Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Miquel, Walcott, Ramsey, Song, Benayoun, Arshavin, van Persie
Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Park, Henry, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Squillaci, Yennaris.
Arshavin and Walcott have to be two of the most frustrating, supposedly good players in the league, and yet they both line up in a significant amount of games for Wenger's side. Walcott at least gets into good positions but his final ball has regressed once again to simply hitting it hard into the box or taking an ill-advised shot (he did take his goal very nicely though, hence: frustrating). Arshavin, however, contributes essentially nothing and worse, gave away the ball for Swansea's second this week. Rosicky did okay off the bench without much end product but you'd expect that he or Oxalde-Chamberlain will get more minutes in the future. Henry came on to play alongside Van Persie suggesting that's an option too, but you'd be surprised if he is fit enough to immediately start playing every week. This defense is too pricey to warrant ownership.
Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Clark, Petrov, Albrighton, Ireland, Agbonlahor, Bent.
Subs: Guzan, N'Zogbia, Delph, Keane, Cuellar, Bannan, Gardner.
Given returned as expected which makes this unit more solid, though Guzan did a decent job so I wouldn't say this suddenly transforms Villa into a top unit (they did have 4 clean sheets in 13 games with Given though). I don't see Keane as someone who might have a fantasy impact failing injury to Agbonlahor or Bent. Keane's career could probably be classified as a disappointment with constant transfers hampering him from ever really settling into a side other than his first spell at Spurs. You always felt he had an eye on his next move (probably to a boyhood favorite club), and perhaps always thought he should be playing at a 'bigger team' and thus failed to settle at somewhere like Leeds or Spurs for too long. That's the most I've ever written on this site about a player with zero fantasy impact. Oh well.
Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Knight, Ricketts, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, M Davies, Ngog
Subs: Lynch, Sanli, K Davies, Klasnic, Pratley, Boyata, Riley.
I'm not condoning the 'long ball to Davies' tactics, which is way overplayed as the focal point of Bolton's play (under Coyle they actually try and get the ball down) but the decision to play N'Gog over Davies here left me puzzled. N'Gog seems like the type of player Ferdinand will be comfortable playing against where as Davies has given him all kind of problems in past seasons. Eagles and Petrov simply don't produce enough down the flanks, suggesting a 4-5-1 with Klasnic up top and Davies on the right looking like a better option. Klasnic is the only player who can be fantasy relevant in this side yet he finds himself benched once again. Unless they invest the Cahill money wisely this is a side who you can all but exclude from your weekly scan of transfer targets.
Robinson, Lowe, Hanley, Givet, Olsson, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Dunn, Petrovic, Hoilett, Yakubu
Subs: Bunn, Formica, Rochina, Goodwillie, Vukcevic, Morris, Henley.
I've been fairly vocal in my criticism of Blackburn this year but in all fairness they have really started to turn the corner offensively, not only in that they've scored in 10 straight games, but also that they are beginning to score more than once, with seven goals in the last three weeks. However, the only player to score multiple goals over that 10 game period is Yakubu, who will likely now face a suspension, pending a potential appeal. No player other than Yakubu has managed to hit the target more than 10 times this year, a number that is particularly concerning when you consider that Wigan have four such players (Rodallega, Di Santo, Moses and Gomez). If they can get a focal point in midfield they could generate decent assist numbers but until then (and despite the fact I like Hoilett's game) this looks like a one man team for fantasy purposes.
Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Romeu, Meireles, Ramires, Torres, Mata.
Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Malouda, Lukaku, Sturridge, Hutchinson, Bertrand.
It was somewhat surprising to see Sturridge miss out again here, though it might just be that he still wasn't quite fit enough to start. Torres is an intriguing play in Drogba's absence and though he didn't enjoy any end results here, he did at least manage four attempts on goal. It's tough to seriously consider him over the cheaper Adebayor though. The Chelsea defense was a good play this week and they duly delivered with a clean sheet. You have to at least question whether Cahill will walk into this side from day one but you'd think they're spending the money for a reason and thus he becomes another excellent way to access an elite defense for a mid-range price. Though it probably doesn't have a direct fantasy impact, it was good to see Essien make an appearance for Chelsea and his presence should make everyone better in this side (he isn't going to the African Cup on Nations, by the way).
Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Duffy, Baines, Donovan, Gibson, Fellaini, Drenthe, Cahill, Saha.
Subs: Mucha, Anichebe, Bilyaletdinov, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Vellios.
