Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa grab the goals as Newcastle see off Bolton at the Sports Direct Arena. Clint Dempsey keeps on scoring, Robert Huth notches again for Stoke, while Everton and Tottenham rest and rotate ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup Semi-Finals:
The former SC Freiburg man showed there’s more to his game than outstanding finishes by netting a real poacher’s effort for Newcastle’s second against Bolton. Cisse has now scored or assisted nine of the Magpies last ten goals, with his price rising 0.9 on the back of three successive double figure returns – Demba Ba has dropped 0.8 since Gameweek 27, as Fantasy managers move from one Newcastle attacker to the other. Pre bonus, Cisse has averaged eight points per game since his January move and, with a home clash against Stoke and double Gameweek 36 to follow his upcoming blank, his consistency will continue to attract plenty once Alan Pardew’s side resume their league schedule with that match against the Potters.
Hatem Ben Arfa
A goal of the season contender broke the deadlock against a stubborn Bolton side and sent Newcastle on their way to a fifth straight win. Since establishing himself in Pardew’s first XI in Gameweek 28, Ben Arfa has picked up 49 points in six appearances – even surpassing Cisse’s average, with those extra points for goals and clean sheets helping boost his tally further. Priced at 5.8, the Frenchman has proven to be the top value player in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) over the last few Gameweeks and, as the likes of Gareth Bale and David Silva continue to return blanks, he looks set for plenty investment over the season climax.
Yesterday’s 2-0 win over Bolton maintained the Magpies’ recent outstanding defensive displays. With Fabricio Coloccini returning to the first-team fold and Davide Santon continuing at left-back, Pardew’s side picked up their fourth clean sheet in the last five Gameweeks, as the points continue to arrive from all angles. One man who continues to miss out, though, is Ryan Taylor. The most popular player in the game with over 30% ownership, he was afforded a six minute sub appearance and has picked up six points in the last nine Gameweeks as – unlike most of the Newcastle squad – his Fantasy campaign grinds to a halt.
Back in the starting XI after an ankle problem forced him onto the bench at Liverpool, the youngster struck the opener against Stoke as Villa edged towards safety. Weimann’s eye for goal looks likely to afford him further first-team opportunities and, while a weekend trip to United is far from favourable, his double Gameweek 35, with home clashes against Sunderland and Bolton, may prove prosperous for the 5.0 priced forward.
Stoke’s 1-1 draw at Villa was their sixth successive game without a clean sheet but the German maintained his eye for goal by bagging the equaliser against Alex McLeish’s side. Huth also notched in the weekend win over Wolves and is finally replicating the attacking displays of last season after a poor first three-quarters of the campaign. While the Potters now face a blank and a trip to Newcastle, they have a couple of home clashes against Arsenal and Everton in Gameweek 36 and finish with a pair of strong fixtures, too; Huth’s recent exploits will have many Fantasy managers contemplating a move for his services in a fortnight’s time.
The midfielder grabbed a disputed opener at the Cottage as Chelsea picked up a point against Martin Jol’s men. Lampard’s spot-kick took his points haul to 136 for the season – surprisingly, only eight points behind Juan Mata. While the Spaniard found himself the victim of rotation last night, with just a twenty minute second-half cameo off the bench, Lampard has now started eight of the last nine Gameweeks. With Chelsea now just two points off fourth, Roberto Di Matteo’s recent selection policy suggests Lampard could be a key figure over the last few weeks of the season, then. With a double Gameweek 36 against QPR and Newcastle, Fantasy managers are likely to load up on Blues players -there’s no doubt that the threat of rotation is still rife, however, with Champions League duties also to consider.
There’s just no stopping the US international right now. Leading the line as a result of Pavel Pogrebnyak’s continued absence, Dempsey’s equaliser in the London derby means he has notched in three back-to-back Gameweeks – his most consistent run of an outstanding Fantasy season. With 16 goals to his name and 188 points on the board, his lead over the likes of Gareth Bale and David Silva in the midfield rankings continues to increase, as his incredible eye for goal shows no sign of abating. The Cottagers now face a blank this weekend but, with a home clash against Wigan to follow in addition to double Gameweek 36, the relentless scoring could yet continue.
With the FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea on the horizon, the decision to make five alterations to the Tottenham XI backfired on Harry Redknapp. The Spurs boss also changed formation; the recent 4-3-3 was ditched for a 4-4-2, a move that Redknapp admitted was a mistake as the hosts, without Scott Parker who was rested with a knock, were too often open to Norwich attacks. Fantasy owners of Emmanuel Adebayor were left frustrated, with the on-loan forward afforded just a 45 minute sub appearance. Rafael Van der Vaart was another who also suffered as a result of the tinkering – the Dutchman was given just 20 minutes, as Jermain Defoe notched the only goal in the 2-1 defeat. While Spurs upcoming fixtures are arguably the best of any side, a run of one win in the last eight is a major concern for those Fantasy managers looking to invest.
Returning to the Canaries lineup after a recent hamstring problem, the 5.2 priced midfielder grabbed the opener in a superb 2-1 win for Paul Lambert’s side. Pilkington has now scored eight goals this season – a tally beaten by only four other midfielders thus far. His Fantasy potential is obvious but Lambert’s rotation policy will always make Pilkington a risky buy; those eight goals came from 21 starts over the first 33 Gameweeks – while this indicates a superb goals per game ratio, it also highlights his uncertain role in the Norwich first XI.
David Moyes also served notice of his intentions ahead of Everton’s FA Cup Semi-Final with Liverpool, making five changes to the Toffees first XI. The biggest surprise was the omission of Leighton Baines; the left-back had started every game for more than two seasons prior to yesterday. Nikica Jelavic’s Fantasy owners were left reeling as the Croatian – along with Tim Cahill – was also given the day off. Despite the number of alterations, Moyes’ side recorded their most emphatic win of the season, hammering Sunderland 4-0.
The South African is, of course, cup-tied for the FA Cup clash and, with no fear of being rested, Pienaar maintained his recent upturn in form against the Black Cats. A goal and assist at Goodison yesterday means he has provided an assist in each of the last three Gameweeks and, as Moyes’ side continue to flourish, the 7.0 priced midfielder is proving to be a key figure. While a blank Gameweek and trip to Old Trafford are far from appetising, a double Gameweek with Fulham and Stoke, followed by a clash against Wolves, could see Pienaar continue to prosper as the season draws to a close.
With Baines missing out, Tim Howard become Everton’s only ever-present this season – the keeper clearly offers a solid route into their back-line for that upcoming double Gameweek. Yesterday’s 4-0 win saw Moyes’ side pick up their fifth clean sheet in the last six at Goodison, with Theo Walcott the only away player to score since Gameweek 22. The Toffees only have two more home games left, though, and, with just a single clean sheet in their last seven on the road, will need to improve on their away displays at the back for investment to prove profitable.
A back injury kept Nicklas Bendtner out of the Sunderland side and, significantly, afforded Sessegnon the chance to lead the line. Although the Black Cats were swept aside yesterday, the move to lone forward will be of interest to Fantasy managers – if Bendtner continues to be sidelined, the Benin international looks set for a further stint up front ahead of home clashes with Wolves and Bolton.