Our weekly refresh of the fixture list is rolled out once again this afternoon. The Gameweek 29 situation plays a significant part in our thinking, with two matches currently cancelled due to the FA Cup Sixth Round and two more to possibly fall by the wayside. Nevertheless, plenty of sides look primed for favourable runs, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle amongst the stand-out options over the next four to six Gameweeks.
With the blank now out of the way, Brendan Rodgers’ side look set for further investment in light of their upcoming schedule. The Reds may face four away trips in the next six, though with each of those matches against sides in the bottom five (wig, sot, avl, rdg), would-be investors will be far from deterred. Home clashes against Tottenham and West Ham also hand the Merseysiders the chance to build on their current eighth place spot and with no European duties or domestic cup participation to worry about, rest and rotation looks unlikely here.
Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge are the likeliest to produce attacking returns, while Jose Enrique’s 19 point haul in double Gameweek 26 highlighted his differential appeal – his Fantasy Premier League (FPL) ownership remains under 5% and, at 5.8, the Spaniard could well be set to prosper over the next few matches.
The fixtures certainly look bright for Chelsea over the next few Gameweeks. Rafa Benitez’s side have four home matches in the next six, as West Brom, West Ham, Sunderland and Spurs all arrive at the Bridge. At present, their Gameweek 29 trip to Fulham is still scheduled, though much depends on their FA Cup Fifth Round clash with Middlesbrough as to whether that goes ahead. With a visit to Southampton also on the cards, the prospect for Fantasy points looks enticing, though Benitez’s rest and rotation policy could undermine our investment here.
With Europa League duties also in the mix, Benitez will surely utilise his squad to maximum effect over the next few matches, making his starting line-ups no more than a guessing game. Nevertheless, Juan Mata and Frank Lampard’s recent form cannot be overlooked, while Eden Hazard certainly looks a viable alternative. In defence, it’s becoming near impossible to predict Benitez’s intentions – Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole have missed just one league game apiece since the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo and certainly have seemed the most secure. Up top, few will be willing to gamble – incredibly, Demba Ba has dropped 0.9 in price since Gameweek 23, such is the lack of faith in his manager’s selection process.
Three wins in their last four have eased the Magpies away from the drop zone as Alan Pardew’s side finally start to pick up in form. Newcastle now welcome Stoke, Fulham and Sunderland to St James’ Park in the next six Gameweeks, while trips to Swansea and Wigan will hold no fear, given their recent displays. With attacking returns in all four of his appearances since moving to Tyneside, Moussa Sissoko’s mid-price appeal is set to earn the Frenchman plenty new investors, with three goals, a pair of assists and six bonus points attesting to his capabilities as the advanced central midfielder in Pardew’s 4-2-3-1.
Yohan Cabaye is expected to shrug off the illness that forced him off in Sunday’s win over Southampton; with three goals in his last five, he offers a definite alternative to Sissoko, bearing in mind he’s on penalties and has a share of set-pieces. Papiss Cisse’s goal against the Saints certainly suggests his confidence is on the up, while Davide Santon has impressed in defence of late, with three assists in the last three Gameweeks.
Tony Pulis’ side have three favourable home fixtures in the next five Gameweeks (WHM ,WBA, AVL) to somewhat offset a couple of tricky trips to Newcastle and Everton. The Potters boss will be earmarking those Britannia showdowns as potential victories after a woeful run of form has harvested just four points from the past six Gameweeks. Marc Wilson’s FPL price tag of 3.9 offers a route into the Stoke back-four – having returned from a broken leg last weekend at Fulham, his acquisition affords a relatively risk-free route into a defence that has now conceded in each of their last nine. Brek Shea could offer a real differential option on the left flank if Matt Etherington fails to recover from the back injury that forced him off early at Fulham, while Jon Walters and Peter Crouch remain the obvious routes into Pulis’ attack.
Southampton – Mauricio Pochettino’s side will be licking their wounds after a battering at St James’ Park but the fixture list smiles somewhat kindly on the Saints’ bid to move away from trouble at the bottom. Up next are four home games in the next six (QPR, LIV, CHE, WHM), while trips to Norwich and Reading also afford the chance of returns. Rickie Lambert will be earmarked by many in light of his outstanding season, though with concerns over the game time of Jason Puncheon and Gaston Ramirez, Adam Lallana could make his way onto radars again – he started for the first time since Gameweek 15 last weekend and grabbed an assist; the Saints skipper is down to 5.6 in FPL.
QPR – granted, their form has not been up to much but Harry Redknapp’s side now face a run of fixtures that could have a major say in whether they will stay in the top flight. The R’s face four of their fellow bottom six (sot, SUN, avl, WIG) and also face a trip to Fulham in the next five matches – every one could easily be classed as a proverbial six-pointer. Julio Cesar and Chris Samba will be hoping for an upturn in defensive resilience after shipping six in the last two, while Adel Taarabt remains the man most likely to produce up top, though Loic Remy’s return from injury against United last weekend will be crucial to a side that have scored just four times in the last 10 Gameweeks.
