Following another international break hiatus, the Best XI came back to produce commendable achievements in Week 12. Although one selection failed to feature, last week’s side included three goals, two assists, and four clean sheets.
Between the posts, Petr Cech only needed to make one save in order to prevent London rivals West Ham from scoring, marking Chelsea’s first clean sheet since late September.
In defense, Patrice Evra made up for his Red Devils conceding twice to Cardiff City by scoring a 45th minute header from a corner kick. Then, an 81st minute goal prevented Curtis Davies’ Hull City from keeping a clean sheet, but Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross made a last man tackle to help allow his team to hold Sunderland scoreless.
In terms of midfielders, Eden Hazard assisted one of his team’s three goals and picked up clean sheet points versus West Ham, while Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye also provided an assist in his side’s win over Norwich City. Then despite being substituted after 70 minutes, Santi Cazorla earned points for his part in holding Southampton scoreless, but the Saints’ Adam Lallana could not crack the scoresheet even though his two shots Saturday forced saves.
Up front, a risky Robin van Persie selection backfired mightily after the Dutchman was excluded from Manchester United’s squad due to minor toe and groin injuries. However, Loic Remy took just two minutes to find the back of the net for Newcastle, while Luis Suarez scored for the fourth time in five career matches against Everton, bolstering the strike-force in light of the van Persie misfire.
The Week 12 team’s respectable showing serves as a boost ahead of a crowded holiday season schedule that could make squad selections even trickier. Many teams will face a combination of weekend and midweek games for the next month or so, which will likely cause managers to rotate their teams. As such, shrewd roster attention will need to be paid in order to preserve maximum point potential.
In Gameweek 13, all 20 Premier League teams play, but their managers will also have an eye on the full slate of games scheduled between Tuesday and Wednesday. Additionally, some of the top teams are coming off midweek Champions or Europa league matches.
Nevertheless, there are some tasty ties this weekend that most notably include Chelsea-Southampton and Tottenham-Manchester United near the top of the table and the London Derby of West Ham-Fulham and Norwich City-Crystal Palace in relegation zone battles.
All being said, let’s examine some of this weekend’s more promising fantasy figures:
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) – Although he allowed three goals to Everton last weekend, Mignolet also made an astounding nine saves. This Sunday, he’ll face a Hull City side that should be on their heels most of the match against free-scoring Liverpool, so Mignolet may only need to make a few saves to keep a clean sheet.
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) – The giant German has kept a clean sheet in each of his past five matches across all competitions for Arsenal, including three Premier League games. Mertesacker will look to extend his defensive streak against Cardiff City this weekend.
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) – Coming off a clean sheet against Tottenham, Zabaleta and City host a Swansea City team this weekend that will be without both Wilfried Bony and Michu due to injury. As such, the Swans will be short in attack, which bodes well for the Citizens, who have allowed just twice at the Etihad Stadium this season.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea) – With the Blues having kept a clean sheet twice in the past week, Chelsea hosts a Southampton outfit coming off a scoreless appearance in London at Arsenal last weekend. Manager Jose Mourinho should be demanding an improved performance from their lackluster midweek Champions League win and given the narrow margin between Chelsea and Southampton, the home side should put forth a focused defensive effort.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City) – In six home games this season, Toure’s City team have scored 26 goals compared to just two allowed. Being so, he’s a fine candidate for offensive and defensive points versus Swansea City on Sunday.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – Since missing a month and a half due to a shoulder injury, Coutinho has returned to attempt 14 shots in his last three games, placing seven on target and scoring one goal. Liverpool figures to dominate possession at Hull City, so the Brazilian should be active offensively, in addition to having a solid clean sheet opportunity.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – One of the best players of this season, Ramsey returns to his home country of Wales to face his former club Cardiff City this weekend. After scoring and assisting at the Premiership’s other Welsh club, Swansea City, earlier this campaign, Ramsey will look to remind the home supporters why he was so coveted during his time at Cardiff.
Ravel Morrison (West Ham) – Pitted against a Fulham squad that has lost four straight, Morrison, West Ham’s leader with three goals this season, should be vital in this London Derby. The Hammers and Cottagers currently sit even on points, so Saturday’s duel will require the 20-year-old to make his mark on the match if West Ham wants to avoid the relegation zone.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – “Kun” has been simply sensational this season. The little Argentine boasts 16 goals and six assists across all competitions for City this season. Along with that, the Citizens have scored 13 goals in their past two home league matches, so expect Aguero to torment Swansea City come Sunday.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) – Since returning from a groin injury over a month ago, Benteke has surprisingly failed to score in his last five games for Aston Villa. However, with Sunderland’s league-worst defense visiting Villa Park this weekend, Benteke has a golden opportunity to break his scoring drought. Further, the Belgian netted a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – Despite missing the season’s first four games due to suspension, Suarez has picked up where he left off as one of the Premier League’s very best strikers. With nine goals in seven league appearances, Suarez seems to score regardless of his opponent, so Hull City’s stout home defensive record probably won’t impede him.
Mertesacker – Zabaleta – Cahill
Toure – Coutinho – Ramsey – Morrison
Aguero – Benteke - Suarez