Gameweek 16 preview

December 12, 2013

14 Dec 12:45 Man City v Arsenal
14 Dec 15:00 Cardiff City v West Brom
14 Dec 15:00 Chelsea v Crystal Palace
14 Dec 15:00 Everton v Fulham
14 Dec 15:00 Newcastle v Southampton
14 Dec 15:00 West Ham v Sunderland
14 Dec 17:30 Hull City v Stoke City
15 Dec 13:30 Aston Villa v Man Utd
15 Dec 13:30 Norwich v Swansea
15 Dec 16:00 Tottenham v Liverpool

 

Another home defeat last week for Manchester United leaves them languishing in 9th place. United are probably the only team that can languish in 9th. The popularity of United players in fantasy league has probably never been lower. Only Rooney and Van Persie appear in more than 10% of teams. The fact that Van Persie is still more popular than Rooney is a strange anomaly given the two players’ contrasting form and fitness. There’s obviously still a belief out there in fantasy world that the Dutchman will come good at some point this season. And maybe that’s about to happen – when you look at United’s run of fixtures. And particularly when you compare that run of fixtures to those of Liverpool, City, Arsenal and Chelsea, who all seem to be playing each other in the weeks to come. If United believe they still have any chance of retaining their title, now is the time to stake a claim. Their four main rivals could all drop points between now and the FA Cup weekend in the first week of January. It’s debatable as to whether Van Persie was properly fit last weekend, and Rooney had a weekend off through suspension. Having both featured in the midweek Champions League victory it’s very likely that they’ll lead the line together at Villa this weekend, and barring the return of any injuries, that partnership should remain for those winnable fixtures against West Ham, Hull and Norwich. Although, lets face it, we all thought Newcastle was a winnable fixture. I quite like the new United. I long since dispensed with Van Persie, and only the scoring form of Rooney has kept some Buckets managers interested in their weekly performances. But – this is an interesting run of fixtures, and if the team of last season turn up, we could be reassessing our United quotas by the end of the month.

Steven Gerrard is injured and probably out until the new year. Liverpool’s tricky month sees them travel to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City. Could Gerrard’s absence lead to a drop in the goal-scoring output of Luis Suarez? The stats suggest that is a possibility. Gerrard is second behind Suarez in the Liverpool form table, and has contributed seven assists and 10 bonus points this season. No-one else really gets close. Although Philippe Coutinho is just back from a long-ish injury lay off, and Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses’ appearances have been limited due to the form of Sturridge and Gerrard. Those three players will have to step up to the plate to keep Liverpool’s impressive season going. You’ll get money to spend if you make the straight swap. Particularly for Sterling, who at 4.9 million, is the cheapest of the three options. Sterling has started the last three games, and got a goal and an assist in the 5-1 mauling of Norwich.

The Everton clean sheet machine could be back in business this weekend as they welcome Fulham. And if Chelsea don’t clean up at home to Palace, in Tony Pulis’ first real test as their new manager, then expect Jose to be really, really, really, really grumpy. Not Just really, really, really grumpy. Surely it’s goals and clean sheets all round. Chelsea’s month gets a lot trickier after Saturday, and any goal leakage could lead to a mass exodus on the defender front. Only John Terry’s goal return makes him a favourable option in their back line at the moment – and he shops at Poundland.

 

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