With a few teams facing four home fixtures over the next six Gameweeks, there are clearly some sides who look ripe for investment. The time to invest in big hitters may be upon us once again, with Chelsea and Manchester City in particular facing very favourable schedules over the coming period, while Swansea’s upcoming schedule means it may be slightly premature to write off the likes of Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis.
According to our Season Ticker, the champions have the most favourable upcoming schedule over the next six Gameweeks. The Blues have four home encounters, which includes clashes against two of the leakiest defences in Aston Villa and Norwich, while their other four opponents all feature around “mid table” in terms of goals conceded in the top flight.
The prospects look bright for the likes of Eden Hazard (11.3) and Pedro (9.5), then, with the Belgian, in particular, starting to show some form of late, bagging a goal and an assist in his last two outings. With Diego Costa set to return from suspension in Gameweek 9, the short-term appeal of Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy is negligible. Oscar (8.3) could be worth a look as a differential, with a current ownership of 1.2% in FPL, although the Brazilian will primarily be competing with Willian for a place alongside Hazard and Pedro in the three advanced midfield positions.
In terms of the backline, defensive returns may be slightly harder to come by, given Chelsea have only managed one shut-out so far. West Ham are the joint-highest scorers in the league with 15, while Southampton lie third for total goal attempts with 116. Norwich have found the back of the net in six of their seven matches so far, and Aston Villa registered two goals at Anfield on Saturday. There’s no doubt Asmir Begovic (5.0) and Kurt Zouma (5.4) offer great value, but unless we see a return to the stingy defence which helped Chelsea to the title last year, clean sheets could still be pretty scarce at Stamford Bridge.
While City’s form has dipped over the last two weeks, Manuel Pellegrini’s men should still provide us with strong Fantasy options over the coming period, with four home matches on the horizon.
Newcastle, Aston Villa and Bournemouth all feature towards the bottom of the charts for total goal attempts, and could represent strong possibilities for clean sheets. Match-ups against Norwich and Liverpool could also yield defensive returns if City can return to the form which saw them rack up five shut-outs at the start of the season, with the fitness of skipper Vincent Kompany (6.3) likely to have a significant impact on their prospects. Aleksandar Kolarov (6.1) still looks the best route into the backline, although providing he’s shaken off his back injury, Joe Hart (5.7) is the cheapest option, with Bacary Sagna (5.3) and Pablo Zabaleta (5.8) now set to battle it out for the right-back position.
Only Arsenal have registered more goal attempts than City, so backing the likes of Sergio Aguero (13.2) and Kevin de Bruyne (10.1) looks a wise tactic for the upcoming period, given that the Citizens face just one strong defence over the next six Gameweeks in the form of neighbours Man United. Aguero and De Bruyne look the safest options, with injury concerns surrounding David Silva (10.1) and Yaya Toure (8.9), while Raheem Sterling (8.9) has only notched a goal and an assist so far this season. Both Silva and Toure have returned to training ahead of midweek Champions League football, though, and look strong options should they prove their fitness in time.
The Black Cats have a relatively favourable run over the coming weeks (WHM, wba, NEW, eve, SOT, cpl), so their budget options should hold some appeal to Fantasy managers. The match-ups against Newcastle and Palace probably offer the best hope for attacking returns for the likes of Fabio Borini (5.4) and Jermain Defoe (5.5), but with Dick Advocaat still searching for his best attacking line-up, and with several options available to the Dutchman, the concern over rotation may limit any potential investment. Defoe was dropped last weekend but with Advocaat mulling over a switch to 4-4-2 after his side blanked in each of the last three, there’s every chance the former Spurs man will return to the fold.
Elsewhere, midfielders Ola Toivonen and Jeremain Lens (both 6.5) look a little expensive given Sunderland lie second behind only Newcastle for total goal attempts with 64. Toivonen certainly looks the most at risk should the Advocaat roll out a two-man frontline. At the back, Sunderland have conceded 16 goals over the first seven Gameweeks, more than any other side, so while they have a reasonable slate of fixtures coming up, it’s hard to pick out any fixture for a possible clean sheet with any level of confidence.
