The Dirtsheet: Gameweek 20

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

While my own personal team has been decimated by injury and suspension in recent weeks, at least I know I am not the only one being affected by the festive turmoil. To make matters even worse, it seems that a number of doubts regarding the fitness of some key players have surfaced in recent hours, none more so than a shoulder problem for Theo Walcott – a player who was heavily transferred in this gameweek. EDIT: Walcott has now been seen training today so should start!

So no Suarez in the Dirtsheet this week. Thankfully, I have not lost my mind. I have left Suarez out of the Dirtsheet this weekand the reasons are simple. First and foremost, almost everyone that is currently playing has him (1000 of the top 1000 players have him), and if they do not, it is for a very good reason. Secondly, he has a home tie against Hull which is almost certainly going to result in double figures – no point in debating this any further. Finally, and most importantly, we have a lot of serious doubts and rotation risks this week. I want to give everyone three/four good striking options who should start this gameweek – no point in wasting a slot on Suarez as it’s painfully obvious he would be selected otherwise…let’s say that, for this week only, Suarez has transcended the need for a Dirtsheet place – if you don’t have him by now, I cannot keep advising you to do so!

Here’s the Dirtsheet for Gameweek 20! Happy New Year all!!!

THE DIRTSHEET: GAMEWEEK 20

The Eleven – (3-4-3)

Vito Mannone (LIV)
Opponent – Aston Villa (H)
With Westwood still injured for Sunderland, I’m opting for Mannone to keep a clean sheet at home to Villa. Mannone seems to attract bonus points when Sunderland keep a clean sheet, and they do look defensively solid. Villa have just 2 goals in their last 5 games, and so another clean sheet for the Black Cats is highly likely.

Per Mertesacker (ARS)
Opponent – Cardiff City (H)
Cardiff City look to be in turmoil and unfortunately there seems to be no signs in this changing soon. Although there are a number of doubts about many of the Arsenal attacking options, there can be little doubts surrounding Mertesacker taking the field. Another super performance against Newcastle saw him claim 3 bonus – it seems that anytime Arsenal keep a clean sheet, he is in the mix for bonus points. Arsenal should keep the Bluebirds at bay and a ninth clean sheet for the season is a good bet.

Seamus Coleman (EVE)
Opponent – Stoke City (A)
Coleman’s recent form in front of goal makes no sense. He is playing deeper han he did last year and his stats are not significantly different from the last 2 seasons, but it seems that stats are going out the window when it comes to the Irishman. He is playing with confidence and belief well beyond his years. His 4 goals in 7 games makes up for Everton’s pretty poor recent defensive run – they have no clean sheets in 5 games. Even if Stoke score (which is possible as the Toffees will be without Phil Jagielka and possibly Sylvain Distin), Coleman will look to expose a defense that crumbled against Newcastle and Spurs in successive gameweeks.

Joel Ward (CPL)
Opponent – Norwich City (H)
Crystal Palace showed what they were capable of last gameweek when they held the usually free-scoring Manchester City to just a single goal. It’s easy to forget that Palace have 3 clean sheets in their last 6 games, and look very solid at home. Norwich City have been very reliant on the services of Gary Hooper, and it will come to a great relief to Palace that the player is nursing a minor muscle injury which could see him miss the game – certainly Chris Hughton will not want to risk his main goalscorer if there is any lingering doubt. Even if he is fit, I still fancy Palace to hold the Canaries at bay. Ward is playing centre midfield at the moment so might be more likely to get involved in the Palace attack than his defensive colleagues.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Opponent – Cardiff City (H)
UPDATE: It appears that Walcott took full part in training today and wrestles Jordan Hendeson’s place away from him. Walcott’s form and fixture is excellent, and with 4 goals plus an assist in his last 4 games, Cardiff may have a tough day ahead of them.

Eden Hazard (CHE)
Opponent – Southampton (A)
Unfortunately for the Saints, the fortress that had been built at St. Marys earlier in the season have been breached multiple times since then and now faces another bombardment at the hands of Chelsea. Eden Hazard gets my pick after scoring a superb 10 points last week – that’s 3 double-figure hauls in his last 6 games. At £10.2m, he’s not cheap, but he seems to be rotation proof.

Yaya Toure (MCI)
Opponent – Swansea (A)
After being rested against Crystal Palace at home, It’s pretty certain that Toure will start. In the absence of Aguero, he will be on penalties and will take a fair share of direct free kicks. The loss of David Silva will be a boost for Toure – he usually seems to fare better when Silva is out. With 4 goals and 6 bonus points in his last 6 games, I think Toure will fare well against the Swansea back line.

Kevin Nolan (WHM)
Opponent – Fulham (A)
With so many managers looking to use their wildcard next week, it’s the perfect time for a little gamble – step forward Mr. Nolan. He has 1 goal and 3 assists in his last 2 games and faces a Fulham side that look, quite frankly, awful at the back. A warning: Nolan is on 4 yellows so he needs to avoid a yellow tonight or he will be banned for next gameweek, but as a gamble, he is perfect for tomorrow.

Lucas Podolski (ARS)
Opponent – Cardiff City (H)
With injuries and doubts destroying the Gunners attack, it’s time for a Podolski to stake a claim for a starting spot at the expense of Giroud. His limited game time have shown how effective he actually is – 3 goals, 1 assist and 5 bonus points in a little over 100 minutes so far this season. He clearly has pedigree and will be delighted to be facing a Cardiff City side that could easily capitulate tomorrow.

Alvaro Negredo/Romelu Lukaku (MCI)/(EVE)
Opponent – Swansea (A)/Stoke (A)
I’ve decided to give two options here for the different tastes of the FPL community. One is consistent (Negredo) and one is explosive (Lukaku). Having been rested for the Crystal Palace game last week, I’m backing the form of Negredo to breach the Swansea back line. While not an explosive striker, his consistency is perhaps a comfort to managers who will probably take every point they can get amid a raft of suspensions, injuries and down affecting a multitude of high-cost players. Sometimes, consistency is preferred to explosive returns – this could be one of those weeks. However, if you want an explosive option, then look no further than Lukaku. He has been completely out of form but scored his first goal in 6 last gameweek. Does this mean we might see a return to form against a Stoke side who have been leaking goals and who are missing Robert Huth? Who knows with Lukaku – he could do nothing or he could get a hattrick. So depending on your own preference, you now have a pick to suit your style!

Wayne Rooney (MUN)
Opponent – Tottenham Hotspurs (H)
I think Rooney will be ok to start this crucial game at Old Trafford on Wednesday afternoon. United must win to keep their title hopes alive, and I would be confident that a victory ofver Spurs would he a good way to end a year that can only be described as rocky for the Red Devils. If Rooney is even 90% fit, he will start this one. With 4 double-figure returns in his last 6 games, it shows how ingetral he is to the United attack right now.

The Captain – Luis Suarez (LIV) –
While I have explained why Suarez does not make the Eleven, he still gets my captaincy for the gameweek. Hull at home is a great fixture for the Uruguayan, and I would be stunned if Suarez did not get on the score sheet.

The Clean Sheets
I’m looking to Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Sunderland to return clean sheets.

The Unusual Suspects
Defender: Phil Bardsley (SUN)
Midfielder: Samir Nasri (MUN)
Striker: Marouane Chamakh (CPL)
Captain: Lucas Podolski (ARS)

And that’s a wrap! It’s quick, it’s informative and it’s helpful. It’s the Dirtsheet, and it’s here every Friday! Please follow us on Twitter and share! Every follower counts!

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