I didn't see this one but from the stats it looks like Everton were a touch lucky to get away with a point. This side now has quite a lot of talent and I'm a little surprised there is so much focus on the 'Moyes has no money to succeed narrative' rather than the 'why aren't we getting more from our current players'. Drenthe has been in and out of the side despite having excellent underlying stats and production when he's played, but if he gets a consistent run of minutes he is a worthy option. Donovan got his first real fantasy points this week and is a decent differentiator for the foreseeable future. With so many defensive injuries (note the complete lack of cover on the bench) it's tough be overly excited about this unit's value at the back.
Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, JA Riise, Murphy, Dembele, Dempsey, Duff, Zamora, Ruiz
Subs: Etheridge, Sidwell, Johnson, Kasami, Hughes, Frei, Davies.
Not a good result here though at least this back line has finally settled down (at least for now). I'm a bit puzzled with what has happened to Baird who seemed to be a fixture in this side, but didn't feature at all again despite a lack of injury news. In the mean time Kelly is a nice option at 3.9m despite Fulham's inconsistency. That front line looks pretty settled now too, making this one of the more predictable lineups in the league.
Reina, Johnson, Coates, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Carragher, Adam, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Kuyt.
Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Carroll, Shelvey, Kelly, Flanagan, Bellamy.
I really disliked what Dalglish did here, playing five at the back at home to Stoke. We did however get a start for Gerrard who moves into a position where his viability at needs mentioning. Perhaps this deserves a separate post, but in summary I like the idea of fully fit Gerrard (indeed he was one of my favorite players to watch at his peak) but given his price tag you need him to beat out the likes of Silva, Nani, Bale and Van der Vaart which looks a stretch right now, if only based on their respective teams' attacking options. Yes he will be a differential candidate but I'd like to see more from him before I consider him back to ~10m value. I want to be able to throw Carroll into that 'bounce back' potential category too but his playing time is simply too sporadic to consider.
Lindegaard, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck
Subs: De Gea, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Fabio, Pogba.
Lindegaard got his second straight start and could well be emerging as a close-to-must-own player if he indeed holds onto that job full time. Unfortunately, there's no real way to know for sure what Ferguson will do but if you're planning to wildcard this week, it's worth considering pairing him with Vorm (who you can start almost every week anyway) and then simply cut him when the situation becomes messy again. You can get similar value with Jonny Evans who should get plenty of minutes himself with Vidic done for the year and Smalling and Jones unable to regain their fitness. Even when that pair return, Ferguson has shown faith in Evans before and the first choice backline could well involve Evans and Jones alongside Ferdinand and Evra. A somewhat risky strategy with significant upside would be to grab Evans and Lindegaard now and ride them while you can, though you will of course then be limited with decent replacement options if and when they drop out of the side.
Going forward the important names remain unchanged and while Welbeck is tempting, it's tough to waste a United slot on a player who will likely only feature, at best, two of every three weeks (and that's probably optimistic).
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, R Taylor, Guthrie, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Best, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Elliot, Ben Arfa, Abeid, Perch, Gosling, Obertan, Ferguson.
Newcastle notched their 3rd clean sheet in the last six games, continuing their trend as one of the best budget defenses around. I wasn't convinced they would bounce back from the loss of S Taylor but they've been okay since then, if a bit inconsistent. If you look at who the clean sheets have come against, they've tended to be the weaker sides (Man Utd last week and Arsenal in GW1 aside) but that's actually a good thing for fantasy managers, who will find it easier to predict their successes in the future. The whole back line is well settled, though Santon won't always play, presuming Taylor's midfield deployment is not permanent. Going forward this side obviously loses a lot without Ba and the best other two options (Cabaye and Ben Arfa) were injured and benched. This team is a defense only unit until further notice (or if Cabaye is declared fit).
Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Naughton, Johnson, Pilkington, Surman, Hoolahan, Morison, Jackson
Subs: Steer, Drury, Crofts, Holt, Fox, Bennett, Wilbraham.
This midfield unit continues to frustrate, well, their unpredictable selection does anyway. All four players selected this week have scored a couple of goals already this year (with Pilkington adding five) but yet none of them have been able to earn a guaranteed place in the side. Johnson has the most shots, Pilkington has the most on target (and goals) while Hoolahan has the most key passes (and assists). You can take this to mean that they are all ownable but I take it as that none of them are.
Kenny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Hill, Wright-Phillips, Derry, Buzsaky, Mackie, Helguson, Bothroyd
Subs: Cerny, Orr, Hall, Campbell, Smith, Ephraim, Macheda.
