A bumper set of Scout Notes this evening takes in all ten of the weekend’s fixtures. Robin Van Persie was the saviour for many a Gameweek, with a brace against Sunderland rewarding those who chose to hand the Gunners’ skipper the armband. Here’s the rundown on the weekend’s action:
Daniel Sturridge was once again amongst the goals for Chelsea. With four goals to his name, Sturridge has equalled the combined tally of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres- despite missing four of the Blues’ eight league games. Juan Mata picked up his third assist in as many games, though still has yet to produce a substantial haul and priced at 9.6 to Sturridge’s 6.7 is struggling to justify his price tag in comparison. Chelsea –yet again- failed to chalk up a clean sheet though and have failed to keep out their opponents since the opening match of the season. Ramires hurt his knee after slotting home the third but there’s yet to be any official prognosis.
Everton’s third straight loss continues their run of difficult fixtures. Thanks to Jack Rodwell’s red card being rescinded, David Moyes was able to field the same starting XI he sent out at Anfield but Everton’s lack of any real cutting edge was obvious throughout. Leighton Baines, 7.9 in FPL, has now gone almost a quarter of the season without picking up an assist; subs Royston Drenthe and Apostolos Vellios combined for a late consolation, with the latter slotting home just eighteen seconds after taking to the field.
Andy Carroll was the one to drop out as Liverpool heralded the return of Steven Gerrard to the starting lineup. The Reds skipper came into right midfield, with Dirk Kuyt supporting Luis Suarez up top, and fired his side ahead on sixty-nine minutes. Lucas picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will be suspended for the Gameweek nine home clash with Norwich and, while Gerrard could possibly see a central role for that game, Carroll will be worried- Kenny Dalglish had a full squad to choose from for this one and his future game time could well suffer if the Reds’ squad continue to offer their manager a clean bill of health. Gerrard’s return also lessens Charlie Adam’s set-piece abilities, as yesterday’s opener demonstrated.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting XI was a major surprise. Wayne Rooney, Nani, Javier Hernandez and Anderson were all omitted for the Anfield game. Phil Jones’ versatility continues to offer him plenty chances of starts- this time he moved to central midfield and has now started United’s last eight league games. Rio Ferdinand joined Jonny Evans in the heart of the back-four as Nemanja Vidic missed out altogether, despite playing for Serbia in midweek. Gerrard’s goal was the catalyst for Fergie to send on the reinforcements and Hernandez –scoring in only his second match of the season- grabbed an equaliser late on.
Roberto Mancini rang the changes for the game with Aston Villa but despite missing several key players, Man City powered to the top of the table. Edin Dzeko was rested, allowing Mario Balotelli to lead the line and the Italian didn’t disappoint, grabbing his third league goal in as many games. With David Silva grabbing just a brief second half cameo and Samir Nasri rested, Adam Johnson took centre stage- a goal and assist, with bonus to surely follow, means the winger has returned double figures in back-to-back fixtures. Despite his undoubted talents, his manager’s rotation policy will always make Johnson too risky a Fantasy proposition- a price tag of 7.0 only compounds this frustration. Micah Richards picked up a knock and was withdrawn on sixty-six minutes, though City have yet to confirm the nature of the problem.
Aston Villa’s unbeaten run finally came to an end in comprehensive fashion at the Etihad. The 4-1 defeat means Shay Given and co have picked up just one clean sheet on the road, back in Gameweek one at Fulham. In-form forward Gabby Agbonlahor also clearly prefers the comforts of Villa Park- he’s scored just once on the road this term- Stephen Warnock’s first league goal for three seasons spoiled the City clean sheet and he’s now only second to Agbonlahor in Fantasy points for Villa. Emile Heskey was preferred to Barry Bannan, perhaps due to the latter’s recent international duties, though the Scot did come on in the second half. James Collins failed to recover from a foot injury, with Ciaran Clark stepping in at centre half as his replacement.
Jonathan Walters grabbed his second goal of the season as he helped Stoke see off Fulham. Playing up front alongside Peter Crouch, Walters is now second-top scoring Fantasy player for Tony Pulis’ side, just behind Asmir Begovic. At just 6.0, as well as being on penalties, Walters is forging a strong case as a viable Fantasy option, particularly with NEW, QPR, BLA to come in the next five. Matthew Etherington recovered from a back problem and returned to the side, picking up two assists in the win. Four home games in, then, and Stoke have conceded just one goal at the Britannia- Begovic and Ryan Shawcross have played every minute of the season and will surely be the focus of Fantasy attention over the coming weeks.
