Today’s Frisking article has a slightly different angle to it. With only two Gameweeks of the season remaining, we take a look at the remaining schedule, with form and motivation as much a factor as fixtures in our analysis this time round:
Wins over three of the top five in the last four Gameweeks highlights the Latics’ flourishing form. United, Arsenal and Newcastle have all tasted defeat, with three back-to-back clean sheets at the DW also thrown in as Roberto Martinez looks to engineer another great escape. Sitting three points above the drop zone, Wigan are handed an outstanding chance to seal their own survival in the last two Gameweeks, with a trip to Blackburn followed by a home showdown against doomed Wolves on the final day of the season.
Victor Moses proved his capabilities against Newcastle, with a 16 point return summing up his potential at just 5.2. Shaun Maloney has a share of set-piece duties and is also on spot-kicks for Martinez’s men – at just 4.5 and with an ownership of 0.2%, he could be a strong differential, given that he’s produced double figures in each of his last two starts. Franco Di Santo’s goals may well be decisive – he has scored in two of the last three Gameweeks, while Emmerson Boyce offers an in-form alternative at the back. Priced at 4.3, he has provided a goal and assist over his last two appearances.
David Moyes’ men enter the final straight in superb form. The January introduction of both Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic has made the Toffees an altogether different prospect from an attacking perspective. Tonight’s draw at Stoke took their unbeaten run to seven games and with a trip to Wolves this weekend, followed by a home clash with Newcastle, the chances of further Fantasy returns look strong.
Wolves have shipped 30 goals in 11 games under Terry Connor, offering Jelavic and Pienaar further chance to run amok, while a record of six clean sheets in the last seven at Goodison bodes well for the likes of Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard ahead of the Magpies showdown.
Victory over an insipid Blackburn last weekend re-ignited the London outfit’s push for a fourth place finish. Harry Redknapp’s side still have the small matter of a trip to the Reebok tomorrow evening and the fixture list remains kind over the final two. A trip to Villa Park – where the home side have won just one of their last six – is then followed by a game at the Lane against Fulham. Spurs will be determined to finish the season on a high in front of their own fans and, as the Cottagers performance at Everton highlighted, their away form is far from impressive.
Rafael Van der Vaart has scored in each of his last three home starts and perhaps looks the most promising, particularly with the Fulham clash in mind. Gareth Bale seems as if he’s ready to return a monster score and has been unlucky of late, while Emmanuel Adebayor is still capable of picking up the points. Kyle Walker’s stunning free-kick against Rovers last weekend summed up his potential at both ends of the pitch – he has already received plenty investment ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Having picked up just two points from their last three, Arsene Wenger’s seem to be stuttering towards the finishing line but are handed an opportunity to get back to winning ways this weekend as Norwich pay visit to the Emirates. The Canaries have lost three in a row, shipping 11 goals in the process and, with their survival now secured, have lacked their usual intensity of late. The Gunners then travel to West Brom on the final day of the season – a match that looks far from straightforward. Roy Hodgson’s last match in charge of the Baggies looks likely to be an emotional occasion, though with five clean sheets in the last six at the Hawthorns, they’ve proven to be anything but pushovers.
Robin Van Persie looks a strong armband contender for the weekend ahead and will be keen to spoil Hodgson’s party, while Thomas Vermaelen could add to his tally of six goals before the campaign comes to a close. Tomas Rosicky, with an assist in two of his last three, could be a midfield differential, with just 1% ownership and a price of 5.7.
Stoke – the Potters see out the season against two of the relegation candidates, with a trip to QPR followed by a final day home clash against Bolton. Peter Crouch has scored in four of his last six at home (excluding tonight’s own goal) and could well add to that tally against the Trotters – Tony Pulis’ side are now unbeaten in their last six at home and won’t make matters easy for Bolton, regardless of their own top-flight safety. Robert Huth’s goal threat has come to the fore in recent weeks – the big centre-half has notched twice in his last five and could pick up the points at both ends, given how poorly both opposition defences have performed in recent Gameweeks.
Bolton – another side caught up in the scramble for survival, Owen Coyle’s men play host to West Brom before travelling to Stoke. With clean sheets looking highly unlikely, Adam Bogdan’s save points are likely to come in handy, but it’s Martin Petrov and Kevin Davies who have picked up in performance in recent Gameweeks. Handed his first 90 minutes since Gameweek 15, Davies bagged a brace at Sunderland last weekend, while Petrov has produced attacking returns in each of his last three fixtures.
Man United – goals are likely to be in the agenda this weekend in United’s final home game of the season. Swansea roll up to Old Trafford having shipped four at home to Wolves and, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side producing four clean sheets in their last five at home, returns at both ends of the pitch look a good bet. Wayne Rooney will rival Van Persie for the captain’s armband, while Nani could be key, as will Antonio Valencia – the Ecuadorian will surely return to the first XI after his omission at the Etihad last night. A trip to Sunderland on the final day looks a real battle, though – Martin O’Neill’s side have lost just once at home since he arrived on Wearside back in December.
Man City – a trip to Newcastle this weekend is anything but straightforward. Alan Pardew’s side have chalked up a clean sheet in each of their last four at the Sports Direct Arena, though with a victory likely to put them in the driving seat ahead of a home game against QPR, Roberto Mancini’s side won’t be holding back on Sunday afternoon. The attacking contribution of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez will surely be crucial, while David Silva’s recent upturn in consistency could be the key to breaking down the Magpies’ backline.
A trip to Old Trafford followed by a home game with Liverpool hardly looks the most prosperous. Few will be backing Gylfi Sigurdsson this weekend, with United likely to dominate the match. Liverpool have won their last two on the road, scoring three goals on each occasion, though Sigurdsson will be determined to finish his loan spell in style. With a single clean sheet in their last seven, though, Brendan Rodgers’ defence are looking far from secure at the back right now, suggesting Fantasy points may be hard to come by at both ends of the pitch.
The 2-2 draw against Bolton brought their four-game goalless run to an end last Saturday but, with their safety secured, Sunderland are another side who seems to have taken their foot off the gas. The Black Cats have recorded a single win in their last eight and, while James McClean has been a steady performer, Stephane Sessegnon has scored only once since Gameweek 24. Hardly the sort of form required ahead of a trip to Fulham and the visit of United. With Fulham racking up four wins and a draw in their last six at the Cottage, the Wearsiders look up against it and with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side rolling up in desperate need of a win, few Fantasy managers will be confident of backing the Black Cats over the remaining two matches.
Having won six back-to-back matches prior to Saturday’s hammering at Wigan, the Magpies will be looking for a response at the Bridge tomorrow night. In spite of their own fine form, however, Alan Pardew’s side are faced with an awful pair of fixtures to see out the season. City arrive on Sunday needing to win to maintain their lead over United at the top – Tim Krul is likely to have his work cut out to keep the visitors at bay, while Papiss Cisse could struggle against a side that have three clean sheets in the last four.
Also Be Wary Of
Fulham – Another side with little to play for, Martin Jol’s men were taken apart at Goodison last weekend and, although they managed to sneak a win at Anfield this evening, the result was more down to Kenny Dalglish’s pre-FA Cup Final tinkering more than the visitors’ performance. It’s more a case of motivation over the next two for Jol’s men, though they’ll want to grab a win over Sunderland this weekend to cap off their schedule at the Cottage before heading to the Lane on the final day of the season. Clint Dempsey’s owners will also be banking on returns this weekend- the US international has now gone three games without a goal, equalling his worst run of the season.