Game week 6 once again defied all expectations, with the newly promoted clubs collecting seven points from a possible nine between them. Most significantly, West Ham also scored what is arguably their biggest coup yet, taking all three points from Eastlands in an excellent display of steely resolve and determination.
Given the number of ‘shock’ results seen in the first six weeks of 2015/16, there is the overriding feeling that clean sheets will come at an absolute premium yet again this weekend.
For that reason, our focus will be on the latter two thirds of the pitch.
1/2/3. Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin & Anthony Martial
The battling nature of United’s courageous 3-2 win at Southampton was an indication of the Red Devils’ progress under Louis van Gaal, and this weekend represents a golden opportunity for United to keep the pressure on their mega-rich neighbours at the summit of the league.
United’s home match with Sunderland is undoubtedly the biggest home banker of the weekend, and fantasy managers are advised to max out on Manchester United players. As ever, the battle will be won and lost in midfield, and there are two affordable players who can make an impact without breaking the bank.
Firstly, Daley Blind has enjoyed a productive start to the season, providing an efficient outlet for attackers while also showing good capability in a defensive role when required. Versatility is a key part of Louis van Gaal’s gameplan, making Blind a great asset to the Red Devils.
Morgan Schneiderlin is also a worthy inclusion for GW7. While Blind has the versatility, Schneiderlin has the vision needed to unnerve the opposition, establishing himself as a major part of the brave new squad from day one. Furthermore, the duo have played a combined total of 988 minutes out of a possible 1080, showing good communication and strong chemistry, with Blind having played every minute of every game so far this season.
For high-scoring firepower look no further than Anthony Martial, whose quick-fire strike against Liverpool saw Wayne Rooney relegated back to the ‘number ten’ position as a support striker in the very next game against Southampton. Martial’s stock is rightly soaring, yet he is (for now) a cheaper alternative to several other strikers that flourished in 2014/15 but find themselves struggling at present.
A huge call at this early stage, but given the opposition you should strongly consider making him your captain in GW7.
4/5. Dimitri Payet & Diafra Sakho
With three goals in two games, Dimitri Payet’s current form makes him an absolute must-have for GW7 if the onus is on merely staying within touching distance of fantasy league rivals. This weekend’s opponents Norwich batted fervently at Anfield to gain a well-deserved point, but it is an inescapable fact that the Canaries remain without a clean sheet since returning to the Premier League.
Against an inventive Hammers side that has scored in every game this season, it is very difficult to envision a clean sheet for Norwich City on what is set to be the club’s final visit to the Boleyn Ground. For that reason, Diafra Sakho is likely to be a high scorer in GW7, and fantasy managers would be well-advised to draft him in with haste.
6. Nemanja Matic
Chelsea are heavy favourites this weekend after a morale boosting 2-0 win over Arsenal, and if hosts Newcastle fail to improve at least 500% on the display against Watford, fantasy managers will be spoilt for choice as far as Chelsea players are concerned.
The more economically minded of virtual gaffers are advised to include Nemanja Matic as a cost-effective addition to the squad, as he provides link up play and has an eye for goal. His wonder strike in the 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park (against much more resolute opposition) is already a serious contender for ‘goal of the season’.
A disjointed Newcastle defence should give the Serbian ample opportunity to add to his tally for the season.