The Scout previews Gameweek 4
After a two-week hiatus due to the international schedule, The Scout is back to cast an eye over the upcoming Gameweek in the Barclays Premier League.
Two of last season’s top four have strong home fixtures on their agendas. Manchester United welcome Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford, while Arsenal will be hoping to maintain the defensive resilience that has returned clean sheets in all three of their matches so far, as Southampton roll up to the Emirates Stadium.
Elsewhere, champions Manchester City face a testing trip to unbeaten Stoke City, Chelsea make their way to Loftus Road for a derby battle with Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland entertain Liverpool in their first home match of the season and Newcastle United travel to Everton in the Gameweek’s final fixture on Monday evening.
Reading boss Brian McDermott’s recent admission that he is set to continue with a 4-4-1-1 formation looks promising for Fantasy owners of Danny Guthrie. The summer signing from Newcastle has played as the most advanced central midfielder in the Royals’ new system and is tasked with supporting lone striker Pavel Pogrebnyak – with McDermott looking to tighten up defensively and move away from last term’s default 4-4-2 system, Guthrie, at a mere 4.4, looks a viable cut-price contender for our five-man midfields right now.
The departures of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele to Tottenham Hotspur has given Martin Jol plenty of food for thought. With Dimitar Berbatov now firmly in place in the Fulham fold, Jol has admitted he is pondering a change in tactics in order to achieve a better balance up front for the Cottagers – The Scout reckons a possible move to 4-2-3-1, with Berbatov either in “the hole” or as the lone frontman could be on the cards. Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz offer plenty versatility in attack – both are able to play on the flanks, suggesting Mladen Petric may be set to continue in a central position for the visit of West Bromwich Albion.
Michael Laudrup has a real defensive dilemma ahead of Swansea City’s trip to Aston Villa this weekend. With regular left-back Neil Taylor sidelined for the season with an ankle injury, Laudrup added to his options earlier this week by acquiring free agent Dwight Tiendalli, though with Ben Davies and Alan Tate also offering cover, Laudrup’s intentions are currently uncertain. The Swansea boss also has to replace the suspended Chico for the next couple of league matches – with on-loan Kyle Bartley now ruled out for three months due to a thigh injury, Tate or Garry Monk have the chance to step into the heart of the back-four over the short-term.
By the numbers
With many of the more established sides failing to produce clean sheets over the first three Gameweeks, attacking potential from the back becomes critical when considering defenders. The Scout assesses the most promising backline options on offer, highlighting the top five for goal attempts and crosses respectively in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index thus far:
|Branislav Ivanovic (CHE)||4||6.8||20.9%||30|
|Benoit Assou-Ekotto (TOT)||3||6.5||8.2%||14|
|Ian Harte (RDG)||3||4.4||2.4%||2|
|Marc Wilson (STK)||3||4.5||0.5%||8|
|Leighton Baines (EVE)||12||7.1||13.8%||17|
|Emmerson Boyce (WIG)||12||5.0||0.4%||8|
|Maynor Figueroa (WIG)||11||4.5||5.9%||11|
|Angel Rangel (SWA)||10||5.2||9.6%||20|
|Kyle Walker (TOT)||8||6.5||16.8%||5|
Branislav Ivanovic has wasted little time in getting amongst the goals for Chelsea. The right-back has registered 4 shots and, with 3 on target, has already netted twice for Roberto Di Matteo’s side – with 30 points already accrued, he is the fourth top scoring player in the game so far.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto has managed all 3 of his efforts on target over the first trio of matches. The left-back found the net in the Gameweek 2 home draw with West Bromwich Albion and has returned 14 points for his Fantasy owners – the most of any Tottenham player in what has been a stuttering start under Andre Villas-Boas. Kyle Walker’s 8 crosses provide further evidence of the attacking potential on offer from both full-back berths at White Hart Lane.
Wigan Athletic’s Emmerson Boyce and Maynor Figueroa have impressed, with the pair offering constant delivery from the flanks in Roberto Martinez’s 3-4-2-1 formation. Playing on the right of midfield, Boyce has mirrored the supply rate of Everton’s Leighton Baines from out wide with 12 crosses and has also managed 3 shots. Baines is the only one of our featured top five crossers to provide an assist and, with 5 bonus points (BP) also picked up, his suitability to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index is obvious.
Angel Rangel’s threat from out wide is highlighted by 10 crosses so far from the Swansea right-back. Rangel has also found the net this term and, with 20 points accrued, has been subject to a price rise twice already, moving up to a value of 5.2.
Ones to watch
Rafael – with Phil Jones set to be sidelined for another couple of months after undergoing knee surgery and Chris Smalling still unavailable due to a toe injury, the Brazilian looks in line to continue at right-back for Manchester United ‘s home clash with Wigan. Rafael’s attacking raids down the flank have already produced a goal this season and The Scout reckons he could well be in line for further returns as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side look for their third successive win on Saturday afternoon.
Eden Hazard – the Belgian’s dramatic impact in Chelsea’s opening couple of Gameweeks has seen his price by 0.6 already. It’s little wonder; Hazard has returned double figures in all three of his fixtures thus far and his trickery looks set to cause QPR problems aplenty at Loftus Road this weekend.
Santi Cazorla – a goal and assist in the recent 2-0 win at Liverpool highlighted the Spaniard’s potential. The Scout is backing Cazorla to have a significant impact on our Fantasy seasons, with his role playing off the central striker looking primed for points. A home clash against Southampton should afford the summer signing plenty opportunity to fetch further returns and, with corner kicks and a fair share of set-pieces also in his locker, Cazorla looks a viable captaincy alternative this weekend.
Robert Snodgrass – with a goal and three bonus points (BP) in Norwich City’s previous match at Tottenham, the summer signing from Leeds United will be in confident mood ahead of the visit of West Ham United. Snodgrass’ attacking threat and set-piece potential is already looking fundamental to the Canaries’ forward forays and could well be the difference this Saturday as Chris Hughton seeks to engineer a first victory of the new season.
Dimitar Berbatov – the enigmatic Bulgarian’s decision to turn his back on Serie A suitors and reunite with Martin Jol offers Fantasy managers an intriguing proposition for the campaign ahead. Likely to be handed spot-kick duties for Fulham, Berbatov is in line to make his full debut this weekend at home to West Bromwich Albion and, with the Cottagers particularly strong at home under Jol, the former Manchester United forward looks central to their attacking endeavours.
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