Fulham continued their poor form on the road with the 2-0 Britannia loss. John Arne Riise hit the bar but another goalless return on the road means Martin Jol’s side have scored just once away from home so far. Aaron Hughes returned to the starting lineup, with Chris Baird getting the nod at right-back. Moussa Dembele lasted just thirty-six minutes on the wing before a knock forced the Belgian off, affording Damien Duff some game time. With (EVE, TOT, LIV) their next three home fixtures, Fulham’s strong form at the Cottage looks likely to be put firmly to the test.
Antony Pilkington made up for fluffing his lines at Old Trafford with a brace to help see off Swansea. The former Huddersfield man has now scored three goals for the season and will inevitably start to attract some Fantasy attention in the budget midfield bracket. Pilkington, along with Bradley Johnson and Wes Hoolahan, continues to impress although none of the three looks a clear front-runner in Fantasy terms. Striker Steven Morison, subject of Big Dunc’s Differential this week, is perhaps the most interesting prospect on offer in Paul Lambert’s ranks. He continues to keep club skipper Grant Holt out of the side and was hugely impressive in Saturday’s win. Although emerging with just an assist to his name, his price tag (4.9 in the FPL), certainly makes him worthy as a third striker consideration for those looking to free up cash. Morison did pick up a knock in yesterday’s game however – there’s no confirmation on the severity of that as yet.
Brendan Rodgers singled out his defence for criticism following the 3-1 defeat at Carrow Road. The visitors were guilty of slack marking for both early goals and, despite an encouraging second strike of the season for Danny Graham, the Swans were unable get back on level terms during a strong first-half spell. Graham, like Morison in the Norwich squad, offers a budget striker option (4.8 in the FPL) for those Fantasy managers look to save funds. Scott Sinclair picked up his second assist of the season for Graham’s goal to bolster his reputation further. He continues to look the best option the Swans squad, although budget option Nathan Dyer maintains far greater ownership in the FPL. Stephen Dobbie sustained a knock having been introduced from the bench – forcing Swansea to drop to ten men having used all their subs. There’s no news as yet on Dobbie’s injury.
Roberto Martinez was able to recall the experience of Antolin Alcaraz to his back four, along with Steve Gohouri, who returned from suspension. Neither could help the Latics recover a recent slump and they duly slipped to a damaging 3-1 reversal to Bolton, their fifth straight defeat. Despite a strong run of fixtures then, it seems unlikely that Fantasy managers will be sympathetic to their cause. Victor Moses continues to disappoint; despite being the one bright spark and threat to the Bolton defence, his efforts went unrewarded and he is still waiting for his first goal or assist return this season. Ben Watson was forced off at half time with a knock for the Latics to complete a miserable afternoon.
Bolton’s six-game losing streak came to an end with a comfortable canter at the DW Stadium. Chris Eagles, priced at 5.3, was the Trotters hero with a goal and assist, keeping Martin Petrov firmly in the shade this time round. Ivan Klasnic was available after suspension but was given just a five minute sub appearance late on, with David N’Gog justifying his manager’s decision with a goal. Kevin Davies missed a penalty in the 3-1 win and with Petrov scoring his side’s previous spot-kick, Owen Coyle may have a dilemma on his hands.
Neil Warnock sprung a major surprise at Loftus Road, with Adel Taarabt benched after his walk-out in the 6-0 defeat at Fulham in Gameweek seven. Jay Bothroyd also dropped out, with Jamie Mackie and Heidar Helgusson selected as their replacements and Armand Traore returned after serving a one-match suspension. Helgusson celebrated his first start of the season by firing QPR ahead, though the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton failed to produce against an out-of-sorts Blackburn. A 1-1 draw will prove little solace for Warnock; with his side’s next four fixtures reading (CHE, tot, MCI, stk), points -and Fantasy returns- could be hard to come by.
