Gameweek 24 was a rough week at the Bargain Bin. After a week like that, reflection becomes necessary to try and find a cause for the poor performance. After reading some past articles, one popped up as being relevant to the situation: Gameweek 12’s Bargain Bin. For those that do not remember, it stressed finding matchups that would put players in favorable situations to provide fantasy success.
Last week’s players strayed away from that belief. David Marshall faced 27 shots against Norwich City and of course was not able to keep the clean sheet against the Canaries. This was also no help for defender Steven Caulker. All of the midfielders recommended last week combined for five shot attempts. Hatem Ben Arfa was supposed to have that total by halftime, but each of the midfielders found themselves in matches where their team did not score while they were on the pitch.
Lone bright spots from last week were Bacary Sagna, who picked up a clean sheet, and Andy Carroll, who had two assists, although Carroll managed to eliminate much of his success by picking up a red card.
This should not only be a reminder for me, but also a reminder for you. As we get into the final stretch of the Premier League season, be sure to search out for favorable matchups. Don’t get cute, as many did with Ben Arfa last week. If you put yourself in the best chance to succeed, success will find you.
With that in mind, let’s get back to what we preach. Here are Gameweek 25’s Bargain Bin players:
Vito Mannone is becoming one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers. If you are not familiar with the Sunderland goalkeeper, you should take a look at his stats. Since taking over as Sunderland’s keeper in November, Mannone has made more saves than anyone in the league. He is also tied for second in clean sheets and tied for fourth in fewest goals allowed. Luckily for fantasy owners, his stats say elite, but his price screams bargain. This is especially true this weekend. Saturday, Mannone and Sunderland will host Hull City. Only one team has managed to score fewer goals in Premier League away matches this season than the Tigers. Hull City attempt the second fewest number of shots and also have the lowest number of shots on target. Mannone has kept clean sheets in his last two Premier League matches and will look to make it a third straight Saturday.
Phil Bardsley is a defender that has been gaining some fantasy momentum in recent weeks. His value is tied to Mannone’s when it comes to clean sheets, which is helping his cause. For all the same reasons as above, Bardsley is a great option Saturday due to his chances of picking up value from a clean sheet. However, it is his offense that intrigues a lot of fantasy owners. Bardsley has not scored a goal since December 4, but that does not mean he will not score another goal all season. He has attempted a shot in 14 of the 17 matches he has played this season. In addition, he has been far more active at home than in away matches. Bardsley could find his name at the top fantasy defender ranks for Gameweek 25.
Jose Fonte and the Southampton defense are getting back on track. A look at the stats and it becomes apparent much of their defensive lull earlier could be tied to the injury to Artur Boruc. Good news for potential Fonte owners is that Boruc will be in the lineup Saturday when Southampton hosts Stoke City. The Saints have played eight home matches against teams in the bottom half of the table with Boruc in the lineup. Of those eight matches, Southampton have kept a clean sheet in five of them and have only allowed a total of four goals. Stoke City have a low conversion rate and average fewer than one goal per away match this season. The Potters will certainly struggle to get on the board against Fonte and Southampton this weekend.
Jason Puncheon has scored a goal in each of Crystal Palace’s three most recent home matches. In fact, Puncheon is responsible for the last three goals the Eagles have scored, all of which have come at home. He has become the leader of the Crystal Palace attack in 2014, averaging over three shot attempts per match (even including attempting zero against top-of-the-table Arsenal). Puncheon has also improved his accuracy, finding the target with 45 percent of his shot attempts since the beginning of December. Saturday, Crystal Palace will not be facing Arsenal, but rather West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies do not allow a high number of goals, but they are consistent in allowing teams to score while they are on the road. West Brom have not kept a clean sheet on the road since October and have allowed an average of 2.25 goals in their eight road matches since their last away clean sheet. Crystal Palace should score, and Puncheon should find himself involved once again.
Jonathan De Guzman has seen a big increase in his attacking contribution lately. The Swansea midfielder has attempted 13 shots and assisted on another 12 shots in his last four matches. In addition, typical midfield leader, Jonjo Shelvey could miss some time due to a hamstring injury. Shelvey has already missed two matches this season, and in those matches de Guzman averaged two shots, 2.5 assisted shot attempts, and also scored a goal. De Guzman is in line to play a big part in Swansea’s attack Saturday against Cardiff City. The Bluebirds allow an average of 1.9 goals per away match, ranking them 17th out of the 20 teams. They also allow their opponents to take the second most shot attempts when they play away from home. The Swans should rebound from the clean sheet last match with a few goals in Gameweek 25.
Wilfried Bony should also contribute to the Swansea City attack Saturday. The Swans’ striker is the clear leader of the attack, with seven goals and one assist on the season. In fact, all seven of his goals have come at home, scoring in five of the ten home matches he has played. Bony leads the team in shots and shots on target and should have plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net against a porous Cardiff City defense.
Fabio Borini may not be on a roll as much as teammate Adam Johnson is, but that does not mean that Borini has not had fine form recently. The Sunderland striker has two goals and one assist in his last three matches and has done a solid job contributing to the Sunderland attack. Hull City have the second-lowest save percentage in away matches this season, and should struggle to stop a player with a high accuracy rate (50 percent) like Borini. The Tigers have yet to keep a road clean sheet this season, and there are no signs that Saturday will be their first.