Form versus fixtures is an argument that will roll on throughout the season. Whatever your allegiance in that particular debate, it pays to keep abreast of the upcoming matches each team face over the next few gameweeks.
Our regular check of the fixtures does some of the donkey work for you – presenting those sides pulling on their comfy slippers over the next month or so, and those forced to break-in the Doc Martins. Blistering stuff.
Despite the 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, Brendan Rodgers’ side came out of the Chelsea game with some credit and can now take heart from a run of fixtures which gives them every opportunity to cement a mid-table placing.
The Swans have already established themselves as a source of bargains in defensive positions – the likes of Michel Vorm and Neil Taylor could well go on repaying faith shown in them in the coming weeks. Certainly, home games with Stoke and Bolton look like good opportunities for further clean sheets; trips to Norwich and Wolves could also provide surprise returns.
In attacking terms, Swansea have been far less fruitful, but Scott Sinclair’s goal and assist in the win over West Brom could well be a preview of what’s to come in the next month or so.
The Latics have always been a huge gamble in Fantasy terms – so often their fixtures and form have shown promise, only for them to collapse and disappoint; similarly Wigan are known for spoiling the party when the odds are staked against them. We will approach Roberto Martinez’s unpredictable side with caution then, but there’s no denying their fixtures seem to set them up for improved returns for many gameweeks to come.
Indeed, in the short-term, Wigan have three home games in the next six that all present good opportunities for goals and defensive profits. Even away from home, trips to Villa, Newcastle and Wolves will be tests, but offer Wigan the stage to surprise once again.
Ali Al-Habsi could well be a decent budget keeper selection for the foreseeable then, while patience in Victor Moses could well pay off – aside from Swansea’s Nathan Dyer, you’d perhaps struggle to find a prospect in the same price bracket with fixtures to compare to the Latics winger.
Martin Jol’s side keep hinting at better things to come but fail to deliver. In truth, the Fulham boss is struggling to settle his side down – both at the back and up front, where injuries and rotation have perhaps upset the applecart and led to some inconsistent performances.
The forthcoming fixture list should be cause for optimism however, handing the Cottagers three home games in the next five that appear to afford them opportunities for goals and even clean sheets. John Arne Riise and Clint Dempsey are two players who have the ability and goal threat, but are yet to catch fire in Fantasy terms; they might just come to the fore in the next four to five gameweeks.
Newcastle – Alan Pardew’s have made a superb start to the season and have every chance to continue that run given the opponents in front of them.
Aston Villa – disappointing at Loftus Road on Sunday, while Villa are showing little attacking intent right now, defensively they may come good, particularly with a favourable run of home matches to come in the next five gameweeks.
Wolves – Mick McCarthy’s side have slumped miserably after a promising start to the season. Fantasy managers will likely be looking elsewhere then, but three decent Molineux matches in the next five could lead to a revival.
David Moyes’ side went on the retreat at Man City on Saturday and, while they frustrated their illustrious hosts for long periods, the visitors ultimately came away empty handed. That could be a common theme in the coming weeks for the Toffees.
A Merseyside derby this weekend now looks a vital match given that Chelsea and United also lie in wait, with a tough trip to Fulham the filling in that fixture sandwich. In truth, it’s hard to see an Everton clean sheet in that spell, while Moyes will have to hope to find the formula for goals, having conducted several experiments already this season with limited success.
The current conundrum surrounding the future of Wayne Rooney in our squads is undoubtedly clouded further by United’s fixture list. While Ferguson could well be pulling kidology with talk of his star forward sitting out Saturday’s clash with Norwich, following that game, there is cause to ponder even Rooney’s worth. Liverpool and Man City lie in wait following the Canaries encounter, with a cauldron simmering nicely at Everton in gameweek 10.
United and Rooney must surely be backed to score against any opposition in their current form – but can the 9-goal striker outscore rivals Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Segio Aguero in that run of gameweeks?
The recent failure to capitalise against stubborn opponents Aston Villa will have caused much frustration for those holding QPR’s assets. Neil Warnock’s side still appear to lack the cutting edge to convert some patience and pretty approach play. A local derby with Fulham is up next – fail to return in that one and suddenly the pressure will be on for the home clash with Blackburn.
Following the Rovers encounter, Rangers have a dreadful run that sees them host Chelsea and City and travel to Spurs and Stoke – don’t expect your budget defenders to return much from that spell. Attacking profits could also be thin on the ground, could this signal sales of Adel Taarabt, Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips et al?
Be wary of…
Norwich – three points against Sunderland saw the Canaries climb to mid-table but with United, Liverpool and Arsenal in the next six, pressure to win home matches against Swansea and Blackburn will be significant.
Blackburn – their next three Ewood encounters bring City, Spurs and Chelsea meaning that Steve Kean’s men will likely need to find their feet on the road to earn any points in the next six weeks.