The Scout previews Gameweek 21
Champions Manchester City can expect a battle as Stoke City roll up to the Etihad Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur prepare for a showdown with Reading at White Hart Lane, while Chelsea face a London derby against basement-dwellers Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge.
Elsewhere, league leaders Manchester United make their way to neighbours Wigan Athletic, Liverpool entertain Sunderland at Anfield and in-form Arsenal travel to Southampton looking for their fifth successive victory.
Ivan Ramis’ return from injury proved pivotal for Wigan Athletic at the weekend. Absent since Gameweek 13 due to a calf problem, the centre-half grabbed a goal and helped the Latics to their first clean sheet in 10 attempts at Aston Villa on Saturday. His comeback also afforded Roberto Martinez the chance to move Emmerson Boyce back to his regular midfield role. Boyce was recently drafted into the back-three to deputise for Ramis, with Ronnie Stam handed a chance in midfield and, back in a more advanced berth against the midlanders, Boyce celebrated with a goal in the 3-0 win. He now presents a secure option in the Latics defence, with attacking potential on offer for 4.8.
Clint Dempsey looks set for his first start since Gameweek 16 this Tuesday as Tottenham play host to Reading. The US international has been a peripheral figure of late, with Andre Villas-Boas preferring Emmanuel Adebayor as a partner to Jermain Defoe up front, but with Gareth Bale set to serve a one-match suspension for the Royals’ visit, Dempsey is likely to be called upon to fill the void on the left flank. Having scored or assisted in four of his last five starts prior to being dropped in Gameweek 18, the midfielder will be hoping to continue in the same vein as the hosts go in search of a third successive win.
By the numbers
With the final round of matches in the calendar year now behind us, The Scout analyses the top performers in the month gone by. Midfielders lead the way in our rundown, with as many as eight of the featured 11 plying their trade in the centre of the park.
|Theo Walcott (ARS)||8.4||8.7||42 pts, four apps||7.7%|
|Santi Cazorla (ARS)||7.8||9.6||39 pts, five apps||21.2%|
|Juan Mata (CHE)||7.8||9.7||39 pts, five apps||21.5%|
|Steven Gerrard (LIV)||7.5||9.4||45 pts, six apps||5%|
|Robin Van Persie (MUN)||7.2||14.0||43 pts, six apps||40.2%|
|Michu (SWA)||6.8||8.2||41 pts, five apps||46.3%|
|Mikel Arteta (ARS)||6.6||7.8||33pts, five apps||3.9%|
|Steven Pienaar (EVE)||6.5||6.8||39 pts, six apps||13.5%|
|Demba Ba (NEW)||6.3||8.4||38 pts, six apps||28.2%|
|Robert Snodgrass (NOR)||6.3||6.2||38 pts, six apps||7.4%|
|Daniel Agger (LIV)||6.3||6.4||38 pts, six apps||2%|
Intriguingly, three Arsenal midfielders are amongst the most impressive performers ahead of their double Gameweek 23. Theo Walcott produced 42 points over just four matches and has returned 4 goals and 3 assists in his three appearances as the lone forward for the Gunners. Santi Cazorla played five times over the last 30 days, producing 3 goals and a trio of assists, with the highlight a 23 point haul in Gameweek 17 against Reading. Mikel Arteta’s spot-kick duties have boosted his points considerably; the Spaniard has notched a hat-trick of penalties over the past five Gameweeks.
Juan Mata’s consistency was a stand-out for Chelsea as the Blues won four of their five fixtures in December. The Spaniard produced a goal or assist in all five of his appearances and collected 7 BP in the process. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard also proved a regular producer of Fantasy points. The 9.3 priced midfielder scored or assisted in five of his six fixtures and continues to offer a real differential alternative, with just 5% ownership.
Robin Van Persie’s displays highlight just why he’s such a popular captaincy favourite. The Dutchman earned attacking returns in all of his six matches, with 5 goals and 3 assists over December for Manchester United. Demba Ba is the only other forward to feature. The Newcastle striker found the net on five occasions and returned double figures in two of his six Gameweeks.
Michu hit back-to-back braces against Arsenal and Norwich and also notched against Manchester United – the Spaniard produced 5 goals in five appearances but remains a doubt for Swansea’s home match with Aston Villa on New Year’s Day after limping off in Gameweek 19 at Reading with an ankle problem.
Steven Pienaar stepped up in performance for Everton in light of Marouane Fellaini’s suspension. The South African had a strong month, with 3 goals and a pair of assists spread over five of his six appearances for the Toffees.
Ones to watch
Chris Brunt – the Northern Ireland international has been a key performer for West Brom over the past couple of months. Brunt has produced a goal and 4 assists since mid-November and could be set to continue his impressive form as the Baggies play host to travel-sick Fulham – Martin Jol’s side have picked up a single point in their last four away trips, boosting the hosts’ confidence as they go in search of an eighth win at the Hawthorns.
Aaron Lennon – with Gareth Bale set to serve a one-match suspension for Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas will be looking to his other first-choice winger to produce the goods as the Londoners welcome Reading to White Hart Lane. Having grabbed a goal and assist in his last couple of appearances, Lennon’s recent form has impressed The Scout – he’ll be buoyed by the fact that the Royals have conceded in every away match this season.
Pablo Hernandez – the Spaniard returned from a hamstring injury last weekend and made an instant impact by providing an assist in Swansea’s win at Fulham. With doubts remaining over compatriot Michu’s availability, Hernandez could be a key man for Michael Laudrup’s side as out-of-sorts Aston Villa make their way to the Liberty Stadium on New Year’s Day.
Marouane Fellaini – back after serving a three-match suspension, the Belgian makes his way to Newcastle as Everton look to bounce back from their home defeat by Chelsea. With five sets of double figure returns already this term, Fellaini will fancy his chances against a side that will be licking their wounds after conceding 7 goals at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening.
Edin Dzeko – handed a first start since Gameweek 15 last weekend, the Bosnian vindicated his manager’s decision with a goal and a pair of assists in the champions’ 4-3 thriller at Carrow Road. Roberto Mancini’s side now play host to Stoke and The Scout reckons Dzeko’s physical presence could be crucial to their chances at both ends as City look to earn another victory.
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