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 midweek Premier League action
|START 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
Exiled to the bench at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Juan Mata (10.0) finally looks set to return to first-team football – though it has taken a transfer to Manchester United to achieve it. The Spanish playmaker twice won the Blues' Player of the season, while only compatriot David Silva has recorded more assists since Mata touched down in England, and he could make a huge impact at Old Trafford.
Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye (6.0) is in the form of his life. A brilliant double against West Ham last time out means the Frenchman has now scored five goals in his last seven matches, and is excelling in the free role handed to him by Alan Pardew. A word of warning: a reported bid from Paris Saint-Germain could see him depart the Premier League before the window slams shut.
After failing to hit the standards he set in the Eredivisie upon joining Swansea City for a club-record fee, Wilfried Bony (7.5) is enjoying himself a lot more in 2014. Since the turn of the year, the Ivory Coast international has bagged six goals in five matches in all competitions (four of which were against top-seven sides) and that run should continue against Fulham, comfortably the worst defence in the division.
Following Mata's departure, Brazilian attacker Oscar (8.0) must truly step up and assume the role of primary creator at Chelsea. He looked in magnificent form against Stoke City in the FA Cup, eager to prove that his former team-mate will not be missed, netting a stunning free kick and smashing the post. An injury-hit, confidence-sapped West Ham back-line should prove little match for the in-form No.10.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Nemanja Vidic (5.5) did not exactly cover himself in glory in his last appearance, conceding three times to Chelsea in a haphazard defensive display before being sent off late on. Manchester United, who have struggled defensively this season, will be without the suspended centre-back for three games – and he may have a hard time reclaiming his place when he returns.
Sidelined for an “indefinite” amount of time according to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, full-back Glen Johnson (5.5) should be avoided for the foreseeable future – not that he was racking up points, with just two clean sheets and a single assist in his last 11 games. Another Merseyside-based full-back, Everton's Seamus Coleman (4.5), is also out of action, while Bryan Oviedo (4.0) suffered a double leg break in the FA Cup.
Just as Fernando Torres (8.0) was starting to show signs of his old self, bagging three goals in his last six games, he picked up a ligament injury that will rule him out for a month. The Spaniard's loss, though, is team-mate Samuel Eto'o's gain; the Cameroonian netted a hat-trick in his last league outing.
Manchester City forward Alvaro Negredo (8.0) enjoyed his last meeting with Tottenham, but a shoulder injury makes him a major doubt for the trip to north London on Wednesday night. The former Sevilla man has been in blistering form at the Etihad Stadium, but with just one away league goal since August he presents a rather large gamble, especially with a certain Argentine returning to full fitness.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Sunderland, revitalised under Gus Poyet, have lost only one of their last seven Premier League matches, as well as progressing to the final of the Capital One Cup. Vito Mannone (4.0), who has recorded five clean sheets since being handed a starting spot, was the hero in the Black Cats' penalty shoot-out victory at Old Trafford and will be looking to shut-out an often limp visiting Stoke attack on Wednesday.
Having made just one start at Chelsea this season, a loan move to Aston Villa looks set to give Ryan Bertrand (4.5) a much larger role until the season's end. The marauding full-back provides attacking intent and impressed in his debut for the Villans at Anfield, while the visit of West Brom provides the opportunity to record a clean sheet.
Few Sunderland players have benefited from Poyet's appointment as much as Adam Johnson (6.5), who is showing just why the Black Cats paid so much to bring him to the Stadium of Light. The tricky winger has hit a purple patch in recent weeks, and has scored or assisted six goals in his last two Premier League outings. Given his low price, it would be foolish to ignore the 26-year-old's huge up-side.
Once an occasionally used squad member, Cesar Azpilicueta (5.5) has quickly impressed Jose Mourinho, ousting Ashley Cole to start 10 of the Blues' last 11 league matches, a run that has coincided with improved defensive displays. Chelsea have only conceded twice in their last six games, and the Spaniard will likely add another clean sheet against a meek West Ham attack.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero (10.0) was, alongside Luis Suarez, one of the Premier League's form players until he suffered a calf injury in mid-December. The Argentine missed five games but has returned as if he never left; he scored after 50 seconds against Blackburn, grabbed a goal and an assist against Cardiff and netted a superb hat-trick against Watford.
Aguero hasn't even been back in action for two weeks and already has eight combined goals or assists and the (perhaps not so) faint scurrying sound you can hear is Fantasy Football managers everywhere rushing to add the former Atletico Madrid man to their sides. He's also enjoyed games against Wednesday's opponents Tottenham in the past, bagging four goals in four appearances, and is a good bet to be amongst the goals once again.
|GAMEWEEK 23 - BEST XI
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