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?
Most Fantasy Football teams will already be overloaded with Arsenal players, but Santi Cazorla (9.5) presents a differential that could pay off in a big way. The Spaniard started in the Gunners' last league outing, looked excellent in mid-week against Borussia Dortmund and could keep his place against managerless Crystal Palace on Saturday. The former Malaga man was the joint-second leading assist-maker in the league last year and also netted 12 times, scoring or assisting against all of the promoted teams.
Full of confidence after his impressive displays for England, Andros Townsend (4.5) struck his first Premier League goal for Tottenham in a man-of-the-match display against Aston Villa last weekend and looked increasingly rampant against full-back Antonio Luna. A home fixture against Hull City looks particularly appetising, especially with Tigers first-choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor ruled out through injury.
Newcastle's influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye (6.0) missed the Magpies' first two games of the season following an unsettling summer bid from Arsenal, but has returned to the starting XI and quickly won over the club's fans once more. The 27-year-old has scored or assisted three goals in his last three games - a key contribution every 69 minutes he's been on the pitch. The Toon face a local derby against bottom-of-the-table Sunderland on Sunday.
Before getting injured, Aston Villa talisman Christian Benteke (8.0) had been the joint leading scorer in the division with four goals in as many games. A groin injury kept him sidelined for a month, but he returned against Spurs last week and looked just as terrifying as ever, unfortunate not to level the scores, and he galvanised the entire team, albeit briefly. The Villans are at home to Everton on Saturday and Benteke will be keen to upstage countryman Romelu Lukaku.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Dropped from the Southampton starting XI to face Manchester United in favour of club-record signing Daniel Pablo Osvaldo, and with doubts surrounding his suitability for Mauricio Pochettino's system, Rickie Lambert (7.0) might be best avoided. The 31-year-old was in fine form earlier in the season, earning an England call-up, but appears to be falling out of favour. He has only one goal in his last seven league games for the low-scoring Saints.
Barn doors have been largely undisturbed around west London, with Fulham forward Darren Bent (5.5) yet to find his shooting boots for his new club. The Aston Villa loanee was peripheral to the point of non-existence against Crystal Palace (and if you can't score against the Eagles, who can you score against?), and could be dropped with the possibility of returning Dimitar Berbatov to the lone-striker role permanently.
Winless in their last five Premier League games, the last thing Stoke City and skipper Ryan Shawcross (5.0) want is a trip to Old Trafford. The Potters have lost on all five of their visits to Manchester United since winning promotion to the top flight, conceding 17 goals, while David Moyes' men, according to the Scot, could have scored “five or six” goals in an attacking, if profligate, display against Real Sociedad in the Champions League.
Yet to start a Premier League match for Tottenham, it is clear that Andre Villas-Boas is giving club-record signing Erik Lamela (6.0) the “Lloris Treatment” - that is to say, the Argentine is being integrated slowly into the Spurs side. With Townsend unlikely to be usurped any time soon, Lamela is likely to be used mainly off the bench or out of position and should be avoided for now.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Swansea full-back Neil Taylor (4.0) was a Fantasy Football mainstay not so long ago, but a horror injury sustained at the start of the 2012-13 season, coupled with the form of Ben Davies, has seen the 24-year-old relegated to the bench and removed from FF teams. But injury to Davies will see Taylor return to the starting XI for at least the next month, with notoriously poor travellers West Ham visiting the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
After his two goals against Sunderland, Manchester United wonder kid Adnan Januzaj (4.5) already leads the point scoring charts for the Red Devils' midfielders. Buoyed by a new contract, the teenager, rested against Real Sociedad, is likely to return to the starting XI for a favourable match-up against out-of-form Stoke.
It's official: Southampton have the best defence in the Premier League. Not only have Pochettino's men kept a league-high five clean sheets, but they have only conceded three goals in their eight games this season. The entire Saints backline is undervalued, and Nathaniel Clyne (4.5) can be backed to not only shut-out a travelling Fulham side – even if they are fresh from one of their biggest away wins – as well as maraud up the flanks.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney (8.5) has been in quite sensational form recently, described as “incredible” and “magnificent” by manager David Moyes this week as he helped the Red Devils continue their unbeaten start to the Champions League campaign. The former Everton man embarked on a dizzying run before smashing the post, with the rebound flying off Inigo Martinez to secure three points.
Rooney will be looking to celebrate his 28th birthday in style when United host Stoke, a side the Red Devils have enjoyed playing against in the past – especially at home, where they have averaged 3.4 goals per game. Rooney, already with 11 combined goals and assists for club and country this term, netted twice in the corresponding fixture last term (though he did score an own goal too!) and looks a steady bet to be handed the FF armband this week.
|GAMEWEEK 9 - BEST XI
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