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?
With Yohan Cabaye having left Newcastle for Paris Saint-Germain, Hatem Ben Arfa (6.5) will be asked to play a much larger role at St. James' Park. Prior to Tuesday's draw against Norwich City, the Frenchman had only started one of the Toon's last 13 league games (though he created two assists in that match). Against the Canaries, he set-up three chances and had five shots – only Loic Remy had more.
Back to full fitness and back among the goals, Christian Benteke (8.0) is quickly becoming a must-have purchase once again. Not content with netting in back-to-back games against Arsenal and Liverpool, the Belgian scored and assisted in the Villans' 4-3 win over West Brom on Wednesday night. The towering forward has re-found his mojo and looks primed to terrorise defences until the end of the season.
Arsenal's midfielders are dropping like flies and a normally favourable home fixture against Crystal Palace has proven to be a head-scratcher as far as Fantasy Football goes. As much by default as anything else, Santi Cazorla (9.5) gets our nod. Unlike a certain disappointing German playmaker, the Spaniard has been in good form, netting four goals in his last three appearances in all competitons.
With Samir Nasri sidelined, impact substitute Jesus Navas (8.0) has found a more regular role in the starting XI. The Spaniard is Manchester City's leading assister, and they return to the home ground where they have been so dominant on Monday. Chelsea will prove a stern test, but if Jose Mourinho is keen to distance himself from the hypocritical connotations of his “19th century” quip, then a more open Blues side could be ripped apart.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
After shipping four goals against Aston Villa, the last thing Diego Lugano (4.5) and West Brom will want to see is Liverpool and their deadly SAS attack. The cumbersome Uruguayan gave away a penalty and was at fault for all of the Villans' goals, and his lack of mobility will surely be exposed against Brendan Rodgers' dynamic, pacey side – that's assuming he even starts after such a horror show.
In the last gameweek, Sergio Aguero (10.5) was our pick for captain, but this week he should be avoided – that's the cruel and unpredictable life of a footballer for you. The Argentina international could have had a first-half hat-trick against Tottenham, but a hamstring injury suffered at White Hart Lane will rule him out for the foreseeable future.
With his midfield partner in crime swapping Tyneside for the French capital, and with star striker Loic Remy suspended, poor Cheick Tiote (5.0) will be the player Newcastle look to in Saturday's Tyne-Wear derby. The fixture, though, has a history of dismissals, and with the Ivorian set to clash with opposite number and fellow midfield clatterer Lee Cattermole, Tiote looks a good bet to be having an early bath when the final whistle is blown.
Chelsea and Gary Cahill (5.5) have performed admirably of late, conceding just twice in their last seven matches. A surprise goalless draw against West Ham, however, could see Mourinho ask for more attacking gumption from his side, and now might be the worst possible time to show more adventure as the west Londoners travel to the Etihad Stadium. Man City have averaged 3.8 goals at home and even then league leaders Arsenal conceded six times. That Blues backline is best avoided.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Flying winger Jason Puncheon (5.0) has put his horror penalty against Tottenham behind him to score in three of his last four Premier League outings, winning seven points for a Crystal Palace side that has rallied around an unlikely talisman. A trip to the Emirates will hold no fear for a player that will relish space on the break, and his spirits could be lifted by a reported permanent move to Selhurst Park.
A serious-looking injury to Romelu Lukaku opens the door for Kevin Mirallas (7.0) to shine. The Belgian could be deployed through the middle against Aston Villa and, in the midst of a hot streak that has seen him net three times in his last four matches, looks a good bet to get on the scoresheet.
Chelsea had 39 shots against West Ham on Wednesday night, yet still they could not breach Adrian (3.5) and the West Ham defence. The Spanish shot-stopper has been heroic for the Hammers, even though he's been on the end of a few routs, and the return to fitness of several first-choice defenders coupled with the visit of an out-of-form Swansea side gives the goalkeeper the chance to add to his two clean sheets.
Everton's somewhat makeshift backline didn't cover themselves in glory in the Merseyside derby, but a return to Goodison Park and the visit of Aston Villa should make for happier times. The Toffees' defence has generally been reliable (only Arsenal and West Ham have recorded more clean sheets), and John Stones (3.5), filling in for the injured Seamus Coleman, offers a cheap route into one of the most formidable backlines in England.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
The Premier's League's top scorer, Luis Suarez (10.0), shows no signs of letting up. Not even at his scintillating best against Everton, the Uruguay international still picked up a goal and an assist to bring his figures for the season to 23 goals and six assists – that is one every 55 minutes. He is simply unstoppable right now.
A trip to West Brom looks particularly appetising for the former Ajax frontman. The Baggies have one of the worst defences in the league, conceding four times in their last outing as they were systematically ripped apart by Villa, and Suarez himself bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture. Ignore him at your peril.
|GAMEWEEK 24 - BEST XI
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