We return to normality this week after the 15-match marathon that was Gameweek 31. Four teams – Everton, Chelsea, Southampton and Liverpool – supply our Scout Picks XI with a pair of players apiece, whilst a couple of Manchester-based options also get the nod:
Vito Mannone welcomes West Ham to the Stadium of Light on Monday evening, having kept two clean sheets in his last three home encounters. Sam Allardyce’s side are struggling for goals on the road and have netted just once in their last two away games, so another shut-out could be on the cards for the Italian, whose save-point appeal has helped him average five points per game to date.
Everton’s trip to Fulham brings Seamus Coleman into defence. The marauding right-back will be looking for his seventh goal of the season against Felix Magath’s strugglers, whilst the expected return of Phil Jagielka strengthens the Toffees chances of registering back-to-back shut-outs for the first time since Gameweek 14.
John Terry’s Fantasy owners will be confident of further returns as Chelsea travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon. The Blues have conceded just five times in their last 15 league matches and face an Eagles side that have scored once in their previous five. Terry’s threat in the box and ability to hoover us the bonus points keeps him ahead of his defensive team-mates in our estimations.
A home game with Newcastle hands Jose Fonte a spot in our back three. The Magpies have scored just once in the last five without the injured Loic Remy, whilst Fonte has found the net more times (3) and earned more bonus points (18) than any other option at the back for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Three double-figure hauls in the last four Gameweeks highlights the relentless form of City’s Yaya Toure. Granted, a trip to the Emirates is no easy task, but with the Gunners shipping eight in their last two and devoid of Laurent Koscielny at the back, the Ivorian’s set-piece and spot-kick duties will boost his quest to serve up the Fantasy points yet again.
Eden Hazard is drafted into this week’s Scout Picks for Chelsea’s trip to Palace. Tony Pulis’ side have just a single shut-out to their name over the last seven, and with 14 goals and 10 assists thus far, the Belgian will be confident of delivering his ninth double-figure haul of the season against the Selhurst Park strugglers.
The relentless consistency of Steven Gerrard could be key for Liverpool’s home clash with Spurs. Having already put five past their opponents at White Hart Lane earlier this season, Brendan Rodgers’ side will be optimistic of notching an eighth successive win and keeping their title tilt on track – a free-kick against Sunderland in midweek means the Reds skipper has now produced a goal or assist in nine of his last 10 Anfield appearances.
Having ended a six-game scoring drought at Spurs last weekend, Adam Lallana looks to have rediscovered his form ahead of the visit of Newcastle. The Southampton captain certainly seems to prefer home comforts – five of his seven double-figure hauls have arrived at St Mary’s – and he’ll be looking to plunder the points against a Magpies backline that has just shipped three to Everton in midweek.
David Moyes may have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League game with Bayern but it seems highly unlikely he’ll be prepared to omit Wayne Rooney from his XI to face Aston Villa. The under-fire United boss is in desperate need of a morale-boost after some damaging home defeats to Liverpool and City, and with a knee injury keeping Robin van Persie in the treatment room, Rooney’s run of four goals in the last five look vital to the hosts’ chances of delivering against a Midlands outfit that were hit for four by Stoke last weekend.
Yet again, Luis Suarez is the overwhelming favourite in this week’s Captain Poll. The Uruguayan has already delivered 22 points against Sunday’s opponents Tottenham in the Gameweek 16 mauling that led to the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas, and with Tim Sherwood’s side conceding four in their last road trip, Suarez seems poised to take advantage of the visitors’ porous backline and could be in line for a fifteenth double-figure point-return of an incredible season.
Four goals in his last five in all competitions since returning from injury suggests Romelu Lukaku is in his best form of the season. Having racked up the returns in the Toffees’ double Gameweek, the big Belgian now makes his way to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side that have leaked 12 goals in five matches since Felix Magath’s appointment.
A home game against Hull hands Stoke the chance to extend a run which has seen them taste defeat just once in their last eight. With the visitors scoring a mere 11 times on their travels all season, we call up Ryan Shawcross, whose threat in the box and ability to pick up bonus could come to fruition at the Britannia.
Moved to the bench in midweek as Gus Poyet went on the defensive at Anfield, Adam Johnson still found time to grab an assist as a second-half substitute. Sunderland need to go on the attack against West Ham on Monday evening and the wide man will surely be reinstalled to the starting XI for this proverbial six-pointer.
Wilfried Bony is a little unlucky only to make the bench for Swansea’s home game with Norwich. Goals against Everton and Arsenal in last week’s double continued the form which has seen the Ivorian score eight times in 12 appearances since the turn of the year – he looks vital to the hosts’ chances of clinching the points against Steve Bruce’s side.