Fantasy Football Scout: Gameweek 30

Mike Hewitt

After an extended cup hiatus, our fantasy football tips are back...

If it's even possible, cast your minds back to a time before Wembley - a time when we also visited North London, and when we also lost, but not in such glorious circumstances. I am of course referring to our 4-1 hammering at the Emirates, which strange as it seems was our last Premier League game. In that fixture I had tipped Adam Johnson for success, unfortunately the winger was anonymous and taken off at half time - earning him just the one point. The Sunderland player who I advised avoiding in that game was Lee Cattermole, as I felt even if he played fantastically his role in the side wouldn't garner him many fantasy points. In fact Poyet decided to rest the former captain altogether in preparation for the League Cup final the next weekend, meaning he picked up precisely zero points.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of point going over how the other tips performed, considering every side other than us has played a whole host of games since our last fixture!

This week we face a tough visit from a gritty and determined Crystal Palace side, whilst Sunday sees both a North London Derby and Manchester United hosting in-form Liverpool.

Sunderland Player To Watch: Vito Mannone

Neither Crystal Palace or Sunderland are particularly high-scoring teams, and this has been particularly apparent for both sides in recent weeks. Add this to Palace's Pulis-inspired defensive solidity, I just can't see many goals in this game at all. I foresee it being very similar to our 1-0 against Stoke at home a few months ago, and so with no attacking players likely to come good I'm backing Don Vito to help us secure a cleansheet and bring home the points.

General Player To Watch: Daniel Sturridge

There's been some talk of a "revival" at Manchester Untied after they beat West Brom 3-0 last weekend. But to put that into context, West Brom are proper rubbish and so far winless under new boss Pepe Mel. Far more of a challenge for Moyes' boys is a visit of the Premier League's form side Liverpool, and especially their deadly attack. Whilst Luis Suarez is without a doubt the Reds most talented player, it is England striker Daniel Sturridge who has been bagging most of the goals of late. Potentially coming up against a defensive pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, I can see the striker stealing the show on Sunday.

Sunderland Player To Avoid: Steven Fletcher

The Scotsman has looked out of form and fitness for a long while now, but his performance against Hull was more akin to the Scottish Ghost James McFadden's spell on Wearside than the Fletcher we saw in his first half a season back in 2012. With Borini perhaps more effective against a higher defensive line than Pulis' teams are inclined to play, Altidore seemingly now completely out of favour, and Nacho Scocco still a way off match fitness there is a chance Fletcher could start again on Saturday. If he does, then it would be no surprise to see him turn in a similarly disinterested and anaemic performance to the one in the FA Cup.

General Player To Avoid: Roberto Soldado

The Spanish striker has had a tough first season for Spurs, and although there was talk of his goal against Cardiff being a late kick-start to his career in England he was again dropped back down to the bench against Chelsea. With Arsenal looking particularly sharp again versus Everton (though at the time of writing they are yet to have faced the Bayern Juggernaut for a second time) I imagine Tim Sherwood will once more opt for the security of three in midfield for the North London Derby. This will doubtless see Soldado more likely to be picking stray splinters out of his arse than to be picking up loose balls in the boxes.

The Roker Report League

It may have been a few weeks since we looked at the league table, but the top five actually haven't changed apart from swapping slightly in order. Paul Morrison tops the league now with 1,793 points, John Downing is in second on 1,789 and Rosli Mohamed is third on 1,782. In fourth James Ridley has 1,754 whilst Luke Taylor is in fifth with 1,743.

Amongst our writers, Luke and Craig continue to stay close together with the former on 1552 in 100th and Craig just a place and a point behind. Meanwhile I trail them in 160th with 1,551 whilst the others are too far down with the dead men to trawl for.

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