Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero tear Norwich apart as City suggest the title race is far from finished. West Brom and Sunderland pick up home clean sheets yet again, while a Gylfi Sigurdsson-inspired Swansea dump Blackburn at the Liberty and all but seal their own bid for top-flight survival.
City’s away problems have, notoriously, been their Achilles heel this season. Despite dropping just two points at home over the entire campaign so far, Roberto Mancini’s side have been lacklustre on the road, winning two of their last ten in an appalling run that had seen them score just five goals. The stage was set, then, for Tevez yesterday, and he didn’t disappoint. A hat-trick and assist tore Norwich to pieces as City hammered six past a stunned Canaries side, with the gap at the top now temporarily trimmed to a couple of points. Mancini’s men have now notched 10 goals in the two games since Tevez returned to the starting line-up, with his partnership with Sergio Aguero looking unstoppable. The maximum bonus will surely follow, as will plenty transfers in – a trip to Wolves is likely to offer further attacking returns for the prodigal son, with Tevez clearly focused and intent on making up for lost time in sensational style.
A brace at Carrow Road followed on from his two goal, two assist performance against West Brom on Wednesday. Incredibly, despite a total of 21 goals so far, you’d have to go all the way back to Gameweek 5 to find the last time Aguero scored in back-to-back matches – yesterday also brought an end to the dire away run that saw Aguero fail to notch in his last ten on the road. Providing United win their next two and City triumph at Wolves, then, the Gameweek 36 Manchester derby at the Etihad could allow Mancini’s men to cut the lead to two points – the early-season form has maybe returned too late but Aguero could be set for a significantly strong end to the campaign as City go all-out for goals in their tussle for the title.
The Spaniard grabbed his fifteenth assist of the season yesterday, edging further ahead of Antonio Valencia (13) in the rankings. Silva is picking up in performance as the campaign comes to the boil – he also scored in the 4-0 win over West Brom, having returned a single assist in the previous ten Gameweeks. Priced at 9.6, down from a season-high of 10.6 in Gameweek 27, Silva is slowly but surely producing the goods as a Fantasy force again and could prove a pivotal figure for City over the final four Gameweeks if the Etihad club can maintain their current level of performance.
West Brom Defence
Since the arrival of Liam Ridgewell in the January transfer window, the Baggies backline have proven to be particularly reliable at the Hawthorns – despite losing Jonas Olsson to a groin problem in the warm-up, yesterday’s 1-0 win over QPR was their fourth clean sheet in the last five home games. Only Newcastle have managed to score away since Ridgewell made his home debut in Gameweek 26, in a run that has also brought four wins for Roy Hodgson’s side. The visit of Villa in Gameweek 36 affords further chance of defensive returns and, while a home clash with Arsenal in the final match of the season will deter many Fantasy managers, West Brom’s defenders could offer a decent option next term if they can replicate their current home resilience.
Over 10,000 Fantasy managers drafted in the West Brom forward ahead of the home clash with QPR. Having been given the night off in Wednesday’s mauling at the Etihad, Odemwingie returned to the Baggies’ starting lineup – his recent role out wide seems to have come to an end, as he partnered Marc-Antoine Fortune up front, with Chris Brunt stationed on the right wing. The Nigerian picked up the Fantasy points for the first time since Gameweek 26, providing an assist for Graham Dorrans’ winner and, with Villa and Bolton to follow in the next three, could offer further chance of returns before the season is out.
With Wolves conceding an average of three goals per game prior to yesterday’s trip to the Stadium of Light, many were expecting a goal fest. While Terry Connor’s backline defied the odds, the Black Cats once again picked up a home clean sheet – their sixth in the last eight in front of their own fans. Martin O’Neill recently hinted at affording Craig Gordon some game time but this failed to materialise yesterday, with Simon Mignolet maintaining his role between the posts. The 4.4 priced Black Cats keeper continues to rack up the returns; his average of 4.2 points per game is the third best of any first-choice keeper, matching the likes of Joe Hart and edging out Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.
At the seventh time of asking, the Icelandic international grabbed his first goal at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea ended their four-game losing streak in emphatic fashion. All six of Sigurdsson’s previous goals had come on the road, with just a couple of assists to show for his previous home endeavours. Sigurdsson was also belatedly credited with an assist for Scott Dann’s own goal and, pre-bonus, picked up an 11 point haul yesterday. After fourteen appearances for the Swans, then, his current average of 6.2 points per game is top for midfielders, with Clint Dempsey’s 5.8 in second place. Despite making a mockery of his 5.6 price tag, Sigurdsson is still owned by just 6.8% of Fantasy managers and, with Bolton and Wolves up next, is afforded plenty opportunity to rack up the points before closing out the campaign with games against United and Liverpool.
While Sigurdsson steals the limelight amongst the Swansea midfielders, Dyer and Scott Sinclair have fallen way off the pace. The latter has now failed to find the net since Gameweek 23, while Dyer hadn’t scored since Gameweek 21 prior to yesterday’s visit of Blackburn. Having scored just one goal in their previous four matches, Brendan Rodgers side had been woefully out of sorts up front but the 3-0 win saw them notch more than two goals for only the fourth time this season. Dyer’s goal just before half-time saw him break the 100 point mark and in terms of “value”, he’s the third top midfielder this term, behind Victor Moses and team mate Joe Allen.
The Dutchman was required to make just a couple of saves in yesterday’s romp as Swansea picked up their first home clean sheet since Gameweek 28. Vorm now has 13 clean sheets for the season and is only one behind Joe Hart in the race for the Golden Gloves award – those aforementioned games with Bolton and Wolves offers a chance to rack up more and, with Rodgers’ side now 13 points clear of the drop zone with just four matches remaining, the pressure is almost certainly off. Blackburn and Wolves cannot overhaul the Welsh club now, while QPR would need to win all their remaining matches and hope Swansea lose all theirs in order to climb above them by a point.