The Scout previews Gameweek 23
Arsenal and West Ham United both have a pair of fixtures on their respective agendas as The Scout assesses the upcoming Gameweek.
Elsewhere, Manchester City entertain Fulham at the Etihad Stadium as Roberto Mancini’s side look for a sixth victory in seven league fixtures, Liverpool welcome Norwich City to Anfield with Luis Suarez looking to replicate his Gameweek 6 hat-trick against the Canaries, while two of the top four go head-to-head at White Hart Lane, as Tottenham Hotspur square up to league leaders Manchester United.
A season-ending injury to Ivan Ramis may well be set to dent Emmerson Boyce’s attacking potential. Classified as a defender, Boyce is preferred on the right of Wigan Athletic’s midfielder four by Roberto Martinez but could be set to shift into the Latics’ back-three as a result of Ramis’ knee problem – the Wigan boss is confident, however, that Antolin Alcaraz is set for an imminent return from the groin injury that has kept him sidelined since Gameweek 2. Martinez’s only other central defensive alternative is Roman Golobart – the Spaniard was handed the full 90 minutes in Tuesday’s FA Cup Third Round replay win over Bournemouth but has failed to feature in the league so far. Ronnie Stam would benefit from Boyce’s move to a more withdrawn role; priced at 3.8, the Dutch defender is likely to slot into the right of midfield until Alcaraz is available.
The arrival of QPR’s record signing Loic Remy seems set to earn Adel Taarabt a change in position. With Harry Redknapp clearly unconvinced over the likes of Djibril Cisse, the Moroccan had been fielded up front in the last couple of matches but Remy is likely to get the nod for the lone forward role as Redknapp looks to the new boy to fire the Loftus Road outfit to safety. Taarabt is expected to move back to the role in “the hole” and be tasked with supplying the creativity from a more withdrawn berth once again – with just 2 goals in the last five Gameweeks, Redknapp’s side are in desperate need of a more potent attack in their battle to beat the drop.
Rafa Benitez’s rest and rotation policy continued to frustrate Fantasy owners of Chelsea defenders in the Gameweek gone by. Heading into the pair of fixtures against Stoke City and Southampton, Branislav Ivanovic was the second most popular player for the Blues but, while he started against the Potters, the Serbian was dropped to the bench for the first time under Benitez for Wednesday’s encounter with the Saints. Benitez also changed David Luiz’s role in the first XI. Snapped up by almost 40,000 Fantasy managers due to his recent move to central midfield, the Brazilian was fielded at centre-half for both the matches despite John Obi Mikel’s African Cup of Nations absence lessening the competition for places in the engine room. The lack of consistency is not just denting the appeal of Chelsea’s Fantasy assets, it’s also proving detrimental to their clean sheet potential; they have now conceded in three of the last four Gameweeks and with a home clash against Arsenal this Sunday, many may already be thinking of moving on their Chelsea defenders due to the uncertainty surrounding their game time.
By the numbers
As Arsenal and West Ham brace themselves for their double Gameweek, plenty Fantasy managers have already snapped up their main Fantasy assets. The Scout casts an eye over the form players from both sides, assessing their respective displays over the last 30 days and beyond:
|Theo Walcott (ARS)||10.2||9.1||16.4%|
|Wojciech Szczesny (ARS)||4.5||5.3||5%|
|Joey O’Brien (WHU)||4.5||4.5||11.1%|
|Mark Noble (WHU)||4.0||5.0||5.3%|
|Lukas Podolski (ARS)||3.8||8.2||9.6%|
|Kieran Gibbs (ARS)||3.5||5.6||10.6%|
|Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ARS)||3.2||7.2||0.6%|
|Jack Wilshere (ARS)||3.2||6.4||1.5%|
|Winston Reid (WHU)||2.2||5.1||13.8%|
|Matt Jarvis (WHU)||2.2||5.6||0.3%|
|Carlton Cole (WHU)||2.0||4.9||1.1%|
Theo Walcott’s move to the lone forward role has increased his potential for points. The 9.1 midfielder has returned 3 goals, 4 assists and 5 bonus points (BP) in his last four Gameweeks and has shown a strong consistency across the last couple of months – he has scored or assisted in seven of his last nine appearances.
