Well the fourth round of the F.A Cup has come and gone and to say there were one or two shock results would be an understatement, but there is good news for fantasy managers, with both Liverpool and Tottenham going out of the cup there will be little chance of your fantasy favourites being run ragged with an overloaded schedule. Most importantly for us of course is the news that there were no major injuries picked up during the course of the weekend with Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany being the only exception after he picked up a calf injury against Stoke and will now certainly miss City’s midweek game against QPR.
So with the F.A Cup out of the way we can now crack on with continued coverage of round 24 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League.
David Silva (Manchester City) £5.7 million Fixture: QPR (Away)
Prior to the champions win over Fulham, the City playmaker had scored just once in the league but after a brace against the Cottagers Silva is most definitely back on the radar as we head into round 24. With nine assists to his credit this season his lack of goals had seen him fall away as a fantasy prospect but with his display last time out and the impeding trip to Loftus Road on the cards things are beginning to look up for the Spanish international. City also have a decent run of games coming up with fixtures against four of the current bottom six over the next six weeks on the cards, meaning now may very well be the time to invest.
As far as this week’s opposition are concerned their defensive record is less than impressive as is evident by their current league position. The R’s have managed a mere two clean sheets at home all season and have conceded 18 goals in 12 games to boot a stat that will certainly have the City attack salivating as they make the trip to London, not to mention the fact the the MK Dons managed to knock in four over the weekend. It’s hard to disagree that Harry Redknapp certainly has made QPR a lot tougher to break down than they were under the stewardship of Mark Hughes and despite going the last three games unbeaten it is difficult to see how they are going to stop City and Silva from running riot.
Tom Cleverly (Manchester United) £3.9 million Fixture: Southampton (Home)
They say there is a first for everything and that is certainly the case for young Tom Cleverly as he finds his way into our midfielders selection for the first time this season. Having started the season on the fringes of the first team Cleverly’s performances have earned him a regular spot in the United midfield ,with the 23 year old having now started six of the last seven games for the league leaders, producing a goal and an assist in that time. Of course many will argue that these are not overly impressive stats for a United midfielder but with Cleverly finding his feet and showing signs of form he does offer fantasy managers a budget option for United coverage going into this week’s fixture.
Having featured both a United goalkeeper and a defender in our selections this week many may feel we are being a little harsh on Southampton but the fact of the matter is that is just not true, we are realists and with the Saints making the trip to Old Trafford this Wednesday it is extremely likely that they could well conceded a couple of goals to add to the already poor defensive away record they possess. The Saints have conceded 26 goals in 11 away games to date and with United looking to ensure that they do not drop any more points it would be foolish for fantasy managers not to consider the young England international going into this one especially given his low price of just £3.9 million.
Juan Mata (Chelsea) £5.3 million Fixture: Reading (Away)
Oh what to do with a problem like Chelsea? The Pensioners were lucky to escape with a replay in the fourth round of the F.A Cup as they drew 2-2 with league one side Brentford but that was the cup and this is the bread and butter of the premier league and there is only one thing to do after a poor result like that and that is to come back stronger and who better to do it against than new boys Reading. Mata started the weekend’s F.A Cup game on the bench which is good news for fantasy managers as he should be well rested for this week’s game against the Royals. The plucky little Spaniard has been in scintillating form in the league in recent weeks with four goals and five assists in his last nine games and many including Rafa will be hoping that form can continue.
Brian McDermot’s side will undoubtedly be apprehensive of the “wounded bear” that is Chelsea making the trip to the Madejski despite the fact that they have won three of their last four. The Royals have the second worst record for the amount of goals conceded at home this season with 21 shipped in 11 games, where as Chelsea on the other hand are actually playing better under Rafa away from the Bridge with the Blue’s scoring 21 in 11 games, with seven of those coming in their last three away days. Fantasy managers will certainly be skeptical about Chelsea’s after their recent performance in the cup but with Mata seemingly the linch pin in the midfield this games could see them get back to winning ways with his return to the starting line up.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham) £5.4 million Fixture: Norwich (Away)
Tottenham were another side who under performed in the fourth round as they went out to Leeds at Elland Road 2-1, but it wasn’t all bad for fantasy managers with Bale continuing to show signs of improvement after his recent dip in form as he provided the assist for Clint Dempsey’s consolation goal. Interestingly enough the Welsh international has not produced any attacking returns since his hat-trick back in round 19 but with a trip to Carrow Road down for decision on Wednesday that all may be about to change.
The Canaries have had a torrid run of it of late which was capped off by their 1-0 defeat at the hands of conference side Luton in the cup and with Tottenham coming to town it’s not going to get any easier for Chris Hughton’s men. With a single point accrued from their last six fixtures the Norfolk side have the worst run of form of any side in the bottom half of the table which is clearly evident by the fact that the Canaries have conceded 15 goals in their last six games. Like we said Bale’s form has been hit and miss this season but with Norwich next up for Spurs a return to form and fantasy points could well be on the cards for the Welsh winger.
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