After a hugely disappointing second half of the 2011/12 campaign, Fantasy managers were understandably wary over the merits of Jon Walters heading into the new season. The Stoke man surged out the blocks last term before falling dramatically as a Fantasy prospect, after finding the net in just one match – the Gameweek 38 home draw with Bolton – since the turn of the year.
The Potters’ opening fixtures made it easy to overlook the vast majority of their players, too. Games against Arsenal, City, Chelsea and Liverpool in their opening seven is set to be followed by a trip to Old Trafford next weekend – hardly the type of schedule to entice the savvy Fantasy manager.
Tony Pulis’ tactics also dimmed Walters’ appeal as an out of position prospect in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game. Classified as a midfielder yet typically fielded as Peter Crouch’s strike partner in a default 4-4-2, Walters has been shuffled out to the right wing on occasion as Stoke’s tricky run of opponents have resulted in a more defensive 4-5-1 formation at times.
While the Stoke defence have excelled thus far, with just five goals conceded, and Crouch has chipped in with four goals and an assist, Walters has remained somewhat under the radar – despite offering clear signs of his potential. To date, the Republic of Ireland international has played a part in four of his side’s six goals, with a converted spot-kick and a trio of assists helping him rack up 32 FPL points; this is the same tally as Gervinho and Nathan Dyer, for example, and just three points behind Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Nolan and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Once they get the United game out of the way, Stoke’s fixtures suggest their Fantasy assets will be afforded the platform to offer prosperous returns. As the difficulty level eases a touch, Pulis is expected to roll out a 4-4-2 once again – while they’ve lost just once in their opening seven Gameweeks, a single victory, at home to Swansea, underlines a definite requirement for greater emphasis on attack.
Priced at 6.4 in FPL, Walters’ midfield classification is far more enticing than in the Sky Sports game, where he’s listed as a 7.9 priced forward. Factor in his penalty duties and a run of games that see him welcome (SUN, QPR, FUL, NEW) to the Britannia from Gameweek 9-14, in addition to trips to Norwich and West Ham, and Walters looks a viable contender for our five-man midfields, with a mere 6% ownership only furthering his appeal as a strong differential to consider.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“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