Blackburn stopped a run of two straight defeats thanks to captain Chris Samba. Steve Kean made three changes to the side that lost at home to Man City the previous Gameweek, with Jason Roberts, Michel Salgado and Martin Olsson all in the starting XI. David Goodwillie recovered from food poisoning but could only make the bench, though he did come on as a second half sub late on. Yakubu’s brace against Arsenal already seems a lifetime away- the Nigerian sat on the bench for the entire game. No clean sheets, bottom of the table, Rovers now have (TOT, nor, CHE) up next.
Robin Van Persie grabbed a double for the second home game in a row as Arsenal saw off a stubborn Sunderland resistance. Aaron Ramsey missed out due to a very minor hamstring strain, while Kieran Gibbs lasted just a couple of minutes into the second half before a stomach muscle complaint forced the left-back out of the proceedings. The Gunners midfield, so often the source of their Fantasy points, continues to frustrate, with 2 FPL points the most Mikel Arteta and co could respectively muster. Van Persie is proving to be the only viable option for Arsenal at present and with the Manchester derby this upcoming weekend, he will surely be the focus of Fantasy investment ahead of the home game against Stoke. Despite a run of favourable fixtures on the horizon, both Theo Walcott and Gervinho have been disappointing- they have scored just one goal each so far, with both failing to net at the Emirates all season.
Seb Larsson grabbed a goal for Sunderland in the Emirates loss, continuing his strong start to the Fantasy season. So far, the Swede is proving the best mid-price Fantasy midfielder around- at just 6.6, he’s now returned 41 points, the same as Samir Nasri, and is joint-fifth top-scoring midfielder so far. The Swede picked up his fifth yellow card of the season –he was booked in the Carling Cup game at Brighton- and misses next week’s fixture at Bolton. Steve Bruce will be able to welcome back Nicklas Bendtner for that one, though; the Dane was unavailable this afternoon due to his loan agreement with Arsenal.
West Brom’s 2-0 win over Wolves means the Baggies have already recorded three clean sheets, more than they managed over the course of last season. Roy Hodgson made four changes from the draw at Sunderland; the likes of Nicky Shorey was surprisingly dropped, with Billy Jones picking up an assist to add to his clean sheet in his first start. Jonas Olsson seems the only nailed-on Baggies defender right now, though; he‘s played every minute of the season so far. Chris Brunt grabbed his first goal of the campaign to add to his assist last week and Peter Odemwingie responded to being dropped by coming off the bench to grab the decisive second- only his second goal of this term, though. Having scored three goals in their first six games, Hodgson’s side have now netted four times in the last two, though (avl, LIV, ars) will test their attacking resolve.
Wolves slumped to their fifth defeat on the spin in the Midlands derby. With Steven Fletcher missing out due to a calf injury, Mick McCarthy opted for a 4-5-1, as Stephen Hunt dropped to the bench. At the moment, Big Mick’s side are offering little value going forward or at the back- just two goals scored since Gameweek two, they’ve conceded at least two goals in every match since Gameweek four. Wolves’ next two home games surely offer chance of a revival- Swansea and Wigan make their way to Molineux, with a visit to Man City sandwiched in-between.
Demba Ba maintained his recent scoring record to extend Newcastle’s unbeaten run to eight games. Ba grabbed his fifth goal in three games as Alan Pardew’s side fought back twice to grab a home draw with in-form Spurs and his 6.2 price tag continues to look a bargain after a tricky settling in period at St James’ Park. Though the Newcastle defence have shown plenty solidity, the 2-2 result means just one clean sheet in the last six games now- Davide Santon made his debut late on in the second half and may be pushing for a start next week at home to Wigan. Jonas Gutierrez maintained his own good form, grabbing an assist to add to last week’s goal at Wolves.
Emmanuel Adebayor shrugged off a hamstring problem to start for Spurs and grabbed two assists in the draw at Newcastle, though the second was somewhat fortuitous. Rafael Van der Vaart was given his wish, playing just off the lone forward, as Luka Modric was moved to the flank by Harry Redknapp, with Jake Livermore joining Scott Parker in central midfield. The Dutchman bagged a penalty then was subbed off just after the hour mark, as replacement Jermain Defoe’s third goal in four games underlined Spurs’ wealth of attacking talent. Ledley King’s withdrawal due to injury just before the half-hour mark afforded Sebastian Bassong a chance against his former club and adds to Spurs’ injury woes at the back, with Michael Dawson still sidelined due to an Achilles problem.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
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