Our refresh of the Watchlist rankings, offering player recommendations over this season’s remaining five Gameweeks, is rolled out once again this lunchtime. The upcoming double Gameweeks play a major part in our assessment, as Fantasy managers look to take advantage of those sides with extra fixtures in their remaining schedules. The rankings are listed in the sidebar on your right – read on for the reasoning behind them:
There’s minimal movement now in the defensive rankings as the double Gameweeks have a major influence. With seven matches still remaining in the final five rounds of fixtures, City pair Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta retain their lofty positions – trips to Liverpool and Everton are the only potential stumbling blocks as Manuel Pellegrini’s side travel to Palace and play at the Etihad four times (SUN, WBA, AVL, WHM). Such a schedule bodes well for a defence that has conceded just twice in the last seven.
Having produced three clean sheets in four, Palace’s Julian Speroni and Joel Wardapproach their double Gameweek in fine form. A home clash with Villa looks the best option for Tony Pulis’ budget backline this week, with a trip to Everton likely to pose problems – the Eagles still have games against West Ham and Fulham to follow, though owners will surely bench them for upcoming visits of City and Liverpool.
With two doubles still to play, Sunderland’s cut-price pair Vito Mannone and Marcos Alonso remain in our thinking in spite of a run which has harvested a single shut-out in the last seven. Mannone’s save points keep him ticking over regardless of opponent, whilst Alonso’s shift to a wing-back berth elevates him as an out of position prospect – he gets the nod over Phil Bardsley, who is one caution away from a two-match ban. Whilst the next two Gameweeks are likely to find defensive returns hard to come by, the Black Cats play host to Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea over the final three rounds of matches.
The goal threat of Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and Cardiff’s Steven Caulker keeps them bubbling under. Skrtel has struck six times and still has Norwich, Palace and Newcastle to balance a couple of tricky home games against City and Chelsea, whilst Caulker is mainly in our thoughts for his threat in the box. The Bluebirds’ summer signing has netted on five occasions and resultantly picked up 19 bonus points – having conceded 12 times in the last three, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been diabolical at the back and seem incapable of keeping out any opponent.
Stoke’s remaining five fixtures could prove profitable for Asmir Begovic and Ryan Shawcross. The Potters have conceded once in their last three at the Britannia and have a trio of home games (NEW, TOT, FUL) still remaining, whilst trips to Cardiff and West Brom could also help Mark Hughes’ side reel in the defensive returns.
At just 4.6, Tottenham’s Younes Kaboul has the fixtures to maintain the form which helped the centre-back pick up an assist last Monday. Spurs still have West Brom, Fulham, Stoke, West Ham and Villa remaining, though with a single clean sheet in seven, Kaboul remains relatively low in this week’s refresh, in spite of such a favourable schedule.
David Silva and Yaya Toure lead the way in light of City’s remaining seven matches. The latter drops just slightly for a couple of reasons – Manuel Pellegrini confirmed he picked up a knock last weekend (though he’s expected to recover in time for Sunday’s trip to Anfield) whilst the likely return of Sergio Aguero will mean Toure drops to second in line for penalty duties; a factor worth considering, given that six of his 18 strikes have arrived via the spot. Silva’s run of two goals, three assists and eight bonus points in his last five appearances highlights his step up in form, despite his manager’s admission that the Spaniard is sitting out training sessions with an ongoing ankle complaint.
Christian Eriksen’s fine form delivered another bumper points haul on Monday evening. The Dane has now delivered 18 and 15 points in his last three appearances and with Tim Sherwood looking to finish the season on a high before potentially being shown the door, Eriksen has the above-mentioned fixtures to flourish, with a price of 6.6 and ownership still under 5%.
Palace’s Jason Puncheon is in fine form ahead of his double Gameweek. The winger fired a brace against struggling Cardiff last weekend and, priced at just 5.0, is also first in line for spot-kicks if Glenn Murray isn’t on the pitch. Ross Barkley is similarly priced for Everton’s upcoming pair of matches against Sunderland and Palace. At 5.2, he’s cheaper than Toffees team-mate Kevin Mirallas (7.6) – Roberto Martinez’ rotation in the attacking midfield areas continues to frustrate, though the duo have still managed to pick up the points regardless, with 24 and 23 points respectively over the last four fixtures.
Adam Johnson remains Sunderland’s chief threat for their final seven fixtures. Gus Poyet’s side are slipping closer to the relegation trap door, though Johnson still has the potential to deliver – he’s scored seven and assisted three of their 14 goals since January 1 and at 6.5, with an 8% ownership, is still very budget-friendly.
Southampton’s Adam Lallana has Cardiff, Villa and Swansea in the next four to keep his points haul ticking over, having delivered two goals and an assist in the last three. Arsenal’s fit-again Aaron Ramsey is also on the radar. Returning to action as a sub in last week’s loss at Everton, the Welshman is available for just 6.9 and still has home games against West Ham, Newcastle and West Brom, supplemented by trips to Hull and Norwich on his schedule, as the Gunners look to clinch fourth spot.
Eden Hazard takes a tumble after picking up a calf problem in last night’s win over PSG. Chelsea have four very favourable fixtures in the final five Gameweeks – Swansea, Sunderland, Norwich and Cardiff – but if he is indeed ruled out, a mass exodus looks on the cards for the 39%-owned Belgian.
His former team-mate Juan Mata has a blank this weekend but, having served up 31 points over the last two, he comes into contention with one eye on United’s schedule from Gameweek 36, which hands them three plum home games (NOR, SUN, HUL) to maintain their recent upturn in form.
With an average of 9.8 points per game, Luis Suarez is an immovable object at the summit, though Daniel Sturridge slips out of the top three. The latter has notched just twice in his last six now and with games against City and Chelsea in the next three, those who have doubled up on the duo are reconsidering their options – as the least explosive of the two, Sturridge has already been sold by over 37,000 this week.
Romelu Lukaku’s double Gameweek 34 elevates the Everton forward into second. With start guaranteed, the big Belgian has served up four goals and a pair of assists since returning from injury and looks the safest route into Roberto Martinez’ in-form attack.
With two doubles still to follow, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero are also high up in this week’s refresh. The 7.2-priced Bosnian has notched four times in his last four appearances and, given his impressive form, he could retain his starting berth regardless of Aguero’s availability, with Manuel Pellegrini perhaps shifting back to a two-man frontline to accommodate both. The Argentine is expected back from injury this weekend – Manuel Pellegrini’s Friday lunchtime press conference is eagerly anticipated- and, if passed fit, will surely earn an almighty bandwagon, with a mere 7% ownership highlighting his differential appeal. Bearing in mind City still have plenty of fixtures to follow, though, it remains to be seen just how cautious Pellegrini will be with his star striker’s game time.
After bagging a brace upon his return from injury against Sunderland, Emmanuel Adebayor comes back into consideration. As mentioned already, Spurs’ schedule is very favourable, whilst the Togo international’s 7.6 price tag and 4% ownership heighten his undoubted appeal. Rickie Lambert is our Southampton striker of choice, in light of Jay Rodriguez’ season-ending injury, whilst Wayne Rooney drops down after missing out against Newcastle through injury last Saturday – he’s expected to prove his fitness for tonight’s Champions League game against Bayern and will climb in next week’s article, once the weekend blank has passed.