For the first time this season, we’re opting for a 4-3-3 formation, with so many attacking options at the back proving just too appealing to ignore. Sunday’s match at Stamford Bridge has divided opinion behind the scenes; we managed to squeeze in one player from the Chelsea – United match, with the omission of a certain Dutchman a real Scout Picks rarity:
Tim Krul gets the nod between the sticks as Newcastle welcome West Brom to St James’ Park on Sunday. While the Magpies have been far from convincing at the back so far, Alan Pardew has welcomed back Krul, Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson in the past week and with Steven Taylor also building up his fitness after injury, the hosts will fancy their chances against a side that have scored just three away goals so far this term.
This afternoon’s Watchlist candidate Robert Huth is welcomed to the fold as Stoke prepare for Sunderland’s visit to the Britannia. The Potters have returned two clean sheets in three home matches and have conceded just one goal in front of their own fans in that trio of fixtures – the visitors have notched just three times in four road trips thus far, suggesting a home clean sheet could well be on the cards for Tony Pulis’ side tomorrow afternoon. Huth’s aerial threat from set-pieces could also come to the fore as Pulis looks to engineer a second win of the season.
Leighton Baines is virtually a mainstay in the Scout Picks this term. The Everton full-back welcomes Liverpool to Goodison in the first Merseyside derby of the season and has so far averaged just shy of seven Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points per game in front of his own fans; despite the absence of Steven Pienaar on the left flank, Baines still looks a strong contender ahead of Sunday afternoon’s encounter.
We’re opting for Thomas Vermaelen ahead of Arsenal’s home showdown with QPR. The visitors’ woeful form, which has harvested a single point in the last four, offers Arsene Wenger’s side hope of the three points tomorrow, while Vermaelen’s eye for goal is also capable of producing the goods – he has scored 13 times in his previous couple of injury-free seasons for the north London outfit.
Aleksandar Kolarov has already received plenty love and affection on last night’s Scoutcast, so there’s no surprise to see the Serbian take his place in our line-up. With Gael Clichy playing the last two matches, it’s odds on that Kolarov is in line for a start at home to Swansea tomorrow evening. There’s no doubt that this one is a punt, though; Kolarov has featured in the first XI twice at the Etihad this term – the first time, in Gameweek 3, he scored a single FPL point, whereas his next home appearance in Gameweek 7 harvested 20 points. It’s all or nothing with this fella.
We’re keeping faith in Santi Cazorla, in spite of Arsenal’s stuttering form. The Gunners have failed to find the net in their last two in all competitions but are handed the perfect opportunity to atone for their recent poor form as bottom of the table QPR roll up to the Emirates tomorrow afternoon. Mark Hughes’ side have shipped two or more goals in each of their last three away fixtures; good sign for the little Spaniard as he looks to pull the strings and hand the R’s their sixth defeat of the season.
Gareth Bale is another nailed-on pick ahead of a trip to former club Southampton. The Welshman looks set to return for Tottenham after being afforded an extended break due to his partner giving birth and arrives at the Madejski in strong away form. Bale has produced double figure returns in each of his last two on the road and faces a side that have shipped 24 goals already this season – little wonder many are considering handing him the captaincy.
Subject of our recent Versus article, Eden Hazard returns to the Scout Picks ahead of Sunday afternoon’s visit of United. The Belgian has averaged nine points per game at Stamford Bridge this season and with Frank Lampard now ruled out with a calf injury, Hazard looks set to be handed spot-kick duties, should a penalty happen to come Chelsea’s way. While United have been strong going forward, they have returned a single clean sheet in their last seven in all competitions; encouraging news for Roberto Di Matteo’s charges as they look for a victory that would take them seven points clear of the Red Devils.
Subject of a Watchlist piece yesterday afternoon, it’s no surprise to see Demba Ba handed a place in the Scout Picks. The Newcastle forward was rested from Europa League duties on Thursday evening, ensuring he will be fit and available for the visit of West Brom on Sunday afternoon. Ba has either scored or assisted every Magpies goal from Gameweek 3 onwards and has had a hand in seven of their nine strikes so far this term – if the hosts are to prevail against the Baggies this weekend, the chances of Ba’s involvement look strong.
Next, we find a place for the substantial frame of Peter Crouch. On one hand, Stoke’s record of three goals in three home games is hardly enticing but when you consider that the Potters have faced Arsenal and City in two of those fixtures, it’s perhaps reasonable to understand why they’ve failed to produce the goods. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to downplay Crouch’s importance – he has scored all of those goals and has averaged eight points per Britannia appearance thus far, with goals and maximum bonus points in each of the last two in front of his own fans. With the Black Cats managing a single clean sheet in their last six, the omens look good for the 6.7 priced FPL forward this Saturday afternoon.
Our final pick is perhaps a bit of a punt, but it’s one we’re willing to gamble on. Sergio Aguero has been benched for the last two league matches and also started in City’s midweek Champions League defeat at Ajax but we just can’t see Roberto Mancini omitting him from the first XI for the third league fixture running. Up against a Swansea side that have conceded two or more goals in all but one of their last six, Aguero has the potential to run riot tomorrow evening. You only need look at the corresponding fixture last term where the Argentine climbed off the bench on 59 minutes to supply two goals and an assist to see his capabilities.
On the subs bench, Emmerson Boyce gets the nod as our spare defender. The Wigan man’s role as an out of position prospect on the right of Roberto Martinez’s four-man midfield is always enticing and while the Latics have failed to fire defensively, Boyce’s attacking potential came to the fore only last week with a goal and eight point FPL return at Swansea. West Ham roll up to the DW in decent form but with just two goals scored in three away matches, Wigan will be hopeful of a first home clean sheet of the campaign.
Adam Lallana can find himself hard done by to only make the bench – indeed, we moved him out of this evening’s Spot the Differential piece to hand him a place in our Scout Picks squad. The Southampton midfielder has produced attacking returns in each of the last four Gameweeks and will be key to his side’s chances of producing against a Tottenham side that have managed a single clean sheet all season.
The final place goes to this afternoon’s Moneyball man, Pavel Pogrebnyak. Reading have switched between 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 of late but the Russian has been the one constant up front, regardless of formation. Pogrebnyak welcomes former club Fulham to the Madejski and with Martin Jol’s men conceding two or more in three of their four road trips so far, he’ll fancy his chance of scoring for the third time this term.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
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|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“I love to attack and I love to go up front...It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre-back. If you play the way that I want to play, I think my influence is better as a left-back. For the team, it is best that I play as a centre-back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”Jan Vertonghen outlines what he feels is his best position for Andre Villas-Boas