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 the weekend's Premier League action
|START 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
Premier League top scorer Luis Suarez (10.0) remains the division's most dangerous player and his hat-trick against Cardiff City was followed up by a performance full of verve and trickery against Sunderland on Wednesday night.
This weekend he, and Liverpool, host a Tottenham side that shipped five goals against the Reds in the reverse fixture, with Suarez involved in each goal, while his 'SAS' strike partner also has a good record against Spurs.
Swansea's lowly position in the league table owes much to the extended absence of Michu (8.5), who netted an incredible 18 goals in his debut season for the Swans. The Spaniard started only his third game since November when he took to the field against Arsenal on Tuesday, and, as he begins to rediscover his match sharpness, could be a major player for the Welsh outfit as they look to avoid relegation.
Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana (6.0) is one of a horde of Englishmen peaking at just the right time ahead of the World Cup. The 25-year-old netted against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in his most recent outing and now faces a Newcastle side with nothing left to play for and against whom he scored in the same fixture last season. Team-mate and countryman Jay Rodriguez, who has scored in each of his last three games, is also worth a punt, though is a minor doubt with a slight knock.
Right now, there is not a midfielder who is more deadly than Manchester City's Yaya Toure (9.0). The Ivorian, such a major threat from dead-ball situations, scored a hat-trick against Fulham before netting late on in the Manchester derby to take his tally for the season to 17 goals, the third most in the Premier League. Next up he faces an Arsenal defence who have struggled of late, shipping eight goals in the past week.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
It is fair to say that Juan Mata (10.0) has struggled to live up to his £37.1 million pricetag since joining Manchester United. The former Chelsea man has yet to net for his new club, and has now gone six consecutive games without registering an assist. Injury to Robin van Persie has seen the Spaniard fielded in a more central role recently, but he is yet to click with frontman Wayne Rooney and looks a little lost under David Moyes.
Once the leader of an imperious, impenetrable defence, Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker (5.0) has struggled a little of late. His lack of pace was exploited ruthlessly by Chelsea in a six-goal drubbing, and he looks out of sync and shaky alongside stand-in partner Thomas Vermaelen. The Gunners have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine games and, with Manchester City next up, that run is likely to get worse.
Normally a trip to a struggling side such as Crystal Palace would be seen as hunting season for Oscar (8.0) and the rest of the Chelsea side, but not so under Tony Pulis. The Eagles have kept a clean sheet at home in half their home matches under the Welshman, conceding just eight goals. Oscar, meanwhile, ended a run of 10 games without a goal at the weekend, but has looked a shadow of the player that sparkled at the start of the campaign.
Having shipped five goals the last time they faced Liverpool, Tottenham will be very worried by their upcoming trip to Anfield to face a Reds side that have only become deadlier since. Jan Vertonghen (6.5) appears to be the prime suspect of the players Tim Sherwood does not “trust” - it was the Belgian's lackadaisical play that saw the Spurs boss fling his gilet away – and the return to fitness of Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches could put his place at risk.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
After a brief lull following his explosion onto the scene, Ross Barkley (4.0) is back making headlines again. The youngster's recent form looks set to earn him a spot on the plane to Brazil, and Everton might even sneak fourth place on the way. The 20-year-old struck in back-to-back games against Swansea and Newcastle, the second a stunning individual effort, and could terrorise a Fulham defence that have conceded the most goals in the division.
Manchester City frontman Edin Dzeko (7.5) is considerably less expensive than many of his peers, but, with Sergio Aguero injured and Alvaro Negredo out of form, the Bosnian – and his goal or assist strike rate of 88 minutes – could be hugely influential in the title race. The 28-year-old, who may be keen to impress ahead of a potential summer move, has seven goals in his last 10 league outings.
Jordon Mutch (4.0), who narrowly misses out on a spot in this week's best XI, has arguably been the stand out performer for Cardiff City this season. He bagged two goals and an assist in a 6-3 defeat to Liverpool last time out and will fancy his chances netting again against a West Brom team who have just one win in 10 games.
Not only do Everton boast one of the meanest travelling defences, but Sunday's hosts Fulham possess one of the most impotent attacks in the league. Seamus Coleman (4.5), the highest scoring defender in the league, is an obvious inclusion, while, elsewhere, Stoke City's home match against Hull gives Geoff Cameron (4.0), who has bagged a goal or assist in back-to-back games, the chance to record a clean sheet.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney (8.5) has been a man reborn after sealing a lucrative new contract with the club. His spectacular long-range goal against West Ham suggests he is back to his imaginative, instinctive best and, whisper it, he seems to be thriving in Robin van Persie's absence, with their partnership (or lack of) cause for concern prior to the Dutchman's injury.
Rooney has led the line with aplomb in recent weeks, bagging four goals and an assist in his last five matches, and has embraced his role as Old Trafford talisman once more. On Saturday United host Aston Villa, a match they would normally win at a canter (though it's rarely been that easy for the Red Devils this term), and the England international has an excellent record against the visitors, having netted 10 times in league matches against them – the joint-most he's scored against a single club.
|GAMEWEEK 32 - BEST XI
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