CAPTAINCY CONTENDERS- In my opinion, there are 4 solid captaincy options this week, with all of them able to obtain a huge haul. In the table above, I have listed my top 4 captain options this week.
Let's start from the top:
Robin Van Persie- RVP is starting to show signs of his old self, scoring in each of his last 2 matches, despite seeing reduced playing time due to just returning from injury. This weekend he is at home to a struggling Fulham side, who were pushed to their limits and eventually knocked out of the FA Cup courtesy of a late Sheffield United goal in extra time. A tired Fulham side travelling to Old Trafford isn't the best of circumstances, and given RVP's form, I back him to notch a goal or two at the weekend. He's the sensible captaincy option this weekend.
Eden Hazard- Hazard has often been called a "flat track bully". What this means is that he usually accumulates most of his big fantasy hauls against a lesser opposition. Newcastle have beaten Chelsea in 3 of their previous 4 meetings, but it's not looking good this time around. Newcastle will struggle for goals, with leading goalscorer Loic Remy suspended, and playmaker Yohan Cabaye having left for PSG in the January transfer window. Hazard has looked really good these past 2 or 3 games, and is really "due" some points, as the cliche goes. He is a good bet this weekend at home to Newcastle, let's just hope Chelsea find the back of the net this game, rather than out-possess and out-shoot their opponents with no final product.
Wayne Rooney- Due to a series of unfortunate events in his last game, Rooney had to drop deep in order to cope with 2 huge blows for United, which saw Evans and Jones both go off due to injuries. There is often a misconception of Rooney playing as a central midfielder rather than an out and out striker, but that is likely due to the lack of options Moyes has had this season. With Fellaini, Fletcher and Carrick all out for lengthy periods at some point this season, Rooney often had to drop a bit deeper in order to secure United 3 points. Keep in mid though, that he still got plenty of fantasy points while doing so. Rooney is 2nd in the league in assists with 11, and also has 9 goals, which puts him tied in 7th in scoring. With Fletcher and Carrick now fit, I expect Rooney to be back in his advanced role 'in the hole', and it could be very beneficial to him. He is a great shout for the armband this weekend if you can't afford the pricey Dutchman, and will be buzzing to impress the home fans at Old Trafford.
Ricky Lambert- The Englishman returned from injury with a bang, notching a 15 point haul away at Fulham last weekend. Lambert looks a solid pick, as Southampton are showing some great attacking form at the moment. He is home to Stoke City this weekend, and is also on penalties and direct free kick duty, which increases his appeal massively. If you're looking to gain some ground in your mini-leagues, Lambert could be a great shout, as he tries to add to his tally of 7 goals and 7 assists this season.
The reason I didn't select the popular Luis Suarez in my picks this week is due to his poor scoring form against the top 4 (Man. Utd, Man. City, Chelsea, Arsenal). Of his 23 goals this year, 0 have come against these opponents. Arsenal have to win to remain top of the league, so I see a tight game with not many goals in it.
CLEAN SHEET POTENTIAL- This week, I fancy five clean sheets:
Chelsea at home to Newcastle
Crystal Palace at home to West Brom
Man City away to Norwich
Southampton at home to Stoke
Sunderland at home to Hull
MANAGING THE BLANK- In GW28, 4 teams will have blank gameweeks, which include: Manchester City, Manchester United, Sunderland and West Brom.
The Benching Factor- So it's pretty simple; with the above mentioned teams having blanks in GW28, you shouldn't have more than 3 (4 including Mannone) players from those teams going into that gameweek. This is due to the fact that you want to be able to field XI players in GW28, while also keeping your players with blanks who will have a DGWs in GW31. So it's essential to make sure that you have a healthy bench going into GW28, because you'll likely need most of them to feature, if you're planning to keep all your Manchester players.
The Mannone Factor- Some fantasy managers with tight budgets chose to opt for Mannone as their only playing goalkeeper on WC. Although it's worked wonders thus far, he's in dire need of a backup for the next 4 fixtures after HUL(H). After Hull this weekend, Mannone's fixtures read: MCI(A), ARS(A), Blank, LIV(A), which are a nightmare. Not to worry, Adrian is here. The West Ham keeper seems to have ousted Jääskeläinen for the starting spot, and has NOR(H), SOU(H), EVE(A), HUL(H), and seems the ideal backup to Mannone. Usually I would be against goalkeeper transfers but in this case (where you only have Mannone as a starting GK) it's worth a transfer to set you up for the blank GW as well as the rest of the season.