Thursday 16 May 2013
While the destination of the Barclays Premier League title is already settled going into the final day, the Fantasy Premier League crown is still very much in the balance, writes 'The Scout' Mark Sutherns.
The next few nights are likely to be sleepless ones for Ian Stephenson. Having been nestled in the top 10 since back in Gameweek 28, his side “Robin-Van-Perfect-20” has soared to the top of the Fantasy Premier League standings with one Gameweek remaining of the 2012/13 campaign.
With just eight points separating the top five teams, it’s shaping up to be a thrilling climax to the Fantasy season this coming Sunday.
Analysing the main contenders, it’s noticeable that only three players – Leighton Baines, Gareth Bale and Robin Van Persie – are currently owned by all five. Many of the midfields are similar, though, and with Shaun Maloney, Theo Walcott and Marouane Fellaini held by four of the top five, differentials in this area look vital.
Ian’s hopes could well be riding on Santi Cazorla as Arsenal make their way to Newcastle United. The Spaniard served up a 16 point haul in Tuesday’s home win over Wigan Athletic and may well be key – none of the other top five managers have him in their 15 man squads. Up front, Ian also has Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe as options alongside Van Persie but may choose to freshen up his front line, with a trade from Defoe to Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge looking a real possibility.
Sturridge has scored five goals in three appearances since Luis Suarez’s suspension and welcomes basement-dwellers Queens Park Rangers to Anfield this weekend. He has already been acquired by over 89,000 Fantasy managers this week – head and shoulders above any other player.
Kelvin Travers and Parm Cheema are both just two points off the summit. Kelvin will be hoping to regain top spot this week – he has four of the same five midfielders as Ian, with Fellaini instead of Cazorla, though has Romelu Lukaku and Rickie Lambert alongside Van Persie up top. Parm Cheema is the only one of our featured five to already hold either Sturridge or Frank Lampard and benefitted from the duo’s combined 31 points last time round.
Matt Martyniak dropped from second spot to fourth last week but remains a mere four points off the summit. Up front, Carlos Tevez and Lambert have enticing home fixtures against Norwich City and Stoke City, while Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique may prove decisive, with his attacking potential already delivering two goals and six assists ahead of a home clash with QPR.
Fifth-placed Evs will also be pinning his hopes on Tevez, though he also has Joe Hart to call upon as Manchester City entertain Norwich. Sitting on 2,399 points, he’s sweating on the fitness of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard after the Belgian missed Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final victory over Benfica with a hamstring injury, while Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson offers something different in midfield.
As the top five seek to gain an extra edge over their rivals this weekend, it’s intriguing that not one of our featured quintet currently own Swansea City’s Michu. Sold by over 266,000 managers last week after Michael Laudrup had all but ruled him out for the season, the Spaniard recovered in time to notch his 18th goal of the campaign against Manchester United.
With an ownership over 37%, he remains the third most popular player in the game and with a home showdown against Fulham on his agenda, may well prove the most ironic of differentials in the race for the Fantasy Premier League crown. It remains to be seen whether any of the title contenders fall for the Spaniard’s charms ahead of Sunday’s 11.30 deadline.