Plenty of goals this week with only one clean sheet going into Monday's clash at Villa Park. The game of the weekend came at the Emirates with Arsenal hitting 6 against Blackburn, who themselves looked useful in the first half. Fabregas was incredible (getting a goal, 4 assists and 3 bonus points) and that performance should end any doubt there was over my ranking of him in line with - if not ahead 0f - Gerrard and Lampard this season. With Van Persie able to contribute goals, assists and bonus points, he also showed his fantasy class and that he can rightfully be considered alongside the top tier of strikers in the Premier League.
My predictions were pretty mixed the clean sheet rankings being rendered useless by the fact that only two teams kept one, one of which was Portsmouth on the road which not many would have predicted. The other was Chelsea which I did get - much to criticism of a few readers - which really wasn't all that surprising. Chelsea are very tight at home and have still only surrendered one goal in six games in all competitions. Ancelotti played a very narrow team including Deco and Ballack in place of wide men like Malouda, Kalou or Cole. Liverpool failed to capitalise on that and Chelsea dominated the middle of the park and stopped Gerrard running the game. Arsenal's fixtures look better over the next few weeks but I would rank Chelsea as the best team defense right now, way ahead to United and Liverpool at this point.
My captaincy rankings were decent with Fabregas, Van Persie all contributing good or great games while Rooney and Lennon disappointed. Rooney was embarrassing against Sunderland and his petulant and childish behaviour should concern fantasy managers who paid 11m+ for his services. In his career he has been streaky when it comes to goals and the international weekend might be a welcome break. Note that United travel to both Liverpool and Chelsea in the next 3 weeks so it might be worth looking at moving Rooney after week 9's visit of Bolton (who Rooney normally does well against).
On the horizon
Defensively, City have pretty good looking fixtures with only three troubling fixtures (@Liv, Che and @Tot) between now and week 21. Richards was my pick there but with Zabaleta starting the last two I think Bridge becomes the best pickup at Eastlands. Zabaleta himself is 5m so might be worth a punt but I could see Richards back in fold at some point so I'd go with Bridge who should play every week barring injury. Aside from the week 11 trip to the Emirates I also like Spurs avoid the coming weeks, despite conceding two to Bolton this week. At 5.1m I think Assou Ekotto remains the best pick here, though if you jump on him quick you should be able to make a quick buck on Corluka (5.3) who will no doubt get the attention of other owners following his goal this week.
I love City's attacking fixtures with home games to Hull (week 14) and Burnley (week 12) looking particularly tasty. After his return tonight against Villa I think Adebayor is a buy and - along with Van Persie - is the pick of the premium strikers over the next 6 weeks. Ireland was benched tonight against Villa and is no longer worthy of fantasy consideration while Wright Phillips form concerns me (I sold him) and I think better options can be found. Everton also have good attacking fixtures and I like Louis Saha as a midprice option for those looking to differentiate themselves from Darren Bent. Blog poster dhs_media_ssharp has been singing the praises of Bilyaletdinov (6.5) and the chalkboard of his first league start shows why. Plenty of balls played into the danger zone, including corners which he is very accomplished with. Not a total steal at 6.5 but there is a gap in talent at that price range and with the upcoming fixtures I like the young Russian to contribute some fantasy points soon.
These tips are purely based on the ability to make cash rather than how much I like an individual player based on his schedule and all other factors
Thomas Vermaelen should hit 7m after his goal this weekend and I think he is fairly priced based on his superior outfield skills. I do not normally pick defenders based on the goalscoring but Vermaelen has shown he isn't simply a 'head the odd corner in' type of centre back. Defensively Arsenal's fixtures aren't amazing but good enough to consider Vermaelen, who should still give a small price rise if you move quickly.
Cesc Fabregas has already risen to 10.8 but I could see this hitting 10.9 or even 11.0 by the time the international break is over. Even a that price he is still considerably less than Gerrard and Lampard and provides better value. Still a buy option in my eyes.
Darren Bent has 5 in his last 4 and the goal at Old Trafford shows he can do it against the big boys too. Back to back bonus awards are also welcome and I would set a long term projection of 8m for Bent as managers continue to move over to putting their money in strikers.
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have net transfers out of fifteen and ten thousand and Lampard's price has fallen to 12.4m. The man himself insists the goals will come but until he hits the net from open play in the league I would follow this trend and move your cash into premium strikers before the pair's prices fall further.
As noted above, Wayne Rooney was poor this week and with a tough schedule to come some owners could switch to Drogba, Torres or Adebayor causing the England striker's value to fall a bit.