Most of the fixtures in Gameweek 17 are about as difficult to call as Celtic vs Rangers so the advice here would be to save up those transfers for next week, when you’d expect all of the big guns to emerge with three pretty easy points. Looking ahead to Gameweek 18, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are all at home against Fulham, Wolves, Blackburn and Wigan respectively, while Manchester City and Spurs travel to West Brom and Norwich. As for this week’s games, you’d be wise to play it safe – Liverpool, City and United are the only teams we’d back with any kind of conviction.
Aside from David Silva (£10.5m), it’s worth keeping an eye on Samir Nasri (£9.2m), James Milner (£7.3m) and Adam Johnson (£7m), who all do very well on a points per game basis and should be in contention for more minutes when Gnegneri Toure Yaya swans off to play in the Africa Cup of Nations next month. Up front, we’d highly recommend Super Mario (£8.1m). Sergio Aguero is obviously the first choice striker, but if you’re looking at either Balotelli or Edin Dzeko (i.e. the cheaper options), we’d go with the Italian. He won’t play 90 minutes very often, but in contrast to Dzeks, Balotelli isn’t often given the token 6 minutes when the game is already sewn up. He’s in fine form and will be racking up the points over Christmas. It just seems more is likely to happen with Balotelli than Dzeko – you’ll just have to hope his goals outweigh his cards.
As far as Manchester United players go, it’s a case of rehashing the same advice from last week. Luis Nani (£10.2m) and Wayne Rooney (£11.9m) are the form players right now and you’d be taking a big old gamble if you don’t have either of them. Javier Hernandez (£9.9m) is also back in contention after overcoming the ankle injury sustained at Villa Park a couple of weeks ago and his value is only likely to go in one direction from here. Obviously the forwards will take up a lot of your budget, so getting on some defensive interest from United can’t be a bad move. Jonny Evans (£4.4m) should play in central defence and is a bargain considering the team he plays for. And we’ve said it before, but Phil Jones (£6.7m) playing in midfield must be considered.
While Liverpool are probably a team worth backing for their trip to the DW, there isn’t really a player in their side who you could say offers any real value for money. Jose Enrique (£5.9m) is a player many will have had from the beginning and it’s worth sticking with him. With defences likely to become stronger around Christmas and during the second half of the season, £5.9m is good price for a defender at a top 6 club. If only Craig Bellamy (£7.4m) was guaranteed 90 minutes every week. It could be worth taking the hit on the Welshman as he always delivers when he plays, but Luis Suarez (£9.3m) is probably your man for the next couple of weeks, if you’ve got the cash. He doesn’t get enough goals for our liking, but those bonus points are certainly racking up.
Cheaper options worth considering
Brad Friedel (£5.5m) could be the best goalkeeper to stick with in the long run. He is playing for a top six team and and with defenders likely to offer better value for money than forwards in the second half of the season, there aren’t many better stoppers than the American. Benoit Assou-Ekotto (£5.2m) is also worth looking at for the same reasons. We also like the look of Robert Huth (£5.6m), who should pick up his fair share of goals as well as clean sheets. Sebastian Larsson (£6.8m) has been a fairly consistent performer in midfield this season, despite Sunderland struggling thus far. He is likely to continue racking up the points during the second half of the season and represents better value for money than the big hitters like Charlie Adam, Juan Mata or Luka Modric. Up front, you could do a lot worse than Grant Holt (£4.9m). On his current form, we’re saying Grolty for England! Playing from the start or coming off the bench, the former Shrewsbury and Forest man has goals/assists in him. Also worth considering is Wolves striker Steven Fletcher (£5.9m), who should continue to climb the table in the next few weeks and represents Mick McCarthy’s best hope of retaining Premiership football at Molineux.