Week 36 is approaching quickly and there is little time left to move up the rankings. I’m subbing in for Nik for the week to give you the latest edition of the player picks but don’t worry, Nik will be back at it next week. My team picked up a bit of momentum last week with a respectable 135 points and I’m back in the top 4000. I’ll try to keep up the green arrows going so let’s go right to the point and look at the fixtures…
Week 36 Fixtures
Southampton - Everton
Fulham - Hull City
Stoke City - Tottenham
Swansea City - Aston Villa
West Brom - West Ham
Manchester United - Norwich City
Sunderland - Cardiff City
Liverpool - Chelsea
Crystal Palace - Manchester City
Arsenal - Newcastle United
The fixtures this week are a bit tricky. Everton are the better team but are playing away from home where they’ve won only 7 of 17. Fulham are playing better as of late and I expect them to beat Hull City but the fantasy contributors there are mediocre at best. Tottenham looks like a big favorite against Stoke City but Stoke are in sixth place in the home standings and have only conceded 15 goals in 17 home matches. Swansea – Aston Villa, West Brom – West Ham, and Sunderland – Cardiff are quite unpredictable and should be generally avoided.
Liverpool – Chelsea was supposed to be a great match but Jose Mourinho is threatening to use his B-side in order to keep his squad fresh for the Champions League. We won’t know until Sunday whether Mourinho is serious or is just playing mind games, but I’d avoid Chelsea players in this one. Palace vs Manchester City should be an interesting one as well and the big question there is City’s healthy. You’ll have to check back Friday to see what Neal has to say in his Injuries column about that one.
Arsenal – Newcastle and Manchester United – Norwich are the clear favorites to choose from here. With the way Arsenal and Newcastle are playing lately, the Gunners should dominate this one in all aspects. The big question about the United game is who gets to play for Manchester. We don’t know who interim manager Ryan Giggs will field so we have to be careful in this one. Lets now look at the picks of the week.
David de Gea – one thing we know for sure is that Giggs will go with de Gea. He hasn’t been great lately but at £ 8.34M and facing Norwich at home, there isn’t a better choice at goalkeeper this weekend.
Wojciech Szczęsny – Arsenal have the biggest chance of a clean sheet and Mr. Szczęsny is a great pick this week. He is only lower than de Gea because of his price (£ 13.76M) but if you can afford him, there is no reason to go with anyone else.
Michel Vorm – Swansea don’t have the worst of matchups and Villa have really struggled to score. If you are really in need of a cheap goalkeeper, Vorm could do the job. I’d recommend spending an extra £2M for de Gea.
Bacary Sagna – We talked about Arsenal’s great matchup and Sagna should benefit from it. He joins the attack more than Koscielny and Mertesacker and with Gibbs’ status unknown, he is my choice of Arsenal’s backline. Nacho Monreal can be considered if Gibbs is ruled out again. Bonus: Arsenal have an easy rest of season schedule (vs West Brom, @Norwich) and Sagna can be a great option for the rest of the season.
Vincent Kompany – Kompany has a fairly tough match against red hot Crystal Palace but he’s proven he can get points without a clean sheet as well. He is a safe choice here.
Phil Jones - Jones and Smalling should get the start for United, but I'm not 100% confident that will be the case. It's a risky pick due to the uncertainty that comes with a new manager.
Ben Davies – Davies has 7.25 points in his last four matches with only one clean sheet in all four. He is a good way to cover Swansea’s clean sheet possibility. Jordi Amat comes cheaper but I prefer Davies in this one.
Ryan Bertrand – Aston Villa play well on the road and I won’t be surprised to see a 0-0 in this match. Ryan Bertrand is a great option if you have him at £1M and a decent one at market price.
Pablo Armero – A very cheap enabler who can help you afford a more quality midfield and attack. I really don’t like any of the defenders this week outside of Arsenal so I recommend paying the big bucks up front.
Aaron Ramsey – Ramsey is back from injury and has quickly gotten back in form. Even at his price of £ 21.1M, Ramsey is worth it. He has a great matchup and I will consider captaining him over Luis Suarez.
Santi Cazorla – Cazorla’s lowest score in the last six gameweeks is eight points. There should be plenty of goals from Arsenal this weekend and Cazorla has a great chance to be involved.
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool are three matches away from winning the Premier League and Gerrard is playing great. He is on penalty and free-kick duty and is a must own. If Chelsea field a weaker squad, it only increases his value. I would also consider Raheem Sterling if Daniel Sturridge is ruled out before the weekend.
Christian Eriksen – I mentioned earlier that Tottenham have a fairly difficult trip to Stoke City but if they find a way to score, Eriksen is bound to be involved. He is the Spurs’ best player at the moment and is on set piece duty. He averaged over 17 points in his last 5 matches. That should be enough for you to consider him.
Lewis Holtby – Holtby missed the Spurs match due to ineligibility but played great before that. He is rested and ready to roll. Winnable game against Hull at home should be enough for him to meet value.
James Milner –David Silva is ruled out and Mr. Milner should get the start this week. He’ll be relied upon to create chances against a tough Crystal Palace defense.
Luis Suarez – Yes, he plays Chelsea, but he is the best player in the Premier League at the moment. Not sure if I’ll captain him, but he will be in my squad.
Sergio Aguero – Recently returned from injury and already scoring goals. Similarly to Ramsey, it didn’t take long for him to resume his old form. Another captain candidate.
Wayne Rooney – I don’t see why Ryan Giggs would bench Rooney and I’m very confident he will start. We discussed the matchup earlier and it makes Rooney a top choice this week. If you’re feeling lucky, you can choose the cheaper alternative in Juan Mata.
Lucas Podolski – I’m not the biggest fan of Podolski in fantasy but you can’t argue with his current form. He has four goals in his last two matches and will look to continue his scoring against Newcastle. Podolski has spoken about how important the Champions League is to him so I expect him to be extremely focused on helping Arsenal win out.
Wilfried Bony – Bony is in good form and plays Aston Villa at home this weekend. I mentioned that I can see the game ending in 0-0 draw but if goals are scored, Bony is very likely to be involved. He is expensive but has 14 goals in 31 matches and that doesn’t come cheap.
Olivier Giroud – Easy match, lots of goals expected, can’t go wrong here.
As you can see, I haven't recommended any cheap strikers. The thing about this week is that there aren't many great defenders to choose from and the clear favorites up top come at a high price. I'd advice spending most of your money on strikers and mids.
My current squad is: David de Gea, Bertrand, Sagna, Kompany, Ramsey, Gerrard, Milner, Sterling, Rooney, Aguero, Suarez.
I’m debating on going from Sagna/Milner/Sterling to Armero/Eriksen/Holtby. I also have to decide who to give the armband to but I am currently leaning towards Suarez.
How is your team looking this week?