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The Week Ahead - Consolidated Edition

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Two days of intensive meetings (yesterday and today) mean that we're only doing one TWA column this week and we'll get right to it.

The schedule this week offers a lot to like with Manchester United and Spurs both at home against weak competition and Manchester City (albeit a weakened version of the leaders) on the road against equally unimpressive foes. That's a lot of premium players to choose from and a lot to sort out.

As you consider these matches here are my brief thoughts on each of those matches:

Manchester United vs. Bolton - The defense is really a mess so if you're going to invest here I'd make it in the attackers.

Spurs vs. Wolves - Outside of Spurs two premium midfielders (Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale) the Spurs attacking players haven't been worth the money in recent weeks. Adebayor, Modric, et al have been somewhere between OK to poor. On the other hand, Spurs defense is coming on as it gets healthier. If you're looking to invest in a premium defender then this is probably the place to do it.

Manchester City @ Wigan - Don't get fooled by Savic here. My take on him is that he's sort of like David Luiz but without the great hair and the occasionally brilliant play. What's left you ask? Well, a lot of crippling mistakes (see the PK that was awarded and the other big mistake where Joe Hart bailed him out yesterday in the Carling Cup match against Liverpool). I'd stick with the guys from City you have on a discount (Silva and Kun) but I wouldn't invest a ton until Kompany gets back.

Other interesting matches:

Chelsea vs. Sunderland - The obvious play here is to dive in on Chelsea against a team that struggled for much of the first half of the season. At this point though, I'm actually expecting Sunderland to win this match outright. Regardless, I don't think this is the potential bonanza that it would have been a couple of months ago.

Newcastle vs. QPR - Another one that would have been much more attractive a couple of months ago (heck, a couple of days ago) but with Ba and Tiote off to the ACN I'm holding off on NUFC until I see how they adjust (or don't).

Player picks after the jump.

Forwards

  • Wayne Rooney - With Adebayor disappointing pretty much all of us over Spurs two matches Rooney becomes the clear choice among premium forwards.
  • Fernando Torres - I know I said I wasn't thrilled with the Chelsea match as a source of great bounty but with Torres seeming to be finding at least some modicum of form and really the only option for the Blues, he looks worthy of a risk. Certainly more so than Daniel Sturridge who has gotten really expensive.
  • Shola Ameobi - Another difference between my schedule analysis and my player picks but it's all about finding value as we get to mid-season with prices rising. I don't think you should count on Shola for a huge performance but if you're looking for a cheap forward who could turn out OK he's probably a better bet than Henry (yes, I know that's sacrilegious but Ameobi has a better chance to start and play the full game).
  • Andy Carroll - He has to break out of his slump at some point doesn't he?
  • TH12 - More sentiment than logic? Yes. Could it pay off even if he doesn't start? It did in the FA Cup.
Midfielders
  • Steven Gerrard - He played a full match against Manchester City in mid-week so I'm a little worried about him turning around and playing 90 again so soon after coming off an injury but if he is playing, I really like the combination of player, price, and match-up.
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson - Hard to say if this is the weekend to pull the trigger or just a time to focus on whether he starts and try to pick him up on the Barn Door. The skinny for those who haven't paid any attention is that he's a central midfielder coming over from Hoffenheim who specializes in set pieces and has a rocket of a long range shot. Sounds a bit like a younger Thomas Hitzlsperger which at this price is a nice value.
  • Gareth Bale - Bale has been consistently producing over the last month or so and there's no reason to think that the match-up will be anything but a boon to that streak.
  • Nani - See Bale above. It would be great if you could get both but if you can only have one I'd have to say it's a toss-up.
  • Hatem Ben Arfa - He's been a disappointment but with Ba away he SHOULD get a chance to start a string of matches. As far as enablers go, he's still among the best of bets.
Defenders
  • Vermaelen and Brown - I'm guessing both will miss out this weekend but I'm still holding both at the low prices I have each at (6ish and 3ish respectively).
  • Michael Dawson - With William Gallas and Ledley King both out due to injury and Dawson returning from injury Dawson appears to be a solid value compared to Spurs other defenders.
  • David Santon - I'm tending toward a lot of Newcastle even though I'm worried about them without their two best players. The absences and injuries are leading toward some potential value plays.
  • Angel Rangel - The match-up isn't great but he's been very good about picking up phantom points even when Swansea don't win. His price has been higher than it is so you may want in here.
  • Ciaran Clark - Solid value play with an OK home match-up.
Goalkeepers
  • Tim Krul - More Newcastle value plays. Odd, I know but this is just how the value is going right now.
  • Pepe Reina - Liverpool's defense has been excellent this season and Reina is reasonably inexpensive given their success in piling up clean sheets.
  • Szczesny - Hard to get too excited about Arsenal on the road against a good home team with a depleted defense but with the premium choices (Hart and Friedel) REALLY expensive Szcz is a solid value.