Having run the rule over the main contenders for the upcoming double Gameweek, we assess those options that may appeal to those Fantasy managers willing to take a gamble or two:
With a mere 6% ownership, Bacary Sagna is far and away the least popular option amongst Arsenal’s defensive regulars. The Gunners’ recent displays on the road at Bayern and Tottenham suggest Chelsea may struggle to break them down at the Bridge, whilst the home game with Swansea looks ideal as Arsene Wenger’s side go in search of their 14th clean sheet of the campaign. Granted, the next two league matches (against City and Everton) aren’t ideal but Arsenal’s schedule from Gameweek 34 is likely to earn plenty of new investment and the right-back could be a decent differential.
James Chester’s cut-price appeal brings him into consideration. Available for just 3.8, the Hull centre-half has games against West Brom and West Ham this time round and also has a pair of fixtures in Gameweek 37 for those with one eye on the long-term.
A switch to a midfield diamond has proven positive for Liverpool’s defensive prospects after back-to-back clean sheets at Southampton and United. The return of Daniel Agger has also made a difference – with the Dane in the first XI, the Merseysiders have registered seven shut-outs in 12, compared to two clean sheets in 17 without him in the starting line-up. If Agger’s 5.6 price-tag is too steep for your budgetary requirements, young Jon Flanagan looks to have nailed down the left-back berth and is available for a mere 4.3, with a 1% ownership.
We can’t have an article on “Punts” without name-checking Aleksandar Kolarov. On his day, the Serbian is capable of delivering consistently from the back – his last nine starts have produced a goal, five assists, 10 bonus points and three clean sheets – but given that he’s been named in the City XI in just two of their last five league fixtures, it’s clear his game time is far from guaranteed. Kolarov managed one minute off the bench in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Hull as Gael Clichy got the nod again – though if you’re prepared to take the risk for the home game with Fulham and trip to Old Trafford, the 5.1-priced left-back could be the ultimate joker in the double Gameweek pack.
Newcastle left-back Paul Dummett is another cut-price contender to consider. Coming in at 3.9, with an ownership under 1%, he has a share of corners for the Magpies and his delivery from the flank has already harvested an assist. The young Welshman has started four of the last five and welcomes Palace (one goal in their last five away games) and Everton (a single strike in their last four road trips) to St James’ Park.
Sunderland pair Phil Bardsley (4.3) and Marcos Alonso (4.5) are set for the first of three doubles in the final eight Gameweeks. The Black Cats roll up to Norwich and Liverpool on the back of three clean sheets in their last five league outings, and whilst a shut-out at Anfield looks unlikely, the Canaries have scored just three goals in their last six at home and could struggle to break down the Wearsiders. Bardsley may have caught the eye with two goals and an assist but Alonso’s underlying stats suggest he could outperform his fellow full-back over the run-in.
West Ham’s George McCartney comes in at 4.0 ahead of back-to-back home games with United and Hull. Sam Allardyce’s decision to drop James Collins last week suggests he’s still undecided over the centre-half spots – McCartney has started the last six and affords a cut-price route into a backline that has conceded just once in the last three at Upton Park.
Injuries to many of Arsene Wenger’s midfield regulars promote Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky in our thinking. The former has scored or assisted in all three of his starts since recovering from a knee injury and is expected to shrug off a calf complaint in time for Saturday’s trip to the Bridge, whilst Rosicky has scored in two of the last three, earning him a couple of double-figure hauls against Sunderland and Spurs. Available for 6.6 and 5.5 respectively, both are also real differentials and are owned by less than 2% of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers.
Kevin Mirallas’ diminishing game time makes him a somewhat risky acquisition for Everton’s games against Swansea and Newcastle. Whilst his versatility has seen him play on the right, up front and in “the hole” in recent weeks, the Belgian last played from start to finish back in Gameweek 25 – all the more frustrating given he has scored in three of his last five 90-minute appearances. Nonetheless, since Gameweek 14 he has scored twice as many goals as Romelu Lukaku (4 to 2) and the 7.5-priced midfielder’s eye for goal could yet prove decisive if Roberto Martinez keeps him on the pitch long enough to deliver.
