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Late Fitness Check - Week 6

By The Numbers Week 9

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Rob Allen's back from another corking week wondering what to do if Aguero is crocked

The storyline for Week 6, as it has been all season, is about the forwards.  These things tend to go in cycles and the current cycle sees a lot of potentially prolific forwards at fairly reasonable prices fighting it out for spots in managers' squads while those same managers struggle to find interesting midfielders and defenders.  This is a far cry from the salad days of the winger when managers were looking at David Beckham, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Ryan Giggs, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, Mort Gamst Pedersen, Harry Kewell, Steven Gerrard, Fabrice Fernandes, Laurent Robert, David Bentley, Everton-era Mikel Arteta, young Cristiano Ronaldo, Boro-era Stuart Downing, and others as consistent 10+ point scorers. Five matches into this season and only four midfielders have played all five matches at a rate at or over 10 fantasy points per match in the Yahoo scoring system: Aaron Ramsey, Yaya Toure, Robbie Brady and Paulinho.  We can give Mesut Ozil a pass for being at 15 per match only two matches into his Premier League career.  We can also give Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson passes for being a shade over 10 points/match over four matches.  Still, for a game that used to be dominated by attacking midfielders, the notion that you'd have no 10+ point per match midfielders at Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Everton (presumably 4 of the eventual Top 8 teams in the table) is pretty amazing.

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Back to this week's injuries and suspensions and why I started in on the topic of forwards in the first place.  A few of the early season studs at the forward position - Sergio Aguero and Christian Benteke most notably - will be absent this weekend while a couple others who have been hot early - Daniel Sturridge and Olivier Giroud finally failed to find the net last weekend and have both been the subject of reports that they may be wearing down a little bit.  Neither Giroud nor Sturridge seems a risk to be rotated or miss out due to injury but the combination of their first goalless matches and the reports of fatigue/minor complaints is enough to create concern when so many other options are available. Finally, we have the return of Luis Suarez which is big news on so many levels.  And with that, here's the match-by-match injury and suspension news with fantasy line-up analysis. 

Tottenham v Chelsea - Most of the questions here that are fantasy-relevant are rotation-related and not injury related. Danny Rose is back and Kaboul is doubtful but I doubt either of those guys (or anyone from Spurs defense) were in your plans against a top team (even one struggling a bit with their attacking like Chelsea has been). Ramires (another unlikely fantasy pick this week) is also a question mark due to health. 

Aston Villa v Manchester City - The absence of Sergio Aguero opens what is almost a certain spot for Negredo and a potential spot for League Cup brace scorer Jovetic which makes Negredo a very strong option and Jovetic at least worth considering.  The other big news here is the absence of Christian Benteke which makes Manchester City's defense a stronger bet on the road.  The value of sure starters like Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart should be boosted.  With City's defenders like Gael Clichy and Micah Richards returning to health, Kolarov and Zabaleta are less certain of their spots so act accordingly (which means either don't pick them or make sure you have a defender who will get you points on the bench in the event that the one you pick doesn't start).  Finally, David Silva has lost the race to be fit for this weekend meaning that Samir Nasri is likely to maintain his place in the line-up.

Fulham v Cardiff City - Not much fantasy-relevant news here unless you were dying for an Aaron Hughes return in hopes of Fulham getting a home clean sheet. 

Hull City v West Ham United - The news for both clubs is mostly the same as last week with Koren out for Hull City and Carroll and Cole still missing for the Hammers.  The only possible returnee is Stuart Downing for Big Sam's men but even this news is of marginal interest because it doesn't sound like it is 100% that he will start and even if he does, it isn't like there's a great target man for him to cross to.

Manchester United v West Bromwich - Robin van Persie is available again which is big news.  The rest of the team news for this one looks a lot like "blah, blah, blah" in comparison. 

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Nothing to see here, please move along.

Swansea City v Arsenal - Arsenal have the typical array of long term absences (Podolski and the Ox) confirmed absences (Cazorla and Walcott being the most notable) and late fitness checks (Ramsey and Flamini) while Swansea's only major issue is a doubt over Ashley Williams.  The only real question here is for those who have Ramsey at a steep discount (I'm one of these).  My approach is that I'm keeping him, hoping for the best and making sure that my first substitute slot is someone who will actually play as opposed to being a super-low-priced benchwarmer. 

Check out Nik's Player PicksThe Week 6 Danger Zone | First XI: Week 5

Stoke City v Norwich City - Not a great deal of note here.  Matty Etherington and Sebastien Bassong are both doubts but neither should be very high on your fantasy radar.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Steven Fletcher is out for Sunderland which will definitely help the cause of the Liverpool defense and Simon Mignolet.  The Sunderland forward will be out for somewhere between a month and a month and a half.  For Liverpool, Luis Suarez comes in to hopefully make up for the absence of Philippe Coutinho.  Coutinho's absence has seen Liverpool's attack grind to a halt but Suarez's creativity has the potential to reinvigorate the attack and create chances not only for Suarez himself but also for Sturridge and Gerrard.

Everton v Newcastle - Nearly all of the big names that could feature in this one are fit to do so and should be considered by fantasy managers.  Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are the two exceptions with both at least uncertain.  

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