Just two Gameweeks to go, then. For some Fantasy managers, there’s still everything to play for, while others – perhaps stung by the previous double Gameweek – will just be glad when it’s all over, with next month’s Euro 2012 competition offering the chance of redemption. As always, we’ve knocked our heads together behind the scenes and bring you this season’s penultimate Scout Picks:
Mark Schwarzer gets the nod between the posts ahead of Fulham’s final home game of the season. While the Cottagers have been struggling for clean sheets at home in recent Gameweeks, the visit of Sunderland offers plenty hope of defensive points. Martin O’Neill’s side have scored in just one of their last five matches and have only netted in two of their previous six road trips. With Stephane Sessegnon having scored just once since Gameweek 23, Martin Jol’s side will be more than optimistic of nullifying the Black Cats’ threat.
Thomas Vermaelen’s potential at both ends of the pitch makes the Arsenal man an obvious choice. It’s easy to see why – the Belgian has three clean sheets and a goal in his last four at the Emirates and, with Norwich arriving in a poor run of form, the centre-half is afforded the chance to add to his tally of six goals already this season.
With regular pick Jonny Evans unavailable and with doubts over the right-back position, we’ve opted for Patrice Evra ahead of United’s crucial home encounter with Swansea. The top scoring Fantasy Premier League (FPL) defender thus far, the Frenchman has four clean sheets in his last five at Old Trafford and picked up an assist in his previous home game for an 11 point return. With United likely to go for the jugular, his raids from left-back could prove fruitful on Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Walker makes up the back-three. A stunning free-kick against Blackburn in the previous Gameweek suggests Walker will be afforded his fair share of set-pieces and, with a couple of clean sheets in his last five appearances, he’s been decent defensively, too. Spurs roll up to Villa Park this Sunday and, with Alex McLeish’s side scoring just once in their last four, Walker’s 13% of Fantasy owners will be confident going into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Clint Dempsey is drafted in for his final home game of the season. The Fulham midfielder is up against a Sunderland side with just a single clean sheet in their last six road trips and, despite a three-match goalless run, has still produced attacking returns in each of his last three at the Cottage. With six double figure hauls at home already this term, the US international is a decent armband candidate for the Gameweek ahead.
A trip to relegated Wolves offers Steven Pienaar the perfect platform to continue his outstanding recent form. Six assists, two goals and eight bonus points in his last six Gameweeks highlights the South African’s potential and, with David Moyes’ side on a seven-match unbeaten run, the on-loan midfielder looks set to play a significant part in their push for the points at Molineux this Sunday.
Dropped to the subs bench as Sir Alex Ferguson rolled out a 4-5-1 for Monday’s visit to City, we’re confident of a recall for Antonio Valencia this time round. A return to 4-4-2 looks essential and United’s need for goals against Swansea is already well-documented; the Ecuadorian’s right wing menace looks vital to their chances of a substantial win over Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Rafael Van der Vaart gets the final midfield slot. As the season draws to a closer, the Dutchman shows little sign of letting up – those who drafted him in for the double Gameweek last time round were rewarded with double figure returns in each of his two appearances. Van der Vaart squares up to a Villa side with a single clean sheet in their last four home fixtures and, with Spurs pushing for a fourth place finish, looks in the mood to pick up the points yet again.
An Emirates showdown with out-of-sorts Norwich looks tailor made for Robin Van Persie. The Canaries arrive on a three-game losing streak, with 11 goals conceded in than run of fixtures – Paul Lambert’s men seem to have relaxed a little too much since sealing their top-flight survival. There’s no doubt the Dutchman has been far from his best in recent home matches – just one goal in his previous five in front of his own fans attests to that – but our faith in his ability to produce the points will never waver.
Wayne Rooney is another nailed-on pick this weekend. Perhaps surprisingly, Rooney lags way behind Van Persie in the Captain Poll, despite having far more impressive home form over the past couple of months. The United man has scored in each of his last six at Old Trafford, bagging four braces, and has returned maximum bonus in five of those six matches. With goals a necessity for the defending champions against Swansea, Rooney’s contribution will be critical.
Our faith in Everton’s potential this weekend sees Nikica Jelavic drafted in. Up against a side that have conceded 30 goals in 11 games since Terry Connor’s installation, the in-form Croatian looks in line to rack up the points at Molineux on Sunday. While his goal glut came to a temporary halt at the Britannia on Tuesday, Jelavic had grabbed two goals in each of last three prior to the Stoke encounter – a game against Wolves looks the ideal opportunity for the January signing to find the net yet again.
David Wheater settles for a place on the bench ahead of a home clash with West Brom. While his goal threat from set-piece could trouble the Baggies back-line, the prospect of defensive returns looks decent. Roy Hodgson’s side have scored just twice in their last five away games and, with Peter Odemwingie a doubt due to a hamstring problem, a clean sheet could well be on the cards for Owen Coyle’s side.
Victor Moses was just edged out of the first XI this weekend. Wigan arrive at Ewood Park next Monday knowing a win would all but seal their survival bid and the 5.3 priced winger has been crucial to their recent run of five wins in the last seven Gameweeks. Having notched a brace and 16 point FPL return against in-form Newcastle last time out, our Victor is clearly a man in demand – more than 52,000 Fantasy managers have already drafted him in this week, more than any other player.
We’ve gone for a differential for the final spot in the form of Kevin Davies. Back in the Trotters’ starting line-up, Davies proved his worth in the previous double Gameweek with a two-goal, 15 point return. With a home win vital if Bolton are to boost their chances of beating the drop, their skipper’s contribution will be key this Sunday as West Brom roll up to the Reebok.