The Scout previews Gameweek 7
With the second international break of the season just around the corner, The Scout takes a look at this week’s fixtures before another fortnight’s hiatus is thrust upon us.
Three of the top five in the Barclays Premier League are handed enticing home ties in the weekend ahead. Champions Manchester City entertain Sunderland in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, league leaders Chelsea welcome Norwich City to Stamford Bridge, with the Blues looking to maintain the form that has seen them drop just two points in the opening six Gameweeks, and Tottenham Hotspur attempt to pick up their fourth straight win as they play host to Aston Villa.
Elsewhere, Liverpool will be hoping Luis Suarez can fire them to their first home win of the season as Stoke City roll up to Anfield, in-form Everton travel to Wigan Athletic, while Manchester United face a tricky trip to Newcastle United, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side looking to bounce back from their Gameweek 6 home defeat to Tottenham
Having trialled 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 formations in the first five Gameweeks, last Saturday’s trip to Fulham saw Roberto Mancini revert to the 4-2-3-1 system that served Manchester City so well in the previous campaign. The return of Gareth Barry freed up Yaya Toure to forage forward time and again for the champions, while David Silva and Sergio Aguero both dazzled in the wide attacking roles behind Carlos Tevez. With his side yet to register back-to-back league victories this term, Mancini can ill-afford to lose further ground at the top of the table and with many of his key protagonists now back in the first-team fold, The Scout has a feeling that the Italian may shelve his penchant for tactical tinkering as he looks to gain ground on leaders Chelsea.
Sir Alex Ferguson has an up-front dilemma on his hands ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Newcastle. With Wayne Rooney now recovered from a thigh injury, the Red Devils boss rolled out a 4-3-1-2 formation for the midweek Champions League win at CFR Cluj, with Rooney in “the hole” behind Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez. Rooney supplied the assists for both the Dutchman’s goals in the 2-1 comeback win and looks set to earn another start this Sunday – Ferguson is likely to revert to 4-4-2 once again to mirror the Magpies’ formation, with Shinji Kagawa possibly shifted to the left as Ferguson reshuffles his attacking options for the Sports Direct Arena showdown.
By the numbers
With plenty of in-form midfielders staking a claim for our 15-man squads, The Scout analyses the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to determine the top performers thus far. Listing the top 10 midfielders in terms of average PPI score per appearance, we run down the stand-out options, with the only proviso being each player must have appeared at least twice in the opening six Gameweeks.
|Nuri Sahin (LIV)||24||6.7||8.5||1%|
|Damien Duff (FUL)||22||6.3||5.8||9%|
|Yaya Toure (MCI)||20||8.3||5.2||38%|
|Gareth Bale (TOT)||19||9.4||6.7||14%|
|Steven Pienaar (EVE)||19||6.7||5.0||14%|
|Eden Hazard (CHE)||18||10.3||7.0||42%|
|Juan Mata (CHE)||18||8.8||5.4||4%|
|Marouane Fellaini (EVE)||17||7.3||5.7||31%|
|James Morrison (WBA)||17||6.0||4.7||1%|
|Shinji Kagawa (MUN)||17||8.5||4.6||13%|
Nuri Sahin came to the fore in Liverpool’s 5-2 thrashing of Norwich City last weekend. The on-loan Turkish international has so far grabbed a goal and a pair of assists and also made 4 interceptions over his couple of appearances. With an ownership of 1% and average of 8.5 points per game, he looks a decent differential with a couple of home clashes against Stoke City and Reading up next.
Damien Duff is another mid-price midfielder worthy of consideration. Going forward, the Fulham winger has produced 3 goals, 6 shots on target and 9 successful dribbles over six appearances, while 14 interceptions and 7 successful tackles are indicative of his strong work ethic.
One of the most popular midfielders in the game, Yaya Toure has already attracted 38% ownership. The Ivorian’s contribution to the Manchester City midfield has seen him register 2 goals, 10 shots on target and complete 288 passes. With 7 successful tackles and 7 interceptions, his all-round displays are heavily favoured by the EA SPORTS PPI.
Gareth Bale has managed 13 shots on target and 8 successful tackles amongst his EA SPORTS PPI stats; none of our top 10 can better the Welshman’s tally in either category. After a slow start to the season, he has now returned 35 points in the last three Gameweeks, with maximum bonus points in each of those trio of fixtures.
Everton duo Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini have proven to be superb mid-price alternatives this term. Playing in support of a lone forward, Fellaini has already grabbed 3 goals and fired 23 shots –his EA SPORTS PPI score has suffered, however, with 10 of these efforts off target. Pienaar’s all-round displays have boosted his appeal. The South African has made 4 successful dribbles and delivered 3 crosses from out wide, while 16 interceptions and 3 blocks demonstrate his energetic endeavours.
Eden Hazard remains top of the scoring chart for midfielders with 42 points, despite drawing blanks in each of his last three appearances. The Chelsea man has provided 6 assists and scored once from 6 shots on target, while 8 successful dribbles and 6 crosses have tormented back-fours aplenty.
Ones to watch
Jan Vertonghen – the Belgian opened his league account for Tottenham with an early strike at Old Trafford last weekend. As the London outfit begin to gel under Andre Villas-Boas, Vertonghen’s threat from the back looks a key part of their attacking forays – whether fielded at centre-half or left-back, his keen eye for goal could come to the fore yet again as he prepares to welcome an Aston Villa side that have picked up a single point on their travels all season.
Juan Mata – he started the season a little sluggish but since being rested for the Gameweek 4 trip to Queens Park Rangers, Mata has been the main man for Chelsea. The Spaniard, who has plummeted in price from 9.5 to 8.8 due to the early-season exploits of team mate Eden Hazard, has produced 4 goals and 4 assists in his last four matches in all competitions and could well run riot at home to Norwich on Saturday.
Gaston Ramirez – a goal and assist in his last couple of matches is indicative of the Uruguayan’s form right now. Southampton’s record buy from Bologna has settled in seamlessly to the Premier League and playing in “the hole” behind Rickie Lambert, has impressed The Scout with his instant impact. Priced at just 6.0, Ramirez looks a strong candidate for our five-man midfields ahead of a home clash with Fulham this weekend.
Sergio Aguero – back in the Manchester City fold after sustaining a knee injury in Gameweek 1, the Argentine grabbed a crucial equaliser last weekend as the champions came from behind to seal a vital victory at Craven Cottage. With an ownership of less than 7%, Aguero looks a strong differential and captaincy contender as the champions get set to host Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Andy Carroll – the on-loan forward shrugged off a hamstring problem to return ahead of schedule for West Ham in last Monday’s win at QPR. Carroll now faces a home showdown with Arsenal this time round and The Scout has a feeling his aerial threat could be a real thorn in the Gunners’ side as the Hammers look go in search of their third home win of the season.
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