With ten sides set for a pair of fixtures apiece this Gameweek, Fantasy managers are spoilt for choice in terms of selections. In the first of a two-article analysis, we look at those players most likely to deliver across the double:
Wojciech Szczesny, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are the main contenders at the back for Arsenal. The Gunners’ trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime somewhat diminishes their double, though having limited Bayern Munich to a single strike in the Champions League last week and kept out Tottenham in the north London derby win at White Hart Lane, Arsene Wenger’s men could prove a tough obstacle for a Chelsea side that failed to score against Villa last weekend.
A midweek home game against Swansea is far more appealing as Arsenal look to add to their 13 clean sheets this term. Of the three, Koscielny seems to be the form player. He has now bettered Mertesacker for bonus by 14 points to eight since Gameweek 19 and, at 5.6 and owned by 11% to the German’s 6.4 and 27% ownership, looks the better bet in terms of both budget and differential appeal. Mertesacker’s goal threat keeps him in the mix, whilst Szczesny is now the top-scoring Fantasy Premier League (FPL) keeper, with save points boosting his appeal.
Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines both look viable options as Everton host Swansea before travelling to St James’ Park. The former is now owned by 37% – 10% more than any other defender – and non-owners will be fearful of his potential as he looks to add to his six-goal haul, whilst Baines, dearer than his team-mate at 7.4 to 6.7, has his set-pieces and spot-kicks to thank for three goals thus far. In terms of clean sheet potential, the Toffees have conceded just twice in their last four at Goodison, whilst it’s worth noting that midweek opponents Newcastle have failed to score in any of their last four matches without the injured Loic Remy – suggesting Tim Howard could also be in the points. With Roberto Martinez keen to rotate his attacking options, a Coleman and Baines double-up could even prove a canny tactic.
A home game with West Brom and trip to West Ham offers Curtis Davies further chance of points as Hull look to scramble to safety. The Tigers have been more resilient on the road in recent matches – registering back-to-back shut-outs compared to five home games without a clean sheet – and whilst Davies, at 4.7, is the dearest option amongst Steve Bruce’s backline regulars, his eye for goal has already seen him score four times in all competitions this term.
For Liverpool’s trip to Cardiff and home game against Sunderland, Martin Skrtel and Simon Mignolet look the safest options. Brendan Rodgers’ decision to move to a midfield diamond has helped the Reds to back-to-back clean sheets and their prospects of further returns look promising this week – the Bluebirds have scored in just four of their 10 matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whilst Sunderland have scored three times in their last six in all competitions. Skrtel’s attacking threat has already produced four goals for the big centre-half and, at 5.6 with an ownership of just 4%, he looks a real differential with three sets of double figures to his name already this term.
With Vincent Kompany suspended for the first match of the double, Pablo Zabaleta offers the most secure route into a City defence with three consecutive clean sheets. A home game against Fulham is first up for the 6.0-priced right-back, who has already served up four assists in front of his own fans, whilst a trip to United isn’t quite so intimidating these days as the red half of Manchester struggle at home under David Moyes.
Over at Old Trafford, Patrice Evra looks the best option at the back. Prior to their home humiliation against Liverpool, it’s easy to forget United had registered three successive clean sheets, whilst the 6.6-priced Frenchman’s forays down the left flank have already produced a goal and five assists and helped him to fourth in the FPL defender standings.
Newcastle are one of only two teams with a couple of home games on their agenda. With that in mind, Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini look valid options ahead of the visits of Palace and Everton to St James’ Park – Tony Pulis’ side have scored just once in their last five road trips, whilst the Toffees have mustered just a single goal in their previous four fixtures away from Goodison Park. Coming in at 5.1 in FPL, Krul’s save points could come to the rescue should the Magpies concede – certainly, with two shut outs in 13, Alan Pardew’s side haven’t been the most resilient of late. Coloccini is now down to 4.8 and has earned bonus points in four of the his five clean-sheet appearances this season.
Given that one of his two games is at Anfield, Vito Mannone’s owners will be a little pessimistic over his points potential. The Sunderland stopper faces two road trips, with a weekend visit to Carrow Road also on the agenda – nonetheless, with an average of 5.4 ppg bettered only by Coleman amongst defensive regulars, and six double figure hauls in just 18 appearances, the Italian, priced at a mere 4.5, could still add to his 21 save points and 16 bonus points over the pair of fixtures.
Adrian looks the safest rearguard option for West Ham’s back-to-back home games against United and Hull. Sam Allardyce’s decision to drop James Collins for last weekend’s trip to Stoke raises question marks over the Hammers’ centre-halves and the Spaniard, at just 4.5 in FPL, has averaged an impressive 5.2 points per game since taking over from Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Hammers have conceded a single goal in their last three at Upton Park, with Adrian’s 14 save points in 11 appearances indicative of his importance to the Hammers’ cause.
