I wouldn't say that I'm superstitious, but I'm definitely stitious. Gameweek 13 was unlucky for most of us with Adebayor, Kompany and Terry being the only widely held players to have really big weeks. Aguero, Van Persie and Rooney managed just an assist between them despite playing for the majority of their respective games. Just like their real life teams, you need to quickly shake off a down week and not get too bogged down with the odd blank from our stars. Of those three, I am most concerned about Rooney, purely because of the way he is being deployed, though I thought he was excellent in the first half against Newcastle and will bounce back soon. I would however fully condone holding someone else while we wait for that to happen, particularly given the somewhat tricky trip to Villa Park this week.
The form of City's defense is starting to become somewhat of a concern with Lescott's own goal making it 6 straight without a clean sheet. They aren't surrendering any more shots than earlier in the year (aside from the 7 they gave up this week) though looking around at the other teams in the league, I wouldn't suggest this is a particularly reliable stat to rely on (Everton have conceded the 3rd least shots this year). I'm certainly not ready to give up on them yet and this week's fixture looks too good to pass on.
Carling/Euro Cup Clues
All the big teams played in midweek in the Carling Cup and we can probably draw some inferences from their team selections:
- Fabio, Rafael and Smalling all played for Man Utd, which should make a clear path for Phil Jones to return this week. It is looking increasingly safe to suggest Jones has his hands firmly on that right back slot for the long haul. Valencia also played in this one which should be music to the ears of Young and Nani owners.
- Dzeko, Nari and A Johnson all started for Man City and played the full 90 minutes against Arsenal. That would have been great news for Aguero, except he came on after just half an hour, so may also face the bench this week. If I had to guess I'd say Aguero gets a game alongside Silva and Balotelli but I have long since given up trying to predict the way Mancini's mind works.
- Koscielny and Djorou both played for Arsenal which brings into question who will start this week at right. Either way I'm not sure you want a piece of that defense, other than the lively looking Santos.
- Liverpool played a pretty strong side at Chelsea so I'm not reading too much into their team selection. That said, the resting of Adam alongside Suarez tells me he is very much considered to be an essential part of that side.
- Chelsea also played some first teamers and with Luiz, Bosingwa and Alex all starting, we can't get much of a jump on what AVB will do this week. Torres playing up top for 90 minutes however, suggests that Drogba and Sturridge might get another game together up front this week.
- Defoe started for Spurs in their Euro second-team, though that might be an indication of a lack of other options so I wouldn't take that as a guarantee that Van der Vaart will play this week. In fact, the signs seem to suggest the Dutchman will sit again this week. Hopefully he will tweet in time for us to make transfers accordingly.
With Van der Vaart possibly sidelined and the out-of-form Man Utd facing a tricky trip to Villa we are once again left with a choice between the Man City lottery, the great Robin Van Persie and a couple of other familiar names.
There really isn't too much to say this week given the unpredictability of Mancini's first team choices. Given the way Wigan have defended this year, I am leaning towards Van Persie as the main man this week, as he is almost sure to start (though is probably due a week off at some point) and is in as good form as anyone in the league. Van Persie has spanked weaker sides like Norwich, West Brom, Stoke, Sunderland and Bolton already this year and so another big game against Wigan looks like a decent bet.
When in doubt with City, I usually lean towards Silva who seems to be rotated less and can escape 2 pointers thanks to his ability to contribute points in every category. With Aguero and Dzeko both getting substantial minutes midweek, I would probably go that way again this week.
A lot of people are getting excited about Hernandez again, but I must admit I'm not sure I'm totally there just yet. His underlying shot stats aren't impressive and United have failed to score more than a single goal in 6 straight gameweeks, limiting Hernandez's chances for a big haul. I would rate him ahead of Rooney in the short term based on price alone but I'm not willing to elevate him into that elite group for the medium-long term until I see United return to top form and Hernandez share in the spoils.
Spurs have a great looking fixture and no one is better placed to exploit it right now than Adebayor; perhaps the second best form player after Van Persie. What excites me as much as the goals he's scored are the assists (6) and bonus points (13) which differentiate Adebayor from being just another one tricky pony (aka Darren Bent). Based on current and prior year data, Spurs have a great set of upcoming fixtures and with Defoe out of favour and Van der Vaart struggling to stay healthy, Adebayor looks the best way to exploit those games. At just 8.9m he represents a significant discount over the elite forwards and I would personally put him ahead of Hernandez (at least in terms of value if not pure production). He can be streaky (as can Spurs) but if you're tiring of City's revolving door or Rooney's deep deployment, I would make Ade my number one target.
I normally shy away from captaining defenders but with the way he's been playing of late and given the fixture, Micah Richards at least deserves a mention here. With too many goals conceded of late, you wonder if Mancini might go a bit more defensive this week, putting an emphasis on keeping Norwich out this week. Richards brings a bonus of having good attacking credentials and makes a nice option for anyone not holding many of the big names mentioned above.
Please post any comments or questions below or at @plfantasy and I'll try and get as many as possible answered before this week's deadline.