Sorry for the lateness for the post, I have been recovering from my long flight home from SE Asia and the jet lag has put me into a stupor. I crossed the International Date Line so technically when I landed Wednesday Dec 11th @11am, it was actually Thursday Dec 12th in my body. Does this make me a time traveller? I wish I could have seen the results from the upcoming weekend and brought them back for all of us to enjoy, but you'll just have to settle for my Week 16 picks instead! Let's start!
Petr Cech - Although Chelsea have been far from defensively consistent this season, the match up and price is right to go in for the Blues shot stopper. At just 9.49mil, playing at home against Crystal Palace, the risk versus reward is solid enough for me to consider Cech the top keeper choice this week given his price. You definitely worry that Crystal Palace may get the dreaded 1 shot 1 goal at the Bridge, but all indications point to that being a tough ask. I expect the win and clean sheet here.
Jussi Jaaskelainen - Similarly priced to Cech at 8.43mil, but with a slightly riskier match up, Jussi offers another alternative if you don't trust the Blues at home. Although Sunderland have yet to click fully under Gus Poyet, I'd be a bit cautious with this pick\. But West Ham are playing at home and Jussi can expect to make some saves at least. I'd opt for Cech this game week, but the match up is good to warrant investment.
Tim Howard - My premium pick of the week and the most expensive at 14.91mil, but the American shot stopper is playing at home to an ineffectual Fulham side on the road. While Fulham will probably start to flourish under their new manager, Everton's form cannot be denied and I can't see Fulham running riot especially away. Everton have been very solid at Goodison Park this season and I expect a number of saves for Howard with the win to boot.
Marshall - The Cardiff keeper makes his first appearance into my player picks this season and at 7.65mil is my differential keeper of the week. Cardiff City are generally strong at home and playing host to a West Brom side in a bit of a slump. This one could easily end 0-0.
John Terry - The most productive of Chelsea's defenders with 2 goals and an assist already to his name this season. His impressive form is reflected in his price tag, 12.44mil, but the former England captain will be your most experienced way into the Chelsea back line. We all know what kind of effect he can have from set pieces and corners. I think this is a week to try and double up on the Blues defense, so which ever way yo decide to go, at least one of Terry or Cech should be represented in your side.
Kyle Walker - My premium defender pick of the week, albiet with a much tougher match up than most. Walker has taken over most of the corners and set pieces adding ample attacking points to his already advanced defending philosophy. At 17.52mil, he is quite expensive, but when has Liverpool been the most solid defensively as of late? Given his attacking returns and set piece duty, if you have the cash you could do a lot worse than picking up Walker at home.
Bryan Oviedo - I hate recommending this pick on the grounds I do not have him at his barn door price, but even at the much loftier 12.94mil, this game week represents a match where the price should be worth it. He has been in excellent form since taking over for the injured Leighton Baines and has been showing his attacking qualities along with his defensive duties. Fulham shouldn't offer much to stop his late forays into the box or attacking runs down the left so I expect a good return from him this game week.
Steven Caulker - Playing at home to modest opposition and seemingly racking up phantom points regardless of the clean sheet. That being said, he is a bit pricey at 14.68mil, but like I stated above, Cardiff are tough at home and his presence in set piece situations means Caulker is always a threat. I do expect a decent chance at the clean sheet so if you have the money then look no further than the former Spurs man.
Curtis Davies - Hull City (or about to be Hull Tigers) have been another team relatively solid at home this season and at 10.06mil, Davies offers a perfect way into a possible clean sheet this week. While it is a bit of a risk given the boost Stoke City will surely have after toppling Chelsea at home, Davies has been fairly solid in his defensive point production to warrant inclusion with or with out the clean sheet. He is also much in the same vein as Terry or Caulker in that he makes himself a target for set pieces.
Phil Jones - Not that Manchester United have been anything close to their normal defensive selves this season, but Jones is currently plying his trade in the midfield under Moyes. At only 9.46mil and coming off the back of scoring the winning goal in the Champions League, Jones should be full of confidence going into a tricky away match to Villa. While I don't necessarily expect a clean sheet, the United man should at least be productive enough to cover his cost. I am currently debating between him and Davies at the moment.
Oscar - Returned from injury in time to give 67mins to Chelsea in the Champions League, I can't help but think he starts again at the weekend. With Lampard playing the full 90min, I expect him to drop out, making Oscar the much safer option. He has been Chelsea's most consistent midfielder and should slot right back into his preferred no. 10 role. With 5 league goals already to his name, 13.41mil seems an acceptable price given the match up. He will surely be in my side given the fact Yahoo continually refuse to appropriately label Attacking Midfield players like Hazard, Mata, and Schurrle in their correct position. So frustrating!
Hatem Ben Arfa - With Cabaye suspended for Yellow Card accumulation, HBA should be set to deputize in his compatriots absence. Not that he has been any where near our expectations given the quality he does possess (he is much like Taarabt), but at 7.8mil the risk seems acceptable.
Michu - Back earlier than expected and led the line against Hull City last game week, Michu offers a decent differential this week. At 11.35mil and away to Norwich, Michu should get at least a few chances against a weak Canaries defense. He hasn't produced the same performances or attacking display he did last season, but we will only need one game to remind us of those qualities, will this be the game?
