The Scout Preview - Gameweek 30
Four of the top seven sides in the Barclays Premier League enjoy home encounters this weekend as The Scout assesses the upcoming round of fixtures.
Champions Manchester City attempt to bounce back from their loss at Burnley as West Bromwich Albion roll up to the Etihad Stadium in the Gameweek’s early kick-off. Southampton entertain Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur welcome Leicester City to White Hart Lane, whilst Liverpool go head-to-head with Manchester United at Anfield, as Brendan Rodgers’ side seek to extend their 13-match unbeaten streak.
Elsewhere, league leaders Chelsea travel to Hull City, Arsenal make their way to Newcastle United and Aston Villa play host to Swansea City, as the midlands side look for a third straight win under Tim Sherwood.
Roberto Martinez tinkered with his tactics as Everton ended a five-match winless streak with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park. The Toffees manager has mainly utilised a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system but opted for a 4-4-2 against the Magpies, with Romelu Lukaku joined up front by Arouna Kone. Lukaku bagged a goal and assist before making way on 73 minutes and with a single bonus point also accrued, produced a ten-point haul – his first double-figure return of the season. Bearing in mind that the Merseysiders scored just three times in the previous seven Gameweeks, Martinez could be poised to retain his two-man frontline as the schedule turns kind over the next few fixtures.
Jeffrey Schlupp was handed a change of position for Leicester City’s home clash with Hull last time out. Listed as a defender in the Fantasy Premier League game, the Ghana international has mainly been utilised on the left of midfield this season but Nigel Pearson’s decision to drop Paul Konchesky saw Jamie Vardy handed a role on the left flank as Schlupp moved to left wing-back in a 5-2-3 formation. With Ritchie da Laet replacing Danny Simpson on the opposite side of defence, the Foxes earned their first shut-out in seven attempts and will be hoping to take advantage of a schedule which sees them play six of their final ten fixtures in front of their own fans.
Tim Sherwood’s decision to roll out a two-man frontline has proved pivotal to Aston Villa’s recent renaissance. The Villains’ new manager trialled a midfield diamond in Gameweek 28, with Gabby Agbonlahor handed a role alongside Christian Benteke up front, and the duo responded with a goal apiece in the 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. Sherwood then turned to a 4-4-2 set-up for the weekend trip to Sunderland and looked on as Agbonlahor and Benteke both scored twice in a 4-0 rout. Considering that the two strikers netted five times between them in the first 25 Gameweeks under Paul Lambert, it’s clear that Sherwood’s decision to move away from a lone forward system and go on the offensive is boosting the pair’s Fantasy potential.
By the numbers
Arsenal’s charge for a top two finish has seen the Gunners win eight of their last nine league fixtures. Whilst Alexis Sanchez has struggled for an end product and scored just once since Gameweek 21, Olivier Giroud has been the form man for Arsene Wenger’s side and has now notched in each of his last four appearances.
With places in our three-man frontlines at a premium, The Scout delves into the data to assesses those strikers who have offered the greatest goal threat over their last four matches.
|Charlie Austin (QPR)||22||12||8||2||22|
|Diafra Sakho (WHU)||17||16||6||1||43|
|Harry Kane (TOT)||17||14||7||3||27|
|Sergio Aguero (MCI)||16||13||3||1||31|
|Olivier Giroud (ARS)||16||13||7||4||41|
|Romelu Lukaku (EVE)||16||12||4||1||29|
|Wayne Rooney (MUN)||15||11||7||3||35|
|Diego Costa (CHE)||14||13||4||3||41|
|Daniel Sturridge (LIV)||14||8||5||1||18|
|Ashley Barnes (BUR)||14||7||8||0||22|
Charlie Austin has produced more attempts on goal (22) than any striker in his previous four league appearances. The QPR frontman – who is poised for a double Gameweek 31 after a recent fixture reschedule – is joint top for attempts on target, with eight, and has found the net on a couple of occasions.
Harry Kane and Diafra Sakho have both registered 17 shots apiece. The Hammers striker has managed more efforts in the area (16) and touches in the box (43) than any other forward but has struggled to finish off his chances and netted just once.
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney has clearly benefitted from a recent move up front. The Red Devils skipper has mirrored Kane for shots on target and goals, with seven and three respectively.
Giroud and Sergio Aguero are neck-and-neck for both attempts (16) and shots inside the box (13) over their last four appearances. The Frenchman has been far more clinical, though; producing seven efforts on target, he’s scored four times, whilst Aguero has found the net just once.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa matches Giroud for touches in the opponents’ penalty area (41) and has scored with three of his 14 attempts. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge has also registered 14 shots on goal but only eight of those have been from close-range – indeed, he’s the lowest of our featured players for touches in the box, with just 18 over his previous four appearances.
Ones to Watch
Toby Alderweireld – a spell on the sidelines has seen the Southampton defender’s price drop to just 4.7 ahead of a home clash with Burnley. Having returned to the first XI against Chelsea last Sunday, Alderweireld offers a cut-price route into a backline that’s produced nine of their 13 clean sheets at St Mary’s Stadium this term.
Aaron Cresswell – with a goal and four assists in his debut season in the top-flight, the left-back has been the stand out performer in West Ham’s rearguard. Playing host to a struggling Sunderland side with a single goal in their last five, Cresswell could be poised for points at both ends of the pitch this Saturday.
Theo Walcott – handed a bench role in the midweek Champions League clash with Monaco, the Arsenal winger could return to the starting XI for a trip to under-strength Newcastle. Walcott’s pace down the right should pose the Magpies left-back Ryan Taylor plenty of problems as the Gunners step up their bid for a top two finish.
Charles N’Zogbia – a peripheral figure under Paul Lambert, the winger has been handed a first-team reprieve by new Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood. N’Zogbia has started each of the last two and helped steer the midlands side to back-to-back victories – priced at just 5.2, he’ll be looking to add to last week’s assist at Sunderland as Swansea make their way to Villa Park.
Romelu Lukaku – a trip to QPR affords the Everton striker a chance to maintain his recent upturn in form. Bearing in mind that Chris Ramsey’s side have lost each of their last four at Loftus Road, Lukaku could be in the points once again as the Toffees look to clamber to mid-table safety.
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