With six teams currently facing a blank gameweek 34, our Frisking article is somewhat limited in options. There’s no doubt the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham both have favourable runs ahead; the London rivals would undoubtedly feature strongly here but the uncertainty surrounding their as yet, unscheduled, fixtures sees us overlook their potential for the moment.
At present, then, there are just fourteen teams with full schedules to choose from and, with that in mind, we run the rule over the upcoming gameweeks ahead…
Saturday’s home triumph over Villa took the Gunners winning run to seven and established a three-point lead over Spurs in the race for third. It’s a measure of their recent resilience that, despite Robin Van Persie playing no part in any of their three goals against the midlands outfit, Arsenal could still rely on the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Song to guide them to victory. Walcott is now just 10 points behind David Silva in the midfield rankings; a clear indication of an upturn in form that has proved pivotal in his side’s climb up the table.
Arsene Wenger’s men face all of the bottom three sides in the next four gameweeks, with a home clash against City also on the agenda. A visit from Roberto Mancini’s side should hold no fears for Arsenal, with City having won just two of their last nine away. With the likes of Thomas Vermaelen also chipping in with 31 points in his last three games, the Fantasy returns are coming from all areas right now, suggesting there are plenty opportunities for investment over the next few matches, as Wenger’s side grow in confidence week by week.
Tonight’s Old Trafford showdown with Fulham affords the champions a chance to return to the top of the table and, looking beyond that, their strength of schedule looks superb. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side visit Blackburn next weekend before squaring up to two of the bottom three, with a home clash against QPR followed by a trip to Wigan.
Home games against Villa and Everton then follow, in a run of five fixtures that seems likely to boost their title bid. The cut-price Jonny Evans, at 5.0, in defence and the outstanding value presented by 7.9 priced Antonio Valencia – who has risen 0.4 since the win at Wolves – look set to continue to attract Fantasy attention, while Wayne Rooney is likely to tussle with Van Persie for the captain’s armband right up until the end of the season. Javier Hernandez also looks an intriguing up-front option, providing he can maintain the recent starting role that has returned 18 points from his last two appearances.
This weekend’s trip to Tottenham aside, the Swans are presented with a sea of blue on the season ticker, representing an obliging set of fixtures on the horizon. Brendan Rodgers’ side then play host to Newcastle before facing four of the bottom five in consecutive gameweeks, in a run that will surely see plenty Fantasy investment come their way.
Trips to QPR and Bolton, in addition to Liberty Stadium showdowns with Blackburn and Wolves, affords the Welsh club the perfect opportunity to bounce back from Saturday’s home defeat by Everton. At 4.1, Steven Caulker offers outstanding value in a defence that has already recorded 12 clean sheets, though the centre-half is, of course, unavailable this weekend, due to the conditions of his loan deal. Gylfi Sigurdsson, at 5.4, will continue to rise in price in light of his recent exploits, while Scott Sinclair’s spot-kick duties have earned him a place in the top ten midfielders to date, with 124 points. The security of starts and 5.1 price tag offered by Danny Graham mean the forward is the number one outfield player for value in the game so far, just ahead of Grant Holt and Ryan Taylor.
Saturday’s draw with City means Stoke have tasted defeat just once in five games since Asmir Begovic has been re-installed as Tony Pulis’ first-choice keeper. Coming out of a tricky run of games that pitted them against three of last season’s top four, the Potters will now be seeking to take advantage of a short-term schedule that looks potentially prosperous.
Up next are showdowns with the bottom two, as Stoke travel to Wigan before playing host to Wolves. A trip to Villa and home game against Everton then follow and, with their resilience at the back seeing them concede just three goals in the last five, defensive returns could be on the cards. Begovic – averaging 4.1 points per game- will attract attention, with his first-team place looking further assured, while elsewhere in the backline, Andy Wilkinson, priced at a mere 3.9, has now started the last eight. Peter Crouch’s wonder goal against City will no doubt have many Fantasy managers contemplating a move and Matthew Etherington’s midfield displays are also sure to sway one or two, though with 29 goals in 30 games, the Potters are far from reliable as an attacking force.
