Our weekly scan of the upcoming fixture list brings the endgame into sight now, as we take a look at the upcoming schedules over the next four to six Gameweeks. As the Premier League title fight reaches its nail-biting conclusion, three of the top four have very favourable fixture lists to boost their points potential, whilst two of the bottom three are also set for some kind-looking schedules in their valiant battles to beat the drop:
Despite a tense draw at the Emirates, City are still widely tipped for the crown courtesy of their two games in hand and a kind remaining fixture list. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are hot Fantasy property for the same reasons. A run-in that includes no fewer than five profitable-looking home matches and two double Gameweeks warrants our full attention.
A defence that was once considered too porous for Fantasy purposes has now kept a clean sheet in five of the last six games, bringing the added bonus points of Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis into consideration. Pablo Zabaleta is all but assured of his place (unlike the rotation bonanza on the opposite flank) but has no assists in 2014, suggesting that his early-season attacking threat has evaporated.
In midfield, Yaya Toure’s extraordinary season shows no signs of abating, while David Silva has shown an upturn in productivity with two goals and two assists in four games. Samir Nasri is also worth considering, priced at the relatively kind 8.1 in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game. Up front, Sergio Aguero has admitted earlier today he’s determined not to rush his injury comeback after breaking down twice already – whilst the Argentine’s eventual return will force us to reassess City’s attack, Edin Dzeko currently looks in the driving seat for further starts and seems the one forward Pellegrini can rely on to produce in Aguero’s absence.
Humiliated for the second time this season by a rampant Liverpool, Tim Sherwood’s grip on the helm is looking increasingly fraught. The fans are becoming disgruntled but at least the fixtures are on his side as he looks to end the season on a positive note. Spurs’ remaining home games include Sunderland, Fulham and Aston Villa, which could hardly be kinder, whilst trips to West Brom, West Ham and Stoke could also bear fruit.
Tottenham’s defence has been rocked by injuries, and Kyle Naughton has been deputising for Kyle Walker – at just 4.1 in FPL he could be good value with these fixtures if the latter remains sidelined. At centre-back, Younes Kaboul has been preferred to Michael Dawson alongside Jan Vertonghen, but with the Belgian limping off at Anfield, Dawson could be set to regain his starting berth, although Vlad Chiriches completed 90 minutes for the Under-21 side last week to step up his recovery and present Sherwood with an alternative. In midfield, Christian Eriksen just might have returned to first choice and demonstrated his potential with two goals and an assist against Southampton. Roberto Soldado has picked up a hamstring injury, but with Emmanuel Adebayor now back in training after missing the last two with a heel injury, Sherwood will be a little more optimistic of ending the season on a high.
Losing to Crystal Palace at the weekend was definitely not in the script, but despite Jose Mourinho’s protestations, they’re not out of the title race and will be using their remaining excellent fixtures to push hard. Home games against Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich ought to be profitable at both ends of the pitch, whilst trips to Swansea and Cardiff are also appealing. Only the Gameweek 36 clash with Liverpool looks daunting for the Blues.
Their defence has shown some very Jekyll-and-Hyde form recently – the Blues backline has produced a clean sheet in each of the last four home games but has conceded in the last four road trips. Even so, the defensive unit was singled out for praise from Mourinho after the Palace defeat and all four are recommendable for Fantasy purposes. In attack, Eden Hazard’s remains the stand-out candidate, with game time guaranteed, though the Belgian has stuttered in recent matches, with his last three goals now arriving from the spot. It’s hard to look elsewhere in the Chelsea midfield and up front, with rest and rotation blighting all the alternatives.
A draw against Man City didn’t do either team any favours, but once this week’s testing visit to Goodison Park is dispensed with, the Gunners have one of the best fixture lists around, with home games against West Ham, Newcastle and West Brom as well as trips to Hull and Norwich. Arsene Wenger will be hopeful of securing next season’s Champions League qualification with those games and Arsenal could be a source of much Fantasy profit over the run-in.
The loss of Laurent Koscielny has dented their resilience of late but he looks likely to return in time for the best of these fixtures to boost their defensive prospects. In midfield, Santi Cazorla is an expensive gamble, having tailed off in form, but one that could pay off, while Lukas Podolski has played a part in all of the last six games and scored or assisted in the last two. The German lacks the guaranteed game time of Olivier Giroud – despite his patchy season, the latter still sits fourth amongst forwards in the FPL game and has the schedule to deliver more points.
Five points adrift of safety, the Cottagers seem likely relegation candidates. Felix Magath’s side still have some decent fixtures remaining, though, with Norwich, Hull and Crystal Palace all paying visit to Craven Cottage over the run-in. Their defence is rather pricey, given their form, though David Stockdale has become first choice at 4.3. In midfield, Lewis Holtby has racked up 20 points from his last three starts and Ashkan Dejagah – priced at 4.9 – has now scored three goals in six Gameweeks to make a case for his budget appeal.
After taking the lead at Old Trafford, Paul Lambert’s men were a little unfortunate to ultimately lose 4-1 and it seems that the Midlands outfit have stepped up their form just a little. They have a good run-in to use that form to end the season on a high, with home games against Fulham, Southampton and Hull, along with trips to Crystal Palace and Swansea. Shutting out Chelsea recently proved that there could still be points in their defence – Ron Vlaar offers good value and Brad Guzan always has save points in him. In midfield, 4.4-priced Fabian Delph has a goal, two assists and five bonus points in his last four, while up front Christian Benteke may finally be finding his form after a hugely disappointing season; his three goals in four games suggests that he could be a differential for the run-in.
A last-gasp goal against West Brom earned the Bluebirds a vital point last weekend. Things aren’t looking great in their bid for survival but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side do have a collection of decent fixtures to give themselves a fighting chance, with home fixtures against Crystal Palace and Stoke over the next three Gameweeks. Steven Caulker’s fifth goal of the season highlights his attacking potential from the back, whilst cut-price midfielder Jordan Mutch has delivered an incredible 37 points over the last four Gameweeks and will be hoping to add to that tally.