Finally, the international break is now behind us. A fortnight filled with injury doubts and player price rises as many wield their wildcards is out the way and we can get back to business. This time out, we’ve opted for a 3-5-2 and filled our 15-man squad with three of David Moyes’ Everton side as the injury worries rack up for visitors Newcastle on Monday evening:
John Ruddy gets the nod between the sticks for Norwich’s home clash with West Ham tomorrow. After shipping five in their Gameweek 1 opener, the Canaries have tightened up considerably since bringing in Javier Garrido and Seb Bassong at the back and have conceded just two goals in their last couple of matches. The Hammers failed to score in their only road trip so far and with Carlton Cole up top instead of the injured Andy Carroll, the chances of a home clean sheet look a little better.
Thomas Vermaelen is an obvious option for Arsenal’s home clash against Southampton. Three back-to-back clean sheets have afforded the Gunners the best defensive record in the Premier League and with Vermaelen’s eye for goal always liable to find the net, tomorrow could well be one of those Gameweeks where the Belgian helps himself to double figures.
Leighton Baines looked a strong option to begin with but the injury problems at Newcastle boosts the left-back’s chances ahead of Monday night’s showdown. Baines’ consistent delivery from the flank has been a real threat over the first three matches and his creativity may well prosper against an under-strength Magpies. Factor in his clean sheet potential and set-piece duties and one or two of Baines’ owners are even contemplating a punt on captaincy, according to comments on the boards.
Rafael makes up a trio of defenders with potential for points at both ends of the pitch. United’s raiding right-back has already found the net in his only home game of the season, with a goal in the 3-2 win over Fulham in Gameweek 2. Offering a relatively cheap route into Sir Alex Ferguson’s defence, the Brazilian looks a strong candidate ahead of the visit of Wigan.
With double figure FPL points hauls in all three of his appearances so far, Eden Hazard barges his way back into the Scout Picks. The Belgian makes his way to Loftus Road looking to heap further misery on a QPR side that has lost its only home game of the season 5-0 to Swansea; his display will be crucial to the Blues chances of keeping their 100% league record intact.
Santi Cazorla finally produced the goods at Liverpool last time round after a couple of promising appearances for Arsenal. Already, he’s settled in “the hole” and is central to the vast majority of the Gunners’ attacking forays –Cazorla is picking up plenty Fantasy investment as he squares up to a Southampton defence that have shipped three goals in two of their opening trio of matches already.
Having shaken off a knock that forced him out of South Africa’s recent internationals, Steven Pienaar grabs a place in our five-man midfield. With an injury to Darron Gibson possibly seeing Marouane Fellaini drop deeper for the Toffees, we’ve opted for Pienaar instead – his partnership with Leighton Baines on the left should provide plenty problems for Newcastle stand-in right-back Vernun Anita on Monday evening.
A home clash with West Ham offers Robert Snodgrass the chance to continues his recent good form. Norwich’s summer signing from Leeds United has already looked impressive and returned 10 FPL points in the 1-1 draw at Spurs, with a goal and maximum bonus points. With a fair share of set-pieces and corners in his locker, Snodgrass could be a decent mid-price differential ahead of Saturday’s Carrow Road encounter.
Michu keeps his place in the Scout Picks after continuing his scoring spree in Swansea’s draw with Sunderland a fortnight ago. The Spaniard takes his goal-a-game record to Villa Park this weekend and with Paul Lambert’s side yet to register a single clean sheet, Michu’s irresistible form could well see him plunder the Fantasy points yet again.
The thigh is fine and Robin Van Persie is fit and available for the visit of Wigan tomorrow. After a couple of days’ worry, Sir Alex Ferguson finally put our minds at rest in this lunchtime’s press conference and, with a hat-trick in his previous match, the Dutchman is the overwhelming favourite in the Captain Poll for Gameweek 4, with 48% of the votes cast so far.
A trip to Stoke is hardly a walk in the park but we’re opting for form over fixture in the case of Carlos Tevez. Finding the net in all three of his opening fixtures, Tevez has stepped up in light of Sergio Aguero’s knee injury and with three assists also accrued, he has played a part in six of his side’s eight goals thus far. Roberto Mancini will be expecting a scrap but Tevez looks in the mood to deliver right now.
Carlos Cuellar takes his place on the bench as Liverpool roll up to the Stadium of Light. Sunderland’s first home match of the season pits them against a side that has scored just twice this season – a clean sheet could well be on the cards for Martin O’Neill’s men this weekend.
Subject of a recent Watchlist report, James Morrison continues to fly under Fantasy radars despite a strong start to the season. While a trip to Fulham is far from straightforward, Morrison’s role in “the hole” for the unbeaten Baggies has the potential to prosper once again at the Cottage tomorrow afternoon.
Nikica Jelavic is perhaps a little unfortunate to find a place on the bench. The Croatian has already found the net this term against Villa in Gameweek 2 and, after drawing a blank away to West Brom, he’ll fancy his chances against a depleted Newcastle backline on Monday evening.
** Just a heads-up regarding our Scout Picks graphic for this week. We’ve been struck by a technical glitch behind the scenes and are currently working to sort the problem as soon as possible. Hopefully it’ll be up and running again shortly.