So it’s time to make plans for this weekend and beyond. As usual now at Fantasy Towers we will take a look at the fixtures to see what offerings there could be fantasy wise.
While Steve Kean ponders signing his newly-offered contract and the dissent builds in the Ewood Park faithful, Blackburn can at least look forward to an improved spell of fixtures in the month ahead.
A trip to the Britannia would normally seem daunting, but Stoke’s current run of form has seen them ship goals and slide down the table. Having scored three in each of their last two away games, Rovers will go to the Potteries confident that they can breach Tony Pulis’ ailing back four. Following that, Blackburn have a run of three home games in four that finds Swansea, West Brom and Bolton visiting Ewood Park. With an away trip to Sunderland in the middle of that pack, it’s clear that Rovers are on the cusp of a potentially crucial run of games.
Fantasy managers should take note of Yakubu’s goals at Wigan, whilst David aka Junior Hoilett’s tricky feet continue to sparkle and should enjoy a profitable spell up until Christmas.
The Toffees were featured amongst “the strong” last week and hold the privilege yet again, possibly for weeks to come. In a nutshell, Everton have embarked on a run of kind opponents that continues with a visit to Bolton this weekend, with Stoke, Norwich and Swansea all due at Goodison in the four gameweeks that follow.
Whilst Royston Drenthe (Skem Chavs) failed to produce in the 2-1 over Wolves, Leighton Baines (The Rock Ridge Raiders) delivered his first double point Fantasy haul of the season. Baines may well be expensive but, as we keep saying, having commanded a lot of suitors going into the season, this forthcoming spell looks to be the best opportunity to rediscover last seasons form.
A blank against Fulham offers little encouragement to Fantasy managers eyeing up Steve Bruce’s inconsistent assets, although the clean sheet provided further evidence that the Black Cats could yet return some value at the back.
The fixture list remains strong – Wigan are next at the Stadium of Light, an opponent that will surely grant Nicklas Bendtner (Skem Chavs) and his attacking colleagues more opportunities than the stubborn Fulham rearguard.
Monday night saw Spurs keep pace with the Manchester clubs, the comfortable 2-0 win over Villa shifting them to third in the table. It was Emmanuel Adebayor’s (Gordon’s Alive!) turn to star, firing a brace from a pair of Gareth Bale (The Wait is Over) assists as Harry Redknapp’s attacking talent continued to reward their Fantasy owners.
Spurs take their blossoming form to the Hawthorns at the weekend and, following that, welcome three opponents to the Lane in the next four gameweeks. Bolton and Sunderland looked willing prey, while Chelsea, with their current defensive plight, also seem likely to provide opportunities for the likes of Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart (Team Skin) and Adebayor to go on delivering profits. With a double gameweek beckoning in gameweek 20 (at home to Everton), investing in Harry Redknapp’s vibrant attacking options looks a sensible idea.
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie (Escape from Victory) pretty much covers Arsenal’s attacking potential but Theo Walcott’s (Escape from Victory) form deserves attention, with Aaron Ramsey (The Wait is Over) and Mikel Arteta (ABCDE FC Beerbelly) also looking set to profit further from an obliging schedule of fixtures. There’s even a case to look to Thomas Vermaelen (The Rock Ridge Raiders) and Andre Santos (Gordon’s Alive!)– defensively, they could benefit from Arsenal’s possession game at the Emirates, and threaten attacking returns, too.
West Brom – the Baggies stumbled past Bolton at the weekend but with Shane Long (Skem Chavs) restored up front and Zoltan Gera weaving patterns, they have some menace back and a run of opponents that could provide profit. Long is hoping to recover in time for this weekend’s game with Spurs, having picked up a knock in training.
Swansea – home games with Villa and Fulham look winnable – and with Brendan Rodgers’ side sticking to their neat possession football, you’d back further clean sheets in those games. The Swans will need to improve on away form for trips to Blackburn, Newcastle and Everton – but the 0-0 at Anfield certainly offered room for optimism.
The goalless draw at Sunderland will have disappointed Martin Jol, particularly as, in the weeks ahead, three points look hard to come by.
The weekend trip to the Emirates will bring a collision course with the Robin Van Persie juggernaut; following that, a home clash with Liverpool and a visit to Swansea provide similarly stern tests. Bolton visit the Cottage in gameweek 16 to offer some respite, but after that, both United and Chelsea lie in wait.
It’s a spell that’s hardly likely to promote interest in options such as Bobby Zamora (Beercelona) and Clint Dempsey (Escape from Victory), while those holding Fulham’s defensive assets should perhaps consider exit plans, despite Saturday’s returns.
It seems ridiculous to warn folk off investing in Roberto Mancini’s squad but the remit of the look ahead is to inform on those teams facing tough spells of fixtures – City’s forthcoming run certainly fulfills that criteria.
The trip to Anfield this weekend starts a four gameweek run that has City face Chelsea and Arsenal, with a home game against plucky Norwich in gameweek 14. While City sit atop the Premier League and look almost untouchable, we will know far more about their title credentials by the end of gameweek 16.
The smart money will be on City’s relentless march rolling on, with the likes of David Silva (ABCDE FC Beerbelly), Sergio Aguero (The Rock Ridge Raiders) and Mario Balotelli (El Tel) continuing to deliver. Those who have yet to get on board with such attacking talent may well consider holding fire, however, searching out differentials elsewhere and hoping that City’s charge can be temporarily derailed.
Villa face another unenviable road trip this weekend, with Swansea playing host to the Midlanders. Following that, Alex McLeish’s side have three home games in four. The only drawback is that the three teams paying a visit are United, Liverpool and Arsenal. It’s difficult to see the Villa defence emerging with much profit from those, while Gabby Agbonlahor (Team Skin) and Darren Bent (Pear Tree Productions) will need to prove fixture proof in order to fetch returns and reward the recent investment that’s come their way.
ALSO BE WARY OF…
Wigan – after falling foul to a late spot-kick against Blackburn, the Latics are now on the eve of a run of games that offers little suggestion they can grind out the win they so badly require. Away trips to Sunderland and West Brom may well be their best opportunities, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool next up at the DW Stadium.
Chelsea – the home defeat to Liverpool would have sapped the confidence, making the Stamford Bridge meet with Wolves all the more vital. Slip up there and Andre Villas-Boas will face a real test as a trip to Newcastle and a home clash with City then follow. Indeed, a run of three away games in four from gameweek 14, culminates in another testing trip to Spurs.