Having already assessed the sides with Strong schedules over the next four-to-six Gameweeks, we turn our attentions to those teams feeling the sharp end of the forthcoming fixture list . Both Welsh outfits are set for a testing festive period, whilst Southampton’s evil run of games is not quite over yet:
An inability to put more than one goal past Norwich at the weekend doesn’t bode well for Michael Laudrup as his Europa League-ravaged squad enter a dark winter of horrid fixtures. With games against Everton, Chelsea, Man City, Man United and Tottenham in the next six, the only respite from the onslaught is a trip to Aston Villa as Fantasy investment in the Swans looks set to hit a low ebb.
Owners of Ashley Williams and Chico Flores will be minded to part company with pickings looking so slim, while Michu and Wilfried Bony face a very tough task to find their much-needed goalscoring form against such formidable foes. In other circumstances, the injury to Nathan Dyer would have brought Alex Pozuelo into contention as a budget 5th midfielder but these ghastly fixtures all but kill off his potential.
A point at St James’ Park did little to slow Southampton’s sad slide down the league table. Injuries to several key personnel have come at the worst possible time for Mauricio Pochettino as the Saints are beset by a prolonged patch of difficult fixtures. Home games against Tottenham and Chelsea and a trip to Everton – all in the next four – look set to curb the point-scoring from a raft of early-season favourites.
With Nathaniel Clyne, Artur Boruc and Victor Wanyama still injured, these fixtures look all the more fruitless for defenders like Dejan Lovren and Jose Fonte. Adam Lallana’s earlier explosion of returns has been dampened by the onset of their difficult fixtures, though the bright spark of Jay Rodriquez has refused to be extinguished, having scored against Chelsea and Newcastle, but these fixtures will surely deter all but the most ardent of suitors.
Another lacklustre performance last night saw Jose Mourinho’s goal-shy side knocked unceremoniously out of the Capital One Cup by Sunderland, following on from an unconvincing win over Crystal Palace. Such tepid form puts their title aspirations in jeopardy as they prepare to face two of their table-topping rivals – Arsenal and Liverpool – in the next four weeks and Man United in the next six.
Owners of Eden Hazard and Oscar may opt to keep faith despite the fixtures but now is probably not the time for a punt on Fernando Torres after his second goal of the season at the weekend. The bigger puzzle is the defence – uncharacteristically porous for a Mourinho side, with goals conceded to the lowliest of opponents, faith in John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic has been tested to the limit recently and many owners may decide at this point that enough is enough.
BE WARY OF
Having shown glimpses of promise at both ends of the pitch at various points so far this season, Mark Hughes’ team have largely retreated from Fantasy radars of late. That situation looks unlikely to change as The Potters’ short-term fixtures look less than enticing. Their next game, at home to Aston Villa, is comely enough but following that are four fixtures which Fantasy managers will surely turn their noses up at (new, tot, EVE, LIV). Stoke backline options such as Asmir Begovic and Geoff Cameron had been scoring well enough recently due to good fixtures but that looks set to change, while Stephen Ireland looks to be an ill-advised punt right now, despite a recent resurgence in his attacking competence.
The bizarre feud between manager and eccentric owner rolls on, but Malky Mackay stands firm and a good three points at the expense of Steve Clarke’s job will help their ambitions to stay in the Premier League. The next six fixtures are a very mixed bag, though. Home games against Sunderland, West Ham and even Southampton could be profitable but trips to Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City are daunting to say the least. Owners of Ben Turner or David Marshall may be minded to keep hold if they have a solid rotation plan but Peter Whittingham will need to make the most of those good fixtures to atone for a likely scarcity of goals in the tricky ones.
Fantasy investors in the Hull City defence have been rewarded with five clean sheets from eight home games but the prospects of that form continuing are a little bleak. The Tigers have just one appealing home game – against Fulham – in the next six and beyond. Other visitors to the KC Stadium include Man United and Chelsea and, with a trip to Liverpool also on the horizon, James Chester and Curtis Davies could struggle to justify even their meagre prices. Robbie Brady continues to struggle for game time and, even without such fixtures, would scarcely warrant investment.