Dropped to the bench for Liverpool’s win at Southampton, Raheem Sterling still found time to grab one of his side’s three goals as a second-half substitute. Having previously looked nailed-on in a 4-3-3, he now seems to be alternating with Philippe Coutinho at the tip of the midfield diamond and has played 57, 34 and 71 minutes in the last three Gameweeks. Jordan Henderson, on the other hand, has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of his side’s league games this term and, at 6.4 to Sterling’s 5.9, is also favourably priced. Though has netted just three times compared to his team-mate’s six strikes thus far, Henderson has still managed to register three sets of double-figures and is owned by just 7% of Fantasy managers.
It’s a sign of the times that Juan Mata can only find a place in our Punts article. After warming the Chelsea bench for much of the first few months of the season, a move to Old Trafford was meant to kick-start the Spaniard’s Fantasy campaign – so far, he’s managed just three assists and has drawn blanks in each of his last four appearances. Only 800 Fantasy managers have turned to Mata this week ahead of the trip to West Ham and home clash against City, with over 22,000 parting company in spite of the double. If Robin van Persie is ruled out with the knee injury that saw him stretchered off against Olympiacos last night, though, a move to the middle could help ease the 9.5-priced Mata out of his current malaise.
Whilst Yaya Toure and David Silva understandably garner the attention for City’s pair of fixtures, Samir Nasri remains under the radar. The Frenchman has scored in two of his four starts since returning from injury, though, and at 8.1, offers a relatively cheap route into Manuel Pellegrini’s midfield – having started 15 of the last 16 league games he has been available for, he looks guaranteed to feature in the XI and could appeal to those looking for a City midfield double-up for the run-in.
A Gameweek 28 brace against Hull has earned Moussa Sissoko plenty of new owners for his back-to-back home games with Palace and Everton. The Magpies could toil without their top scorer Loic Remy, though, and have failed to score in each of their last four games without the Frenchman. Sissoko is reasonably priced at just 5.8, but having netted in only two of the opening 30 Gameweeks and with a tough schedule to follow, his appeal is somewhat limited.
There’d be no real surprise if Swansea failed to produce anything from their trips to Everton and Arsenal over the coming week. Nonetheless, Garry Monk’s side have scored in all of his five fixtures in charge, finding the net three times in a recent defeat at Anfield. Jonathan de Guzman, at 5.7, has scored or assisted in four of his last seven starts, whilst Michu is finally out the treatment room and back on the pitch – the 8.4-priced Spaniard’s goal threat could be vital for his side, who also have a favourable set of fixtures to follow.
Few will be willing to gamble on Gerard Deulofeu for Everton’s pair of fixtures but he could be worth a flutter at just 5.4. Despite being fielded on the right, Deulofeu – who netted at the weekend – has scored in three of his last eight appearances, despite four of those arriving off the bench.
Shane Long has two goals, an assist and three bonus points in his last six and, coming in at 5.7 (with an ownership of 3%) could appeal to those who feel Nikica Jelavic’s 6.7 price tag is too steep for a Hull striker.
Having failed to score since Gameweek 18, Papiss Cisse has hardly done much to justify our faith here but, with Loic Remy still injured, the Senegal striker is in the driving to start both Newcastle’s home matches. If you reckon he can roll back the years and rediscover his debut season form of 2012/13, he comes in at 8.0 and is owned by 1% of FPL managers.
Andy Carroll is perhaps less of a punt that most here, though his injury record remains an issue. Since returning from a heel problem earlier this year, Carroll (priced at 7.1) has grabbed a goal and three assists in just over 300 minutes – providing he can steer clear of further problems, he looks likely to pose plenty of questions to United and Hull’s defences as Sam Allardyce looks to pick up the points and scramble to safety.