Gameweek 17 preview

December 20, 2013

21 Dec 12:45 Liverpool v Cardiff City
21 Dec 15:00 Crystal Palace v Newcastle
21 Dec 15:00 Fulham v Man City
21 Dec 15:00 Man Utd v West Ham
21 Dec 15:00 Stoke City v Aston Villa
21 Dec 15:00 Sunderland v Norwich
21 Dec 15:00 West Brom v Hull City
22 Dec 13:30 Southampton v Tottenham
22 Dec 16:00 Swansea v Everton
23 Dec 20:00 Arsenal v Chelsea

We’re entering silly season. From the 21st through to New Years Day we’ve forty games. That’s four gameweeks – a whole months worth – crammed into a week and a bit. We could be looking at a very different looking Buckets league come 2014. Managers need to be on the ball, keeping an eye on those seasonal injuries, squad rotations and those players searching for that instant three match ban to get the holidays off.

I’ve no idea how regularly I’m going to be able to update, but rest assured I’ll keep across all the pertinent information. All weekly winners, and eventual monthly winner will be noted. I’m sure I’ll get to update this weekend OK, but after that, a combination of food, drink, relatives, darts and Christmas telly may prevent the usual preview and update routine.

The most interesting aspect to this weeks play will be who we all choose to replace Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian striker’s injury appears to be worse than first thought, with an expected return date of mid January. Anyone considering keeping hold of the crocked Aguero must surely have changed their mind. A two or three week lay off may have been manageable, but six weeks with only two strikers just isn’t a viable option. There have been plenty of managers across the game to move quickly and shift him out of their teams. His price has started to drop already. It’s down from 12.5 to 12.3 as I write, and will probably drop further the closer we get to Saturday kick off. Removing him quickly is to your advantage as it will give you more moolah to re-invest. City’s injury woes don’t end there. Pablo Zabaleta, their most reliable and pointsworthy defender is also out. It’s Zabaleta’s assist contribution that will be missed. He has more than any other defender in the league, and three in his last four appearances.

Sporting have been very reliant on Aguero, although they’ve turned to Luis Suarez as their captain in recent weeks. Their replacement choice will be worth noting. The wrong choice of attacker could see that gap at the top closed. There are plenty of contenders. The best place to start could be the City squad itself, but also check the form of the likes of Gary Hooper, Yoann Gouffran and Marouane Chamakh. If you think there’s value in it, you could make a double transfer involving a cheaper attacker and an expensive midfielder.

A defeat against Chelsea could see Arsenal fall from the summit of the Premier League. The Arsenal defence took a bit of a hammering last week against City. They conceded more than one goal for the first time in the league since the opening day defeat against Villa. Laurent Koscielny is doubtful for this game, meaning Thomas Vermaelen could start. You can pick up Vermaelen for 5.4 million. But this is the low on confidence, 3rd choice, no game-time Vermaelen – and not the goal scoring, bonus bagging, captain reliable of two seasons ago.

And how many will Suarez score this week? Against Cardiff. At home. I wouldn’t bet against another hat trick. BREAKING NEWS…Cardiff in disarray. Malky Mackay may not be in charge. Make it a double hat trick.

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