The Scout Preview - Gameweek 29
There are just five Premier League fixtures for The Scout to assess this weekend, with the remaining matches postponed due to the FA Cup Quarter-Finals.
League leaders Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge, with Jose Mourinho’s side looking for a win that would stretch their advantage to seven points at the top of the table. In Saturday lunchtime’s early kick-off, West Bromwich Albion attempt to extend their unbeaten home record to seven matches as champions Manchester United make their way to The Hawthorns.
Elsewhere, Norwich City are seeking a fifth successive home clean sheet as Stoke City pay visit to Carrow Road, Crystal Palace entertain Southampton, whilst the bottom two teams go head-to-head, as Cardiff City play host to Fulham.
Tim Sherwood rolled out a 4-4-2 formation for Tottenham’s home win over Cardiff last weekend. The Spurs boss has mainly utilised a lone forward system since taking the helm but, after his switch to a two-man frontline helped the north London club advance to the Europa League last 16, Sherwood retained the same set-up against the Bluebirds, with Roberto Soldado continuing alongside Emmanuel Adebayor up front. Whilst the pair combined for the Spaniard’s match-winner, the Tottenham manager may move to a single-striker system once again as he attempts to frustrate a Blues’ side that has dropped just four points at home all season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a 5-3-2 system for last Sunday’s White Hart Lane encounter. The Cardiff manager moved away from the 4-4-2 formation which harvested a 4-0 home defeat to Hull City in Gameweek 27 and handed Declan John and Fabio the wing-back roles, with on-loan wide man Wilfried Zaha dropping down to the bench. Whilst the tactical set-up restricted Tottenham to a single goal, the Welsh club once again failed to find the net and have now drawn blank in six of their eight league fixtures under the Norwegian – with a crucial home clash against fellow-strugglers Fulham this weekend, Solskjaer may look to a more offensive approach in order to pick up the points.
An injury to Leroy Fer afforded Wes Hoolahan a rare start for Norwich City last weekend. With the Dutchman sidelined after picking up a hamstring injury, Hoolahan was named in the Canaries’ first XI for the first time since Gameweek 20, with Chris Hughton handing him the role in “the hole” behind lone striker Gary Hooper. Hoolahan needed just three minutes to open the scoring against Aston Villa and could well be set to retain his starting berth at home to Stoke this weekend, with Fer still struggling to return in time for the Potters clash. Indeed, Hughton has a number of worries ahead of this weekend, with Robert Snodgrass, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Martin Olsson and Joseph Yobo all concerns for the east Anglian outfit.
By the numbers
With just ten teams facing a fixture this weekend, Fantasy managers’ options are somewhat restricted. The Scout is on the lookout for goals, then, and takes a look those players in action this weekend who have registered the most touches in the opponents’ box over their last four league appearances.
|Robin Van Persie (MUN)||39||16||15||5||3|
|Samuel Eto’o (CHE)||30||9||7||4||0|
|Jay Rodriguez (SOU)||29||18||12||1||0|
|Emmanuel Adebayor (TOT)||26||10||7||5||3|
|Victor Anichebe (WBA)||24||9||6||3||2|
|Peter Crouch (STO)||23||7||7||3||2|
|Kenwyne Jones (CAR)||23||8||7||2||0|
|Eden Hazard (CHE)||23||9||6||6||3|
|Wayne Rooney (MUN)||20||15||8||6||1|
|Robert Snodgrass (NOR)||20||15||9||4||2|
Robin Van Persie has seen more of the ball inside the opponents’ box than any of our featured players. The Dutchman’s 39 touches is more or less double the tally of Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney’s 20, though he has managed just a single effort more than his fellow forward, with 16 shots to 15. Van Persie has scored three times from 15 attempts in the area, whilst Rooney has notched once from eight close-range efforts.
Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez has registered 18 attempts on goal over his previous four league appearances – more than any player in our assessment. The 6.6-priced forward has produced 12 shots inside the box but, thanks to some wayward finishing, has produced just a single effort on target and has subsequently failed to score.
Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor has notched three times in the last four Gameweeks. Impressively, the Togo international has achieved this from just seven shots inside the opponents’ penalty box, with five of his 10 attempts on target.
West Brom forward Victor Anichebe has managed 24 touches inside the box – all the more impressive given that he has started just one of those fixtures. Nonetheless, the Nigerian has still found time to fire nine shots and find the net on a couple of occasions.
Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones and Eden Hazard have all registered 23 touches inside the box. The Chelsea winger has been far more accurate, though; a total of six shots on target is more than Crouch (three) and Jones (two) combined. Hazard has also found the net on three occasions, joint-top with Adebayor and Van Persie in our assessment.
Ones to watch
Juan Mata – with three assists and four bonus points in his first five appearances since moving to Manchester United, the Spaniard has taken little time to settle. Mata’s creativity could come to the fore once again this weekend as the champions face a West Brom side yet to register a clean sheet under new manager Pepe Mel.
Ashkan Dejagah – re-installed to the Fulham first-team by new manager Felix Magath in Gameweek 27, the Iran international had an immediate impact by grabbing a goal in the 1-1 draw against West Brom. Priced at just 5.1, Dejagah’s forays down the Cottagers’ right could be key this weekend against fellow-strugglers Cardiff.
Gary Hooper – back in the Norwich XI for last week’s trip to Aston Villa, the summer signing from Glasgow Celtic teed up Wes Hoolahan for the Canaries opener. Hooper looks set to retain his starting berth for a crucial Carrow Road encounter with Stoke and given that four of his five goals have arrived at home, he’ll fancy his chances against a Potters side with a single clean sheet in the last 12 Gameweeks.
Glenn Murray – tentatively eased into the action by Tony Pulis after a long-term knee injury, the Crystal Palace forward opened his account for the season last weekend by netting a late leveller at Swansea City. Having scored 30 times for the Eagles last term, Murray’s keen eye for goal could be crucial as Southampton roll up to Selhurst Park.
Samuel Eto’o – only last week, Jose Mourinho claimed the Chelsea forward’s style of play is best-suited to home matches. Luckily for Eto’o, the Blues are up against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge this Saturday, as he looks to continue a record that has seen him produce four goals, a pair of assists and eight bonus points in the last five outings in front of his own fans.