It’s not been the most straightforward of seasons for United’s Jonny Evans. Four times the centre-half has been sidelined now, with ankle, leg, groin and hamstring problems curtailing his game time over the course of the campaign – as a result, the most he’s managed is six consecutive league starts thus far.
Nevertheless, Evans’ presence in the United back-four has been significant. The league leaders have managed one clean sheet in the 10 games without the Northern Ireland international in their first XI – with Evans in the starting line-up, they have registered five clean sheets in 16 games by comparison.
Factor in three goals, a pair of assists and nine Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bonus points and Evans has racked up 81 points – an average of 4.8 points per game, which is exactly the same as Patrice Evra and superior to Rafael’s 4.1. Indeed, this is joint-top for regular defenders overall, equalling Jose Enrique, with the likes of Leighton Baines and Branislav Ivanovic just behind on 4.6 and 4.4 respectively.
Providing he can now remain injury-free, Evans looks set to be key to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side over the remainder of the season. Over the last few days, the United boss has lavished praise upon the centre-half and suggested Evans’ game will continue to develop with the aid of regular appearances. Ferguson hinted that a fully-fit Evans is likely to afford him the chance to alternate Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at centre-half as United also juggle FA Cup and Champions League commitments.
“Jonny is only 25 but he’s emerged in the last year as a real top defender. His form has been fantastic. If you can get consistency off young players you are on the right track and Jonny has shown great consistency in the last year. Last season it wasn’t until Ferdinand and Evans played regularly that we got a run going.”
Considering United’s midfield have failed to step up as Fantasy options this season, investment in defence could well appeal ahead of a run of games which affords the chance to consolidate their 12 point lead at the summit. Norwich and Reading roll up to Old Trafford over the next five and with trips to QPR, West Ham and Sunderland also on their agenda, faith in their Fantasy assets could extend beyond their free-scoring frontmen.
Coming in at 5.6 in FPL and 7.5 in the Sky Sports game, Evans is significantly cheaper than Evra’s 7.3 in FPL and also sets you back less than Rafael, at 6.0. An ownership of 1% offers a real differential route into a backline that has now registered four back-to-back clean sheets with the centre-half in their ranks – an indication of just why Ferguson sees Evans’ contribution as crucial to his side’s chances of wrestling back the title from City.