A red card for Brede Hangeland helps Sunderland raise their game ahead of a favourable run of fixtures. With a double Gameweek 16 and four home matches in the next four on the horizon, Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and Carlos Cuellar all produce the points as the Black Cats win on their travels for the first time this term…
Fletcher Back in Form
Having racked up 39 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points in his opening four games, Steven Fletcher’s eye for goal and mid-price valuation earned the summer signing plenty investment early on this term. Unsurprisingly, the former Wolves man was unable to maintain his superb scoring rate and after rising to 7.4 had dropped back to 7.0 prior to yesterday’s trip to the Cottage. Sunderland had arrived at Fulham with a mere seven goals to their name – the lowest in the league – though Fletcher’s worth was obvious, having found the net on five occasions. A goal and assist yesterday afternoon means the forward has played a part in seven of his side’s 10 goals and with the maximum FPL bonus points in the bag yet again, he has now produced 15 bonus points – second only to Carlos Tevez’s 16 so far. It’s something of an understatement to say that Martin O’Neill’s side have failed to impress going forward but with a strong run of home fixtures in the next four Gameweeks (WBA, QPR, nor, CHE & RDG) he’s the one man most likely to produce the points, going on his displays so far.
Johnson and Sessegnon Amongst the Points
It’s been an underwhelming start to his career on Wearside but Adam Johnson is starting to suggest he is finally beginning to settle. With James McClean dropped to the bench for the second time in three Gameweeks, the former City winger was shifted to the left, allowing Seb Larsson to shift from the middle out to the right flank against the Cottagers. Having broken his duck against Everton last weekend, Johnson was in the points again, providing a pair of assists and a couple of FPL bonus points for his owners. Two performances are not quite enough to judge his Fantasy potential but with the fixtures so obliging, many are likely to snap up the 6.8 priced midfielder.
With seven goals, 12 assists and 14 bonus points last term, Stephane Sessegnon had been priced at 8.0 this time round but prior to yesterday, he’d been a passenger in the Sunderland side, without a goal or assist in the opening 11 Gameweeks. A superb strike for the visitors’ third had his manager hoping the Benin international can grow in self-belief and start to replicate his form of the previous campaign:
“Confidence is a big thing, and when you see someone like Sessegnon score that type of goal, you hope it helps. He’s been searching for that confidence all season, as has the rest of the team. There were signs of it coming back last week at Everton. We created three great chances in the first half and should have been able to take more than the one we did. We created chances again today and shared the goals around.”
Cuellar on the Radar
With just three goals conceded in their first four home games, O’Neill’s side have been impressive at the back at the Stadium of Light, despite their lack of cutting edge. Ahead of their above-mentioned schedule, investment in Sunderland’s defensive assets looks a likely tactic by many and while fit-again Phil Bardsley could offer potential from right-back, Carlos Cuellar’s goal and 4.5 FPL price tag will surely see the Spaniard pick up plenty new suitors over the next few matches. Cuellar sat third in our Watchlist rankings before Sunday – he’s likely to maintain that rank for several weeks.
Fulham Defensive Woes Continue
The dismissal of Brede Hangeland, for a two-footed challenge on Lee Cattermole, undoubtedly changed the match. Martin Jol will now make do without the Norwegian for the next three Gameweeks as his side travel to Stoke and Chelsea before playing host to Spurs but while Hangeland’s absence will be a real blow, Fulham’s defensive woes have been apparent for some time now. Although their attacking brand of football has allowed Dimitar Berbatov to flourish up front, the Cottagers have now conceded 22 goals in their opening 12 fixtures, only one less than basement-dwellers QPR. On eight occasions they have conceded at least two goals and as the season progresses, their resilience at the back is further slackening – they have now shipped three goals in three of the last four.
Injuries Build up for Jol
With Kieran Richardson sidelined due to a hamstring injury sustained against Arsenal last week, Alex Kacaniklic was afforded the chance on the left flank but the young Swede lasted less than half an hour before limping off to be replaced by Hugo Rodallega. Martin Jol then watched on as Bryan Ruiz was forced off on 58 minutes, to be replaced by Mladen Petric – although the latter finished the match, he left the field a couple of times for treatment after notching the Cottagers’ consolation. Post-match, Jol confirmed both Kacaniklic and Ruiz will be out for at least three weeks; his attacking options are severely dented as the schedule begins to pick up pace, with the next three Gameweeks kicking off on November 24, November 27 and December 1 respectively.