There was a time when playing Arsenal was a bad thing but, at least defensively, that is no longer the reality. Current and prior year stats suggest City will bag a couple this week, while current year only stats suggest they'll get three. With Santos, Gibbs, Sagna and Jenkinson all missing for Arsenal, you have to wonder how they will cope with the likes of Silva, Nasri, Milner or Johnson attacking them down the flanks. The expected beneficiary of that kind of exploitation is Aguero, who looks like the safest play this week. There's some concern given that he hasn't be rotated for a while now, but he only tends to play ~70 minutes so he shouldn't be too tired. He's scored 7 goals in 7 home games and City have totalled 24 goals over that period. It'll be hard to look elsewhere for anyone who owns the Argentinian genius this week.
The next best bet in the City side is Silva, given Dzeko's rotation and Balotelli's, erm, shall we say temperament (I love him by the way, but Mancini has suggested he will be rotated until he behaves which adds another level of risk I'm not willing to swallow). Silva has still only had four appearances scoring less than 5 points, and one of those came when he was late substitute. He is a great combination of safety and upside, which makes him almost the perfect captain choice. In fact, if there are even whispers that Aguero won't start, I would elevate Silva to number one on this list.
If there was ever a time to not captain Van Persie this is it. Whether or not he has crossed into the hallowed Ronaldo-Zone will be proven this week (where you captain him no matter what). True, City have not been the defensive force we anticipated but their goals conceded have tended to be consolation goals and they haven't conceded more than once at home for almost a year (4-3 against Wolves on Jan 15, 2011). You wouldn't bet against Van Persie on his current form but the upside is certainly limited and Arsenal aren't on the same level as those United teams which created so many chances for Ronaldo. If you don't own the City pair then Van Persie is a good option as always but he's not quite the top pick for me this week.
Arsenal's cross town rivals look like a better bet, putting Van der Vaart, Bale and Adebayor at the front of our minds again. Spurs have scored 15 goals in 6 home games, netting twice against everyone apart from City in GW3. Van der Vaart has suddenly gone cold after a month of hot form and he looked distinctly average against Stoke and was lucky to stay on the field for as long as he did. I need to see a lot more from him before I consider captaining him and as an owner of the Dutchman, I am starting to cast glances to the likes of Mata or old favourite Nani. Bale's top form has been more recent than Van der Vaart though he too looked ineffective against Stoke. With Van der Vaart no longer taking penalties, Bale might now be the better pick in this team though his 8 games scoring 3 points or less prevents me from captaining him unless the fixture is simply irresistible. Penalty duties are a nice bonus for Adebayor and his consistency makes him my favourite pick from this talented Spurs side. Ade has scored or assisted a goal in 9 of his 12 appearances this year and it's this ability to contribute in a number of categories (he also has 13 bonus points) which gives him captain value here. I can't put him in the elite group but if you want to think outside the box a bit, Ade makes a good unique captain option for this week (when I say unique, I mean as a captain, his ownership is relatively high at 20%).
With his recent play and Chelsea's uptick in form, Mata has ventured in captain territory, though I'm always more cautious when giving the arm band to players on the road, where goals are generally harder to come by and bad results more common (see GW9 @ QPR). Mata, and Chelsea, are sill a bit unpredictable for me to captain anyone there but I can now see a case for Mata, who is becoming increasingly intriguing in that ~10m range.
My instinct was that United players would rank as some of the better options this week but the stats suggest that goals will be harder to come by than one may expect. United are a side struggling for goals travelling to a QPR team who are struggling for form of their own. Will the side who thumped Wolves show up or will they return to their one-goal-a-game struggles once again? If it's the former than Rooney and Nani are obviously captainable this week. They have lost value as a defensive unit but QPR remain a useful home side and have only conceded more than once on a single occasion (against the all conquering City). I like this pair and United are always capable of putting a few past anyone but it's hard to take this side on the road when City are at home.
I will get to the weekly reader questions tomorrow so please post them below or @plfantasy.