Goal takes a look at the best players to pick or avoid, as well as the bargain buys, as the Premier League gets back underway following midweek Capital One Cup action
|START ‘EM – WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
For a while, Wayne Rooney (8.5) would have had flashing lights and a big warning sign around his Fantasy Football selection. However, back in favour (and even handed the captain’s armband against Liverpool in midweek), in-form and the main man while Robin van Persie is injured, the 27-year-old looks a solid selection for the immediate future. The England international has already racked up eight goals or assists this term in all competitions.
If you haven’t done so already, it is time to cede to the fact that Aaron Ramsey (5.5) is unstoppable right now. The Wales international, now beginning to realise his full potential after his career was stunted through injury, has scored seven goals in as many games for Arsenal this season, and has netted just one goal fewer than the Premier League’s top scorers. Ignore him at your peril.
Champing at the bit to get back into action according to his manager, Luis Suarez (10.0) quickly showed flashes of his devastating ability against Manchester United on Wednesday as he returned from a 10-match suspension. The Uruguayan, selected by less than 5 per cent of players, was outscored by only Van Persie last term and, if his Capital One Cup showing is anything to go by, he will be back among the goals very soon.
Manchester City are beginning to click into gear under Manuel Pellegrini, having scored nine goals in their last two matches (including a 4-1 thrashing of rivals United) and topping the Premier League’s scoring charts. Samir Nasri (7.5) was influential against the Red Devils, netting his second league goal of the season in the process, and represents great value in amongst City’s more expensive options.
|SIT ‘EM – WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Aston Villa are still rocking from the news that they will be without star striker and back-aching talisman Christian Benteke (8.0) for up to six weeks. The Belgium international has scored 67% of Villa’s goals this season, who are likely to struggle in his absence amongst a pretty daunting string of fixtures. While Benteke is sidelined, you should look elsewhere for forward firepower.
Norwich may have spent a club-record fee bringing Ricky van Wolfswinkel (6.5) to Carrow Road, but the Dutch striker – along with fellow forward signings Johan Elmander and Gary Hooper – has looked pretty impotent so far. The Canaries are the joint lowest scorers in the Premier League and are unlikely to get much change out of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, who are all on their fixture list in the following month.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott (9.0) was forced to withdraw from the Gunners’ starting line-up to face Stoke last weekend, a problem that has now been diagnosed as an abdominal strain. The England international should be avoided for now, and, even upon his return to fitness, his failure to net in the league this term might prompt the exploration of other options.
Sunderland’s poor start to the new campaign was blamed on manager-cum-dictator Paolo Di Canio, who has subsequently been served his P45 just 13 matches after he took over. The Black Cats could have the customary new manager honeymoon period, but the visit of Liverpool will likely be too great a test for the league’s worst defence. Clear your team of John O’Shea (4.5) & co., who could be on the end of a cricket score.
When one door closes, another opens, and injury to Benteke has given new Aston Villa signing Libor Kozak (6.0) a great opportunity to prove his worth. The Czech frontman, a £7m buy from Lazio, replaced his Belgian team-mate at the weekend and netted within minutes of coming on. It should be noted that he failed to score a single Serie A goal in the 2012-13 campaign, though did bag 10 goals in 11 Europa League appearances.
Southampton may have struggled to score goals this season (they’ve netted just three times), but they have had no problems keeping opposition defences at bay. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have conceded just twice – the joint-second best defensive record behind Tottenham – and will be confident of shutting out Crystal Palace on Saturday. Dejan Lovren (4.0) netted against Liverpool and poses a goal threat amongst a solid backline.
Manchester United full-back Rafael (5.5) was a contender for best right-back of the year last season, but, through a combination of suspension and injury, he has yet to feature for the reigning champions this season. On Wednesday night, though, he got through 90 minutes against Liverpool, showing his usual attacking abandon, and would be a good pick-up as United enter a favourable run of fixtures.
|CAPTAIN’S CHOICE – TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Trying to pick one of Manchester City’s forward is something of a minefield, but Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to rest Sergio Aguero (10.5) for the midweek Capital One Cup tie against Wigan would appear to indicate that the Argentine frontman is very much first choice at the Etihad Stadium.
The former Atletico Madrid striker netted twice against rivals United last week, bringing his tally for the season to four goals (with two assists thrown in for good measure). Aguero is in great form and should not be overlooked, much like Wayne Rooney (8.5). The England international is back to his best, scoring goals and dictating matches, and should do plenty of damage against an often hapless West Brom side.
Sign up to Goal’s Premier League Fantasy Football competition for the chance to win monthly prizes. It is simple and fast to register and pick your team, so you can start competing against friends or colleagues for the ultimate bragging rights!