This week’s Scout Picks are dominated by the top three teams ahead of some favourable fixtures against a trio of relegation candidates. Liverpool supply us with three players for their trip to Norwich, whilst we call upon a couple of candidates from both Chelsea and City as Sunderland and West Brom pay visit:
We opt for West Ham’s Adrian in goal as Crystal Palace travel to Upton Park tomorrow afternoon. The Hammers have been boosted by the return of James Collins and Joey O’Brien to the backline, whilst Tony Pulis’ side have picked up a few injury doubts after the midweek win over Everton – Sam Allardyce’s side will be confident of keeping out their in-form visitors and picking up the win that would clinch their top-flight survival.
City may have struggled defensively in midweek but we’re keeping faith in Pablo Zabaleta as West Brom make their way to the Etihad. The Baggies have scored once in their last two road trips and Manuel Pellegrini’s side need a big performance on Monday night to reignite their faltering title bid – with four of his five assists arriving in front of his own fans, the Argentine’s attacking potential could come to the fore once again.
Liverpool’s seven-goal Martin Skrtel is drafted in ahead of Sunday’s trip to Norwich. Given that the Canaries have failed to find the net in each of their last three, the centre-half’s owners will be more than hopeful of picking up points at both ends of the pitch once again.
It perhaps seems unlikely that Jose Mourinho will make any alterations to his settled back-four ahead of the midweek Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid. On the off-chance the Chelsea manager decides to tinker, Branislav Ivanovic looks the least likely to be dropped, bearing in mind he is suspended for the first-leg of the game against Diego Simeone’s side. The Serbian entertains Sunderland as Chelsea look for a seventh successive Stamford Bridge shut-out, and with three goals to his name so far, is another who offers plenty of potential in the opposition box.
Four goals and three assists in his last four appearances highlight Christian Eriksen’s incredible recent form. At home, in particular, the Dane has excelled – his last two appearances at the Lane have served up 18 and 15 points, and bearing in mind visitors Fulham have the joint-worst away record in the league, with 40 goals against, Tim Sherwood’s side look more than likely to breach the Cottagers’ backline.
Steven Gerrard comes into contention as Liverpool prepare for a trip to Carrow Road. The Reds skipper has scored or assisted in 19 of his 24 starts since Luis Suarez returned from suspension in Gameweek 6, and with three sets of 10+ hauls in his last five road trips, Gerrard could be poised for further returns as Brendan Rodgers looks for a repeat of the 5-1 win over the Canaries earlier in the season.
Having scored in each of his last two home appearances, Mohamed Salah will fancy his chances as Chelsea entertain Sunderland at the Bridge tomorrow afternoon. Ineligible for European duties, and with Eden Hazard ruled out, the 5.5-priced young Egyptian seems poised for a third successive start as Jose Mourinho looks to keep his main men fit for the midweek clash against Atletico.
After picking up 31 points in his previous couple of appearances, we hand Juan Mata a starting role as United travel to Goodison. With Robin van Persie still injured, the Spaniard is poised to slot in behind fit-again Wayne Rooney as David Moyes looks to get one over his former club – with a trio of home games just around the corner, Mata will be in the shop window for many Fantasy managers this weekend.
Handed his first start in three months last Wednesday, Sergio Aguero was afforded 56 minutes as Manuel Pellegrini tentatively eases him back into action. Bearing in mind City’s home clash with West Brom isn’t until Monday evening, the Argentine has plenty of time to improve his match sharpness as he attempts to maintain a record which has seen him serve up nine goals, eight assists and 13 bonus points in 10 Etihad appearances this season.
There’s something about Norwich City that seems to bring out the best in Luis Suarez. In three appearances against the Canaries over the last two seasons, the Uruguayan has delivered eight goals and three assists – his highest haul of the current campaign was a 24-point return against the same side back in Gameweek 14, and with the Reds racking up the goals, there’s no surprise to see their top scorer is the runaway leader of this week’s Captain Poll.
We’re also backing Emmanuel Adebayor for Tottenham’s encounter with Fulham. Tim Sherwood’s side have notched eight times in the last two in front of their own fans, and with his partnership alongside Harry Kane thriving, Adebayor will be looking for another double-figure home haul, having registered 13 points in his previous appearance at the Lane.
Cardiff’s Steven Caulker earns a spot on the bench for a home clash with Stoke. With 14 goals against in the last four in front of their own fans, the Bluebirds have been anything but resilient, but Caulker’s threat in the box is the reason for his selection. With three strikes in his last six and five all season, he’ll be looking to take advantage of a Potters backline devoid of the aerial presence of Robert Huth.
Handed a sub role at home to West Ham after his weekend FA Cup exertions, Aaron Ramsey turned in an eye-catching cameo as the Gunners returned to fourth spot. With the momentum now back in their favour, Arsenal cannot afford to take it easy and the Welshman looks odds-on to return to the starting XI for the trip to Hull as Arsene Wenger’s side look to strengthen their grip on the final Champions League place.
A trip to Aston Villa hands Southampton’s Rickie Lambert the chance to extend his recent scoring streak. With Jay Rodriguez sidelined, Lambert’s contribution will be more vital than ever as he looks to improve upon a run of three goals and a trio of assists in the last five Gameweeks.