Apologies for the past weeks, as I’ve been on absent on paternal leave.
However, this changes for Gameweek 26 with this edition of the Friday Foreplay. I produce captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.
- Aguero: Any team playing at home against Blackburn this season has a good chance win big. Add to the fact that it’s Manchester City, who have already pounded teams like Manchester United and Tottenham this season, and the captain picks are abound. Aguero is Mancini’s main striker and, on paper, will not get an easier game than this. The only worrying thing is that over the last three games Aguero has played the most (around 174 minutes), while Balotelli has played almost a full game and Dzeko less than one half.
- Ba: What a season for free transfer Demba Ba. Apart from a miserable African Cup of Nations, Ba is enjoying the season of his life. He scored in the reverse fixture in October and hasn’t let more than two games pass between goals since. Newcastle will be looking to put the massacre against Tottenham behind them and what a better way than against a manager-free Wolves. Wolves only have one clean sheet away from home this season, conceding an average of 1.75 goals per game. Ba is averaging a little over 6.6 PPG and should chip in with a goal or two.
- Silva: An option more on the safe side is captaining David Silva. He is City’s hub. Most attacking moves channel through him, as witnessed by his five goals and thirteen assists. He has only been rested three times this season which indicates that Mancini considers him almost undroppable. He hasn’t got the explosive upside of Aguero or Ba (or even Van Persie, for that matter), but instead is less likely to return a two pointer.
Again I’m not recommending Van Persie as captain for the Gameweek. He is a definite starter in your team though and could very well defy the odds yet again against Tottenham. Despite their excellent form, Tottenham still concede 1.25 goals per game and RvP is involved in most of Arsenal’s goals. Tottenham is stronger in defence than former seasons; coupled with their impressive midfield and attack, I think they will win comfortably at the Emirates.
Hence, the inclusion of Bale and Adebayor in the Big Hitters.
Manchester City have scored a massive 37 goals at home this season, which is an absurd average of almost 3.1 goals per game. That means that any attacking player you think will start the game deserves attention for the captain’s choice. Aguero is covered in the captain picks and is the most viable pick. However, should Dzeko or Balotelli start they are great plays.
Rooney missed the game against Ajax and it showed. Manchester United lost at home without their talisman and are “trying hard to get him right for Sunday”. Following a barren run since December, Rooney has started scoring again with a brace in his last two games. He’s a notoriously streaky goalscorer and should extend his current run with a goal against a Norwich side that produced regular high-scoring games.
Other strong plays include:
- Fulham is abject away from home, having won only once this season. They face QPR, who recently purchased Zamora. He has averaged 7.2 PPG in his last five games and will be looking to punish his former employers. I expect a QPR win and a Zamora goal.
- If you have any Chelsea player, Mata is the most viable choice. Against a Bolton defence, shorn of Gary Cahill, he should pick up Fantasy points. I don’t recommend his purchase, but if you have him, play him.
Despite West Brom scoring only 0.75 goals per game at home, I’m hate to predict clean sheets in away Games. Consequently, Sunderland’s misses out on a clean sheet prediction, but is a logical choice nonetheless.
- QPR should take advantage of Fulham’s away misery and register their first clean sheet under Mark Hughes. Taiwo also brings an attacking threat to the party so he’s a decent punt.
- City with Kompany in defence are oh so strong and should keep Blackburn out.
- A managerless Wolves should be of little threat to Newcastle, which should suit Krul, the excellent Dutch goalkeeper.
Taking a Punt
- With Valencia out with a crocked hamstring, Nani is back to the right side for United. He is deadly when on his game, and will be afforded the space to strike against Norwich.
- Lennon’s pace will be dangerous for Arsenal backline. I predict an assist or goal.
- It’s getting close to last chance saloon for Wigan and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put up a good fight to avoid relegation yet again. Moses is their most dangerous player and is good for a Fantasy punt.