champions League tie, he admitted he was exhausted following defeat against Napoli. Next up, a tough trip to the Etihad – a side Giroud has never scored or won against.
Sidelined for up to six weeks, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard (8.0) is likely to miss a horde of festive fixtures. The England international had been in excellent form, topping the Premier League's assists chart while also notching three times. But a hamstring injury means he will be out of action until the new year.
Once the division's meanest defence, Tottenham have struggled at the back more recently. The north London club have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five league games, conceding six against Manchester City, and Kyle Walker (5.5) & co. face another tough test when the Premier League's form striker, Luis Suarez, visits White Hart Lane on Sunday.
After suffering a 2-0 loss in Naples, Arsenal have just two full days of recovery before facing Manchester City at lunchtime on Saturday. The home team have netted 29 goals at the Etihad this year (over four per game), with even the league's better sides cut to pieces. A clean sheet looks unlikely for Per Mertesacker (5.0) and the rest of the Gunners' defence, who then face Chelsea a week later.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Roberto Martinez remarked after Everton's 1-1 draw with Arsenal that Gerard Deulofeu (5.5) had surprised him with his speedy adaptation to English football and is “ready now” to play a bigger role. With two goals in his last three outings, including the thunderous late leveller at the Emirates, the Barcelona loanee could start against a struggling Fulham side. Owned by just 2 per cent of managers, he could be a shrewd, if risky, pick-up.
Perhaps no side has hosted as many top teams as Cardiff City this season, with all seven opponents currently sitting in the top half of the table. But on Saturday they take on a West Brom side who haven't won away since September. Steven Caulker (4.5) will be hopeful of recording a clean sheet, while he also poses a major threat in the opposing penalty area from set-pieces.
After an inauspicious start to life in the Premier League, Leroy Fer (5.5) is starting to show his enormous potential. The Netherlands international, often used as a No.10 in support of the striker, has scored three times in his last five league matches as Norwich have shuffled up the table. He created the Canaries' first goal against West Brom last time out before bagging the second himself.
Hull City have the second-best home defence in the Premier League. Steve Bruce's men have conceded just three times in seven games at the KC Stadium (only Man City have conceded fewer with two) and recorded four clean sheets. The form of Scottish goalkeeper Allan McGregor (4.0) has been central to that run, and on Saturday they face a Stoke side who have not won an away game since August.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Chelsea winger Eden Hazard (9.5) began the season in unspectacular style; the Belgian picked up just one solitary assist and no goals in his first six games. Since then, however, he has been mesmeric. Hazard has 10 goals or assists in his last nine Premier League appearances and has out-scored both Aaron Ramsey and Yaya Toure, the only midfielders with more total points, since the start of October.
On Saturday the Blues are handed the gameweek's most appetising fixture, as Crystal Palace travel to Stamford Bridge. The Eagles have had something of a revival under Tony Pulis, but Chelsea will surely be too strong. Hazard has generally enjoyed facing promoted teams since moving to England, and bagged a double against Cardiff earlier this term, so is good value to run riot against Palace.
|GAMEWEEK 15 - BEST XI
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