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?
With last season's Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie featuring only sporadically for Manchester United this season, Wayne Rooney (8.5) has become the main man in attack for the Red Devils once more. He leads the club's scoring charts and assisted his sixth goal this term in a routine win over Aston Villa last time out. Next up is a favourable home tie against West Ham, and, though he missed the Capital One Cup tie against Stoke in midweek, Rooney should be available to David Moyes.
The news that Sergio Aguero could miss eight weeks will see many Fantasy Football managers reshuffle their frontlines, though you need look no further than the Argentine's Manchester City strike partner Alvaro Negredo (8.0) to find an adequate replacement. The Spaniard has eight goals in his last nine games in all competitions, scored last time out against Arsenal and faces an under-performing Fulham side on Saturday. It remains to be seen if he can prosper without Aguero alongside him, though.
After missing almost two months with an abdominal injury, Theo Walcott (9.0) made his first league start since September when he took to the field against Manchester City. Arsenal may have shipped six goals, but the England international gave a fine display, netting twice against (at the time) the best home defence in the division. He will fancy his chances again against an uncharacteristically vulnerable Chelsea side.
Injury to Steven Gerrard was expected to derail Liverpool's top-four pursuit, but the side prospered in the captain's absence against Tottenham – no player more so than Jordan Henderson (5.5). Playing a freer role in support of Luis Suarez, the midfielder was a constant threat. He assisted the first goal and scored the second, and will be hopeful of continuing that form against an abject Cardiff City outfit who have won just once away from home.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Manchester City frontman Sergio Aguero (10.5) has been a mainstay of many Fantasy Football teams, netting 12 goals in his last 11 league games. However, a calf injury sustained against Arsenal is a massive blow for the player and the club. Manuel Pellegrini expects the diminutive frontman to be out of action for eight weeks, which means he should be avoided for the immediate future.
The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas has left a huge cloud of uncertainty over Tottenham, and it is as yet unclear how caretaker boss Tim Sherwood will set-up the side. In midweek, he returned the once exiled Emmanuel Adebayor, with the Togo international partnering Jermain Defoe in a flat 4-4-2 formation, which meant no involvement for record-signing Roberto Soldado (8.0). The Spaniard has not scored a league goal since October and may find first-team opportunities limited further now.
From being one of the Premier League's hottest strikers, Newcastle forward Loic Remy (7.5) has now gone four games without a goal. A trip to Selhurst Park might have some people considering him for the captain's armband, but Crystal Palace have been increasingly hard to break down under Tony Pulis and the Frenchman's drought could well continue. With similarly priced players in better form, Remy is looking less and less appetising.
Jose Mourinho remarked this week that Chelsea's defending was so bad, even the training ground dummies could score against them. John Terry (5.5) and the rest of the Chelsea backline have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 games and conceded 16 goals, and were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Sunderland on Tuesday night. Next up is an ominous trip to the Emirates and league leaders Arsenal.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
It is not often that a Crystal Palace defender is recommended, but Joel Ward (3.5) has been a key part of a Tony Pulis inspired back-line that has recorded four clean sheets in their last six games. The Eagles have not conceded a goal at Selhurst Park since Arsenal visited south London almost two months ago, while Ward has proven to be a threat going forward too and assisted Marouane Chamakh's strike against Chelsea last time out.
Southampton have not won in five games but they will have a great chance to end that run against managerless Tottenham, who were far too open and frequently exposed against both Liverpool and West Ham. Midfielder Adam Lallana (6.0) could find as much joy between the lines as Henderson did last week, and the Saints' slick counterattack could rip apart an injury-hit Spurs defence.
With two goals and an assist in his last three games, Raheem Sterling (5.0) could be a great value pick-up. Having usurped Victor Moses and laid claim to a place in the starting XI, the England Under-21 international is likely to be a regular fixture in the side while Daniel Sturridge is injured and, with Liverpool having scored 14 goals in their last three games, the youngster will fancy his chances of notching once more against Cardiff.
Stoke City have been solid and reliable in defence this season and, with just five goals conceded at home, boast the joint-second best home defence in the Premier League. Aston Villa's speedy, counterattacking side will test their back-line, but Marc Wilson (4.0) – who has filled in for the injured Robert Hugh – has helped his side claim two clean sheets in their last three league games, and even picked up three points against Chelsea.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
It is a simple fact that Luis Suarez (10.0) is the best player in the Premier League right now. Since the Uruguayan returned to action on the 25 September, he has outscored 14 Premier League teams and netted just five fewer goals than league leaders Arsenal have managed over the same period. He has, astonishingly, averaged a goal or assist every 39 minutes.
A home match against Cardiff City gives Suarez the opportunity to run riot yet again, and he is in especially devastating form right now. In his last three games he has eight goals and five assists. Another big plus for the 26-year-old is that he has a habit of posting massive scores, so not captaining him can have huge repercussions.
|GAMEWEEK 17 - BEST XI
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