Anyone who made Ayegbeni Yakubu captain last week is laughing. The Yak surpassed Fernando Torres’s league total to date for Chelsea in just one match, scoring FOUR past Swansea. Other than stating the bleedin obvious, that Torres will not score four goals against Manchester City on Monday night, let’s try to find some potential bargains for this gameweek.
Teams worth taking a punt on…
Bolton Wanderers, Norwich City, Sunderland
It’s been a pretty rotten season for Sunderland so far but you’d expect the ‘New Manager Syndrome’ to kick in at the Stadium of Light this weekend, particularly as Blackburn Rovers are the visitors. Yes, Rovers won 4-2 last weekend, but they concede so many goals, you’d have to fancy Sunderland for this one. As long as they can keep Yakubu and Morten Gamst Pedersen quiet. I’d be avoiding selecting defenders for the time being, but from the Sunderland midfield,Kieran Richardson (£5.8m), Stephane Sessegnon (£6.3m) and Sebastian Larsson (£6.7m) all looked very dangerous on the counter attack at Molineux. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Craig Gardner (£5.6m), who knows new Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill from his Villa days. It’s a mystery to me why Gardner (and David Vaughan for that matter) hasn’t had more minutes under his belt since his summer move from Birmingham City and it’d be no surprise if he begins to resurrect his Sunderland career under O’Neill.
Although they’ve lost six games at home this season, I don’t see why Bolton can’t turn Aston Villa over on Saturday. Alex McLeish’s side is yet to win on the road this season and while Bolton don’t have players in the form of Robin Van Persie or Gareth Bale at the minute, they will usually score. Clean sheets have not exactly been a regular feature of Owen Coyle’s side this season, although in Jussi Jaaskelainen (£4.8m) they have a keeper who will make plenty of saves. If it wasn’t for him last week, it may have been a cricket score at White Hart Lane. Bolton don’t exactly have terrifying fixtures over the next five or six weeks so he could be well worth considering. From the midfield, most of Bolton’s goals are likely to come through Chris Eagles (£5.7m). Put it this way, in a struggling side, he’s managed more points than Theo Walcott, Charlie Adam and Ashley Young this season. Another option from Bolton is top scorer Ivan Klasnic (£5.9m), who has a habit of popping up at the right place at the right time.
Norwich v Newcastle is a tight one to call. It has the potential for plenty of goals so, again, it’s probably wise to steer well clear of the defenders on this one. With Norwich being the home side and Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini set to miss out through injury, I’d give Paul Lambert’s men the slight edge in this one. Although a few people will have jumped on the Anthony Pilkington bandwagon a few weeks ago after he went on a bit of goalscoring run, Wesley Hoolahan (£5m) is my pick of the Norwich midfielders. Capable of operating on the flank or just behind the strikers, he will pose a goal threat from midfield. Even if he’s not in the starting XI, he remains a good impact sub for the Canaries. Also worth considering in order to save a few sovs is Andrew Surman (£4.3m). He has played 90 minutes in Norwich’s last two fixtures and was a key cog in the 2-1 defeat of QPR. Up front, it has to be Steve Morison. The Welsh international has scored four goals in his last five games, yet he remains just £5m. Very tempting.
Others worth considering…
I’d back Swansea to beat Fulham at the Liberty and West Brom to do the business at home against Wigan, although they could both be low scoring affairs. I’d be looking at Michel Vorm (£4.8m), Mark Schwarzer (£4.9m) or Ben Foster (£4.8m) as potential long-term goalkeeping options. Meanwhile, Shane Long (£5.7m) is the player most likely to make the difference for the Baggies, with two goals in his last three games.
If you’re looking at the bigger guns this weekend, Charlie Adam (£8.8m) should pull the strings against QPR, while Thomas Vermaelen (£6.9m), Theo Walcott (£8.9m) and Robin Van Persie (£13.2m) would be expected to continue racking up the points as Arsenal face Everton at the Emirates. After being dumped out of the Champions League in midweek, Sir Alex Ferguson will demand a response from his Manchester United players. Phil Jones (£6.5m) is the pick of the defenders, particularly as he might be played in midfield, while the Wolves defenders will have a tough time containing Luis Nani (£9.9m).
Monday Night Football sees Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge. Not an easy outcome to predict. Sergio Aguero (£11.3m) is a man who has the ability to make the difference while Toure Yaya (£7.6m) is in a decent run of form for City. If you’re leaning towards Chelsea, Juan Mata (£9.7m) is far less of a gamble than the other pricey Chelsea players.