Having rolled out a 4-3-3 last time round, we return to a 3-4-3 formation for this week’s selection. A familiar face earns the call to lead the line at Old Trafford tomorrow after his surprise exclusion last weekend, while Roberto Di Matteo’s lunchtime press conference had us swopping Chelsea midfield options ahead of the Blues’ trip to Swansea:
Simon Mignolet gets the nod between the sticks for Sunderland’s home game with Villa. While the Black Cats have been poor offensively, they have conceded just two goals in their three home matches so far and with Villa scoring just twice over five road trips this term, a home clean sheet could well be on the cards.
Leighton Baines continues his role as a Scout Pick regular as Everton prepare to visit Fulham. With attacking returns or FPL bonus in six of his nine appearances thus far, the left-back continues to prosper despite returning just two clean sheets this season. While the Cottagers are favoured to score, Baines’ left flanks forays and strong showings in the EA SPORTS PPI are always likely to produce the goods, as the Toffees seek to extend their six-match unbeaten run.
Jan Vertonghen is another who has impressed going forward from the back. Since being moved to left-back by Andre Villas-Boas, the Belgian has produced a goal, an assist and a couple of bonus points in the last four Gameweeks, in addition to a home clean sheet – he looks in decent form ahead of Wigan’s visit to the Lane, as Spurs go looking for their sixth win in seven.
With plenty of money invested in our front three, we’re handing Liam Ridgewell a chance to impress as a cheaper alternative to Gareth McAuley ahead of West Brom’s home game with Southampton. The Baggies left-back comes in at 5.0 in FPL, compared to McAuley’s 5.5, and has averaged six points per home game thus far, with three clean sheets, an assist and a couple of bonus points in four Hawthorns appearances. Nigel Adkins’ side have scored just a single goal in each of their last three on the road but with the hosts in such resilient home form, the Saints could struggle to breach Steve Clarke’s backline.
Stilicho has already waxed lyrical over the talents of Adel Taarabt in a Watchlist piece earlier this week and with a home game against Reading on the Moroccan’s agenda, we’re giving him the nod this weekend. Taarabt has notched two of his side’s last four goals across the previous four Gameweeks and with the visitors still recovering from their 7-5 Capital One Cup home battering by Arsenal, the 5.5 priced midfielder could be primed to steer his side to their first league win of the season.
Averaging five FPL points per game so far, James Morrison has proven to be a strong mid-price midfield candidate under the guidance of new boss Steve Clarke. Ahead of the visit of Southampton, his potential this Gameweek may depend on the fitness of Claudio Yacob – the latter’s omission last week saw Morrison shifted from his regular role in “the hole” to central midfield but if Yacob returns in time for Monday evening, Morrison could flourish against a Saints side that have shipped an average of four goals per away game thus far.
Having racked up 48 FPL points in his last five matches, Gareth Bale is an obvious contender. Ahead of a home game against Wigan, the Welshman is second only to Robin Van Persie in the Captain Poll this week – with Spurs scoring two or more goals in each of the last six and the Latics failing to register a single clean sheet on the road thus far, points could well be on the menu for the 9.7 midfielder this Saturday.
This afternoon’s Stamford Bridge injury update has forced us to ditch Juan Mata, with doubts hovering over the Spaniard’s availability for tomorrow’s trip to Swansea. Eden Hazard is hardly a bad replacement, though. With Frank Lampard also out for Chelsea, the Belgian looks set to be first in line for spot-kicks and with an average of just under eight points per game over the last three, Hazard squares up to a defence that have conceded in each of their last seven.
Robin Van Persie is the runaway leader of this week’s Captain Poll. We handed the Dutchman a rare break from the Scout Picks last weekend and our decision came back to bite us – with former club Arsenal rolling up to Old Trafford, Van Persie looks in irresistible form as he squares up to Arsene Wenger for the first time since leaving the Emirates this summer.
We’re opting for Carlos Tevez as he prepares to return to Upton Park tomorrow evening. The Argentine has shown stronger consistency than Sergio Aguero over the season, with last week’s winner against Swansea meaning Tevez has scored or assisted in seven of his eight starts so far. The champions have registered four back-to-back victories and with Sam Allardyce’s side failing to keep a clean sheet in their last five, the visitors will be confident of racking up the points again.
Luis Suarez is our final forward ahead of Liverpool’s home game with Newcastle on Sunday. The Uruguayan has finally found his shooting boots this season after a disappointing previous campaign and has scored or assisted nine of his side’s 12 league goals. With a strike in the midweek cup defeat by Swansea, Suarez’s eye for goal shows little sign of slowing down and with the Magpies conceding two goals in all but one of their four away fixtures so far, an away clean sheet looks highly unlikely.
Recent Watchlist candidate Ryan Nelsen is our substitute defender ahead of QPR’s home game with Reading. Coming in at just 4.0 in FPL, the centre-half has produced 13 points over his three home matches, with bonus accrued in two of those games, and with the Royals failing to score in two of their last three on the road, the omens are good for a home clean sheet for Mark Hughes’ side.
We’re handing Wes Hoolahan a squad place, with Norwich set to face Stoke at Carrow Road. Chris Hughton’s side have now beaten Arsenal and Spurs in back-to-back home matches in all competitions and with Hoolahan now handed a regular role in “the hole”, he could be set to replicate last week’s seven point return; Tony Pulis’ side have registered just one clean sheet in five road trips.
With a home game against Southampton on the agenda, Romelu Lukaku is perhaps a little unlucky just to make the bench this weekend. Although Steve Clarke remains hopeful over Shane Long’s chances of recovery, we expect the Belgian to be given the nod on Monday evening. Bearing in mind he has scored in both his starts for the Baggies so far, and is up against the most porous defence in the Premier League, Lukaku has the potential of a goal or two this Monday evening.