Our refresh of the Watchlist rankings, focussing on player selection over the next four to six Gameweeks, is rolled out this afternoon. As you’d expect, those with upcoming double Gameweeks and outstanding fixtures play a major part in our assessment – the full player listing are in the sidebar on your right:
Sunderland duo Vito Mannone and Phil Bardsley climb this week as Gus Poyet’s side return to action after two back-to-back blanks. The Black Cats have home games against Palace and West Ham on either side of double Gameweek trips to Norwich and Liverpool, and with two matches yet to be scheduled, their long-term appeal is obvious. Available for just 4.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), Mannone has averaged five points per game this season, with his save point potential making him the better option but if you’re not shopping for keepers, Bardsley, at 4.3, has a couple of goals and assist to his name thus far and looks the greatest attacking threat amongst Poyet’s defensive regulars.
Tim Howard and Seamus Coleman also scramble up the rankings. Everton face Swansea and Newcastle in double Gameweek 31 and also have showdowns with Cardiff and Fulham in the next three – whilst their away form hasn’t been great, the Toffees – who also have a home clash with Palace to be reschedule – have conceded just once in the last three at Goodison. Coleman gets the nod over Leighton Baines due to the fact that all five of his goals have arrived in open play, whilst Baines’ three strikes have all come from set-pieces or spot-kicks.
Three successive clean sheets elevates David De Gea in the keeper standings, whilst Patrice Evra retains his spot as our United defender of choice. The Red Devils have a double Gameweek 31 followed by showdowns with Villa and Newcastle in the next four and, despite David Moyes’ recent hint at handing the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones greater game time at the back, Evra’s attacking potential keeps him in the mix – he moved up to third in the FPL defender standings last weekend.
With 12 fixtures to play in the final nine Gameweeks, City pair Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany both move up in our estimations. A trip to Hull precedes double Gameweek 31, with games against Fulham and United, whilst Manuel Pellegrini’s side also have home clashes with Southampton and West Brom in the next six. City may have struggled up top in recent matches but seem to have tightened up at the back, with a single goal conceded in the last three – Kompany has notched three times in the previous 10 and, with a 5% ownership, could prove a real differential for the run-in. Aleksandar Kolarov remains lower down due to his less secure game time but, at 5.0, the left-back still remains a viable option – he’s started five of the last seven and has still managed to average five points per game over that run.
Double Gameweeks for Hull and West Ham offer Fantasy managers some cut-price options at the back. With a home game against City this weekend, many will steer clear of Steve Bruce’s side but following that, a pair of fixtures in Gameweek 31 against West Brom and the Hammers precedes clashes with Stoke and Swansea – Allan McGregor and Curtis Davies are our picks here, with the latter’s eye for goal seeing him score four times in all competitions for the Tigers this term.
The Hammers face trips to Stoke and Sunderland in addition to a double Gameweek 31 which hands them home matches United and Hull. Adrian and James Collins have been vital to a run which has seen Big Sam’s side concede just twice in the last six matches, with Collins, at just 4.3, also chipping in with a goal and seven bonus points across that period.
The likes of Mike Williamson and Ashley Williams offer budget routes into Newcastle and Swansea’s defences for their respective doubles. Fabricio Coloccini’s return is sure to boost the Magpies’ clean sheet prospects – Alan Pardew’s welcome Palace and Everton to St James’ Park in Gameweek 31 and also face Fulham, Stoke and Swansea in the next six. Williams’ double Gameweek trips to Arsenal and Everton are somewhat offset by a schedule which also pits the Swans against West Brom, Norwich and Hull in the next four.
Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Ryan Shawcross drop slightly due to the lack of a double but with games against West Ham, Villa, Hull, Newcastle and Cardiff in the next six, the Potters have one of the kindest looking schedules around.
Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson move into the top three this week in light of City and Sunderland’s upcoming fixtures. The Ivorian has dropped to 9.9 in recent weeks but with a consistency of game time and the ability to remain injury-free, he seems set for major investment as he looks to continue the form that has already brought 13 goals and four assists for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. Like Toure, Johnson (now down to a bargain 6.5) has 12 fixtures in the final nine Gameweeks and, with six goals and a pair of assists in his last six league matches, is essential to his side’s survival bid.
Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling offer options across the price brackets for Liverpool’s upcoming schedule. The Reds face Cardiff and Sunderland in double Gameweek 31 and also square up to West Ham and Norwich in the next six Gameweeks, whilst a home clash with Tottenham is hardly a deterrent, given the 5-0 scoreline at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. The 9.1-priced Gerrard’s outstanding consistency has produced a goal or assist in 15 of his last 18 starts, whilst Sterling, at 5.8, has three goals and an assist in the last four – the only worry here is that he was omitted from the starting XI for the first time since Gameweek 12 after Brendan Rodgers opted for a midfield diamond for the trip to Southampton.
Beneath them, a host of mid-price options with double Gameweeks to follow also come into consideration. Kevin Nolan is perhaps the standout option; the Hammers skipper has five goals and an assist in his last five appearances and, at 7.1, is picking up plenty of new investors ahead of the above-mentioned schedule, with sidekick Andy Carroll also back to boost his chances of points.
Kevin Mirallas’ owners were left frustrated after he was moved to the bench last time around, though there’s the chance his absence was down to the fact that Roberto Martinez named his team sheet with one eye on the following FA Cup clash against Arsenal. The 7.5-priced Belgian has been in decent form for Everton, though, with three strikes in his last six and, sitting in just 8% of teams, remains a differential option.
Swansea’s Jonathan de Guzman (5.7) is a real under-the-radar alternative. The Dutchman has scored or assisted in four of his last six starts and has set-pieces and corners to boost his appeal for the Welsh club’s upcoming run of matches. Priced at 5.6, Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko is similarly budget-friendly and scored twice in the Magpies’ 4-1 rout of Hull last time around.
The likes of Adam Lallana and Robert Snodgrass slip down the refresh, with neither player having a double Gameweek to fall back upon. Nonetheless, Snodgrass has Sunderland, Swansea, West Brom and Fulham in the next five; he’s scored or assisted four of Norwich’s last five goals and clearly has the schedule to prosper. Many are mulling over a move out for Lallana to accommodate the double Gameweek options but with Norwich, Newcastle and Cardiff all rolling up to St Mary’s in the next five, he has the chance to continue the form which has brought attacking returns in eight of the last 13 league fixtures.
Sergio Aguero climbs above Daniel Sturridge into second spot, with Luis Suarez holding steady at the summit. Given the number of games his side still have to play, the City forward could move into first position in our thinking – providing he can prove his fitness. Certainly, if Manuel Pellegrini’s side are ousted from the Champions League this evening, we could soon discover the dates of their remaining fixtures; a scenario which would likely hand Aguero three double Gameweeks in the final. Over 61,000 FPL managers have already acquired the Argentine this week – his average of 7.7 points per game is second only to Suarez this season.
With a goal in each of his last two games since returning from injury, Romelu Lukaku shifts up to fourth. The big Belgian looks nailed-on as Everton’s first-choice forward and is now up to 8.3 this week, with the bandwagon picking up pace ahead of the weekend home clash against Cardiff. Wayne Rooney earns the nod over Robin van Persie as our United forward of choice. With the Dutchman looking out of sorts, his strike partner has grabbed two goals and an assist in the last couple of league games and seems to be returning to form after a patchy spell over the previous few matches.
Since returning from a three-match suspension, Loic Remy has scored twice in two games. The Newcastle forward is expected to recover from an ankle problem sustained on international duty and is another mid-price double Gameweek option to consider – available for just 8.0, Remy is owned by only 6% of FPL managers and seems a real differential, given his side’s upcoming schedule.
Nikica Jelavic, Wilfried Bony and Andy Carroll also have double Gameweek 31s to follow. At 6.7, Jelavic is the cheapest of the trio and has scored three times in the last four Gameweeks since moving to Hull, whilst Bony (7.2) has the schedule to keep his momentum going, after scoring six times in his last nine league appearances. If he can steer clear of injury and suspension, Carroll’s three assists in just 231 minutes suggests he could yet have a part to play in our Fantasy seasons.
West Brom’s Victor Anichebe makes an appearance in the lower echelons. The Nigerian has scored or assisted four of his side’s last five goals and, at just 5.1, could appeal to those looking to free up budget to splash out in the midfield – he has games against Swansea, Hull, Cardiff and Norwich in the next four.