Man City – Roberto Mancini’s side face home games with Sunderland and West Brom, in addition to trips to Norwich and Wolves in the next six. The return of Vincent Kompany looks key to their defensive output in Fantasy terms; City were on a run of four clean sheets prior to their skipper’s calf injury but have conceded in all three games since Kompany has been sidelined. Yaya Toure is looking a decent mid-price alternative to the off-form David Silva, though the return of Carlos Tevez merely muddies the waters up front in terms of selection.
Everton – home games against West Brom, Sunderland and Fulham should hold no fears for a side that have recently seen off the likes of Chelsea, Spurs and City at Goodison. Trips to Norwich and Stoke also look likely to afford the Toffees a chance to pick up points, with last week’s win at Swansea serving a reminder of their resilience. Leighton Baines is now just a single point off top spot for defenders in a slow-burner of a season, Tony Hibbert (4.6) offers a cut-price alternative into David Moyes’ backline, while Nikica Jelavic – with two goals in three starts – may prove a decent differential if he can maintain a first-team role.
West Brom – yesterday’s dire home performance against Newcastle will hardly have inspired confidence but three favourable home fixtures affords the Baggies a chance to bounce back. Blackburn, QPR and Villa all visit the Hawthorns, offering Peter Odemwingie the opportunity of goals, with Chris Brunt a possible differential if he can cement a starting role in the likelihood of James Morrison’s absence.
A comprehensive defeat at the Emirates ended their three-game unbeaten run and the omens don’t look good for Alex McLeish’s side over the next few gameweeks. Home games against Chelsea, Stoke and Sunderland hardly seem straightforward for a side with a single clean sheet at Villa Park since Gameweek 7.
The midlands outfit also travel to Liverpool, United and neighbours West Brom in the next six and, with Charles N’Zogbia joining Darren Bent on the sidelines, the brief impact afforded by loan star Robbie Keane over the January period looks a long way away already.
A double from Grant Holt in the 2-1 win over Wolves arrested a four-game winless run at the weekend but the upcoming schedule looks set to test Paul Lambert’s powers of motivation. The Canaries are without the suspended Holt for the trip to Fulham, and then face Everton, City and Spurs – all sides with plenty to play for – in the following three gameweeks. A trip to Blackburn and a home game with Liverpool are also on the agenda in the next six, suggesting many may give Norwich a wide berth.
Lambert’s penchant for rotation saw Anthony Pilkington play no part in the win over Wolves – he’s likely to suffer a drop in ownership as a result, while Holt may struggle to increase his impressive 12 goal haul in light of a tough run of games.
The midweek win over Liverpool proved to be no more than a brief respite from their woeful recent form, as the London outfit sank to defeat at Sunderland on Saturday. Having picked up four points from their last seven games, Mark Hughes’ side face the two in-form sides in the league next, with a home clash against Arsenal followed by a trip to Old Trafford.
With Swansea, Spurs and Chelsea also in the next six, the future is far from bright down Loftus Road way. Taye Taiwo looks likely to be a key performer; he has provided a goal and three assists from just five starts, countering his side’s inability to return clean sheets. The dismissal and subsequent four-match ban of Djibril Cisse at the Stadium of Light means the goals of Bobby Zamora will never be more crucial as Hughes attempts to navigate an unlikely passage to top-flight safety.
Also be wary of
Sunderland – Martin O’Neill’s outfit were back amongst the points last weekend, but owners of James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon and Simon Mignolet will be wary of an unkind schedule ahead. Clashes against City, Spurs and Everton in the next three look set to limit returns at both ends of the pitch before an upturn in fixtures over Gameweek 34-36.
Blackburn – Steve Kean is likely to have his work cut out if Rovers are to profit from a tricky run of fixtures on the horizon. The Ewood Park outfit play host to United and Liverpool and face a trip to Swansea in the next four, suggesting Yakubu and David Hoilett may struggle to replicate their recent impressive attacking displays; with Blackburn sitting just three points ahead of the drop zone, their relegation worries appear far from over.
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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|
“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby