10 Jan 12:45 Sunderland v Liverpool
10 Jan 15:00 Burnley v QPR
10 Jan 15:00 Chelsea v Newcastle
10 Jan 15:00 Everton v Man City
10 Jan 15:00 Leicester v Aston Villa
10 Jan 15:00 Swansea v West Ham
10 Jan 15:00 West Brom v Hull
10 Jan 17:30 Crystal Palace v Spurs
11 Jan 13:30 Arsenal v Stoke
11 Jan 16:00 Man Utd v Southampton
Wildcards are live and there are no Africans. And a few Asians have disappeared too. Does this complicate matters? Not really. If anything it makes the use of the wildcard a little easier. Other than Yaya, Bony and Diafra Sakho, many of the absent players had very low ownership to begin with. Freeing up the £10.9 million that it would cost you to purchase the better Toure brother leaves the door open for any number of options. Only Sanchez, Van Persie, Aguero, Daniel Sturridge (still?) and Costa are valued higher.
Replacing Wilfried Bony and/or Diafra Sakho calls for a little more consideration. It may be worth looking at the likes of Santi Cazorla, Christian Eriksen or the returning Olivier Giroud as pound for pound replacements for Bony. There are plenty of cheaper options more in line with Sakho’s price tag. Harry Kane, Charlie Austin and Nacer Chadli all stand out. More off the radar are Ashley Barnes who has come to the fore as the strike partner of choice for Danny Ings – himself a tempting choice. Or maybe you could throw caution comepletely to the wind and take a punt on the player most likely to benefit from Bony’s absence – Bafetimbi Gomis. Gomis has been playing second fiddle to Bony all season, starting only four league games and scoring one goal. He managed to find the net twice last week, albeit against Tranmere in the cup. It’s his opportunity to stake a claim – particularly as Bony may not even be returning to the Liberty Stadium if his transfer to City goes through.
Away from worrying about wildcarding there are some potential banker options amongst this weekend’s fixtures. Chelsea have been beaten twice in the league this season – by Spurs, heavily, last time out, and by Newcastle, their opponents on Saturday. Newcastle will probably face a team eager to consign both defeats to the dustbin of history – whatever that means.
Will West Brom be Pulisified? Palace hadn’t kept a clean sheet before Pulis took over last season at the end of November. By the end of that season, they’d kept twelve in total – almost one every other game. The foundations are already there for a decent West Brom defence having so far kept six clean sheets – and all of their regulars come in at under £5 million. For those that set a budget for their defence, West Brom could be the team to turn to in the second half of the season.
And Villa play Leicester. It’s got a 0-0 written all over it.