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?
New Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood's switch to 4-4-2 has reaped immediate attack reward, and the once alienated Emmanuel Adebayor (7.0) has thrived upon his return to the starting XI. The Togo international already has three goals under the new boss and, though he fired blanks against West Brom, will be licking his lips at the prospect of a depleted Stoke City back-line.
Back from injury, Vincent Kompany (6.5) is once again showing why he is the best centre-back in the division. The Belgian became one of few players able to stop Luis Suarez from scoring this season and, at the weekend, takes on a Crystal Palace side that are unlikely to pose him as much danger. The Manchester City skipper is also a major threat from set-pieces, and has two goals in as many games.
It is undeniable that Wayne Rooney (8.5) is Manchester United's talisman right now. He had a part of play in all three goals against Hull City (a match in which the Tigers conceded as many goals as they had done in their previous eight home games), racking up a goal and an assist, as well as pressuring the winner. He can expect a similar return against Norwich.
With four goals in his last three matches, Theo Walcott (9.0) is back to full fitness and back in form. The Gunners face Newcastle on Sunday in the knowledge that they have scored at least three goals in five of their last nine meetings with the Magpies, while there is no side in the league that Walcott has scored more goals against than them.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Having been recalled to the Chelsea starting XI for the first time in almost two months, Ashley Cole (6.0) gave an unspectacular display against Swansea City and will still fear for his place. The England international is no longer the goals/assists machine he once was, and Jose Mourinho is likely to wield his axe once more and return Cesar Azpilicueta to the side.
Everton shot-stopper Tim Howard (4.5) has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League this season, but, having been sent off against Sunderland, he will miss the side's clash with Southampton – probably for the best, given that the Saints have only failed to score in one of their last 14 games.
After limping off with a thigh injury against West Ham, Aaron Ramsey (5.5) will miss the rest of the festive calendar. The midfield had been in the midst of his best season to date, though his injury comes at a time when he was struggling to maintain his high standards, without a goal in his last six games in all competitions.
Newcastle have been flying high recently, though the visit of Arsenal is likely to pose a stern test of the Magpies' top-four credentials. They haven't won the fixture since 2005 and, with the Gunners looking to cement their place at the top of the table, Mathieu Debuchy (4.5) & co. could struggle to contain an attack that has, on occasion, been unstoppably rampant.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Injuries to Fulham's first-choice strikers has seen Adel Taarabt (6.0) spearhead the attack, and quite successfully too. The Cottagers have looked more dangerous going forward, and the 24-year-old also picked up an assist against Manchester City. Averaging four shots per game in his new role, it is surely only a matter of time before Taarabt nets.
Southampton's unexpectedly high placing owes much to the form of their English attacking stars. Striker Jay Rodriguez (5.5) has eight goals in his last 12 Premier League matches, and was the highest scoring player in the previous gameweek, while Adam Lallana (6.0) has assisted in back-to-back matches and remains the side's key creative force.
Hull City defender James Chester (3.5) had the misfortune of scoring an own goal that handed Manchester United three points on Boxing Day, but also netted at the right end. Prior to that game he had collected two clean sheets in three outings at the KC Stadium, and will be hopeful of shutting out Fulham while remaining a threat at the opposite end too.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
With Sergio Aguero injured, Spain international striker Alvaro Negredo (8.0) has stepped up and become Manchester City's main man in the Argentine's absence. The former Sevilla forward has only failed to score or assist in one of his last six matches, and has astonishingly scored in each of his last nine appearances at the Etihad Stadium.
Negredo takes to that successful hunting ground once again on Saturday where City will face Crystal Palace looking to maintain their 4.1 goals per game average. The Eagles have lost more games (seven) on their travels than any other side this year, and Negredo will be confident of adding to his impressive figures.
|GAMEWEEK 19 - BEST XI
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