They may well be on the verge of one-match bans, but the form of Merseyside pairing Luis Suarez and Marouane Fellaini is alluring enough to see them both climb in our Watchlist rankings this week. Elsewhere, Juan Mata looks to have regained fitness to rise in the reckoning once again, while lingering doubts over Demba Ba’s fitness dent his stock ahead of a potentially flourishing run of opponents.
The current, updated rankings are available in your sidebar. Read on for details and the factors at play behind this latest refresh…
Stoke’s Asmir Begovic holds firm at the top, as his Fantasy Premier League (FPL) stock continues to rise ahead of a favourable run of fixtures. The Potters have such an obliging schedule over the coming weeks, a rotation option with Begovic isn’t urgently required, although QPR’s Julio Cesar, West Ham’s Jussi Jaaskelainen and Newcastle’s Tim Krul offer strong options for Stoke’s next two away fixtures.
Krul is, himself, a good solo route for the coming weeks, even without the steadying influence of Fabricio Coloccini in front of him for the next three. The Magpies stopper rotates perfectly with Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet and that looks a solid pairing from this point on for those with the budget to spend in this area.
Further down we are potentially robbed of Reading’s Alex McCarthy as a consideration given his recent shoulder injury, while the Southampton option as a save-point stopper is killed off by uncertainty over starts, given Artur Boruc’s disciplinary investigation at the club. Similarly, Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczęsny is not currently on the menu, although we’d expect the number one jersey to be confirmed once he returns to fitness – possibly this weekend. The Pole has now fallen to 5.3 in the FPL and would offer the cheapest, most secure route into the Gunners defence for their forthcoming run of favourable fixtures.
There’s very little movement at the top of the defender rankings, with Leighton Baines and United’s Rafael clear front runners, given their form and fixtures. Both have attacking intent to compliment any clean sheet returns and we’re confident we’ll see both coming to fruition in the coming weeks to justify their high ranking.
Stoke’s Robert Huth is our chosen weapon in Tony Pulis’ defence but there is a range on offer – both full-backs, Andy Wilkinson and Geoff Cameron, make perfect sense given their price tags. Huth has the superior goal threat, however, and could justify the extra outlay over Stoke’s run of three home games in four.
Newcastle’s Steven Taylor now looks nailed-on for starts, having regained his first XI role at Anfield last weekend. The Magpies’ resolve will be dented by the absence of Fabricio Coloccini due to suspension over the next three, but they should have enough to offer some defensive profit, despite the skipper being sidelined.
Wigan’s Emmerson Boyce has an ongoing goal threat and assist potential given his right wing-back role for the Latics, while Reading’s Kaspar Gorkss goes into a fine run of fixtures off the back of an assist and goal in consecutive Gameweeks. He’s the clear candidate for those shopping with pennies, with Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne and QPR’s Ryan Nelsen also available for those who wish to flood the backline with cheap options.
Santi Cazorla’s late strike at Old Trafford issued a reminder of his talents and is enough to see him hold off the claims of Juan Mata on top of the midfield rankings – for now. Mata will be expected to return to Chelsea duty against Liverpool on Sunday and could regain top ranking if Cazorla frustrates in his home clash with Fulham.
Everton’s Marouane Fellaini is pushing that pair hard after another stunning display in the 2-2 at Fulham. The see-saw battle with team-mate Steven Pienaar in the mid-price bracket now looks to be falling firmly in the Belgian’s favour, although with a one-match ban imminent, there is a clear price to pay for switching allegiance to Fellaini.
There are some very strong mid-price options as always, with United’s Antoinio Valencia beginning to suggest that he can offer at least partial cover of United’s attack for those unable to stretch to Robin Van Persie up top. Southampton’s Adam Lallana has the fixtures to inflict damage in the coming weeks – he’s currently our preferred option over Gaston Ramirez, although we’ll be monitoring his impact at the weekend to consider whether the Uruguayan should return to our radars after his recent injury.
Swansea’s Michu continues to pick up suitors and warrants such attention given his role up front for Michael Laudrup’s side. Swansea’s fixtures revive strongly soon and that should give Michu the platform to deliver more goals.
Lower down, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott could well offer a very strong and potentially more explosive alternative to Cazorla in the Arsenal midfield, while Wigan’s Shaun Maloney and Reading’s Jobi McAnuff keep Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling company as prize budget options.
Demba Ba’s niggling shin injury prevents him from remaining in our top three forwards and challenging the likes of Carlos Tevez and Robin Van Persie. Fixtures remain stacked in favour of the Senegalese striker but we have to reserve judgement, having seen Ba limp off at Anfield just after half-time.
His decline has allowed Luis Suarez to jump in the rankings and, despite tough fixtures to come and looming suspension for a fifth booking, the Uruguyan has to figure in our thinking. His form is strong enough to suggest that he will go on firing in shots and score the goals to keep pace with the Golden Boot front runners.
Suarez’s claims aren’t enough to displace the proven class of both Tevez and Van Persie, who surely offer the best route to covering the United and City attacks. While City are struggling for fluency up top, it still seems a risk to go forward without some coverage of their potential in attacking terms. With Sergio Aguero seemingly being reserved for full Champions League duty, Tevez appears to have the greater security of starts in the Premier League and has the edge on price, of course.
Outside of the top echelons, Peter Crouch has to remain a consideration, given Stoke’s forthcoming run of opponents that will surely allow the striker to add to his goal tally thus far. His potential keeps him holding firm while the likes of Nikica Jelavic drops due to form and the provision of strong Everton midfield options. Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe also slide with tough schedules in front of them – Defoe now seems under some threat from Emmanuel Adebayor, certainly in terms of pitch time.
The bugdget market still looks somewhat stifled, with both Rickie Lambert and Pavel Pogrebnyak unsure of starting roles. Wigan’s Arouna Kone is perhaps an intriguing option with some favourable home fixtures to come. QPR’s Djibril Cisse is also one to watch should he cement a starting role in the weeks to come. He could feature on the Watchlist if he can impress this weekend.
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud is perhaps your key differential. The Frenchman clearly has the potential to deliver strong returns if he and Arsenal can click over what is a very strong run of fixtures leading up to Christmas.