I. Arsenal @ Manchester United: Arsenal may have scored 7 against Reading in the Capital One Cup, but they’ll have a much more difficult time at Old Trafford. Still haunted by the 8-2 loss last season? Perhaps. Theo Walcott looked good midweek and will be pushing for a start, while Giroud / Podolski / Cazorla would be the usual FPL suspects if Arsenal do manage to get something out of this one, but you have to think Manchester United will be able to score a few goals at home and are the clear favourites.
Rooney & RVP should produce. RVP took the plaudits last time at Chelsea, but in the two previous games Rooney went for a combined 25 points (14 at home to Stoke, 11 at Newcastle) so both are capable of the big score. RVP of course is the lethal finisher, while Rooney has turned into the slightly out of position (in the wrong direction) supporting attacking midfielder / second striker. That said, our seasons will be defined by RVP. Whether we own him or not, whether he’s worth the 13.4M value, and if we captain him at the right or wrong times. I said it before but I’ll continue saying it, RVP will make or break our seasons. If you captained him in recent weeks against Wigan (1 point), Tottenham (5) and Newcastle (4), the frustration is obvious. But if you managed to captain him against Stoke (11) or Chelsea (12) – though it would have taken quite a ballsy manager to captain RVP on the road at league leading Chelsea, then you are flying high.
6+ fantasy points against his former club would bring consistent returns for those owners who will place that (C) on his Dutch bicep week in and week out. Anything less [as in Wigan, Tottenham, and Newcastle] and some may live to regret that decision.
At the back, Rafael is in form, and it looks like David de Gea has made the #1 position his own, for now. Though a clean sheet may be a bit too much to ask.
Antonio Valencia could be in amongst the points – the midfielder’s service was vital at home last season for Rooney – and Rooney and RVP should take advantage of the Ecuadorian’s skills this time around as well.
I think Sir Alex’s men score 2 or 3, not 8, but do win.
Prediction: 3-1 Manchester United win
II. Wigan @ Tottenham: AVB’s men take on Wigan at White Hart Lane on Saturday hoping to continue their good form and some of us can still remember the 9-1 home win just about 3 years ago in this fixture.
While it won’t be 9-1 this time around, Tottenham are quite the fantasy friendly option. Gareth Bale is the obvious protagonist, while the likes of Lennon, Dempsey, and Defoe should also contribute.
Adebayor is fully fit, finally, and has looked good in training, so while I expect Defoe to start, we may see Adebayor partner him in a rare 2-striker formation, or, perhaps replace Defoe around the 60 minute mark depending on the score, to continue Adebayor’s return to action. Remember that Adebayor scored a whopping 17 league goals and picked up 12 assists last season at Tottenham. He will be a big part of AVB’s season either alongside Defoe, or rotated with the tiny in-form striker in the near future.
Dembele is out injured. Steven Caulker, at just 4.7m is a nice bargain buy in Tottenham’s back four – though away trips to Manchester City and Arsenal after this game make his mid-term prospects somewhat less interesting.
I think Tottenham win through Bale, Dempsey, and Defoe/Adebayor.
Prediction: 3-1 Tottenham win
III. Studs & Duds: Luis Suarez looked superb against Everton – he scored 1 goal, assisted another, and had another disallowed though it was clearly onside. He also scored in the league cup against Swansea. Amazingly, he didn’t pick up bonus points for his performance against Everton. He may be a villain in England, but this is a man that scored 81 times in 110 appearances at Ajax and is only 25 years old. Should he be owned by more than 17% of fantasy owners? Suarez has looked sharp to me in recent weeks and while his temper is always a risk, he could continue scoring big, even against a team that is as organised as Newcastle. Stud. Newcastle have kept only one clean sheet – home to Norwich, all season.
Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero are studs at West Ham with Samir Nasri just behind the Argentinian duo. For Chelsea at Swansea, Hazard is the pick of the bunch – on penalty kick duty with Frank Lampard out injured, he’s a stud. Mata is just behind but he played 120 minutes midweek in the league cup, so may not see a full 90 minutes of action with the Champions League just around the corner. That said, he’s still a stud.
Steven Fletcher and last week’s successful FFF Christian Benteke are studs as they face off in the Sunderland – Aston Villa matchup. QPR are home to Reading so Bobby Zamora and Adel Taarabt are your potential stud selections.
Duds this week include those cheap Arsenal defenders and goalkeepers: Mannone is cheap and should start at Old Trafford, but should be avoided, while Gibbs (injured) and Jenkinson (could be benched with Sagna starting) are also poor selections despite their strong starts to the season. Stoke’s defenders are great at home but at Norwich may concede – they’re on the stud/dud fence. West Brom are home to Southampton – so Morrison and Lukaku are studs, while Southampton defenders Fonte and Clyne are duds.
I don’t know what to make of the Everton-Fulham game at Craven Cottage but I expect some goals, so you could do worse than Jelavic, Baines or Berbatov in that one. Berbatov is quite the affordable option for a former Golden Boot winner, but had a minor rib problem in the 3-3 draw with Reading, so he may be an injury doubt.
IV. Gameweek 10 Best Eleven:
D: Baines – Zabaleta – Caulker
M: Hazard – Valencia – Bale – Taarabt
F: RVP – Tevez – Defoe
Subs: Ben Foster – Andre Wisdom – Raheem Sterling – Ryan Nelsen