After a Gameweek that many will be happy to scrap from memory, we’re ready to go again. It’s a tricky one this week – with City hosting Arsenal and United travelling to Liverpool, we draft in just one player from the Manchester duo in our 4-4-2 formation. Let’s hope rest and rotation doesn’t bite quite so hard this time round again:
With a clean sheet in both his home games so far and three in the first four Gameweeks, Jussi Jaaskelainen gets the nod between the sticks. The West Ham stopper welcomes Sunderland to Upton Park tomorrow afternoon and with plenty of save points already registered, Jaaskelainen is afforded the chance to extend his lead at the top of the FPL keeper standings.
We’ve opted for the marauding Branislav Ivanovic at the back ahead of a home clash against Stoke. With two goals and three clean sheets under his belt already, the Chelsea right-back has been the top-scoring Fantasy defender to date – an average of nine FPL points per game sums up the Serbian’s current form.
Gareth McAuley is handed a place in the Scout Picks on the back of West Brom’s home form. It’s two games, two clean sheets for Steve Clarke’s side so far at the Hawthorns, with the Baggies maintaining the defensive home resolve that stood them in good stead in the latter part of last season. McAuley’s attacking threat has already produced a goal and assist for his Fantasy owners and with the Royals struggling for form, he could be set to prosper.
Leighton Baines earns a place in our thoughts with a trip to Swansea on Everton’s agenda. Having opened his scoring account last Monday against Newcastle, the left-back continued his strong start to the Fantasy season; despite a single clean sheet in the first four, Baines has still managed to return 26 FPL points thus far – summing up both his offensive potential and suitability to the EA SPORTS PPI scoring system. With spot-kicks and set-pieces firmly in his locker, he’s been drafted in by significant numbers of Fantasy managers ahead of tomorrow lunchtime’s early kick-off.
Jan Vertonghen is our final defender. We’re prepared to take a gamble here – no attacking returns or clean sheets after four matches is hardly cause for optimism but the Belgian is sure to come good as he settles into Andre Villas-Boas’ first XI. Spurs returned a midweek clean sheet in the Europa League clash against Lazio – finally, their summer signings are slowly starting to gel and Vertonghen’s eye for goal may help him pick up the points at both ends of the pitch against injury-hit QPR at the Lane this Sunday.
Runaway leader in the Captain Poll, Eden Hazard is a nailed-on pick. The Belgian has accrued 38% of the votes cast so far – a sign of the Fantasy faith in the Belgian as he squares up to Stoke at the Bridge. With three double figure returns in his first four appearances, his trickery is set to torment Tony Pulis’ Potters from start to finish as Chelsea look to bounce back from last weekend’s draw at QPR.
Kevin Nolan’s Upton Park heroics have already been crucial to West Ham’s cause. With Andy Carroll still injured, the Hammers skipper is set to carry the main goal threat to Sunderland side almost certain to be devoid of Carlos Cuellar at the back – a goal in each of his two home games highlights Nolan’s mid-price potential.
Having been rested for Newcastle’s Europa League exertions last night, Hatem Ben Arfa will be fit and raring to go for Sunday’s visit of Norwich. Similar to Nolan, the Frenchman has also notched in both his home matches and has been drafted in by huge number of Fantasy managers ahead of the Canaries showdown. With Papiss Cisse continuing to misfire and Demba Ba unsettled, Ben Arfa’s contribution could be the difference against a stubborn Norwich defence that has conceded just twice in the last three games.
There’s no way we can leave out Michu. Granted, he drew a blank last time round against Villa but four goals in the opening four Gameweeks highlights his form right now. Handed the home comforts of a Liberty clash against Everton, the Swansea man may be set to plunder the points again as Michael Laudrup’s joint-top scorers look to return to winning ways.
A trip to Liverpool is not the type of game Sir Alex Ferguson can afford to rest Robin Van Persie for. Dropped to the bench last time out with United’s Champions League match against Galatasaray in mind, the Dutchman looks nailed-on to start at Anfield. As always, our faith in Van Persie is unwavering ahead of Sunday lunchtime’s kick-off.
Three goals and an assist in his opening four is enough to earn Jermain Defoe. With Emmanuel Adebayor ruled out of last night’s Europa League match with Lazio due to a hamstring problem, Defoe seems set to continue up front for Spurs as Andre Villas-Boas looks to engineer his first home victory as QPR roll up to the Lane.
Steven Taylor makes the bench as Newcastle welcome Norwich to the Sports Direct Arena. The Magpies will be buoyed by their comeback draw at Goodison last Monday and can be expected to take the game to a Norwich side that has scored just twice in the opening four Gameweeks under Chris Hughton. The chances of a home clean sheet look strong here.
James Morrison warms the Scout Picks bench for the second Gameweek in a row. The West Brom midfielder welcomes Reading to the Hawthorns and has already returned a goal and assist for his Fantasy owners – with eight goals conceded in their first three and without a clean sheet, the Royals defence could be there for the taking as Steve Clarke looks to rack up a third straight home win.
Watchlist candidate Rickie Lambert earns the final bench slot. Goals against City and United in the opening four are indicative of his ability to produce in the top-flight – Southampton are in dire need of a win at home to Villa and with spot-kick duties and a share of direct free-kicks in his locker, Lambert looks the man most likely to fire the Saints to victory.