Match of the Day 2 is winning this week. It’s always been a better show than Match of the Day, but this week while Gary, Al and Al enjoy Bolton v Sunderland, Colin Murray will be looking forward to seeing Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Everton and of course, the Manchester derby. So don’t worry if you’ve only got 7 points come Saturday tea time, there are plenty more to be won on Sunday afternoon.
Teams we’re backing this week: Newcastle United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs
We keep expecting the Newcastle wheels to fall off but you have take your hat off to Alan Pardew for getting the Magpies to fourth spot in the Premier League. While they are some way off the likes of Chelsea, United and City, Newcastle should have enough to take care of Wigan at St James Park this weekend. They’ve not conceded many goals this season, hence the likes of Steven Taylor and Ryan Taylor have been popular choices among fantasy players. While they’ve not been leaking goals, they’ve only secured two clean sheets and Wigan usually have a go when they play away. Plus, Stoke are bound to bundle a goal or two in against Newcastle in Stoke-like unspectacular fashion at the Britannia next week. Demba Ba is in great form and cheaper than the big hitters at £6.3m, while Jonas Gutierrez (£6.1m) is always a threat.
Liverpool host Norwich in Saturday’s tea time fixture, with Reds going in as firm favourites. If the game was at Carrow Road, people may have given the Canaries more of a chance but Liverpool will be expected to win this one at Anfield. Looking at the way Norwich played at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford this season however, Liverpool should not expect to have it all their own way. Quality will be required to open up the Norwich defence so step forward Steven Gerrard (£11m). The Reds’ skipper will look to continue where he left off against Manchester United last week and could run the show against Norwich. If you’re unable to free up the funds for Gerrard, Charlie Adam (£8.9m) should be the next best thing. We brought in Luis Suarez (£9.5m) last week, with one eye on this fixture and the Uruguayan is a strong contender for captain this week.
Chelsea have been quietly going about their business in the league this season with all the hype centred around Manchester City and Manchester United. And of course this will be the case once again this weekend, as the Reds face the Blues at Old Trafford on Sunday. Chelsea make the short trip across to Loftus Road to face QPR in fine form. Even Blackburn managed to score away at QPR, Bolton put four past Paddy Kenny on the opening day and Fulham hit Neil Warnock’s side for six so there could well be goals on offer for Andre Villas-Boas’ men. Unfortunately, Fernando Torres has to sit out as he serves the final game of his suspension. So up top, Daniel Sturridge is obviously in good form, and at £6.8m it hard to make an argument for picking Didier Drogba (£10.1m). But looking ahead to next week, it’s Chelsea v Arsenal, so can you really afford not to have the Drog in your team? Elsewhere, Raul Meireles (£7.4m) could be worth a punt with Ramires out injured, while we said last week that Frank Lampard will run the show, so if you’ve a spare £11.7m…
Since we’ve been backing anyone who is playing Blackburn this season, it’s worth having a look at Tottenham’s players this week. Spurs travel to Ewood Park Sunday lunchtime and it should be all about goals. ‘Arry’s mob have netted 6 times in away fixtures this season while Rovers have shipped 10 goals at home. Spurs also have a home game against QPR next so take your pick from the front men. Emmanuel Adebayor (£8.5m) and Jermain Defoe (£8.4m) are both looking sharp up top while Rafael Van der Vaart (£9.8m) is more valuable than his current price tag would suggest. Gareth Bale (£7.9m) could also be worth considering if you’re not financially in a position to bring in VdV. Harry also only four fit defenders at his disposal so Kyle Walker (£5.4m), Younes Kaboul (£5.5m), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (£5m) and particularly Sebastien Bassong (£4.4m) represent a decent opportunity to free up some extra cash.
Others to consider
We’ve mainly been thinking of the attacking options this week so we’d not recommend spending much on defenders. But if you’re looking for clean sheets, Aston Villa could be the team to back. Shay Given (£5m), Stephen Warnock (£5m), and Richard Dunne (£5.5m) are all decent bets. We also don’t envisage many goals at Craven Cottage this weekend, so Mark Schwarzer (£4.9m) and Sylvain Distin (£5.3m) are fairly solid and cheap defensive options.
We’re also backing Arsenal this weekend at home to Stoke. The Potters will usually cause Arsene Wenger’s side plenty of problems at the Britannia but it will be a very sad day when Stoke start winning away games against decent, footballing sides. Aaron Ramsey (£6.5m) returned to action for the Gunners with a goal in Marseille in midweek, while Robin Van Persie (£12.1m) remains in tremendous form for Arsenal. Another player who has impressed recently is Tomas Rosicky (£5.8m), who represents a cheaper option.
Finally, the Manchester derby is a difficult one to call. The advice would be to hold on to any City or United players you’ve got, particularly Wayne Rooney (£12.4m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.2m). They could well make the difference on Sunday and looking ahead to next week, United travel to Goodison, while City play Wolves at home. But if you’re spending that kind of money on your strikers, you may well find yourself in need to a budget buy for your third front man. Many have taken on Leon Best but we’ve maybe found an even better bargain. Everton’s Apostolos Vellios is priced at £4.4m.