Gameweek 30 preview

March 19, 2015

21 Mar 12:45 Man City v West Brom
21 Mar 15:00 Aston Villa v Swansea
21 Mar 15:00 Newcastle v Arsenal
21 Mar 15:00 Southampton v Burnley
21 Mar 15:00 Spurs v Leicester
21 Mar 15:00 Stoke v Crystal Palace
21 Mar 17:30 West Ham v Sunderland
22 Mar 13:30 Liverpool v Man Utd
22 Mar 16:00 Hull v Chelsea
22 Mar 16:00 QPR v Everton


The quick manager change at Sunderland may help them forget the abysmal display they put in against Aston Villa last week. Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet’s first months in charge had the desired effect, saving them from relegation both times. Dick Advocaat’s a much more experienced coach – surely the same upturn in fortunes can be expected this time round.

They’ll be hoping for a revival similar to that of Aston Villa’s, who up until last week had only scored four away goals. They doubled that total in 90 minutes. Three games and eight goals and all of a sudden Villa aren’t the team you automatically look for in the fixture list when looking to bring in defensive options with the chance of clean sheet points. And – Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke look like viable forward options for the first time all season.

In the immediate aftermath of last week’s result many managers may have thought about clearing out the Sunderland contingent. I’m not sure there are too many teams overloaded with Sunderland attacking options, but defensively they’ve proved quite popular over the course of the season. Between their drubbings at the hands of Southampton (the 8-0) and Villa, they managed to keep seven clean sheets in 19 games. All of their back line come in at under £5 million, there’s an assist or two in Patrick Van Aanholt, and Costel Pantillimon racks up a decent amount of additional save points. Maybe it’s worth sticking with the them in the short term, and see how the new manager works out.

Besides there’s a bigger defensive crisis brewing just up the road following Fabricio Coloccini’s sending off for Newcastle against Everton last weekend. Newcastle only have one fit centre half – and that’s Mike Williamson. I’d look to replace any Newcastle defenders with greater urgency than any from Sunderland at the moment. They’re not exactly banging in the goals either. Their most potent player is at the top end of a seven game ban, and of their remaining fit and unsuspended players, only Jack Colback and Ayoze Perez have more than two goals. Colback is likely to be deputising in the defence this weekend, and Perez is out of favour. If you’ve a triumvirate of Arsenal players in your squad, that’s where you’ll probably earn your points this coming gameweek.

This last March gameweek sees the quarter finals of the Buckets Cup, and, of course, we’ll know who has won the March monthly prize. Forgetting the double gameweek, we’ve had a series of fairly low scoring weeks, punctuated with odd teams notching twice as many points as the average. That average score has loitered around the high 30’s, and last week two of the top three failed to get out of the 20’s. A 40 point swing on a low scoring top team could promote someone from the pack.


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