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Ball Watching: No Wins Without Yaya

Mike Gottlieb

Mike Gottlieb is a podcast host and contributing writer at He is a supporter of the Colorado Avalanche, San Diego Chargers, and Chelsea FC. He also understands how random that is.

Arsenal's Rotation Begins Now

With Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) expected to return for the midweek fixture, the Gunners' cup overfloweth with midfield options. Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, and Aaron Ramsey (plus Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when he returns from his groin injury) all have potential value but cannot all start. Nor can all be expected to play 90 minutes, should they start. The decision to ride with any of these options must be accompanied by a slight doubt of them not starting or going the full 90. The question is: do any of them need the full 90 minutes to be effective?

Carles Gil On the Rise

Aston Villa's next six fixtures ooze potential (at Hull, v. Stoke, at Newcastle, v. West Brom, at Sunderland, v. Swansea) and Gil's injection into Paul Lambert's lineup has proven successful, thus far. The young Spaniard is a capable creator in the No. 10 role, and both he and whoever plays up top in the Villa lineup warrants consideration.

Grazniano Pelle is Not Worth It

The slumping Southampton striker has only scored twice in his last 16 games, but there are multiple other options that provide significant value. Eljero Elia and Sadio Mane have proven that they can score, including the latter netting in each of his last four starts. It is yet to be seen if both Mane and Elia will feature at the same time, but starting one of the two is a more valuable option than starting Pelle, and depending on the game provider, Elia and Mane can give that production from the midfield instead of at forward.

No Wins Without Yaya

Manchester City has not won a single game this season without Yaya Toure. With the Africa Cup of Nations only recently completed, the Ivorian won't feature midweek, but his return is imminent. When he does return, anticipate a significant uptick in both City's results and Sergio Aguero's goal scoring. Don't panic on Aguero and buy low, if you can.

West Brom Defender to Own

Joleon Lescott is the only West Brom defender worth owning right now. Andre Wisdom was the near consensus pick for the Baggies' defense under new manager Tony Pulis, but Wisdom was subbed off and left on the bench in the past two fixtures. The only defenders that have not been rotated have been Lescott and Gareth McAuley, but only the former has looked to be even a remote threat going forward on set pieces, giving him the slight edge in value.

Burnley on the Offensive

The Clarets have scored at least twice in all but one of the last six matches, including the two-goal comeback against Manchester City. With that in mind, Danny Ings has to be near the top of the value striker heap, but George Boyd at midfield also needs to be considered. Lastly, Kieran Trippier is still serving up phenomenal crosses, and it is only a matter of time before the assists start to accumulate.