Looking at the fixtures, Newcastle and Liverpool look like the teams potentially worth backing over the next few gameweeks. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs all have games which could end in cricket scores but they’re also playing each other in upcoming matches. We also like the look of Chelsea’s next few fixtures, although given their inconsistency this season, we’d advise against backing them to the hilt.
So, Liverpool are set to play a Stoke side at Anfield which has conceded no fewer than 20 goals on the road this season. The home fixture against Stoke is followed by away days against Premier League strugglers Bolton and Wolves. After being comprehensively beaten by Manchester City in the league, Kenny Dalglish’s side made two successful outings in the domestic cups, hitting Oldham for five before a battling 0-1 at the Etihad. Now could be the time to bring in Reds talisman Steven Gerrard (£10.5m). There’s only one midfielder more pricey than Stevie G but let’s face it, with him back in the side, Liverpool have a chance in any fixture. Another player capable of making the difference for Liverpool is Craig Bellamy (£7.4m). With Luis Suarz banned, Bellamy should be given more minutes and carries far more threat than Andy Carroll or Stewart Downing. If Bellamy and Gerrard had been ever-present this season, perhaps scoring goals wouldn’t have been as much of an issue for the Reds.
There will be people out there expecting Newcastle to struggle with Demba Ba absent on international duty for up to five games. But then, some have been predicting the wheels to fall off at St James’ Park all season. It’d be foolish to write off Alan Pardew’s side, with a home fixture against struggling QPR followed by trips to Craven Cottage and Ewood Park. And while top scorer Demba Ba is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, there’s value to be had from the Toon’s other strikers until they bring any other players in at least. Leon Best (£4.6m) was a popular choice early on in the season and will certainly free up some money for some of the big hitters. Given a run of games, Best and Shola Ameobi (£5m) have points in them. Turning attentions to the defence, Danny Simpson (£4.4m) and Tim Krul (£5m) are two of the best around in the £5m and under range.
Others worth considering
For most of the season, the advice has been to back any team playing Blackburn Rovers. Controversially, we’d recommend scrapping this tactic for Rovers’ home game against Fulham this week. Morten Gamst Pedersen (£6.2m) looks like their most dangerous midfielder, while you probably ought to have brought in The Yak (£6.1m) a while ago. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Chris Samba (£5.4m), amid rumours of a move to White Hart Lane.
You’d be taking a huge gamble if you don’t have any City, United, Arsenal or Spurs interest this week, given their favourable fixtures. Antonio Valencia (£8m) is looking in fine form for United, while Rafael Van der Vaart (£9.8m) is showing signs of being back to his best for Spurs. A slight gamble, but we’d bring in Adam Johnson (£7m) for City’s trip to Wigan. While you don’t want £7m on your bench, whenever he does play, things happen for Roberto Mancini’s side. Stefan Savic (£4.6m) could also be worth considering with Vincent Kompany outrageously suspended and Kolo Toure on international duty.
Finally, maybe a heart over head move, but if you saw his goal against Leeds, you know that Thierry Henry (£7.5m) has still got it.