Thursday, April 5, 2012
This week's fantasy column arrives a day ahead of schedule with the next gamelock coming 24 hours early due to the Good Friday fixture between Swansea and Newcastle. And remember another full gameweek begins on Monday.
It's been a bad few weeks for Manchester City, relinquishing their advantage at the top of the Premier League table to rivals United, suffering injuries and seeing their form away from Eastlands disintegrate.
This is causing a serious fantasy headache, with the vast majority of managers having loaded up on City players. And with Roberto Mancini's side travelling to Arsenal this coming Sunday it seems as though there will be little to cheer in the first game of the double Easter programme.
Earlier in the season, David Silva was the key midfielder with four goals and six assists in the first 11 matches. But that form has dried up recently and the Spanish international has not recorded a goal or an assist since January 22 - meaning he has gone nine consecutive gameweeks without an attacking point. His last goal came on December 18 - the only one he has netted since November 5.
At one stage Silva was the runaway candidate for Player of the Year, but much like Samir Nasri at Arsenal last season his form has failed to hold beyond the first few months and it seems that accolade will now surely fall to Robin van Persie.
Since the turn of the year alone Silva's value has dropped by £0.5 million, falling by a further £0.1 million this week to £8.7 million. Yet he still remains in 36.8% of teams - though that is down 2.3% this week. He is now only the fourth highest-scoring midfielder and is about to be passed by Stephane Sessegnon - even though the Sunderland player recently missed two matches through suspension.
Sergio Aguero's drop in form has not been as dramatic, though his mysterious "foot spray" injury forced him to miss out against Sunderland last weekend and he could be absent for further games yet. That said, a return of four goals in the last 14 gameweeks is still poor for a player who was once the top-scoring striker.
Aguero has stated he could return against Arsenal this weekend, though that could yet be too early and is hardly a game to target for fantasy points - even if Arsenal's good run came to an end at Queens Park Rangers last Saturday.
He too is proving unpopular in the transfer market, down 2.1% in ownership already this week to 26.9%. Silva's goals have come as single strikes in different gameweeks, which means his value has remained static at £9.3 million - too expensive to hold on to and too expensive to sign when in questionable form.
Once more popular than Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, he has now slumped to fourth in the points table. The Arsenal striker has now scored 37.4% more points (58) than Aguero.
At the back, Joe Hart has been keeping up his form and until recently was on a run of nine clean sheets in 12 gameweeks to make him the best goalkeeper in the game. He has now gone four gameweeks without a clean sheet and the three goals conceded against Sunderland last week saw his value slip by £0.3 million to £7.5 million.
Hart is in 20.9% of teams with only a fractional fall this week as most managers keep faith with Mancini's men defensively. Michel Vorm of Swansea is back in favour as he edged back in front of Hart last weekend even though Swansea leaked three at Tottenham. Tim Howard is coming up strongly, just six points behind Vorm.
City no longer have any defenders in the top ten, because of their heavy rotation due to injuries and suspensions. Vincent Kompany missed out on clean sheets while he was suspended and injured, while Joleon Lescott has not played since picking up a clean sheet against Bolton five gameweeks ago.
Micah Richards is the second most popular City defender but he barely seems to play when City keep out the opposition. In fact, from the recent run of nine clean sheets in 12 gameweeks, Richards qualified for only four.
Three of City's next four fixtures are away from home - which has led some to suggest the Premier League title race will be over by the time United make the short trip across the city in Gameweek 36. But after the trip to Arsenal, the next three matches are against teams they would be expected to beat with a certain degree of ease. They entertain West Bromwich Albion before going to Norwich City and Wolves.
With two full rounds of games in the space of six days there is every chance to make up ground on your rivals. Manchester United continue to be the pick of the teams, with a home game against 17th place QPR and a trip to Wigan Athletic, in the relegation zone in 19th.
Swansea also have positive fixtures, but they could go either way with a home game against Champions League-chasing Newcastle United before they too face QPR, but at Loftus Road. QPR will have selected the fixture as one of their must-win games in the battle against the drop - but Swansea have won two of their last three away matches and their problems on the road are long since over. Newcastle, meanwhile, will also be at home to Bolton.
Everton have run into promising form and travel to Norwich before being at home to Sunderland, while Stoke look a good bet for clean sheets with a home match against Wolves and a visit to Aston Villa.
Wigan are the team to avoid with an away game at Chelsea followed by a home match against Man United. Every other club appears to have at least one fixture they should be looking to get something out of.
This is likely to be the penultimate update on altered gameweeks, and even then the games postponed for the FA Cup final will almost certainly move back a few days and remain in Gameweek 37.
The Stoke versus Everton game, like every Gameweek 33 match postponed to make way for the FA Cup semi-finals, will now take place in Gameweek 36. This leaves us with a barren week 33 and 14 matches in 36.
Arsenal v Wigan
Man Utd v Aston Villa
Norwich v Man City
Sunderland v Wolverhampton
Swansea v Blackburn
West Brom v QPR
Chelsea v QPR
Everton v Fulham
Man City v Man Utd
Norwich v Liverpool
Stoke v Arsenal
Sunderland v Bolton
Swansea v Wolverhampton
Tottenham v Blackburn
West Brom v Aston Villa
Wigan v Newcastle
Liverpool v Fulham
Stoke v Everton
Bolton v Tottenham
Chelsea v Newcastle