Sunderland – with a single point from their last four, the Black Cats are now just five points clear of the drop zone. Up next, though, is a run of three home games in four (FUL, qpr, NOR, MUN) with the next trio of fixtures particularly crucial to Sunderland before United roll up to the Stadium of Light. Stephane Sessegnon seems to have settled into his new role on the right and impressed in the weekend defeat at West Brom, while Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson offer mid-price alternatives for those looking to back Martin O’Neill’s attacking assets. At the back, Simon Mignolet remains the safest option, with save points to fall back upon should his side concede.
Wigan – the weekend win at Reading suggested that Roberto Martinez’s men are revving up for their annual escape from trouble. At present, Wigan have a blank Gameweek 29, with their trip to City yet to be rescheduled, but a run of four home games in the next six (LIV, NEW, NOR, SWA) in addition to a trip to basement-dwellers QPR certainly looks promising. Arouna Kone, at 6.5 in FPL and with an ownership of less than 1%, could be a real mid-price differential over these crucial fixtures, while Shaun Maloney, Jean Beausejour and Franco Di Santo have all picked up in performance in recent matches. Emmerson Boyce has returned to fitness and offers an out of position prospect on the right of midfield – he’s now down to 4.7 in FPL.
Steve Clarke’s side will be buoyed by their recent back-to-back victories but the schedule turns nasty for the Baggies now. They travel to Chelsea this weekend without the services of Romelu Lukaku due to the conditions of his loan deal, though the Belgian will then return for a stretch of matches which sees the midlanders travel to Stoke, West Ham and City in the following five, in addition to home clashes with Swansea and Arsenal. While Lukaku’s recent form is likely to persuade his current owners to hold and simply bench for this weekend, the likes of Chris Brunt, James Morrison and Shane Long have offered little reason for investment in terms of attacking returns. At the back, Ben Foster’s save points should come in handy but a single clean sheet in 10 highlights their inability to keep opponents at bay.
The north London outfit have been in fine form of late but face a tricky test to maintain their bid for a third place finish. Andre Villas-Boas’ side now face five of the top nine in the next six matches – Arsenal and Everton roll up to the Lane in addition to trips to Liverpool, Swansea and Chelsea. Nevertheless, Gareth Bale’s owners will remain optimistic, given the Welshman has produced five sets of double figures on the road already, while a record of five goals against in their last 10 Gameweeks highlights Tottenham’s upturn in defensive displays.
As mentioned above, City’s home clash with Wigan, initially pencilled in for Gameweek 29, has yet to be rescheduled. As a result, Roberto Mancini’s side have just one home game in the next five – hardly ideal for their chances of catching United, given they have won just two of their previous five on the road. While a trip to Villa affords reason for optimism, City currently sit the next one out before making their way to Everton and United, with in-form Newcastle paying visit to the Etihad in between. Although yesterday’s move to 4-5-1 seems to have confirmed Sergio Aguero as the number one forward, the Argentine has notched in just one of his last five, while Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez could be confined to sub roles if Mancini continues with the same starting formation. Yaya Toure’s shift to a more advanced berth behind Aguero could boost his prospects, though faith in the City defence remains debatable while Vincent Kompany is on the sidelines.
Also Be Wary Of
Reading – the Royals will be desperate to recover from Saturday’s home thrashing at the hands of Wigan but the schedule continues to pile pressure on Brian McDermott’s men. Up next, Reading travel to Everton, United and Arsenal in the following four Gameweeks, with only a home clash with fellow-strugglers Villa offering a little respite. They’ll have to make do without Pavel Pogrebnyak for the next three after his sending off against the Latics, while Ian Harte’s owners may be somewhat pessimistic over his chances of picking up the points.
West Ham – another side without a Gameweek 29 fixture at present, though their home clash against United could yet be rescheduled for the following midweek and stay within the Gameweek. Right now, though, the Hammers have just one home fixture confirmed for the next six Gameweeks – Sam Allardyce’s troops have trips to Stoke and Chelsea on either side of that blank and also travel to Liverpool and Southampton. Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll could struggle to produce, given that their side have scored more than a single goal just once in the last 10, while a haul of just two clean sheets in that run is indicative of the lack of resolve offered by the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen and Joey O’Brien.
Fulham – while a crucial home win against Stoke on Saturday affords the Cottagers a reason for optimism, their upcoming schedule hardly looks promising. Fulham have notched just once in the last three Gameweeks and now head to Sunderland, Spurs and Newcastle in the next five – all three fixtures could prove problematic for Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. Martin Jol’s side could also see their Gameweek 29 home game with Chelsea rescheduled, dependant on the Blues’ FA Cup progress, potentially leaving them with a single home game in five, as QPR roll up to the Cottage in Gameweek 31.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“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