After only four clean sheets in Round 9 it seems that those elusive points are getting even harder to find week on week. But despite the lack of clean sheets in round 9 there was still some value to be had with a number of defenders picking up goals and assists to help ease those clean sheet worries and bring home some attacking points. Norwich’s Michael Turner picked up his first goal of the season, Ivan Ramis found the net for for Wigan and Chris Baird got his second goal in two games as Fulham drew with Reading and James Tomkins also popped up with a goal for West Ham as they went down 2-1 to Wigan. Gael Clichy and Kaspars Gorkss also managed to provide assists for their respective clubs and gain some valuable points along they way.
Round 10 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League throws up further uncertainty for fantasy managers as we search for more points from our defenders and as usual our coaches here in the managers office have been scouting the form and the fixtures in the search for those all important points.
Chris Baird (Fulham) £3.5 million Fixture: Everton (Home)
As stated Baird has scored in each of his last two games and at £3.5 million has made many a fantasy manager very pleased along the way. Prior to this Baird had not scored since the 2010/11 season notching up two goals in the whole campaign. There is of course always an element of luck when it comes to defenders scoring goals and in Baird’s case this is true however it is not all luck. He has been pushed forward into the midfield by Martin Jol this season as Jol looks to fill the gaps left by Dempsey, Murphy and Dembele. However it has been the injury to Mahamadou Diarra that has force Jol’s hand and it seems to have worked a treat so far. Fulham have been solid at home this season and find themselves 6 points better off than this time last season. Everton travel to Craven Cottage on the back of that 2-2 draw with Liverpool and as we know are very capable of scoring especially on the road having only failed to find the net once this season on their travels, so despite the fact that a clean sheet may not be a given for the Cottagers with Bairds new lease of life in the midfield points may still be on offer at a bargain price.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke) £3.6 million Fixture: Norwich (Away)
The Potters were only one of four sides to keep a clean sheet in round 9 and it will come as little surprise to many that they feature in our defender tips for round 10. Tony Pulis’s side travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich this weekend and with the Canaries only managing four goals at home so far this season the signs look good for one of the meanest defenses in the league. Shawcross has been ever present this season for the Potters and helped them to an impressive four clean sheets so far this season. As far as attacking possibilities go the 25 year old lad from Chester is not known for his goals, however he is capable of netting from set pieces as was evident last season as he got 2 goals and 2 assists from set play. This time round it is the clean sheet potential that draws the eye and as Norwich struggle to find the net with any regularity a clean sheet could well be on the cards.
John O’Shea (Sunderland) £3.5 million Fixture: Aston Villa (Home)
With O’Shea’s centre back partners being rotated between Bramble and Cuellar, the Irishman offers Fantasy Football managers with the ideal Sunderland coverage. O’Shea is another who has played every minute of every league game for his side which rules out the rotation risk which has become so popular this season with many players. Sunderland haven’t hit the heights of the back end of last season but have been defensively solid which is one good thing for Sunderland fans and Fantasy Football managers alike. At just £3.5 million, O’Shea is a cheaper alternative to many of the over priced defenders in the league. The Black Cats host Martin O’Neill’s old club, Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon when they will be hoping to pick up just their second league win of the season. Villa themselves have been in wretched form and sit just one place outside the relegation zone. They have only scored 2 away goals all season which should be reason enough for Fantasy Football managers to be looking at getting O’Shea into their team for round 10 with a clean sheet looking like a distinct possibility.
Gareth McAuley (West Brom) £3.4 million Fixture: Southampton (Home)
The West Brom defender finds himself as the highest scoring center-half in the game with 1 goal, 1 assist and 3 clean sheets to his name so far this season. West Brom have got off to a flyer of a start to the season under new boss Steve Clarke and show no signs of slowing down as they welcome a struggling Southampton to the Hawthorns. All three of the Baggies clean sheets this season have so far come at home with Manchester City being the only side to breach their defense on home soil. Southampton on the other hand have scored in every game this season bar one and will be looking for their first 3 points of the season, but with Ricky Lambert seemingly off song they goals have been harder to come by in recent weeks and at the back it seems they can not plug the holes that have lead to them conceding more goals that any side at this point in premier league history. So at £3.4 McAuley represents good value heading into this weekends clash with the possibility of a clean sheet and even another goal to add to his tally.
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