Pick of the week
With just six gameweeks left until the end of the Premier League fantasy season the battle is on for honours. The key to success could be picking out that bargain-basement player currently under the radar or perhaps that hidden gem which could make all the difference.
We highlight five players who could produce the goods between now and the end of May.
Beattie is not so much of a hidden gem, perhaps, but still an absolute steal at £6m. As mentioned last week, the former Everton and Sheffield United player has the best points per game ratio of any regular striker in the game. With 43 points from 11 starts, plundering six goals and two key contributions, Beattie has proved to be one of the signings of the January transfer window. Furthermore Beattie is only in 0.26% of teams meaning your rivals may not have brought him in yet.
Shawcross, on the other hand, has been getting goals from the back. This has seen his popularity rise and he's now in 0.95% of all teams. His value has only risen £0.1m and that is in response to his form of the past month which means he is the 27th best defender on 62 points.
What makes Stoke players even more enticing is their fixture list. With home games to come against Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United and Wigan Athletic they also travel to Fulham and Hull City. It's a very favourable run of fixtures. Although Stoke face a trip to Arsenal on the final day, by then the likes of Beattie and Shawcross should have already provided value for money.
• Chris Brunt - West Brom - 5m
Perhaps this is very much out of left-field but Brunt takes set-pieces and is creative from the flanks. Of course, Brunt is the biggest risk of any player on this list as West Brom appear to be doomed. But the former Sheffield Wednesday winger has gone unnoticed even though he is 24th in the midfielder table and has scored 82 points.
West Brom may be as good as down but they do have favourable fixtures. While they may not win games, they could score a few goals with Brunt involved. West Brom entertain Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and Liverpool, plus they travel to Manchester City (after their European match this coming Thursday), Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers.
Brunt is in just 0.20% of teams making him the least popular player on this list. He fits perfectly if you're looking for a player not owned by your rivals and at £5m is very affordable, having not fluctuated in value since the start of the season. With five Premier League goals and one key contribution could Brunt prove to be the difference in your team?
• Peter Crouch - Portsmouth - 6.4m
Quite remarkably, England international Crouch is still only £6.4m even though he is the fourth highest scoring striker. A good comparison can be made with Kevin Davies of Bolton. Both players began the season priced at £6m but Davies is now as costly as £7.2m and has only four more points than Crouch.
Much like with Beattie, Brunt and Shawcross, there is a definite risk element attached to signing players from the struggling teams; however, this is the time of the season when the poorer teams begin to get results and you could see that happening with Portsmouth. Although you would be hard pressed to recommend a defender from Fratton Park.
The only cheaper striker in the top ten is Darren Bent of Tottenham who is hardly guaranteed a starting place. The one drawback is that Crouch is already in 12.72% of teams. Only Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka, Wayne Rooney and Emmanuel Adebayor are more popular at this moment in time.
Of the remaining games, Portsmouth do have an extra game to play, but it is at Manchester United so is unlikely to give any added advantage. They must also entertain Arsenal but their other five matches provide points scoring opportunities. They host Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland and go to Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic. So there appears to be goalscoring potential for Crouch.
• Aaron Lennon - Tottenham - 6.8m
Spurs continue to improve after Harry "We only had two points when I took over" Redknapp's arrival and Tottenham are now pressing for a place in the, ahem, Europa League. Winger Lennon finally seems to be getting some consistency into his game although the end product does still lack from time to time. At £6.8m he may not be the bargain of a player like Brunt but could be less of a gamble.
With 81 points Lennon is 27th in the midfielder rankings with 31 points coming in the last six matches. Spurs still have to play at home to Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City though their away games are far more difficult at Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool. Is Lennon worth the risk when half of Spurs' matches are difficult?
Lennon is in 3.07% of teams meaning he's not hugely popular. But other names on this list may be the more calculated gamble.