Many Premier League managers are franticly chasing leads during the January transfer window and in the fantasy football stakes it’s no difference. Depending on your chosen platform, wholesale changes are possible to some this month and gameweek 22 may be a popular option due to an extra fixture being played next Tuesday.
As ever we suggest an XI tipped for success this weekend based on statistics, form and our unique match forecasts, this time opting for a 3-4-3 formation.
This week we've gone for Simon Mignolet in between the sticks, whose Sunderland side host Sam Allardyce's West Ham. While the Londoners have adapted well on their return to the top flight, they have struggled on the road, with no side scoring fewer goals away from home than the Hammers' 5. In turn only 6 sides, all of whom are among the top 8 in the league, have a better defensive record at home than Sunderland (12 conceded).
With two games in this gameweek against teams that Chelsea fans will expect to pick up wins, it is hard to overlook a number of the Blues' players this week. We've opted for David Luiz in our backline, facing Stoke and Southampton in the coming days as he continues to play in a holding midfield role. Their trip to the Britannia this weekend looks tough on paper but in 9 Premier League encounters between the sides the Potters have only netted 3 goals and never beaten Chelsea.
Choosing an Arsenal defender as the Gunners prepare to face champions Man City may seem strange but recent history suggests that the visitors will struggle to break the hosts’ resolve on Super Sunday. Mancini's side haven't scored in any of their last 5 Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium, so we've picked Per Mertesacker. The German could be a threat at the opposite end against a City defence that have conceded a higher proportion of their goals against tally from set pieces than any other team in the league (58%).
Completing our three man defence is Everton's Leighton Baines, with the Toffees hosting Michael Laudrup's Swansea this weekend. The home side are deemed likely to score from a set piece situation, with few better over a dead ball than the England full-back. They are also likely to create a lot of scoring opportunities and no player in the Premier League has made more key passes this season than Baines' 69, so the left-back may be an expensive but effective option in gameweek 22.
Juan Mata takes his place on the wing in our XI and like Luiz before him, is likely to play twice in the coming days. In the form that the Spaniard has shown this season he may well be a decent choice for captain in turn, with the more immediate fixture against Stoke potentially playing in his favour. The Blues are likely to score from a direct free-kick on Saturday according to the WhoScored match forecast, and only Robert Snodgrass has netted more from dead ball situations than Mata in the league this season (2).
On the opposite flank we're tipping Gareth Bale to be the thorn in former boss Harry Redknapp's side as Spurs make the short trip to West London to face QPR. The Welshman returns from suspension an aggrieved man after feeling that he has been harshly labelled as a diver in recent weeks and will want to do his talking on the pitch. With Tottenham seen as likely to score on the counter and from a long shot this weekend, Bale seems an obvious choice, with AVB's side only netting fewer away goals than league leaders United this season (22).
For the same reasons that Leighton Baines was chosen before, Everton teammate Marouane Fellaini barges his way into our line-up again this week. If Baines can indeed create the chances that the forecast suggests he will be able to, than the Belgian won't be far away from the action in and around the box. If the Toffees do score from a set piece situation as touted, the smart money will be on Fellaini to be on the end of a Baines delivery.
Our fourth and final midfielder has also been chosen with multiple fixtures in mind as Southampton are the other team to play twice this week. An impressive goalscoring display at Arsenal has led us to pick Gaston Ramirez this week, who, when playing in behind lone striker Rickie Lambert, has impressed since his big money move from Italy. With much of the creative burden on his shoulders since the injury to captain Adam Lallana, Ramirez will be keen to add to modest tallies of 3 goals and 2 assists in matches against Villa and Chelsea in gameweek 22.
Recently tipped with a move to QPR, we're backing Peter Odemwingie to put himself in the shop window after what has been a stop-start opening to the season for the Nigerian. The blow to Hungarian Zoltan Gera, who will miss the rest of the season through injury, should see Odemwingie's chances in the side improve, potentially starting away at Reading this weekend. The Baggies are deemed likely to score from a wing play situation, and with the 31 year old set to continue in a wider role, he may be in the thick of the action at the Madjeski.
It seems impossible to leave the league's top scorer Robin van Persie out at the moment due to the Dutchman's deadly form in front of goal right now, and he may come back to haunt a familiar foe on Sunday. United host Liverpool in what Paul Scholes claimed was still the club's biggest rivalry, and van Persie's recent record against the Reds is superb. With 8 goals in his last 8 league games this season, he has netted 4 in his last 4 appearances against Liverpool and will look to move United further ahead at the top this weekend.
The final player in our XI is Fulham's Bryan Ruiz, with the Costa Rican set to face Roberto Martinez's Wigan side on Saturday. The 27 year old has played the role of creator more than goalscorer this season, with 6 assists to his name, but may add to his 3 goal haul against the Latics. The hosts are tipped to score from a long shot in the match forecast and two of Ruiz's goals have come from range this season, so Craven Cottage could be set for another screamer this weekend.