With two double Gameweeks distorting the Fantasy landscaspe somewhat, we’ve taken time to update our mid-term player rankings. Arsenal and Chelsea assets flourish, then, with Fantasy defences in particular, set to enjoy a shake-up as a result of the early New Year schedule as Wildcards flutter.
Read on for the thinking behind the current ladder standings and look out for our in-depth Wildcard articles. We’ve published those discussing Goalkeepers and Defenders earlier this week, with a look at the midfield options to follow.
Simon Mignolet climbs to the top of the goalkeeper rankings off the back of two clean sheets in four and with strong fixtures to come. With both Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna offering options in the Gunners’ back four, Wojciech Szczesny, suffers a slight dent in his stock to slip below the Black Cats stopper but still remains a prize Fantasy asset with the double fixture in Gameweek 23 beckoning.
Stoke’s Asmir Begovic maintains his posiiton in our top three, despite going five league encounters without clean sheet returns. Investment continues to flow the Bosnian’s way and, with fixtures improving, returns should be back on the agenda. The potential return of Marc Wilson as a 4.0 option in defence could severely damage his value, however. That situation requires monitoring.
West Ham’s Jussi Jaaskelainen has the double in Gameweek 23, with a decent run of fixtures up to Gameweek 27, when matters stiffen considerably. Norwich City’s Mark Bunn has yet to earn a clean sheet but has four home matches in the next six Gameweeks – his stock remains strong, then, although news of John Ruddy’s return to fitness would rapidly end his term as a Fantasy option.
Along with Bunn, Villa’s Brad Guzan and Reading’s Adam Federici remain strong budget options. Guzan has three home fixtures to come in the next five; as does Federici, who is playing in front of a Reading defence that has shown recent improvement. As mentioned in our recent Wildcard article, this pairing rotate to offer a full budget route between the sticks.
Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs is enjoying a rich vein of form and has the double Gameweek to come to boost his stock further. While Sagna remains a cheaper option, Gibbs’ form swings favour in his direction and, along with Szczesny in goal, looks an obvious route ahead of Gameweek 23. With three home games in four to follow the double Gameweek, Gibbs makes a strong case on top of our defender rankings.
Two goals in two games in all competitons underlines Leighton Baines’ attacking potential, although an ankle problem prevents him from threatening Gibbs for top spot in our rankings. Everton’s fixtures are very strong over the next four and Baines looks set to prosper if he can play through the pain barrier for the Toffees. We may even see David Moyes’ side register that belated clean sheet: they’ve gone 15 league matches without one.
Chelsea’s David Luiz has his Gameweek 22 to help build on stock that has been boosted considerably by a shift to a central midfield role. While Luiz’s start is perhaps not totally secure withing Rafa Benitez’s lineup, he remains an option that’s hard to ignore, even beyond Chelsea’s two fixtures.
There’s a string of strong budget and mid-price options on offer, not least West Ham’s Guy Demel who benefits from the injury to Joey O’Brien to reinstate himself in our rankings. Swansea’s Ben Davies and Wigan’s Emmerson Boyce also look solid acquisitions, the latter now back in his right wing-back role and with two favourable home fixtures on offer.
Reading’s Ian Harte, Norwich City’s Seb Bassong and Ciaran Clark of Villa are also on hand for those willing to take a gamble on attacking returns, although all three have fixtures which could also deliver clean sheets.
The emergence of these cheaper options, combined with stiffening schedules, finds the likes of Glen Johnson and Jan Vertonghen spinning down our rankings to the lower reaches.
Chelsea’s Juan Mata and Arseanl’s Theo Walcott sit in the top two spots with double Gameweeks on offer. It’s hard to argue against their acquisition, with team-mates Eden Hazard and Santi Cazorla now reduced to offering alternatives only for those seeking differentials.
Eveton’s Marouane Fellaini made his return to action at Newcastle following a three-match suspension and immediately featched an assist to underline his importance to the Everton cause. With three attractive Goodison clashes in the next four, further attacking returns look likely and that’s enough to rank the Belgian above Gareth Bale.
Both remain in our top five, with Swansea’s Michu completing what would seem a settled and powerful Wildcard midfield five.
The likes of David Silva and Steven Gerrard threaten to break in, with the Liverpool skipper enjoying a flood of points in recent weeks to promote his claim for Fantasy acquisition. Ultimately, however, Gerrard remains in the shadow of Luis Suarez in Fantasy terms and, with Daniel Sturridge also now an option for consideration, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Gerrard climb further this season. He remains a differential – albeit a potentially effective one.
Lower down, we’ve an array of mid-price options that offer the opportunity to break the template midfield. Robert Snodgrass of Norwich, Kevin Nolan of West Ham and Stephane Sessegnon of Sunderland all have fixtures on their side and are clear options for those looking to take a chance with their fourth and fifth midfield slots.
There’s no shifting the ridiculously consistent Robin Van Persie from the top of the forward rankings, with Chelsea’s new acquisition, Demba Ba, coming closest to the Dutchman in this week’s reckoning. The double Gameweek promotes Ba, even with the threat of rotation a real factor when considering investment. We’re convinced that Ba will get around 120 minutes form his two Gameweek 22 fixtures, however, and that’s enough to hold off Luis Suarez for second spot.
The Uruguyan’s form is nothing short of sensational but, with Sturridge also now available as an option and talk of Suarez moving to a support role, there are new variables to consider here. That almost has Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov ranking above the Liverpool man, as the Bulgarian goes into the weekend clash with Wigan at the Cottage with returns in his last three – fixtures with City and United in the next four dull his potential somewhat, however.
Edin Dzeko looks safe in the City lineup for the time being and, with three goals in two matches, he stands out as a strong differential with a modest 7.4 FPL price tag. Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher, in the same price bracket, looks well placed with strong fixtures to come, while Christian Benteke remains in our thinking with obliging Villa Park fixtures in the next five.
Reading’s Pavel Pogrebnyak, having now seemingly established himself in the Royals starting XI with two goals in two games, looks to be offering extraordinary value at just 4.3 – he is a viable alternative to Rickie Lambert for those shopping on a budget here.
Everton’s Nikica Jelavic is your ready-made differential. Having struggled for form this season with just a single goal in the last 10 league outings, the Croatian notched in Everton’s FA Cup win and has the opposition over the next four to kick on. At 8.1, he still represents a major gamble when Fellaini can be acquired for less in midfield.
Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse is another name worth monitoring. Now established in the central striker role, at least until Alan Pardew can recruit and assimilate a new signing, Cisse has struck twice in three matches and will likely welcome the new focus following the departure of compatriot Demba Ba.