Adam Lallana - The young England midfielder is growing more and more influential in each match he plays. It surely won't be long until another top club comes knocking at Southampton's door, but for now Lallana's focus will be on Newcastle. Although both teams are in solid form, Southampton will need that little bit of extra creativity that only Lallana can provide if they hope to over turn Newcastle at St. James... err ...the Sports Direct Arena (still hate that switch). At 15.29mil, he can fill the boots of the premium picks that will be absent this week in the likes of Gerrard and Cabaye.
Samir Nasri - Not that you should be running out to pile up players against Arsenal, even though they visit the Etihad this week, but Nasri at 10.61mil playing his old club is an interesting pick. We have long known at the blog that players relish the chance to score against their former sides and Nasri will have a lot to prove after a couple up and down seasons with the Sky Blues. Nasri comes into this match in the best form he has had since his move from Arsenal and no one will doubt his ability to unlock the Arsenal defense. I am highly considering him as a dark horse pick this week.
Ramsey/Ozil - A lot of debate will go into this one. While on one hand the match up is probably the worst it could be - away to City at the Etihad - but both midfielders have been almost undroppable all season. If I had to make a comment on this, seeing as I have both, Ozil is probably the one that should be moved to the bench given his away displays this season and Ramsey had more of a rest mid week. Either way it will be a very tough call and I can't predict which Arsenal side will show up, especially with some doubts now occupying my head after a subdued display in the 2-0 loss to Napoli. Right now both are still in my starting 11.
Phillipe Coutinho - With Steven Gerrard likely to be out for up to 6 weeks, all the midfield creativity will fall on the young Brazilian. With the likely addition of all corners into his locker, Coutinho will look to continue to his impressive returns at a lofty price of 13.95mil. Although, given the match away to Spurs should prove a very difficult task, the midfielder's trickery will need to be on song if Liverpool wish to take all 3 pts. This may not be a time to buy in at full price, but hold your discount (if any) you have on the young Red.
Whittingham - Playing on the flank and taking most of the set pieces, Whittingham will provide a decent chance of attacking returns against a faltering West Brom side. At only 9.18mil, the Cardiff midfielder tops my differential picks list for this week and will be crucial to getting Cardiff back on track after a disappointing loss to Crystal Palace last week.
Barkley - He has been a viable bench rotation player for much of the season so far, but the young England midfielder has been growing more influential in his displays under Martinez. Against a weak Fulham side on the road, Barkley represents a perfect option this week to join your starting 11. His fine display against Arsenal will surely warrant his inclusion from Martinez, who had previously stated he would be cautious in Barkley's game time as to not fatigue the youngster. But 5.21mil hardly seems like much given his quality and the match up this week.
Hazard/Mata - Frustratingly both Chelsea Attacking Midfielders are labeled as forwards by Yahoo but both represent good value this week at home against Crystal Palace. At 19.2mil, Hazard is a very expensive pick but should prove too much for Crystal Palace to handle while Mata is much more modestly priced at 12.91mil and should come back into the side after being an unused substitute against Steaua Bucharest midweek. I can't see Chelsea walking away from this match without at least 3 goals.
Lukaku - The on loan Chelsea striker is having yet another prolific season away from the Bridge and must be in your consideration for the visit of Fulham. Lukaku relishes teams that like to put up a physical defense and should get plenty of opportunities to add to his already impressive goal haul. A bit pricey at 15.78mil but should be worth every penny this week. He is currently in my side.
Deulofeu - Another frustratingly mis-allocated Attacking Midfielder listed as a forward. But the young Spanish winger has been sensational in his limited time under Martinez and is pushing for a start after impressively scoring the equalizer against Arsenal. At 11.06mil he is too pricey for me to occupy a valuable forward slot. But that shouldn't stop you from jumping in if you have a strong hunch.
Suarez - He's in your side and will most likely be on PK's in Gerrard's absence. He should probably just be your captain every week in this form.
Robin van Persie - The Dutchman has been less than impressive this season given his injury troubles but has still scored 7 goals. Having returned to the starting line up mid week since coming back from injury, the Dutchman will be looking to get United back on track against an up and down Villa side. Given his current price of 20.3mil and his spot kick duties, I prefer him to his more inform strike partner Rooney.
Aguero - More of a hold than by in at retail, but given his current form, no one could argue the inclusion of the Argentine this game week.
Christian Benteke - My Dark Horse pick of the week and a cheeky punt at 10.42mil. Not saying he has been in good form, but if there was ever a game to re-announce himself to the premier league it would be this one. I can't say this pick will work out, but it is oddly interesting isn't it?
That's it for me with another player picks in the books! My current side is a total mess but I will be looking to pick heavy from Chelsea and Everton while looking to keep some of the solid discounts.
UPDATE: My side currently looks like: Cech, Terry, P.Jones, McCartney, Ozil, Ramsey, Oscar, Barkley, Rooney, Lukaku, Suarez (capt) w/ R. Morrison, Demichelis, Kelly, Lloris on my bench. I still have Coutinho, Caulker, and Torres behind the scenes and a bit hesitant to pull the trigger on this side. It will all depend on team news and who I feel confident will start up top for Chelsea. But Rooney's goal tally against Villa gives me consideration.
Who have you brought in? How are your Week 16 team's working out?