With our season now free from any more interruptions and the Double Gameweeks revealed, we felt it was timely to make a return to our Watchlist articles for the run-in.
We reconvene at a time when the midfield landscape, in particular, is in turmoil.
Anyone shocked by the Gunners’ Monday night capitulation at Crystal Palace will be even more concerned by the continued decline of Alexis Sanchez. Owned by 26.4%, the Chilean has – quite literally – been a central figure for Arsenal this season, scoring 18 goals and assisting a further ten from a role up front.
Yet as newspaper reports of unhappiness and unproductive contract talks increase, Arsene Wenger has made the decision to shift Sanchez to the left flank over the last five Gameweeks. Monday brought his third successive blank – his longest run without returns all season.
Subsequently, Sanchez drops to third in our midfield Watchlist rankings, with Tuesday’s double Gameweek revelations ensuring that he has to remain a key attraction – pending a further disappointment in Monday night’s encounter with Middlesbrough, that is.
Spurs midfielders are clearly the major draw, with Son Heung-min’s 19-point haul in the 4-0 win over Watford ensuring he becomes the third member of Mauricio Pochettino’s side to make the cut. The top transfer target heading into the weekend deadline, those new owners should get at least another start from the South Korean, despite the return to fitness of both Harry Kane and Victor Wanyama.
Son is, of course, joined in the rankings by the superb Dele Alli, who sits at the very summit following Sanchez’s recent malaise. In scintillating form, Alli has struck 13 goals from his previous 16 Gameweeks, with 53 points arriving from his last six. He is nearing essential status for Spurs’ generous run-in, starting on Saturday at home to Bournemouth.
Christian Eriksen is the third White Hart Lane midfielder on the Watchlist – a rare occurrence justified by their recent form and upcoming fixtures. The Dane has a remarkable consistency that gives him the fifth-highest overall tally in this season’s Fantasy Premier League. Like Alli, it’s difficult to see his starting role coming under threat over the remaining seven fixtures.
Monday night’s Selhurst Park clash shone a spotlight on two more popular options.
Theo Walcott captained Arsenal, hoping to provide a viable Sanchez alternative by scoring for a third consecutive match. Walcott’s tepid performance offered a reminder that perhaps those expectations are beyond him. He remains an interesting option but, frustratingly, his regular withdrawal is an issue – he has played more than 70 minutes just once in his past eight appearances.
Wilfried Zaha was the major stand-out in Monday’s Palace win. The winger lived up to his pre-match billing with a lively showing, assisting two Palace goals. After delivering 11 points against both Chelsea and Arsenal, his ownership will surely go on growing ahead of upcoming home meetings with Leicester and Burnley that sandwich a double Gameweek 34.
Elsewhere, both Josh King and Eden Hazard scored in Saturday’s tea-time clash.
The former is making a compelling case for fixture-proof status, firing goals against both Liverpool and Chelsea. King has nine strikes from as many appearances and his enticing final five fixtures include a trip to Sunderland, while Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Burnley drop in on the south coast.
Hazard has the benefit of a double Gameweek 37 but, as Chelsea near sealing the title, we do have to factor in the likelihood that the Blues could lack motivation and suffer squad rotation over the season run-in. That’s not a concern in the short-term, however, and Hazard has to be a worthy target.
A lighter Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to equalise at Stoke, extending his scoring streak to three matches despite a recent illness which led to significant weight loss. Although they lack a double Gameweek, Liverpool’s schedule remains favourable, but the Brazilian will surely be a casualty of the shake-up around Gameweeks 36 and 37.
Elsewhere, an underwhelming Dusan Tadic assisted against West Brom on Saturday. Southampton’s fixtures remain a mixed bag, but include two double Gameweeks. Even so, the Serbian is now coming under pressure from both Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, who offer kinder price tags and have more than kept pace with Tadic in recent Gameweeks.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling notched his 13th and 14th assists of the season against Hull City last time out, with consecutive home fixtures against Crystal Palace, Leicester and West Brom from Gameweek 36 providing him with the platform to excel further. With many choosing to omit Sergio Aguero to accommodate Harry Kane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, Sterling offers us City coverage for their prosperous run-in at a knock-down price.
Finally, Gylfi Sigurdsson warrants a mention. Usually so reliable, the Swansea City playmaker hasn’t produced a return for four appearances. While there’s real fear that Paul Clement’s honeymoon period is well and truly over, remaining match-ups against Watford and Stoke still hold some appeal. It’s a major drop for Sigurdsson, then, with another failure at Vicarage Road surely consigning him to omission from the Watchlist next time out.
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