Theo Walcott is at the double at Arsenal come back to hammer Spurs. Emmanuel Adebayor gets amongst the Fantasy points again. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs roll back the years as United steal a late win at Norwich, Grant Holt grabs another goal for the Canaries, while Tony Pulis installs Asmir Begovic back in goal as Stoke see off Swansea at the Britannia:
Spurs’ on loan forward maintained his recent run of form in yesterday’s blistering north London derby. Adebayor was once again partnered by Louis Saha and provided an assist for the Frenchman to open the scoring at the Emirates, before netting Spurs’ second from the spot in the 5-2 defeat. He has now picked up 12 assists this term, second only to David Silva, and a nine point return took Adebayor to 142 points, just a couple behind Wayne Rooney. With Spurs hosting United before facing tricky trip to Everton and Chelsea, immediate investment may not be huge, though with a turn in fixtures from Gameweek 31 onwards, Adebayor has the potential to rack up the points in the final quarter of the season.
Having sustained a broken ankle in the first north London derby back in Gameweek 7, the Arsenal right-back exacted revenge as he helped spark a remarkable comeback. Sagna –who had been out for 15 gameweeks with the injury before returning earlier this month- grabbed the home side’s first and also provided an assist as Arsenal turned over their rivals in emphatic fashion. Perhaps surprisingly, this was the first time this term Sagna has produced attacking returns but, with the Gunners chalking up just two clean sheets in their last ten, investment in their back line continues to look a risk.
Despite plenty calls for his exclusion, Walcott maintained his place in the starting XI, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped from the previous league game at Sunderland. The winger answered his critics in style, grabbing a brace and returning double figures for the second home match in succession. Walcott is now on 117 points, three more than Juan Mata and only nine less than the likes of Nani; priced at 8.8, he’s proving to be better value than perhaps anticipated and, with less than 4% ownership, is clearly an over-looked differential.
Robin Van Persie
The Gunners skipper was only fourth in this week’s Captain Poll, with a mere 5% of the votes ahead of the visit of Spurs. Arsenal’s defeats away to Sunderland and Milan clearly had an effect, with nearly 33,000 Fantasy managers transferring Van Persie out in Gameweek 26, but he demonstrated once again just why it’s folly to write him off, with a goal and assist in the 5-2 triumph. He now sits on 193 points, nearly 40 ahead of nearest rival Gareth Bale, and is well on course to hammering last season’s top score of 198 by Nani.
A last-minute winner at Norwich provided the fairy-tale ending for the Welshman’s 900th appearance for United. Afforded another role on the left, with Ashley Young benched, Giggs continued a strong run of consistency which has now seen him produce attacking returns in each of his last five appearances for the champions. With Paul Scholes vindicating his return from retirement with his second goal in six matches, it’s clear the experienced hands are stepping up in performance for Sir Alex Ferguson in the crucial final third of the season. Giggs has now played 90 minutes in four of United’s last five, though with Antonio Valencia expected back next week, there’s enough of a question mark against his game time to make Fantasy managers think twice about his acquisition.
Back in domestic action after a three-gameweek absence due to a foot injury, the Portuguese star grabbed an assist for Scholes’ opener- this was his first attacking return since Gameweek 17. Nani’s lack of form, combined with Antonio Valencia’s strong consistency, has seen the former’s price drop from 10.5 to 9.9 in recent weeks but with the champions’ schedule looking outstanding from Gameweek 28 onwards, he has the platform and potential to deliver.
A goal against United took the Norwich skipper to 98 points, the top-scoring Fantasy player for Paul Lambert’s side. Holt seems to have ousted Steve Morison as the Canaries number-one forward- he’s started the last five, while the Welshman has managed 25 minutes in the last three gameweeks. Holt has also scored against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle and, with (stk, WIG, WOL, ful) amongst his next five, he looks a decent cut-price (5.0) option over the next month or so.
Having started the Potters’ last fourteen league games, Thomas Sorensen had certainly looked the nailed-on number-one for Tony Pulis’ side. Confident of a home clean sheet, we’d even drafted him into this week’s Scout Picks ahead of the game against Swansea- Stoke duly obliged with a 2-0 win but it was Asmir Begovic who got the nod. Stoke’s Thursday lineup in Valencia was, in retrospect, a sign of a shift in Pulis’ thinking- Sorensen had started in Spain; a clear surprise, given that Begovic tended to be fielded for cup games. The only matter that Pulis’ team sheet clarified yesterday was that, as far as Stoke goalkeepers are concerned, there’s no such thing as a certainty.
Having flickered briefly on Fantasy radars with a run of six starts in seven from Gameweek 14-20, Shotton’s stock had taken a dive after just a single first XI appearance in the subsequent five fixtures. Lining up on the right side of midfield, the 4.0 defender returned to the Stoke starting lineup yesterday and reminded us of his out-of-position potential with an assist for Peter Crouch as Stoke avenged their defeat at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the season. Similar to the likes of Sorensen, though, his lack of assured game time will continue to deter most Fantasy suitors, despite his cut-price potential.
Partnered once again by Jon Walters up front, Crouch grabbed a rare home goal as the Potters ended a run of four straight losses. The former Spurs man netted at the Britannia for the first time since Gameweek 13 and, pre-bonus, has now averaged 4.1 points per game, taking him ahead of Walters’ 4.0 in the Stoke rankings. A game against Norwich next weekend looks enticing for Crouch but with Chelsea and City to follow, Stoke’s Fantasy assets don’t look likely to see much immediate investment.