Fantasy Football Scout: Gameweek 17

Paul Gilham

The Canaries fly up for a key game for Sunderland, whilst a stuttering Arsenal host a Chelsea side noticeably beaten midweek...

Emmanuele Giaccherini was the Sunderland player I tipped for success at Upton Park, the Italian had a decent game but ultimately failed to pick up anything more than a fairly meagre 3 points as Sunderland were shut out in a 0-0 draw that they dominated. The other player I picked to watch was Everton's on-loan Barcelona attacker Gerard Deulofeu. Although Everton thumped Fulham 4-1 in their match, Deulofeu failed to pick up any significant points with no goals and assists, before having to be withdrawn with a hamstring injury. His eventual haul was just 2 points.

As usual it seems, I was more successful in who I tipped to avoid. Jack Colback missed the game through illness, picking up 0 points, and Laurent Koscielny also picked up no points with the French central defender conceding two goals before exiting early with an injury.

This weekend Sunderland face the latest in a long line of crucial clashes, with Norwich heading to the Stadium of Light with points a necessity for both sides. Meanwhile at the top of the table Chelsea head to Arsenal with both sides recently on the end of bruising defeats...

Sunderland Player To Watch: Ki Sung-Yueng

The last few games have seen a change to the Sunderland midfield, with Lee Cattermole returning to the Sunderland midfield. His role at the base of the midfield has freed up Ki Sung-Yueng to move into a more advanced role where he's flourished. Against West Ham the Korean looked perhaps the most likely Sunderland player to create the opportunity to win the game, and he forced a fine save out of Jussi Jaaskeleinen after creating himself space for the shot inside the box. Although he was rested for the League Cup game against Chelsea, Ki was arguably even more impressive this game as he first had a good header palmed brilliantly away by Mark Schwarzer before coolly slotting home the winning goal in the 118th minute. I would be extremely surprised if Gus Poyet decided not to go with Cattermole and Ki again from the start on Saturday, and hopefully a poor Norwich side should provide a good opportunity for the South Korean to repeat his midweek heroics.

General Player To Watch: Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan's superb form over the last couple of months hardly needs recapping, and this week Liverpool host a visit of Cardiff side who have been quietly slipping down the table in recent weeks. Add to this their "eccentric" owner Vincent Tan choosing to publicly promise that his manager Malky Mackay would be given "not a penny" to improve the squad in the January window, and I can see an unsettled side being heavily beaten by a Liverpool side that will be looking to an impressive Christmas season to build a possible title push on. If Liverpool do put the Welsh side to the sword, then it's impossible to imagine Suarez not being at the heart of their success.

Sunderland Player To Avoid: Craig Gardner

Gardner was awful against Chelsea in midweek, with his replacement by Ki in the second half perhaps the most important moment in the match. Hopefully this will finally persuade Gus Poyet that the Brummie midfielder simply does not offer enough to operate in the centre of midfield. There can be very few people on Wearside who would be disappointed to see Gardner leave in January, and the obvious option if we can find someone mad enough to buy him would be to recall the much more useful Alfred N'Diaye from his loan spell in Turkey.

General Player To Avoid: Petr Cech

The Chelsea keeper has quietly been in pretty poor form this season, not advisable when Chelsea have La Liga's most impressive goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on their books, and the defense in front of him has hardly been much more impressive of late. Bearing this in mind, a trip away to an Arsenal side desperate to re-prove their title credentials with a win against a Premier League title rival is hardly ideal. The Gunners looked fatigued at the Etihad last weekend, but this isn't exactly surprising considering they had played a high stakes Champions League game away in Naples on Wednesday. This time they have had a week to recover and I'm backing this to follow the form of top of the table clashes of recent seasons and produce a stack of goals.

The Roker Report League

No real changes at the top of the league this week, Ian Randle stays at the top of the table on 1,043 points, with John Downing climbing to second on 1,030, and Rosli Mohamed falling down to third on 1,021.

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