Gameweek 21: Fixture Breakdown

Our PlayON Pro and 2014 Fantasy Premier League champion, Tom Fenley, reviews three stand-out fixtures ahead of the midweek Premier League games and picks out some key players to consider for your FPL and PlayON line-ups.

 

Tue 12 Jan 2016 – Premier League

Newcastle v Manchester United 19:45

 

Manchester United v Swansea City - Premier League

 

The Magpies’ 1-0 defeat at Watford in the FA Cup was their fourth successive loss by that margin. At home, however, they have lost just twice in seven outings, with impressive wins over Liverpool (2-0) and Norwich (6-2) showing that Steve McClaren’s side certainly have the capability to win this important match.

In their last league outing they kept the deficit to a single goal, reflecting the spirited performance while the 2-1 win at White Hart Lane in mid-December also indicates that they raise their game for the top teams. Strong displays from midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Jack Colback will be crucial for taking control of the game, enabling them to create chances for both themselves and their mis-firing stikers.

The Newcastle faithful should be expecting a close match and after going four games without a goal it’s not likely to be a high-scoring affair, especially given United’s recent record.  Louis Van Gaal’s propensity for high-possession, low-threat football has drawn growing criticism even with back-to-back wins; the 2-1 victory over Swansea was a first win in seven league matches while a late Wayne Rooney penalty was needed to overcome League 1 side Sheffield United in the FA Cup. Only another comprehensive victory will be seen as acceptable here as they visit a side languishing in the relegation zone.

Forwards Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial have at least shown signs of form, the latter opened the scoring against the Swans before showing a creative side by setting up Rooney for winner for a third league assist of the term.

Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Ashley Young have the responsibility to provide more fluent service to those front-men. Mata in particular has not contributed in eight Gameweeks and while the Spaniard should be helping more, Van Gaal’s system may be limiting the midfielder’s ability to fully express his quality.

 

Key Players

Georginio Wijnaldum – Midfielder – FPL £6.8, PlayON £10.1

Jack Colback – Midfielder – FPL £5.2, PlayON £7.8

Wayne Rooney – Forward – FPL £9.9, PlayON £13.4

Anthony Martial – Forward – FPL £7.6, PlayON £9.1

 

Wed 13 Jan 2016 – Premier League

Man City v Everton 19:45

 

GettyImages-503650262

 

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have not had a convincing away record this campaign, but the 2-0 win at Norwich in the FA Cup follows a resolute 2-1 win at Watford, showing they have started the New Year with plenty of intent. Their home record is the best in the division, winning eight of ten matches in front of their own fans, with 29 goals scored they will be a difficult proposition for an Everton defence that have conceded in 12 of their last 14 league ties.

Worryingly for Roberto Martinez, Sergio Aguero looks to have recovered full fitness, registering two goals and a pair of assists over the their last three outings in all competitions. In midfield, Kevin De Bruyne with four goals and eight assists in eight appearances at the Etihad clearly tends to perform well at home. Yaya Toure meanwhile, is in his best form for some time, scoring three in their last four matches.

In defence, City have under-performed without their side-lined captain Vincent Kompany. Only a single shut-out in eight Gameweeks does not bode well, with Romelu Lukaku having scored ten in as many league matches. With the Belgian’s fitness yet to be declared, City will be crossing their fingers. 

The Toffees have scored in every match since Gameweek 9, it’s their leaky back-line has lost them games. They have just three wins in thirteen, all against the teams currently in the relegation places, suggesting they will be relying on their considerable attack once again to secure a result.

 

Key Players

Yaya Toure – Midfielder – FPL £8.7, PlayON £12.7

Sergio Aguero – Forward – FPL £13.2, PlayON £15

Ross Barkley – Midfielder – FPL £7.4, PlayON £9.1

Romelu Lukaku – Forward – FPL £9.3, PlayON £11.5

 

Liverpool v Arsenal 20:00

 

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League

 

Jurgen Klopp’s introduction to the festive schedule in English football has coincided with a comprehensive injury crisis that led to an inexperienced team being fielded for the cup tie draw with Exeter. The worst effected position is centre-back, though if deemed fit Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho will form a much more experienced partnership than was previously expected.

Jordan Henderson should also be available and his industry will be important for the Reds. Phillipe Coutinho will not feature, putting the onus on Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino to bring more creative drive to so far underwhelming seasons. Christian Benteke will be their focal point in attack and has scored two in three in the league, but the Belgian is too often isolated and will need to rectify this in order to be effective.

After the flat performance in the 2-0 loss to West Ham, the Reds victory at Stoke in the League Cup indicates this could be a compelling clash, even if the reverse fixture at the Emirates in August ended goal-less. With Liverpool’s limited options, Arsene Wenger will be hoping to take advantage and pick up a first league win at Anfield since 2012.

The Gunners 3-1 defeat of Sunderland in the FA Cup was a sixth win in seven outings, the only defeat, the 4-0 at Southampton may not be such an anomaly though after recent results away from home. They have managed only a single victory, at bottom placed Aston Villa, in the last four on the road, with defeats to the Saints and West Brom as well as a draw at Norwich.

Arsenal have injury problems of their own with Alexis Sanchez a little short of recovery, but potentially back for visit to Stoke this weekend. They do, however, have the potent pairing of Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud to help them in this fixture, with the former on top of the league assist leaderboard with 16 so far this campaign, while the French striker likewise netted a 16th goal of the season against the Black Cats. 

 

Key Players

Adam Lallana – Midfielder – FPL £7.3, PlayON £9.7

Christian Benteke – Midfielder – FPL £8.2, PlayON £11.6

Mesut Ozil – Forward – FPL £10, PlayON £11.9

Olivier Giroud – Forward – FPL £9.2, PlayON £12.3

 

Challenge me to a one-on-one this week with PlayON and follow me on twitter @tomfenley.

 

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