We have the deepest pool of legitimate captain options here. Insert Christmas cliche here!
Manchester is once again the place to be and both the red and blue side of the City enjoy a fixture this week as appetizing as, well, something appetizing at Christmas. With the home fixture, Rooney is the obvious pick for the week and United really seem to have turned the corner since they hit four past Wolves in GW15. 11 goals in three gameweeks have put the Champions right back among the fantasy elite and Rooney is obviously well placed to capitalise. Over the last four gameweeks, Rooney has 15 shots, 11 of which were on target to support his 4 goals. With Wigan coming to town, it's almost impossible to look elsewhere.
Rooney's teammate Nani has been in great form himself with three goals and four assists in the last four games. Of the ~10m midfielders on offer, Nani possibly has the best goalscoring ability and history, though a slight word of caution would be that over those same four gameweeks he mustered only 6 shots on target - suggesting that while he remains a top option, we should expect some regression in the future. In stark contrast to last season, Nani has fared better away from home (7.8 P90) than at home (6.7m) though that fact way lead one to conclude that relying too much on home/road splits may be foolish anyway. Nani is a great option this week and beyond.
Moving across the city (or if you want to be pedantic and annoy United fans, from Salford to Manchester) we find the City players with another good chance for success this week. West Brom have enjoyed a couple of wins of late, but they remain shaky at the back with nine goals conceded over the last five games and no clean sheets since GW8. Dzeko is still carrying a slight injury which gives you more confidence Aguero will avoid rotation again this week. With Rooney's return to form many managers seem to have cooled on Aguero with net transfers out for the past three gameweeks. However, it's worth noting that no one has more shots or shots on target over the past four gameweeks than Aguero and his scoring potential matches or exceeds anyone in the league. City's fixtures are a touch tougher than United's over the next month or so and it's a very close call to pick between the two for this week or near future.
I blew my City captain pick the last two weeks taking Aguero then Silva instead of Silva then Aguero which would have netted an extra 20 points. That highlights how hard it is to forecast who will have the best haul on a given day for City though when the opposition is weak you are safe with both. Having been subbed after 65 minutes last game, Silva has a good chance to start here again though Nasri, Johnson and Milner provide a greater threat than Aguero faces from an unfit Dzeko. I still love Silva, and haven't really considered selling him all year, but with Aguero's form and the chance of rotation I'd opt for the little Argentinian this week.
It feels wrong only getting to Van Persie at this point of the post, but that really emphasises the good options available this week. His eight double digit scores over the past 2 gameweeks are almost unprecedented as is the fact he has scored or assisted 20 of Arsenal's last 28 goals. Wolves are not a good road team (scored 6, conceded 17) and the reason Arsenal only come in 4th this week is due to their own unreliable form at home (14 goals in 8 games). That said, of the three sides who brought comparatively poor records to the Emirates, only Swansea managed to concede a single goal with Stoke and Bolton dismissed with much greater ease (Van Persie scored twice against both opponents). Given the added security Van Persie brings of rarely being rested, he might actually just pip both City players this week and rank right alongside Rooney as the top option for the week.
Elsewhere many will be drawn to the red hot Ba, who I have somewhat undervalued this year. Few are in better form that the Newcastle front man and while I dismissed him as a captain option a few weeks back, he at least deserves some attention here. Bolton have been generally terrible this year and Newcastle have been decent on the road, trailing only the top few teams in goals scored having already faced tricky trips to both Manchester sides. As a player I like Ba a lot, but as a captain option, at least this week, the elite options just look too good to resist. Newcastle can be inconsistent at times and while Ba's underlying stats backup his production, he is not guaranteed to receive the number of chances a Rooney or Van Persie will. He is, however, officially in the conversation for captain consideration.
It's a similar story for the Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool options, who all enjoy a good fixture but just don't bring enough this week to topple the current rulers of the armband.
I might not get to a reader's question post this week, but if you send your questions to @plfantasy I might be able to sneak a few responses off under the Christmas table. Happy Holidays everyone.