Goal takes a look at the best players to pick – or avoid – as the new Premier League season continues, with nine tantalising fixtures taking place this weekend
|START ‘EM – WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
Arsenal have been a little down on their luck recently, particularly in the transfer market, but Theo Walcott (9.0) presents good value this week. In the last two north London derbies at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners have scored 10 times. Walcott scored three goals in those matches, and has struck more times against Tottenham than against any other side in the Premier League.
Of the “big” teams in action this weekend, Manchester City have the most favourable tie. They take on newly promoted Hull City and, although the Tigers were resilient and determined against both Chelsea and Norwich, Manuel Pellegrini’s men could run riot. Edin Dzeko (7.5) remains the best value striker in City’s star-studded line-up, and will be full of confidence following his strike against Cardiff City.
Although clean sheets are never assured, City also look a strong bet to keep out a Hull attack that will be without the suspended Yannick Sagbo while Danny Graham, having failed to score since January, will lead an impotent frontline. The inexpensive Joleon Lescott (5.0), deputising for his injured first-choice team-mates, is a good short-term pick-up.
Southampton striker Pablo Osvaldo (7.5) might just be the best differential in our Fantasy Football game right now. A new signing, and with Rickie Lambert to compete with, the Italian has yet to be selected by anyone, but could be a fine acquisition. Osvaldo scored a goal every 187 minutes in Serie A and may start against a Norwich side that have struggled for rhythm and form at this early stage.
|SIT ‘EM – WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
The most obvious players to dispense with are those that play for Chelsea and Aston Villa, who do not make an appearance in Gameweek 3 due to the Blues’ Super Cup involvement. Though dropping them to the bench may be preferable, the arrival of Willian (8.5) could see first-team regulars lose their place in the starting XI in the near future. The Brazilian, meanwhile, may take time to adapt to the Premier League.
Swansea, fresh from reaching the group stages of the Europa League, take on West Brom. Michael Laudrup’s men are currently languishing at the bottom of the table, and record-signing Wilfried Bony (7.5) has yet to start a league match for the Liberty Stadium outfit. An away trip to the Hawthorns could once again see the Ivorian on the bench as the Swans’ Danish boss errs on the side of caution.
Tottenham have been spectacularly bad on their most recent trips to the Emirates, conceding five times on both of their last two visits. Danny Rose (4.0) remains a relative novice at left-back and could struggle against the increasing guile of Theo Walcott; the Arsenal man evaded Rose while he was on loan at Sunderland last season to set up the only goal of the Gunners’ 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
Though Hull have equipped themselves well on their return to the top-flight, a trip to the Etihad Stadium looks a mightily fearsome proposition. Man City haven’t failed to score at home in the league since November 2010 and are the current top scorers this term with six goals. Hull will struggle to keep Pellegrini’s side at bay, so Curtis Davies (4.0) & Co. should be given a wide berth.
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley (4.0) is the best value central player at present, notching up nine points despite his modest price (Juan Mata, who costs 150 per cent more, has bagged just two points). The Toffees starlet, fresh from being called up to the England national team, will be full of confidence and keen to impress against a Cardiff side that have conceded two goals per game so far this term.
Elsewhere, West Ham are quickly turning Upton Park into something of a fortress under Sam Allardyce, though face a stern test against Stoke City. The Potters are one of few teams who can match the Hammers’ physicality and brute force, cancelling out the home side’s set-piece threat. One man who could bring the spark of invention in this land of giants is Joe Cole (5.0), who is already among the top 10 highest points scorers.
Like Barkley, Tottenham’s Andros Townsend (4.5) received his first call-up for the Three Lions this week. The 22-year-old is already drawing comparisons with Real Madrid-bound Gareth Bale, driving towards goal, committing players and firing swerving shots towards befuddled keepers – he had four efforts against Swansea, and won a penalty, and could prove to be a nuisance against Arsenal on Sunday.
|CAPTAIN’S CHOICE – TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
There are two stand-out captain choices for Gameweek 3. The first is Robin van Persie (13.0). The Dutchman was a reliable double-points scorer last season, consistently finding the back of the net, and started the new term with a brace against Swansea. This week he faces Liverpool, and has struck in each of his last three matches against the Reds, scoring three times on his previous two visits to Anfield.
Across Manchester, David Silva (9.0) is another viable option. The Spanish playmaker is already the joint-second top points scorer out of the midfielders, having bagged a goal and an assist so far this season. The 27-year-old will be at the heart of Manchester City’s attack against Hull as last year’s Premier League runners-up look to avenge their defeat in the previous gameweek against Cardiff.
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