Arsenal’s pair of fixtures afford Santi Cazorla the chance to continue his recent impressive showings. The little Spaniard has played a part in five of the Gunners’ last 12 league goals, with three goals and a pair of assists to his name – with the likes of Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey all injured, he looks the one midfield option capable of picking up the points as Arsene Wenger’s side look to stay in the title race. The trip to Chelsea may see him toil but a home game against a Swansea side that have picked up two points from their last four looks full of potential.
A goal or assist in 16 of his last 19 starts sums up the consistency we can expect from Steven Gerrard. Attacking returns look on the menu for Brendan Rodgers’ top scorers as they roll up to face a Cardiff side that have conceded two goals per game under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whilst a home clash with Sunderland affords the Reds a chance to maintain the form which has seen them average three strikes per match at Anfield. At 9.2, Gerrard looks the perfect solution for those perhaps unwilling to double up on Liverpool’s front two.
City pair Yaya Toure and David Silva are the in-form options amongst Manuel Pellegrini’s side. Weekend visitors Fulham have the second worst away defensive record in the league, whilst the Manchester derby trip to Old Trafford merely gives the Etihad side the chance to heap further pressure on David Moyes. Toure has averaged 6.3 points per game this term and was moved to the role in “the hole” against Hull, whilst Silva’s 14-point haul at the KC has earned him a major midweek bandwagon.
Without a goal or assist in each of his last four, Juan Mata could easily be classed as no more than a punt right now. The little Spaniard remains the one United attacking midfielder at least guaranteed of starts –whilst most owners are prepared to keep him and see out the games against West Ham and City, few will be tempted to purchase, with the likes of Gerrard, Toure and Silva all looking far more appealing options in the same price bracket.
Let’s face it – Sunderland’s double could be a little kinder on Adam Johnson. Weekend opponents Norwich have conceded once in their last five home games, whilst the midweek clash at Anfield may be no more than a back-to-the-wall performance – with six goals and two assists in his last seven league appearances, though, the 6.5-priced winger is the one man Gus Poyet can rely upon to deliver.
Kevin Nolan’s home form cannot be overlooked ahead of two Upton Park fixtures. The Hammers skipper has delivered three sets of double figures (13, 16, 3, 12) in his last four home appearances and with Andy Carroll back in the starting XI, Big Sam’s side could take advantage of the visits of United and Hull, with Nolan’s 7.1 price tag still relatively budget-friendly.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have the potential to run riot over the Gameweek. The move back to a front two has swung the momentum firmly back in the Uruguayan’s favour after Sturridge seemed to have the edge – Suarez has earned over 78% of the votes cast in this week’s Captain Poll, though his team-mate could well be the one alternative for those brave enough to look elsewhere with their armband.
Priced at just 6.7 in FPL, Edin Dzeko is the one City forward that has shown a semblance of form in recent matches. The Bosnian has netted in four of his last seven and with Sergio Aguero looking likely to remain on the sidelines, that home game with Fulham could be reason enough to acquire Dzeko as our third striker.
Roberto Martinez’ recent hint at rotation is somewhat disconcerting but we still have enough faith in Romelu Lukaku’s game time for Everton’s pair of fixtures. Two double figure hauls all season, though, and just a couple of goals from Gameweek 14 onwards suggests we shouldn’t expect too much from the big Belgian, though.
It says everything about United’s current plight that neither Wayne Rooney or Robin Van Persie have managed to earn even 1% of this week’s Captain Poll votes. Prior to the Liverpool defeat, Rooney had hinted at a return to match sharpness with two goals and assist in the previous two, whilst Van Persie, for all his recent lack of on-field conviction, has still delivered four goals and an assist in seven appearances since recovering from injury. Hardly a drought but, like Mata, non-owners are steering well-clear given West Ham’s home record and City’s recent run of defensive displays.
Three goals in his last five games bring Nikica Jelavic into consideration as a legitimate mid-price option for Hull’s clashes with West Brom and the Hammers. At 6.7, he’s identical in price to Dzeko, for example, though looks guaranteed to play every minute of both games – as our members can attest to, his underlying statistics look outstanding and suggest the Croatian has been a little unlucky not to find the net more often for the Tigers. Owned by just 1% of FPL managers, his recent 13-point haul against Cardiff highlights his potential.
There’s no denying Olivier Giroud is a frustrating Fantasy asset to own but, as Arsenal’s number one forward, the Frenchman has to be in the mix. There’d be no real surprise if the trip to Chelsea failed to deliver any points but that home game against Swansea could more than make amends – Giroud served up a 16-point haul in his previous game at the Emirates and could flourish against the Welsh strugglers next midweek.
Finally, Swansea’s Wilfried Bony is worth a name-check on form alone. Six goals, an assist and seven bonus points in 10 appearances since the turn of the year has been a decent return from the 7.1-priced Ivorian but, with back-to-back trips to Everton and Arsenal, he’ll be hard-pushed to maintain that run. If Garry Monk’s side are to get anything out of this double, though, Bony is likely to be involved.