What a high-scoring week we had last week! Hopefully you were able to capitalize on some high scorers and make the cut-off for the next round of the Blog Cup. I managed a very average 118 points in week 10, thanks in part to a grand total of 0 points from Dejan Lovren, Neil Taylor & Ravel Morrison, but I'm optimistic it will be enough to make it through to the next round. In the overall rankings, I'm currently hovering around the 2,500 mark, but with the scores so tight I feel like I can make a big jump up the rankings with one good week.
Without further ado, here are the matches I think you should be focusing on as you build your team this week:
- Manchester City vs. Sunderland
Everton @ Crystal Palace
- Liverpool vs. Fulham
- Chelsea vs. West Brom
- Southampton vs. Hull
The remaining matchups are either too close to call or don't feature any particularly exciting fantasy options this week, with the potential exception of a few hunch picks and cheap options covered in my player picks below.
Tim Howard - The American has been in great form over the past two matches, keeping two clean sheets and saving a penalty, and his price has risen to reflect it. However, Crystal Palace have been abject in front of goal, so the bearded one may be worth the investment as the premium option between the posts this week.
Artur Boruc - He was perhaps a bit unlucky to concede the fluke goal scored by fellow keeper Asmir Begovic last week, but Boruc has been the best value for the money as keepers go this season, and remains a very solid pick ahead of Southampton's home match against Hull.
Costel Pantilimon - We'll have to keep an eye on team news as the deadline approaches for any indication of who will start this weekend, but the giant keeper represents great value this week, even if you missed picking him up at his Barn Door price. Just have an option ready on the bench if there isn't any confirmation he'll get his second Premier League start against Sunderland.
Simon Mignolet - After storming out of the gates with three clean-sheet wins, Liverpool haven't kept their opponents out in their last seven league matches. Fulham looked lost against United and would not have scored without a little help from Wayne Rooney. Could this be the match Liverpool get their defense straightened out? If you think so, Mignolet could be a nice differential option.
Leighton Baines - While he's only returned his value once this season, the potential for huge points is nearly impossible to ignore, especially against bottom-of-the-table Crystal Palace. The one slight caveat is that Everton are on the road this week, but I'll be trying to fit the left back into my team this week.
Dejan Lovren - He had an off game against Stoke in Week 10, but Lovren has been a consistent points-earner otherwise this season. He'll likely remain in my team this week as Southampton have a winnable match against Hull and the Croat is heavily involved in both defense and attack.
Mamadou Sakho - While I've seen some criticism against him for being at fault for one or both of Arsenal's goals, I feel that the Frenchman didn't put a foot wrong all game and put in one of Liverpool's only positive performances on the day. He's still relatively cheap and can earn points even without a clean sheet, as evidenced by his solid, if unspectacular, tally of 8 points in a losing effort in Week 10.
Sebastien Bassong - I know I said there weren't many good options from the matches not listed above, but I have a funny feeling about Bassong this week that won't go away. Big Sam seems content to keep his 4-6-0 formation at West Ham, and Bassong is always a threat on set pieces as well so I feel like he could be in for a big day with a possible clean sheet and maybe even a goal.
Neil Taylor - If you bought in on Taylor when his cost was in the 3 range, he represents a cheap option to allow you to free up the funds for Baines, Suarez, Aguero and others. Swansea have a winnable match against Stoke, and a clean sheet is a definite possibility. If nothing else, he's a solid bench option if you feel like taking a risk on a defender like Aleksandar Kolarov, who may not start but would be a great option against Sunderland.
David Silva/Yaya Toure/Samir Nasri - With another dominating performance under their belts with the 5-2 demolition of CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, it's going to be hard to bet against City continuing their blistering attacking form against hapless Sunderland. If you have any of the above trio on discount from last week, you'd do well to keep hold this week. I'd be most worried about Nasri losing his starting spot, but still feel he will be in the eleven.
