Given their form so far, it’s a little difficult to praise many of Sunderland’s Fantasy assets right now. Aside from Steven Fletcher’s run of five goals across Gameweek 2-5, the Black Cats have failed to flicker on our radars after an insipid batch of displays. A single win and seven goals scored over their first 10 fixtures leaves Martin O’Neill’s side hovering three points above the drop zone but, with four home matches in their next five, the schedule offers a chance to push up the table.
Simon Mignolet comes into our thinking, then, ahead of a crucial run of games for the Wearsiders. While this weekend’s trip to Fulham looks limited for returns, given the Cottagers flourishing form up front, the following four Gameweeks smile a little kinder on their prospects. Home clashes against West Brom and QPR should hold little fear for a resilient Sunderland side set up not to concede – while the Baggies picked up their first away win of the season last weekend, they have scored just five goals in five away games, while Mark Hughes’ outfit have failed to score in each of their last two road trips. Bearing in mind the Black Cats have conceded just four goals in four at the Stadium of Light, confidence in their defence may be set to take a turn for the better, with Mignolet producing at least three Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points in each of his home games so far.
O’Neill’s side then make their way to Carrow Road in Gameweek 15. While Norwich haven’t tasted defeat in their last four, the Canaries have struggled to find the net, with just two goals scored over that unbeaten run. Indeed, with five goals in five matches in front of their own fans, their home record will afford the Black Cats hope of a third away clean sheet, having kept out Arsenal and Stoke on their travels already.
Double Gameweek 16 then sees Chelsea and Reading make their way to the Stadium of Light. Granted, the clash against Roberto Di Mateo’s side looks good for only save points for Mignolet, but the Reading match has clear potential – Brian McDermott’s strugglers have scored three times in their last four away games.
Coming in at 5.0 FPL and 4.4 in the Sky Sports game, Mignolet offers a decent mid-priced option for those Fantasy managers currently looking for alternatives to the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen and Asmir Begovic between the sticks. Having already accrued 39 points – just four less than Petr Cech, for example – he is second only to Fletcher’s 48 for Sunderland and has offered a consistency of starts matched only by John O’Shea amongst the Black Cats backline. If O’Neill is to engineer a climb up the table, these next few games looks be crucial and while Fletcher has earned the plaudits so far, Mignolet’s contribution will be equally key to his side’s fortunes.