After yet another international break, the Premier League returns again this weekend and so does the Best XI. Before highlighting some of Week 12’s potential fantasy difference makers, let’s brush up on what went down before the latest round of international play.
Week 11’s goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, allowed just one goal as Southampton topped Hull City 4-1, a game in which the shot-stopper made only one save.
In defense, Ashley Cole was disappointingly dropped for Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with West Brom, while Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta only featured as a 71st minute substitute as his team shockingly fell at Sunderland. On the bright side, Phil Jagielka earned a clean sheet for Everton’s performance against Crystal Palace.
Similar to the defensive unit, the last Best XI’s midfield failed to live up to expectations. The trio of Mesut Ozil, Samir Nasri, and Ross Barkley each featured on scoreless sides, while Kevin Nolan picked up an assist to go with a yellow card versus Norwich City.
Up front, both Sergio Aguero and Daniel Sturridge surprisingly were held without goals despite playing some of the league’s poorer defenses, but Wayne Rooney continued to torment Arsenal by providing the decisive assist in Manchester United’s win.
In all, it was a fairly upsetting week of selections that sets the stage for a bounce back attempt in Week 12.
Speaking of which, Week 12 sees all 20 Premiership sides in action per usual, with some highly competitive fixtures at the top of the table. League leaders Arsenal face another firm test as they host third-place Southampton on Saturday, while the Merseyside Derby of second-place Liverpool and sixth-place Everton kicks off the weekend. Then, on Sunday, Manchester City welcomes Tottenham, with the latter just one point ahead of the former.
Those games seem difficult to project, so it may be best to take advantage of other matchups to ensure more reliable fantasy success.
As another consideration, be sure to confirm the playing status of your squad selections in light of the recent international obligations, as some players could be limited by injury, fatigue, or rigorous traveling schedules.
Without further ado, here’s the potential Best XI for Week 12 of the Premier League:
Petr Cech (Chelsea) – Cech is due for a clean sheet. The keeper started this season with three scoreless outings in Chelsea’s first five league games, but has failed to pick up a clean sheet since late September. An all-London battle with West Ham could provide the occasion for Cech to regain his usually stingy defensive ways in goal.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United) – Evra put together a man-of-the-match display in United’s win over Arsenal before the international break and followed up that strong form by helping France keep a clean sheet in their World Cup-clinching win over Ukraine this week. The left-back faces Cardiff City this weekend, a matchup that favors the Red Devils, winners of four of their last five.
Curtis Davies (Hull City) – After spending last season in the Championship, Hull City has fared well for themselves in their return season to the Premier League, especially at home. The Tigers are undefeated in their five games at the KC Stadium this term and have only allowed one goal at their home ground. With Crystal Palace - a side that has failed to score in six of their last eight matches - visiting this weekend, Davies and Hull seem to have an above-average clean sheet opportunity.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City) – The international break may be just what Stoke City needs to regroup. The Potters are winless in their last eight league games, but Saturday’s match against Sunderland has bounce-back potential. Sure, the Black Cats have won two of their last three, but Stoke is still tough to break at home, evidenced by the mere three goals they’ve allowed at the Britannia Stadium so far.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Following a sluggish start to this season, Hazard has now scored four goals in Chelsea’s last five Premier League games, including last gameweek’s controversial stoppage-time penalty kick against West Brom. This weekend, the Blues travel to Upton Park for a London Derby and the side should be eager to improve their lowly record of just one win away from home so far this campaign. Along with that, the Hammers are currently short on defenders.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) – The little Spaniard missed much of the early season due to injury, but he has rekindled his creative ways since returning to the Arsenal fold. Cazorla scored for Spain over the break and although he’s pitted against Southampton’s league-leading defense, it would be unexpected if the Gunners failed to score in consecutive games, dating back to their loss at Manchester United.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle) – Coming off an inspired victory with France, Cabaye is presented with a favorable matchup against Norwich City this gameweek. The midfielder will be looking to help Newcastle extend their current win-streak to three games and could at least be in-store for a clean sheet, since his club has held the Canaries scoreless in each the of last three games between the two teams.
Adam Lallana (Southampton) – One of the standout performers to this point in the season, Lallana is coming off consecutive starts for England. His Southampton side have a big opportunity ahead of them this weekend when they visit Arsenal in a battle of two top-three sides, so look for Lallana to put his best foot forward.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United) – Despite the Dutchman pulling out of his country’s two games over the break due to minor toe and groin injuries, van Persie is expected to be rested enough to feature against Cardiff City this Sunday. With a goal in four straight Premier League tilts, selecting van Persie is worth the risk of his recent ailments.
Loic Remy (Newcastle) – The Frenchman has been on fine form this season, scoring seven goals already, including one in each of Newcastle’s last two games. This Saturday, the Magpies host Norwich City, who have allowed more goals (14) on the road than any other team thus far. Remy should see his share of chances.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – In his six games since returning from suspension, the teething Suarez has only failed to register a goal or an assist just once. With a huge Merseyside Derby looming, Suarez will look to continue his assault of Everton, being that he’s scored in three of his four career matches against the rival side.
Davies – Evra – Shawcross
Hazard – Cazorla – Cabaye – Lallana
van Persie – Remy - Suarez