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Tevez ready to return

When a past Premier League top scorer returns to first team action you would expect him to be an instant transfer target for fantasy managers, but of course there's more to the Carlos Tevez story.

Tevez has been back in England for several weeks now trying to build up his fitness after spending a few months strolling around the golf courses of Argentina. Under normal circumstances the striker might have found it difficult to force his way in front of Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Manchester City have surrendered top spot in the Premier League to rivals United for the first time since mid-October, when the whole Tevez affair was in its infancy. Now City find themselves in danger of bottling the title run-in and in need of a shot of the arm. But can Tevez provide this?

Tevez's desire to perform for the club after his trials and tribulations is in question. He presents a clear risk to fantasy managers, but if he comes back firing then he could be a key signing over the remaining 10 gameweeks. He did score for the reserves last week.

Even though Tevez has been out in the cold he is still owned by 0.9% of managers, and this is not a recent development either as there has been no change to his ownership level since the last gamelock.

Bringing in Tevez for this gameweek is more troublesome as City do not play until Wednesday - their match with Chelsea was put back due to the FA Cup. The gamelock still takes place on Saturday with the first kick-off of the week, so it will be unclear how far along Tevez is in his bid to prove fitness. Perhaps a watching brief is best for now.

So far Tevez has managed just 91 Premier League minutes across three appearances, producing a total of six shots with three on target - but after scoring 20 league goals last term he has yet to find the back of the net this season. His last goals in any form of football came in May last year, more than 10 months ago, when he bagged a brace against Stoke City.

The influence of Tevez might be best felt in the final six gameweeks of the season, when City entertain West Brom, Man United and Queens Park Rangers and travel to Norwich, Wolves and Newcastle.

There are other selection issues with City, especially with the previously solid Vincent Kompany out injured. He could be struggling to face Chelsea but is not a long-term absentee. Gareth Barry and Pablo Zabaleta also have problems but Joleon Lescott is closer to a return. City clearly have defensive issues when Stefan Savic has to be drafted into the side.

United we stand

While City definitely have a test of their title credentials coming up, United have a favourable fixture list. With Wolves, Blackburn and Wigan away on the horizon, and home games against Fulham, QPR and Aston Villa, there's little wonder United are popular in the transfer market. Add to that, United have scored 19 goals in their last eight Premier League fixtures with at least two goals a game in each.

Wayne Rooney is now, along with Robin van Persie, the man in hot form. He's scored seven goals in his last four league games. That form means Rooney has moved up to fifth in the overall scorers chart, behind leader Van Persie (201 points), Clint Dempsey (172), Gareth Bale (165) and David Silva (153).

Rooney is now priced at £9.4 million, and will rise by a further £0.4 million this Saturday. It's vital Rooney is brought in sooner rather than later if you wish to own the two top-scoring strikers in the game.

Rooney's ownership is up 2.3% this week, making him by far the most popular striker and is now in 31.7% of teams. The only other strikers increasing in ownership are Didier Drogba, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Yakubu and Van Persie.

The trend to bring in United players is repeated across the game with Ashley Young (up 1.5%) the most bought midfielder, and Patrice Evra (up 0.5%) showing the same top trend in defence. David de Gea is also up 0.2% though surprisingly it is Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson (0.4%) who has risen the most.

Those who have invested in Young might find that comes back to bite them on the bum, though, with Antonio Valencia ready to return from his short injury lay-off. That may affect the England winger's game time.

Captain's performance

No surprise that there has been a spike in ownership for Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard following his hat-trick against Everton on Tuesday evening. But his ongoing fitness problems should put doubt in managers' minds.

Also, it should be considered that the 22 points he scored in the Merseyside constitute 37% of his overall total of 60 points this season, which led him to rise from a rank of 118th among midfielders to 84th.

Gerrard is up 0.5% in ownership but there is little evidence than any Liverpool attacking player is worth investing in due to the lack of goals they score and the poor form when they are at Anfield.


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