Saturday, 14 September 2013

The top four clubs in the Barclays Premier League are all on their travels as The Scout gets back to business after a two-week international break.
Arsenal will be confident of a third successive win as they make their way to Sunderland, with the Wearsiders having picked up a single point so far. Manchester City pay visit to the Britannia Stadium, where former manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke City lie in wait, Chelsea face a testing trip to unbeaten Everton, while league leaders Liverpool travel to Swansea City in the final fixture of Gameweek 4 on Monday evening.
Elsewhere, Manchester United are searching for a first win in three attempts as Crystal Palace roll up to Old Trafford, Tottenham Hotspur host Norwich City, with Andre Villas-Boas’ side determined to bounce back from their north London derby defeat, while promoted pair Hull City and Cardiff City go head-to-head at the KC Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Talking tactics

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has a couple of injury worries to contend with ahead of Monday’s trip to Swansea. Although Kolo Toure is expected to return for the Reds, both Glen Johnson and Daniel Sturridge were ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifiers over the past week and remain uncertain to recover in time for the Liberty Stadium showdown. Johnson’s likely absence could afford Andre Wisdom or Martin Kelly a chance to deputise at right-back – priced at just 4.4 and 4.3 respectively, they offer a real cut-price route into the meanest backline in the top-flight. Sturridge continues to be bothered with a thigh injury and his potential omission could see Iago Aspas lead the line for the Reds and allow Philippe Coutinho to move into the central position behind the lone forward, with Victor Moses handed a starting berth on the left.
Steve Clarke has a selection dilemma on his hands as West Bromwich Albion head to Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon. With his side yet to find the net this season, the Baggies boss snapped up a trio of new faces on transfer deadline-day and, having already trialled 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations this term, may move to a 4-2-3-1 in order to field record-signing Stephane Sessegnon in his preferred role in “the hole”. Loan signing Morgan Amalfitano offers the midlands outfit an option on the right flank, while Victor Anichebe’s arrival from Everton bolsters the Baggies options through the middle as Clarke attempts to address a record that has seen his side fail to score in any of their opening three fixtures.
Andre Villas-Boas looks poised to hand Tottenham’s new midfield duo Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen their first starts as Norwich roll up to White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon. The Spurs boss could retain the 4-3-3 system utilised over the last couple of matches, with the left-footed Lamela cutting inside from the right flank and Eriksen looking to push on in support of Roberto Soldado through the middle. Alternatively, with Etienne Capoue sidelined due to an ankle injury, Villas-Boas may revert to last season’s 4-2-3-1 and station Mousa Dembele and Paulinho in front of the back-four, allowing Eriksen a more advanced role behind Soldado as the north London side go in search of their third win of the season.

By the numbers

With three round of fixtures now behind us, The Scout takes a look at the stand-out creators over the season so far. As expected, many of the premium midfielders have been quick to excel but, as the statistics show, there’s potential value available right across the price brackets.
Leighton Baines (EVE)1007.522%
Sylvain Marveaux (NEW)1004.91%
Eden Hazard (CHE)919.323%
Nacer Chadli (TOT)907.51%
Santi Cazorla (ARS)819.98%
Adam Johnson (SUN)806.92%
Jesus Navas (MCY)808.94%
Christian Benteke (AVL)809.129%
Theo Walcott (ARS)729.515%
Michu (SWA)719.015%
David Silva (MCY)719.420%
James Ward-Prowse (SOU)714.53%
Leighton Baines may not have picked up any attacking returns so far, though it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Everton’s left-back, who is the only defender in our analysis, has created 10 chances for team-mates but has failed to register a single assist, with the Toffees drawing blanks in each of their last couple of matches.
Newcastle winger Sylvain Marveaux has mirrored Baines’ creative endeavours – all the more impressive given he has featured in only two of the Magpies’ three matches. Coming in at just 4.9, the Frenchman looks a real cut-price contender for our five-man midfields if he continues to earn a role on the left flank for Alan Pardew’s side. Similarly, Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has looked a real bargain. The 4.5 priced midfielder has played every minute under Mauricio Pochettino in the first three Gameweeks, creating 7 chances for team-mates in addition to earning an assist.
Arsenal duo Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott have also impressed. Cazorla has teed up 8 scoring opportunities for his team-mates in addition to earning an assist over 225 minutes so far, while Walcott has picked up an assist in each of his last two appearances and created a further 7 scoring chances for his fellow Gunners.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Tottenham’s new left winger Nacer Chadli have produced 9 “key passes” apiece. Hazard has proven the most creative of Jose Mourinho’s midfielders and has also picked up an assist over his three appearances. Chadli, with an ownership of less than 1%, could be an overlooked alternative for our midfield if his team-mates can find an end product.
Swansea’s Michu has yet to replicate the clinical displays that harvested 18 goals in his debut season but the Spaniard has provided his team-mates with plenty of opportunities to find the net. Michu has created 7 chances without success and has also earned an assist; mirroring the creative endeavours of Manchester City playmaker David Silva. The latter’s team-mate, Jesus Navas, has also been a little unlucky, failing to earn a single assist from a total of 8 “key passes” for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Christian Benteke’s outstanding start to the season has helped the Aston Villa forward grab 3 goals in his opening three matches but his all-round contribution has also created 8 chances for his team-mates without success.

Ones to watch

Patrice Evra – a home match against Crystal Palace offers the Frenchman the chance to pick up points at both ends of the pitch this weekend. Evra’s attacking forays down the left helped deliver 4 goals and 6 assists last term and with the hosts expected to dominate from start to finish, a clean sheet looks on the cards against the Eagles in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Robbie Brady – with penalty-kick duties boosting his appeal, the Hull midfielder has proven a popular cut-price pick for Fantasy managers so far. Brady faces Cardiff City at the KC Stadium this time round and will be looking to continue the home form which harvested an 11 point return in the previous fixture in front of his own fans.
Erik Lamela – having found the net 15 times for AS Roma in Serie A last season, the Argentine is expected to make a real impact at Tottenham this term. Set to make his home debut against Norwich, Lamela’s trickery on the right and keen eye for goal may prove decisive as Andre Villas-Boas’ side look to return to winning ways after narrowly losing the north London derby.
Gabby Agbonlahor – while Christian Benteke has picked up the plaudits, his fellow Aston Villa forward has stolen under the radar so far. Agbonlahor has supplied an assist in two of his three appearances already and his pace on the left should pose plenty of problems for visitors Newcastle at Villa Park this Saturday.
Darren Bent – after falling out of favour under Paul Lambert at Aston Villa, a loan move to Fulham has reignited the forward’s career. Installed as the lone striker for the Cottagers, with Dimitar Berbatov tucking in behind, Bent has already opened his account for the season and his eye for goal could come to the fore once again as out-of-sorts West Brom pay visit this weekend.


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