The Scout previews Gameweek 3
With Chelsea and Reading both facing a weekend without a fixture in the Barclays Premier League, The Scout casts an eye over the nine matches scheduled that remain.
Three of last season’s top five all feature at home this Gameweek. Manchester City entertain Queens Park Rangers as the defending champions look to recover from last Sunday’s stumble at Anfield, Tottenham Hotspur go in search of their first win of the new campaign against Norwich City, while Newcastle United take on Aston Villa at the Sports Direct Arena.
Elsewhere, Manchester United travel to Southampton, in-form Everton face a tricky trip to West Bromwich Albion, with both sides seeking to extend their unbeaten starts to the season, while Liverpool play host to Arsenal in Sunday lunchtime’s mouth-watering encounter.
Wayne Rooney’s thigh injury looks to have opened the way for new boys Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa to lead the attack for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side over the next few Gameweeks. With Rooney expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks, Van Persie looks set to play as a lone striker and should also be handed spot-kick duties, while Kagawa’s role in “the hole” also seems assured. Both delivered a goal apiece for their Fantasy owners against Fulham last weekend and look in strong form ahead of their trip to St Mary’s Stadium. Ferguson seemingly has more of a dilemma over on the right flank. Antonio Valencia was shifted to the wing last weekend after playing in defence for the opener at Everton – his presence in midfield afforded the Old Trafford outfit a stronger balance going forward and he may well keep the role at Nani’s expense, with Rafael maintaining the right-back berth behind him.
Sunderland’s two new attacking acquisitions offer Martin O’Neill further options ahead of a tricky trip to Swansea City. Adam Johnson seems set to nail down a role on the right wing and made an immediate impact in his debut on Tuesday evening, supplying assists for both James McClean’s goals in the 2-0 League Cup win over Morecombe. With McClean on the opposite flank, Seb Larsson is likely to be moved into central midfield for the Black Cats, allowing Stephane Sessegnon to tuck in behind lone striker Steven Fletcher in O’Neill’s preferred 4-4-1-1 system.
Brendan Rodgers’ decision to field Raheem Sterling for Liverpool’s match with Manchester City last Sunday will have Fantasy managers on red alert. Priced at a mere 4.5, the young winger has the potential to be a real cut-price alternative in our five-man midfields if he can nail down a regular role. Rodgers has also revealed he is considering the possibility of converting Stewart Downing to a left-back this season – a scenario that would see the former Aston Villa player moved out of Liverpool’s front three and vie with Jose Enrique for a starting role in the Reds’ back-four.
By the numbers
So far, Chelsea players dominate the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index after the Blues registered three wins in the opening couple of Gameweeks. With Roberto Di Matteo’s side now facing a blank Gameweek, The Scout excludes their players before assessing the top 10 ranked players in the Index, listing a maximum of two players per team:
|Damien Duff (FUL)||63||20||6.1||5.2%|
|Nathan Dyer (SWA)||63||22||5.8||23.3%|
|Yaya Toure (MCY)||62||16||8.0||32.7%|
|Leighton Baines (EVE)||61||16||7.0||13.2%|
|Marouane Fellaini (EVE)||58||18||6.8||18.1%|
|Mladen Petric (FUL)||51||18||6.2||11.6%|
|Samir Nasri (MCY)||45||13||8.6||11.6%|
|James Morrison (WBA)||42||15||6.0||0.8%|
|Benoit Assou-Ekotto (TOT)||42||12||6.5||7.7%|
Michu and Nathan Dyer have both excelled for Swansea with the Welsh outfit starting life under Michael Laudrup with back-to-back victories. Michu has already increased in price by 0.6 thanks to 3 goals, an assist and 4 bonus points (BP), while Dyer has returned 2 goals and an assist for his Fantasy owners and is just 6 points behind his team mate. Indeed, Swansea’s showings have been so impressive, three more of their players – Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams and Danny Graham – would have featured in our top 10, with the trio all registering EA SPORTS PPI scores of 46+ over the two Gameweeks to date.
Damien Duff has been Fulham’s leading light to this point. Scoring in both his matches, the winger has returned 20 points, just bettering Mladen Petric for Martin Jol’s side, but has just 5% ownership, less than half the Croatian forward.
The displays of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini have been crucial to Everton’s strong start to the campaign. Fellaini has scored in each of the opening two Gameweeks and has risen in price by 0.3, while Baines has supplemented a clean sheet and assist with 5 BP – a haul matched only by Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and Michael Kightly of Stoke City.
While David Silva struggles for form and fitness, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri have been quick out the blocks for Manchester City. Toure has been the more consistent of the pair, though; the Ivorian has provided attacking returns in both his appearances in addition to picking up 4 BP.
James Morrison has crept under Fantasy radars despite a strong showing in his first two Gameweeks for West Brom. The midfielder followed up an assist against Liverpool with a last-gasp equaliser at Tottenham but, despite accruing 15 points, is currently owned by a mere 0.8% of teams.
Ones to watch
Emmerson Boyce – The Scout is always keen to earmark “out of position” prospects as a possible source of points and Boyce’s role at Wigan offers Fantasy managers an intriguing proposition. Classified as a defender, yet fielded on the right of a midfield four, his delivery and attacking forays down the flank are a crucial aspect of the Latics’ play. With a home clash against Stoke City next on his agenda, Boyce offers the prospect of returns at both ends of the pitch this weekend.
Kevin Nolan – the West Ham skipper has already made an impact this term by firing his side to victory in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa back on the opening day. Having been hammered at Swansea last weekend, Sam Allardyce will be seeking home comforts and The Scout has a feeling that Nolan is likely to play a significant role once again as Fulham roll up to Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.
Steven Gerrard – with two assists in his first home match of the season, the Liverpool captain made amends for a disappointing display in the Gameweek 1 loss at West Brom. Gerrard now has an Anfield encounter with Arsenal on the horizon and, playing as the most advanced central midfielder in Brendan Rodgers’ 4-3-3, will be crucial to his side’s chances of seeing off the Gunners and racking up their first win of the new campaign.
Hatem Ben Arfa – the Frenchman dazzled in Newcastle’s last home match against Tottenham and is offered the chance of a repeat performance as an out-of-sorts Aston Villa arrive at the Sports Direct Arena. Alan Pardew has already tinkered with his formation this season, switching between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, yet Ben Arfa remains consistently dangerous regardless of tactics. Paul Lambert’s visitors will be wary of the winger’s threat as the Magpies look to bounce back from their Gameweek 2 setback at Chelsea.
Emmanuel Adebayor – handed a substitute role for the home clash against West Brom last weekend, the Togo international is primed for a starting berth at home to Norwich this time round. As Andre Villas-Boas attempts to engineer his first league win as the new Tottenham boss, Adebayor – with 17 goals, 12 assists and 31 bonus points in his loan spell at the club last season – will be vital to their chances of victory.
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