Philippe Coutinho - The Southampton match aside, Liverpool seemed to be coping well in the absence of their Brazilian playmaker, but seeing him back in the team in the second half against Arsenal showed just how big an impact he brings to the team. His 12 fantasy points in 45 minutes were more than any of his teammates earned in 90, and that was against the league leaders. Add the potential absence of Steven Gerrard through injury--meaning Coutinho will likely be on set piece duty--and he'll definitely be in my team against Fulham.
Adam Lallana - The Southampton captain is always capable of putting in a man-of-the-match performance, even if it doesn't translate into fantasy points. At home against Hull represents a great opportunity for him to get back to his high scoring ways.
Oscar - He seems to be Mourinho's favorite among players he hasn't previously coached, and has been enjoying making the number 10 role his own at Chelsea. West Brom can be a tricky opponent, but coming off an embarrassing loss against Newcastle last weekend, I expect Chelsea to come out guns blazing. I wouldn't bet against the Brazilian providing a goal or an assist against Steve Clarke's men.
Aaron Ramsey/Mesut Özil - Not the match to buy in at retail if you've missed out on either of Arsenal's star performers this season, but the match against Liverpool proved these guys aren't going to be deterred no matter the opposition. I was too stubborn to pick up Ramsey early in the season and feel like I've missed my chance to pick him up, but the Welshman just keeps scoring and making me look like a fool. Hang onto him if you have him. Same goes for Özil, who is at the center of nearly every attacking move for the Gunners.
Sergio Aguero - Simply undroppable as a fantasy asset given his phenomenal form of late. Look for him to continue racking up the points against Sunderland this weekend. I have a feeling he'll be a popular captaincy option again this week.
Luis Suarez - Speaking of potential captains, the Uruguayan will likely pull on the armband for the majority of fantasy teams opting against Aguero this week. He was quiet against Arsenal, but I expect him to be back to his best against Martin Jol's men.
Romelu Lukaku - The knee injury he sustained when he clattered into Hugo Lloris is something every fantasy manager will be keeping tabs on, as Everton arguably have the best matchup this weekend. The big Belgian has been in white-hot form and will look to further cement his hero status in front of his new fans at Goodison Park.
Christian Benteke - The "other" big Belgian and his Aston Villa side also have a potentially excellent match-up this week as they face Cardiff at home. Honestly, this match could go either way; Cardiff have proven difficult to break down at home and could carry momentum from their huge derby victory over Swansea last week, but they could also find it difficult to build on the emotional high of such a result. Benteke hasn't been at his best since before his injury, so choose him at your own risk. He could earn 3 points or 30 this week and I wouldn't be surprised.
Eden Hazard - While Oscar has been in the spotlight for Chelsea, the Belgian (are you seeing a trend here?) winger has quietly been having a very good season. Many managers will find it difficult to pass on the trio of Aguero, Suarez and Lukaku this week, but Hazard is a tempting differential.
Daniel Sturridge - While Suarez has earned the plaudits since his return to the Liverpool squad, Sturridge is even with Aguero as joint-leader in goals scored in the league this season. With the attentions of Fulham's backline split between Suarez, Coutinho and Sturridge, the English striker could find himself in plenty of space in front of goal. Don't bet against him adding to his tally this weekend.
So there you have it. Hopefully I've done a passable job with my first of what will hopefully be many posts here. I'm usually playing a soccer game of my own on Sundays, so I often miss the Barn Door. That said, I have put together the following preliminary team for Week 11:
Pantilimon, Baines, Sakho, Lovren, Ozil, Yaya, Coutinho, Lallana, Suarez, Aguero (c), Lukaku.
I've got Neil Taylor and fillers on my bench. There's still plenty of time for shifting to take place, so this may or may not be my team come Saturday morning. Pantilimon, Baines and Lukaku may yet be dropped to accommodate Howard, Kolarov and Hazard, but I'll likely only pull the trigger on that move if Lukaku is doubtful come Friday.
How's your team coming together? Let me know who you're considering in the comments, and good luck this week!