The Scout Preview - Gameweek 36
Three of the top five teams in the Barclays Premier League are on their travels this week as The Scout assesses the upcoming schedule.
Second placed Chelsea make their way to league leaders Liverpool, with Jose Mourinho’s side looking to avoid the defeat that would put paid to their title bid. Manchester City face a testing trip to Crystal Palace, as Tony Pulis’ in-form outfit go in search of a sixth successive victory, whilst Everton look to keep their Champions League hopes on track as they travel to Southampton.
Elsewhere, eight of the bottom nine clubs go head-to-head as the relegation battle intensifies. Sunderland entertain Cardiff City at the Stadium of Light, with Gus Poyet’s side looking to build on last week’s stunning win over Chelsea, Fulham welcome Hull City to Craven Cottage, Swansea City and Aston Villa square up at the Liberty Stadium and West Bromwich Albion welcome West Ham United to The Hawthorns.
Jose Mourinho faces a defensive dilemma for Chelsea’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. Whilst Mark Schwarzer is set to replace Petr Cech after the latter was ruled out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder, the likely absence of John Terry is set to force Mourinho into a reshuffle of the visitors’ backline. The Blues boss may hand David Luiz a chance alongside Gary Cahill in the heart of defence, though also has the option of shifting Branislav Ivanovic into the centre and switching Cesar Azpilicueta into the right-back berth, thus allowing Ashley Cole a first league start since Gameweek 21, as Chelsea look to avoid defeat and remain in the title race.
The recent return to action of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil looks vital to Arsenal’s chances of clinching a fourth place finish. In his first start since Gameweek 18 last weekend, Ramsey was stationed alongside Mikel Arteta in the double-pivot in the Gunners’ 4-2-3-1 formation and produced 16 points in the 3-0 win at Hull, his biggest haul of the season. Ozil’s installation to Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up for the first time since Gameweek 26 saw the German handed the role in “the hole” and, with Santi Cazorla moving to the right and Lukas Podolski retaining his spot on the opposite flank, Tomas Rosicky’s run of nine successive start came to an end, with the Czech international dropping to the bench in order to accommodate the Gunners’ record signing.
Sergio Aguero’s recovery from injury has allowed Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini to revert to his favoured 4-4-2 formation. The Chilean mainly utilised a 4-2-3-1 in Aguero’s absence, with Edin Dzeko leading the line and David Silva in “the hole” behind a lone striker, but the Argentine’s return from a hamstring injury has seen Pellegrini alternate Alvaro Negredo and Dzeko as Aguero’s strike partner against Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion respectively in the last two matches. With Silva expected to miss out against Crystal Palace this weekend, Pellegrini looks likely to continue with a front two as he looks to get his side’s title bid back on track by going on the offensive.
By the numbers
With just three rounds of fixtures remaining, The Scout casts an eye over the league’s in-form forwards. Analysing the most impressive performers over the past 30 days, it’s intriguing to see that six of the top 10 frontmen currently sit in less than 7% of Fantasy teams, highlighting the numerous differential options available.
|Lukas Podolski (ARS)||8.8||7.8||44 pts, 5 apps||2%|
|Luis Suarez (LIV)||6.2||13.4||31 pts, 5 apps||52%|
|Romelu Lukaku (EVE)||5.8||9.0||35 pts, 6 apps||28%|
|Edin Dzeko (MCY)||5.7||7.2||34 pts, 6 apps||14%|
|Wilfried Bony (SWA)||5.6||7.2||28 pts, 5 apps||6%|
|Rickie Lambert (SOU)||5.5||7.5||22 pts, 4 apps||13%|
|Harry Kane (TOT)||5.2||4.4||21 pts, 3 apps||1%|
|Matej Vydra (WBA)||4.8||5.1||19 pts, 4 apps||1%|
|Hugo Rodallega (FUL)||4.8||5.0||19 pts, 3 apps||1%|
|Steven Naismith (EVE)||4.7||4.7||28 pts, 6 apps||2%|
Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski has produced 44 points in his last five appearances. Despite being fielded on the left of the Gunners’ attacking midfield three, the German has still managed to produce five goals, an assist and nine bonus points (BP) as Arsene Wenger’s side strengthen their bid for a fourth place finish – priced at 7.8, Podolski is owned by less than 3% of Fantasy managers heading into the weekend deadline.
Luis Suarez has delivered attacking returns in each of his last five matches for Liverpool. The Uruguayan has chipped in with a couple of goals, four assists and two BP, averaging 6.2 points per game over the time frame.
Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith have scored two and three goals respectively over Everton’s last six fixtures. Impressively, the latter, who is owned by just 2% of Fantasy managers, achieved this in just 359 minutes compared to his team-mate’s 535 minutes, though Lukaku also produced a trio of assists and six bonus points for his 24% of Fantasy owners.
Edin Dzeko and Wilfried Bony – both priced at 7.2 – have each scored three times in the past 30 days. The former has also chipped in with a pair of assists and five BP in six appearances for Manchester City, whilst the Swansea frontman has supplied an assist and six BP in five matches, yet is owned by only 6% of Fantasy managers.
Southampton’s Rickie Lambert has scored twice and also provided an assist for his owners over the last four matches, whilst both Harry Kane and Matej Vydra have impressed as budget options. The former – available for only 4.4 – has played three of Tottenham’s four matches over last 30 days and scored on each occasion, whilst the 5.1-priced Vydra has scored or assisted in three of his last four starts for West Brom.
Ones to watch
Laurent Koscielny – a recent spell on the sidelines persuaded many Fantasy managers to part company with the Arsenal centre-half. Now down to just 6% ownership, the fit-again Koscielny entertains a Newcastle side that have scored two goals in their last seven Gameweeks – further points could be on the cards, given that he has earned bonus points on each of the last seven occasions the Gunners have registered a clean sheet.
Marko Arnautovic – available for just 5.1, the Austrian looks a real in-form option as Stoke welcome Tottenham to the Britannia Stadium. Arnautovic has produced two goals, a trio of assists and four bonus points in his last six appearances and could be in the points once again as the Potters look for a tenth win in front of their own supporters.
Morgan Amalfitano – the Frenchman’s contribution looks key this weekend as West Brom host West Ham at the Hawthorns. Amalfitano – priced at a mere 4.2 – has fired two goals and an assist in the last four matches and with a win set to take the Baggies within a single point of their opponents, Pepe Mel’s side are sure to go on the attack.
Fabio Borini – a home clash against fellow strugglers Cardiff City looks promising for the Italian’s Fantasy prospects this weekend. Whilst Connor Wickham has outscored his fellow forward in the last couple of matches away to Manchester City and Chelsea, Borini has been a far more consistent threat for the Black Cats and his eye for goal could well come to fruition against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s porous defence on Saturday afternoon.
Hugo Rodallega – a home clash with Hull City affords the Fulham forward the chance to get amongst the goals once again. Rodallega has scored the winner for Felix Magath’s side in two of the previous three Gameweeks and with a victory over the Tigers potentially helping the hosts climb out of the bottom three, his predatory instincts may prove invaluable this weekend.