QPR were a little unlucky here, out shooting Newcastle 15-9 and enjoying 55% of the possession. Unfortunately the best chances fell to Bothroyd, who does some things well but is far from clinical. We'll see how Hughes changes the way he deploys the team and who he brings in during the transfer window (Santa Cruz anyone?) but as things stand there is limited value in this side, other than the spot-startable Helguson.
Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Delap, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington, Walters, Crouch
Subs: Begovic, Jones, Fuller, Pennant, Whitehead, Wilkinson, Jerome.
This is a fairly predictable side now, with Woodgate's fitness being the only real concern. With a couple of clean sheets in the last four gameweeks, perhaps we are starting to see a return to the form which made Shawcross and co useful options in the past couple of years. The stats suggest they were somewhat fortuitous to pickup a clean sheet this week (they had just 40% of the possession and were out shot 13-3) but Sorensen was credited with just two saves so all that possession didn't lead to much for Liverpool. The relevant attacking options in this side are pretty settled but I would issue a word of caution for all the managers piling on Walters as they play their wildcards. Per ESPN, in the last 10 league games he has registered just three shots on target (14 total) so while he did convert two of those into goals, that kind of conversion rate is unsustainable and unless Stoke change their style of play, he is a regression candidate for the second half of the year.
Mignolet, Bardsley, Kilgallon, O'Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner
Subs: Westwood, Turner, Gardner, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady.
This was a bit of an odd team selection with Kilgallon and O'Shea starting at centre back despite Turner being available. Without Brown and Bramble (I can't believe I'm saying this), you can't rely on this unit for clean sheets and I'd keep away for the next few weeks until that situation shakes out. With Swansea and Norwich at home it is tempting to try and buy in but I would suggest that is risky given the rotation this team has endured. Sessegnon has received some attention of late (less than Walters though) but I like his chances of continuing his first half form given the number of changes he is receiving each week.
Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor, Dyer, Agustien, Britton, Allen, Sinclair, Graham
Subs: Tremmel, Routledge, Monk, Lita, Moore, Richards, Sigurdsson.
A great win for Swansea and while they did concede twice, that was the first time that happened at home all year and so we won't downgrade this defensive unit on one game. They looked very composed going forward and moved the ball around well, but the problem is still (much like Norwich above) that the midfield can all produce and thus it's hard to harness their fantasy potential. Sinclair's penalties are a boost to his value and his 16 shots on target rank second only to Graham, making him the safest (but also the priciest of the midfield options) pick. He's never really going to rack up the assists though with both Gower and Allen looking better in that department. Dyer is somewhere in between the group and probably represents the best value, given his ability to contribute across all categories. Sigurdsson looked good off the bench, particularly on set pieces, and is worth monitoring over the coming weeks.
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Adebayor, Van der Vaart
Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore.
The team was as expected but this was a bit of a let down for Spurs following their attacking disappointment of the double gameweek. I'm still very much on the Bale, Van der Vaart and Adebayor bandwagons but just remember that these guys aren't quite at the City/United level, at least over prolonged periods of time. Also remember to note that Adebayor is unavailable next week (against his parent club).
Foster, Jara Reyes, McAuley, Dawson, Shorey, Morrison, Scharner, Mulumbu, Thomas, Odemwingie, Cox
Subs: Fulop, Mattock, Long, Dorrans, Thorne, Tamas, Fortune.
Regular minutes or not, there's very little to be excited about here. I like Odemwingie a lot but at 7.2m he is just too expensive considering the lack of goals in this side. I'd prefer a Graham or Morison plus ~2m unless West Brom bring in a couple of bodies to help create more chances for this side.
Hennessey, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Kightly, Frimpong, Henry, Jarvis, Edwards, Fletcher
Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Ebanks-Blake, Hunt, Milijas, Doyle.
He just scores goals. If only he would play every week. Only Ba has scored more goals than Fletcher over their last 10 appearances but yet he is still regularly rotated for Doyle, who has two goals despite playing 250 minutes more than Fletcher. He has played more of late though (only one sub appearance in the last nine gameweeks) and given his price and hence value, I think he is very ownable as a third striker. With three of the next four at home (and the other against a so-so QPR side) Fletcher (2% owned) looks like a very nice replacement for anyone stuck holding the Africa-bound Ba. There's not much else to get excited here as this defense is mediocre and the midfield has talent but lacks a potential star in O'Hara's absence.