Our refresh of the Watchlist rankings, offering player recommendations over the next four to six Gameweeks, is rolled out once again this afternoon. Rankings for keepers and defenders are now based on the final six Gameweeks of the season, with Fantasy managers perhaps a little less inclined to change their options at the back. Further up the field, our selections lean more towards the short-term, with individual form also more of an influence:
Chelsea duo Petr Cech and John Terry hold steady at the top of the keeper and defender standings, with City’s Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta also in the top three of their respective classifications. Manuel Pellegrini’s team have two doubles in the remaining six Gameweeks – five home games (SOU, SUN, WBA, AVL, WHM) and a trip to Palace could easily continue the form that has harvested five clean sheets in six, and, whilst visits to Liverpool and Everton are problematic, they are both part of double Gameweeks (34 and 37), thus lessening their potential downside.
Sunderland duo Vito Mannone and Marcos Alonso remain high in this week’s shake-up due to their upcoming pair of doubles. The fixtures do look tough for Gus Poyet’s side, however, with trips to Spurs and Chelsea on either side of a double Gameweek 34 which pits the Black Cats against Everton and City before the schedule smiles a little kinder in the final three rounds. Mannone’s save points boost his appeal, whilst Alonso is elevated as a result of his role on the left of midfield after Gus Poyet switched to 3-5-2 in the last two games. The Spaniard is preferred to fellow defender Phil Bardsley as the latter is just one yellow away from a two-match suspension.
Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny and Per Mertesacker both climb. Granted, the trip to Everton will deter most from investing but following that one, the Gunners have three excellent home fixtures (WHM, NEW, WBA) supplemented by trips to Hull and Norwich to see out their season and add to their current tally of 13 clean sheets.
Spurs pair Hugo Lloris and Younes Kaboul are elevated as a result of the remaining six fixtures. Granted, Tim Sherwood’s side have hardly shown much form of late but with Sunderland, Fulham and Villa all yet to visit the Lane, in addition to trips to West Brom, Stoke and West Ham, the north London side may yet produce the points over the run-in. Jan Vertonghen would normally be our first-choice option but we’ve omitted the Belgian after he was forced off with an ankle injury early on during Sunday’s loss at Liverpool.
Having kept out Chelsea last weekend, Palace pair Julian Speroni and Joel Ward remain in our shake-up ahead of a schedule which sees them face Cardiff and West Ham in the next three, with a double Gameweek 34 against Villa and Everton also sandwiched in between.
With games against Fulham, Palace, Southampton and Swansea preceding a double Gameweek 37, Villa’s Brad Guzan and Ron Vlaar offer budget-friendly options at the back. Cardiff duo David Marshall and Steven Caulker have Palace, Stoke and Sunderland in their next three – the latter notched his fifth goal of the season last weekend and remains a real menace in the opposition box regardless of opponent.
Eden Hazard and Yaya Toure stay first and second respectively, though with two pairs of doubles still to follow, the Ivorian is set to overtake Chelsea’s 14-goal wide man in the next week or so. David Silva tucks in just behind the pair. The Spaniard’s opener at the Emirates last weekend took his tally to two goals and a pair of assists in the last four – whilst Hazard and Toure are owned by 40% or more Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, Silva’s 8% ownership highlights his differential appeal.
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen takes a major step up the rankings. The Dane’s 18-point return against Southampton in Gameweek 31 summed up his capabilities and he looks to have cemented his starting role for the run-in – coming in at just 6.5, and sitting in 3% of FPL sides, that above-mentioned schedule affords him plenty of chances to plunder the points.
Adam Johnson also comes in at 6.5 but, as we’ve seen over Sunderland’s last two matches, he’s by no means a certainty to start. Johnson’s goal and assist off the bench in those fixtures surely bode well for his role in next Monday’s trip to Tottenham and with two doubles still to follow, Gus Poyet can ill-afford to further neglect a player who has scored or assisted 10 of his side’s 14 goals from January 1 onwards.
With three sets of double figures in his last four, Cardiff’s 4.6-priced Jordan Mutch more than merits our attentions as a red-hot budget option. The Bluebirds have scored three goals in all but one of their last four league fixtures and Mutch squares up to Palace, Stoke, Sunderland and Newcastle’s defences in the next five.
Villa’s Fabian Delph and Fulham wide man Ashkan Dejagah are another couple of options in the sub-5.0 bracket. Delph has a goal, two assists and five bonus points in the last four, whilst Dejagah has struck three times in the last six for Felix Magath’s basement-dwellers. With Norwich, Hull and Palace all yet to travel to Craven Cottage, the schedule smiles kindly on the Iran international.
Up front, Luis Suarez’ relentless form ensures he retains his spot at the summit, though Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge drops down to third. The latter has now notched just twice in the last five, and with the Reds set to play City and Chelsea in the next four, many owners who currently hold both may be looking to part company with Sturridge.
City’s Edin Dzeko shifts into second spot. With Sergio Aguero admitting only yesterday he is determined to be cautious with his latest comeback for fear of blowing his chances in this summer’s World Cup, the big Bosnian looks set to retain his starting for the time being. We’ll reassess the landscape when Aguero finally finds his way out the Etihad treatment room, but for now, Dzeko, at just 6.9 and with three goals and an assist in his last three appearances, has started delivering consistently in the lone forward role.
Romelu Lukaku returned a blank at Fulham last weekend, but with three goals and an assist in his last five, the Everton forward is still ticking over nicely since returning from injury. Whilst Roberto Martinez rotates the three attacking midfield positions, the Belgian looks an assured starter up top ahead of the Toffees’ double Gameweek 34 against Palace and Sunderland.
Four goals in three appearances since Robin van Persie picked up a knee injury sums up Wayne Rooney’s current form. The upcoming blank Gameweek 34 curtails his immediate appeal but the United frontman still remains firmly in the picture – a home game against Norwich precedes a pair of Old Trafford matches in Gameweek 37 against Sunderland and Hull which will bring Rooney into many a manager’s squad before the season is over.
Further down, Christian Benteke heads a queue of mid-price options with form and fixtures on their sides. The Villa frontman has notched three times in four and faces Fulham, Palace and Swansea prior to a double in Gameweek 37, whilst Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor is back in training ahead of his side’s favourable final six fixtures. Having missed the last two through injury, he’s plummeted in price from 8.6 to 7.7 and is now owned by less than 5% of FPL managers but is expected back in time of Monday evening’s home encounter with struggling Sunderland.