A difficult one this week with not many batterers or battereees standing out. Although defending has not been a strong point of this season’s Premier League, it’s difficult to see a high scoring weekend ahead. It’s probably best to avoid making wholesale changes or spending big on anyone in particular.
Safe-ish teams to go with this week: Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal
Manchester City star player (well, one of them) Sergio Aguero is unlikely to be risked this weekend, with Roberto Mancini expected to save him for the Champions League tie against Villareal next week. With Tevez obviously not in contention, Mario Balotelli (£8.5m) will probably pair Edin Dzeko (£8.5m) up top for City against Aston Villa this weekend. Bear in mind that City travel to Old Trafford next week before bringing them both in though! Also, McLeish’s Villa will come to Eastlands with the sole intention of defending so it might not be a goal fest. Most players will already have David Silva (£10.1m), but also worth considering is Samir Nasri (£9.6m) who has looked impressive in a City shirt this season. City are also yet to concede a goal at home in the league, so take your pick from their defenders.
Although they’ve not been as strong defensively as they usually are, Chelsea will be expected to sweep Everton aside at Stamford Bridge. I’d steer clear of their defenders (partly because they’re expensive for their clean sheet record and partly because you can’t guarantee everyone a start, bar JT and Ashley Cole). But with a trip to West London neighbours QPR coming next week, it’s worth looking at the front men. With Fernando Torres set to sit out two more games through suspension, Didier Drogba (£10.1m) will probably find himself back in the starting line up. A class striker with a habit of netting against the Toffees, Drog could be a great choice, while Daniel Sturridge is a man in fine form and more reasonably priced at £6.6m. Frank Lampard, if picked next week, will run the show against QPR, but as far as I’m concerned he’s too expensive at £11.6m.
Arsenal have back-to-back home games against Sunderland and Stoke. You could do worse than pairing Aaron Ramsey (£6.4m) and Robin Van Persie (£11.9), who have been the best two outfield players for Arsenal this season. If you can’t quite afford RVP, it’s about time Gervinho scored a few more, so consider the Ivorian at £8.9m. Call me insane, but I can’t see Arsenal conceding goals this week. Well, I can’t see Sunderland scoring is probably more accurate. Wojciech Sczcesny (£5.9m) is the best goalkeeper in the world, while Carl Jenkinson (£5.5m) is likely to slot in for the injured Bacary Sagna and could prove a bargain.
Others to consider
If you don’t have him, it will seem expensive to bring him in. But Wayne Rooney (£12.4m) loves scoring against Liverpool and Manchester City (United’s opponents next week). It might be considered a gamble, given what has happened in the last week, but I’d make him captain if he’s in your team. As for United’s opponents this week, Luis Suarez (£9.4m) will pose the biggest threat to Sir Alex’s defenders.
Asmir Begovic (£5.1m) and Michel Vorm (£4.3m) have been two of the best keepers this season, and with Stoke at home against Fulham this week, the Bosnian has to be the best bet. Ashley Williams has looked pretty solid recently, while Newcastle’s Taylors have to be considered a bargain (Steven – £5.0m Ryan – £4.7m).
It’s difficult unearthing too many bargains from the midfield options, but Scott Sinclair (£6.0m) and Martin Petrov (£5.8m) have been steadily racking up a few points this season. If you’ve got £9.7m to spare, you can’t go wrong with Rafael Van der Vaart. He’s cheaper than he should be because of his injury this season and it’s Blackburn next week for Spurs.
As for the strikers, many will have jumped on the Demba Ba (£6.2m) and Leon Best (£5.4m) bandwagon. Not a bad idea, considering the Toon have back-to-back home fixtures. Although this week, it’s also worth keeping an eye on Franco Di Santo (£5.7m) and Bobby Zamora (£6.7m) if you’ve blown most of your budget on the Roon.