The Boxing Day fixture list is perhaps the single greatest day of football of the season and although this year’s is ruined slightly by Arsenal having to postpone and there being no early kick off, there are still plenty of points opportunities to be grasped.
Fixtures Analysis: Manchester United host Newcastle in a match that has traditionally seen plenty of goals, whilst Everton host Wigan with a variety of home team players looking good choices in Fellaini’s absence. Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur all face tricky looking away fixtures, to Sunderland, Norwich and Aston Villa respectively. A few weeks ago these would have all looked good bets, but now you will have to pick very carefully with the home teams all in reasonable form. Finally Fulham vs Southampton sees some out of form defenders facing off against decent attacking units.
Transfers In: The festive fixture list is prime time for rotation, so plenty of care needs to be taken when picking players. This can make the Manchester teams more undesirable, as Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini are particularly hard to call. With Arsenal also out of action this gameweek, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea look reasonable bets, as they have limited scope for rotation in certain areas.
From Spurs, it’ll be worth not overloading on attackers as Aston Villa can be hard to break down at home. One of Gareth Bale (9.5) and Jermain Defoe (8.4) is probably cover enough, and bringing in Vertonghen (6.3) or even Hugo Lloris (5.9) at the back could be worth doing as they have tightened up in recent weeks.
From Chelsea, you have to be wary of both Norwich’s good form, and the Blues’ plethora of attacking midfielders. With that in mind, Fernando Torres (9.6) looks the best bet, as he is more or less undroppable given the current make up of their squad. David Luiz (6.5) also should be considered given his free kick duties and midfield role.
Manchester City will definitely be rotating, so any of their strikers is a gamble. Perhaps as Tevez and Aguero started the last match, Dzeko (7.3) is due a turn, but it’s certainly a risk.
From Manchester United, you’d expect that both Rooney (12.0) and van Persie (13.8) will face a rest at some stage, but until Ferguson confirms as such they’re clearly the best picks. The defence looks impossible to call at the moment, and Sunderland have found their goalscoring form recently, so probably wisest to steer clear.
Steven Pienaar (6.5) has found his touch recently, and is the best option in Fellaini’s absence. With Wigan struggling in front of goal, Leighton Baines (7.5) looks a contender for points at both ends, though Jagielka (6.0) is a cheaper option if you just want a defender.
Finally, Fulham and Southampton have both disappointed of late, but their attackers have a decent chance to find form as the two teams face off. Berbatov (7.1) is still the man to have from Fulham, whilst Puncheon (4.8) is a great bargain at Southampton.
Captain choice: Robin van Persie is the safest man to hand the armband too, as he shouldn’t be rested for Newcastle’s visit.
image: © Manchester United FC