The Scout Preview - Gameweek 4
Three of last season’s top four teams in the Barclays Premier League face home comforts this weekend as The Scout assesses the Gameweek 4 schedule.
Arsenal welcome champions Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime as both sides attempt to bounce back from disappointing results last time out. Chelsea and Swansea City - the only teams with 100% records in the top-flight - go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge, whilst Liverpool welcome third placed Aston Villa to Anfield.
Elsewhere, big-spending Manchester United play at home to Queens Park Rangers, Everton search for their first win of the season at West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur face a testing trip to the Stadium of Light, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side look to recover from their home hammering at the hands of Liverpool in Gameweek 3.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could be set to hand a trio of new signings their debuts in Sunday’s home encounter with QPR. Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao all look poised to feature against Harry Redknapp’s side, though it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman will continue with his current 3-4-1-2 formation. While Rojo could slot into the back three and Blind may be fielded in the centre of the park, Falcao’s arrival hands Van Gaal a real dilemma up front, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie also vying for a starting role. If the versatile Rooney is forced deeper to accommodate the Colombian, Juan Mata’s role in “the hole” behind a front two may well come under pressure as Van Gaal looks to engineer a first victory of the season.
The arrival of new winger Sadio Mane affords Ronald Koeman the chance to alter his tactics for Southampton’s home clash with Newcastle United on Saturday. The Saints boss has mainly fielded a three-man frontline over the first trio of fixtures, with Dusan Tadic on the left, though a shift to a 4-2-3-1 system would allow the Serbian to tuck in behind Graziano Pelle, with Mane and Shane Long handed the roles on the left and right of the attacking midfield three respectively.
A change of formation from Harry Redknapp helped QPR chalk up their first win of the campaign last time around. The R’s boss chose to drop his 3-5-2 system and returned to a four-man backline at home to Sunderland, with new boy Leroy Fer stationed behind Charlie Austin in a 4-4-1-1 set-up. Fer provided the assist for Austin’s solitary strike in the 1-0 triumph and with a clean sheet also accrued, Redknapp may well decide to retain the system as his side roll up to Old Trafford.
By the numbers
The Scout delves into the data and seeks out some of the most impressive defenders on display over the opening three Gameweeks. With every three clearances, blocks and interceptions (CBI) earning a point in the Bonus Points System, we assess the top 10 performers thus far.
|Ryan Shawcross (STO)||50||40||5||5||5.6||10%|
|Wes Morgan (LEI)||45||31||8||6||4.5||1%|
|Winston Reid (WHU)||41||31||4||6||5.0||1%|
|Ashley Williams (SWA)||41||33||3||5||5.0||5%|
|Dejan Lovren (LIV)||39||30||1||8||5.5||28%|
|Steven Caulker (QPR)||37||24||4||9||4.9||10%|
|Phil Jones (MUN)||37||19||1||17||5.5||8%|
|Erik Pieters (STO)||37||29||1||7||5.0||1%|
|Curtis Davies (HUL)||36||31||1||4||5.0||4%|
|Marc Wilson (STO)||36||30||2||4||4.5||1%|
Impressively, three of the Stoke back-four appear in our analysis. Potters captain Ryan Shawcross leads the way with 50 CBI – his 40 clearances are also more than any defender and with a goal and four bonus points (BP) to date, he’s risen to 5.6 in price. Left-back Erik Pieters has also picked up four BP and chipped in with an assist, yet sits in just 1% of squads, while Marc Wilson has also been vital to the resilience that has seen Mark Hughes’ side concede just twice so far. Wilson has earned a couple of BP, though at a price of just 4.5, is the cheapest option in the Stoke defence.
Leicester City skipper Wes Morgan has also led by example. Morgan has produced 45 CBI over the first three matches for Nigel Pearson’s side, with a total of eight blocks - more than any defender.
Swansea’s Ashley Williams has been key to the form that has seen his side serve up back-to-back clean sheets. The 5.0-priced centre-half has registered 41 CBI and has earned four BP in the last two Gameweeks for Garry Monk’s unbeaten side.
Dejan Lovren’s impact at new club Liverpool is obvious. The summer signing from Southampton has managed 39 CBI – more than any Reds’ defender – though has failed to pick up any bonus points for his 28% owners.
Manchester United’s Phil Jones has chalked up 17 interceptions in his first three appearances under Louis van Gaal – more than any defender. With 37 CBI so far, Jones picked up a couple of BP in the Gameweek 3 goalless draw at Burnley, with his contribution crucial to the visitors’ clean sheet.
Ones to Watch
Sadio Mane – the deadline-day signing arrives at Southampton on the back of an excellent record at former club Red Bull Salzburg. Mane produced 45 goals and 32 assists in just 87 appearances across all competitions for the Austrian outfit and is set to be unleashed against Newcastle at St Mary’s this weekend. Bearing in mind the Magpies conceded three at home in their previous match, the Senegal wide man will be confident of making an immediate impact for Ronald Koeman’s side.
Wilfried Zaha – emerging from the bench in the previous Gameweek, the on-loan midfielder grabbed a goal and fired in four attempts in Crystal Palace’s 3-3 draw at Newcastle. With Marouane Chamakh set to be sidelined for the Eagles’ home encounter with Burnley due to a hamstring injury, Zaha could be poised for a first start under Neil Warnock and, priced at just 5.4, looks a real value option.
Mario Balotelli – despite failing to score in his debut away to Spurs, Liverpool’s new forward turned in an impressive display in the 3-0 win. With major concerns over strike partner Daniel Sturridge’s fitness, Balotelli looks vital to the Reds’ prospects of ending Aston Villa’s unbeaten record at Anfield on Saturday evening and with a 3% ownership, is a real under the radar option.
Mame Biram Diouf – shifted to a more withdrawn role behind Peter Crouch last time around, Diouf grabbed the winner as Stoke upset the odds by defeating Manchester City at the Etihad. The only attacker to start all three matches under Mark Hughes so far, Diouf grabbed a goal for Senegal during the recent international break and will be brimming with confidence ahead of Leicester City’s arrival at the Britannia Stadium.
Nikica Jelavic – the Croatian has been quick to find his form for Hull this season. Jelavic has scored both the Tigers’ goals across the previous couple of Gameweeks and subsequently picked up three bonus points – at home to a West Ham side without a clean sheet over the first three matches, his contribution could make the difference for the hosts on Monday evening.