After Saturday’s trip to the Etihad is out of the way, the schedule (NOR, sun, STO, bou, LEI) does look very kind for Steve McClaren’s side. All five teams feature in the top eight for goals conceded so far this term, so providing he can keep his discipline in check, Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.2) could be one of the names to consider when looking for a replacement for Callum Wilson, particularly if you’re on the lookout for a differential, with the Serbian’s ownership standing at just 0.8%. Should McClaren keep faith in Saturday’s 4-4-2 system, Ayoze Perez (5.1) could also come into contention after serving up a goal and assist against Chelsea, whilst Georginio Wijnaldum – who netted his second of the season in the 2-2 draw – offers a mid-price option in the centre of the park.
At the back, Daryl Janmaat (4.9) has been one of Newcastle’s best attacking players over the last few weeks, and looks worthy of investment in the hope of attacking points alone. Defensive returns have been hard to come by so far, but the match-ups against Sunderland and Stoke in particular offer some hope of clean sheets, while Bournemouth could struggle to find the back of the net in light of long-term injuries to Wilson and Max Gradel.
The Baggies might have suffered a hiccup against Everton, but their fixtures over the next four Gameweeks (cpl, SUN, nor, LEI) appear favourable at both ends of the pitch. Sunderland have failed to score in their last three, and that fixture looks the most likely to provide defensive returns, although having kept three clean sheets on their travels, further shut-outs on the road at Palace and Norwich for the likes of Boaz Myhill (4.7), Craig Dawson (5.0) and Jonny Evans (4.8) can’t be ruled out.
Sunderland, Leicester and Norwich fill three of the top four spots for the most goals conceded so far in the top flight, so Saido Berahino (6.2) may be able to add to the two strikes he’s scored in his last pair of outings. James Morrison (4.9) is perhaps worth a look as a differential in midfield, having bagged both of the assists for Berahino’s goals, but Salomon Rondon (6.9) may not be worth the extra outlay, given West Brom have the fourth lowest number of goal attempts in the first seven Gameweeks.
The Swans may have only scored one goal in their last three league matches, but with four home matches coming up, the likes of Andre Ayew (7.2) and Bafetimbi Gomis (7.3) may yet be able to return to their early season form. While the match-ups against Tottenham and Arsenal look fairly tricky, the clashes with Stoke and Bournemouth appear favourable for the Welsh outfit, while the two away fixtures on the current slate, at Aston Villa and Norwich, also offer decent potential for their attacking assets. Gomis was taken off at half-time against Southampton, however, and his minutes clearly need monitoring.
Barring last weekend’s 3-1 reverse at Southampton, the Swansea rearguard has looked relatively solid, and with Stoke, Aston Villa and Bournemouth all featuring towards the bottom of all 20 teams for goal attempts, shut-outs in those fixtures look decent possibilities. Defensive points against Tottenham, Arsenal and free-scoring Norwich could be tougher to come by though. Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton and Ashley Williams (all 5.0) look the ones to target at the back.
While the Foxes only have two home matches (nor, sou, CPL, wba, WAT, new) over the next six Gameweeks, the fact they face none of last season’s top five should mean they have a decent platform on which to build on their impressive start to the campaign. Their early success has been built on the form of Riyad Mahrez (6.5) and Jamie Vardy (6.5), and with the West Brom backline faring worse at home so far this season, and with the Watford rearguard yet to keep a clean sheet on their travels, further attacking returns appear very likely. Crystal Palace, Norwich and Newcastle also feature in the top five for shots conceded inside the box, so the pair could well continue to reward their ever-growing ownerships.
Claudio Ranieri’s side are still searching for their first clean sheet of the season, and while they don’t face any of the top sides over the next month or so, it’s only the fixtures against West Brom and Watford that stand-out in terms of offering potential for that elusive first shut-out. Norwich have scored in all of their four home matches, while Palace are a dangerous side on their travels. The likes of Kasper Schmeichel (4.5) and Wes Morgan (4.4) aren’t expected to deliver significant defensive returns, but there are clearly better options in the budget price brackets at the moment.