Joey O’Brien and Mark Noble have been West Ham’s most in-form duo, though any investment comes at a risk, with neither 100% certain to be fit for the weekend. O’Brien has supplied a goal, a clean sheet and 3 BP over his last four appearances and, priced at 4.5, is the top ranked defender for value over the season so far. Noble has found the net in two of his last three at Upton Park, with penalty duties and a share of set-pieces boosting his cut-price appeal.
In spite of a role on the left of the Gunners’ attacking midfield three, Lukas Podolski has produced two sets of double figure returns in his previous five appearances. The German international is also expected to be first in line for spot-kick duties as a result of Mikel Arteta’s absence due to a calf injury.
Kieran Gibbs’ appeal is heightened by his attacking potential. The left-back has produced 3 assists in his last five appearances and registered 5 for the season – considering no other Arsenal player has supplied a single assist, the 5.6 priced defender looks the most likely to produce returns at both ends of the pitch.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have produced a goal and a pair of assists respectively over the last four Gameweeks. While their mid-price appeal may persuade Fantasy managers to consider their acquisitions, there’s no denying Santi Cazorla has been far more consistent over the season. The Spaniard may have registered just a single assist in his last four, though a 23 point haul in Gameweek 17 at Reading is indicative of his explosive capabilities. Sitting fifth in the midfielder standings, he is the most popular Arsenal player heading into the weekend’s deadline, with an ownership just under 19%.
Carlton Cole has started the last seven Gameweeks for the Hammers due to an injury to Andy Carroll and has scored in two of his last four home matches. While a price of 4.9 affords Fantasy managers a budget option for the double Gameweek, Cole’s game time up front could come under threat by Sam Allardyce’s move to snap up Marouane Chamakh and Wellington Paulista, though it’s worth noting that Chamakh is unavailable for the match against parent club Arsenal due to the conditions of his loan deal.
Ones to watch
Pablo Zabaleta – the Argentine’s attacking potential from right-back has impressed The Scout as Manchester City prepare for the visit of Fulham. Zabaleta has found the net twice, in addition to producing a couple of clean sheets and 4 bonus points in his last three home matches – with the Cottagers managing just 3 goals in their last five away fixtures, the omens look good for further returns.
Yohan Cabaye – having finally recovered from a groin injury, the Frenchman is expected to start for Newcastle this weekend after announcing his comeback as a substitute at Norwich last Saturday. Prior to being sidelined in Gameweek 12, Cabaye had scored twice and returned 5 bonus points in his last four appearances in the Magpies’ first XI and could be set to prosper at home to a Reading side that have picked up a mere 2 points on their travels all season.
Romelu Lukaku – West Bromwich Albion’s on-loan forward has been racking up the returns ahead of a midlands derby with Aston Villa. With Shane Long remaining doubtful for the Hawthorns showdown, Lukaku is likely to be handed his fifth start in the last six Gameweeks and with 4 goals and 4 bonus points in his last four starts, his contribution will be crucial as the Baggies look to bounce back from a run of three straight defeats.
Daniel Sturridge – the former Chelsea man climbed off the bench to find the net just 12 minutes into his league debut for Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend. Having also scored in a recent FA Cup win over Mansfield Town, Sturridge has now notched twice in 100 minutes since moving to Anfield earlier this month – he may not be given the full 90 minutes against Norwich on Saturday as he edges towards full match-fitness, but the 7.3 priced forward has shown he needs little time to make an impact in his new surroundings.
Franco Di Santo – shifted to a central role last weekend as a result of Arouna Kone’s African Cup of Nations absence, the Argentine’s first goal since Gameweek 7 helped Wigan Athletic earn a point at Fulham. Di Santo, who has also provided an assist in his last three Gameweeks, will be tasked with firing the Latics to victory at home to a Sunderland side that have lost three of their last four road trips.
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