A fantastic set of matches this weekend gave us one of the best two days of football in recent history. Chelsea and Aston Villa put on a great show on Saturday while Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Tottenham provided for a fantastic Super Sunday. Chelsea lost their edge on top of the table and allowed Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City to catch up a bit. It’s a long wrap up today, but I promise it’s worth it. I explore many of the week 31 options.
Hull City 0 – 2 Manchester City
This must win game for Manchester City started off to a horrible start. Vincent Kompany was sent off in the 10th minute and City were left with 10 men. David Silva didn’t let that stop them, as he scored and assisted to give City a two goal win. Considering both of these teams have a double gameweek ahead, it makes for some really interesting picks next week. Kompany will be suspended for the first game only and choosing City defenders will be a horrible task. There are rumors Kompany might get suspended for longer and if that happens, Demichelis will almost certainly start both games and will be worth his price of £12.16M. At the same time, David Silva looks like a must have while Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure present compelling options.
Everton 2 – 1 Cardiff City
Everton edged this one out but couldn’t get a clean sheet to the disappointed of Tim Howard and Leighton Baines owners. Baines was still productive, finishing with nine points, but he should be getting more points for a price tag that high. Everton have two favorable matchups in a double week for week 31 and Baines could certainly produce enough in those two games to match his value. Other Everton players to consider for the double week are Romelu Lukaku, Tim Howard, and Seamus Coleman.
Fulham 1 – 0 Newcastle
Ashkan Dejagah scored the only goal of the match, but he is far from a good fantasy option on any given week. Steve Sidwell was one of the only good performances of the day and considering that his price has fallen a bit, he could be a fairly decent pick. Fulham play at the Etihad next week, so I would avoid all of their players until week 32. Newcastle continued playing poorly and it wasn’t surprising considering many of their players are out through injury. It’s hard for me to recommend any of their players at the moment.
Southampton 4 – 2 Norwich City
Southampton went up 3-0, Norwich came back to 3-2, and finally the Saints put it away with through Sam Gallagher’s first Premier League goal. Fantasy wise, there were quite a few implications here. Adam Lallana continued to play great for Southampton, but his fantasy production has been slow lately. Teams are paying attention to him a lot more and he is forced to play the ball out to the wings and gets less space to play with. He is someone to keep an eye out as his fantasy contributions could continue to suffer. Rickie Lambert came on in the second half but got a goal and an assist and is a good choice when Southampton play lesser oppositions. Same goes with Jay Rodriguez. Southampton were five minutes away from a clean sheet and got complacent, so Artur Boruc and the defense should given another chance.
Stoke City 3 – 1 West Ham
Peter Odemwingie came out with two goals, but he should have probably only had one. The first goal was the work of Peter Crouch. Stoke continue to be great at home and their defenders should be considered for home matches. West Ham conceded three goals and their defense has slacked off lately. Despite that, I would trust some of their defenders in week 31. They face Manchester United and Hull City, both at home. They should be able to get at least one clean sheet and give fantasy managers enough to make them worth owning. Andy Carroll scored his first goal of the season, and considering how Manchester and Hull play on the road, I’m tempted to bring in Andy Carroll for the double week.
Sunderland 0 – 0 Crystal Palace
These two relegation candidates couldn’t score in 90 minutes and I’m not surprised. Crystal Palace have turned into a defensive fortress and Sunderland are not exactly known for finishing chances. With that being said, Sunderland played very well and had a few opportunities to take home the three points. I don’t trust many players from these two teams, except maybe a few Palace defenders when the matchup is right.
Swansea City 1 – 2 West Brom
Swansea continue sliding and we can comfortably say that they’ve entered the relegation battl. They are still missing a few pieces but that is not an excuse to be playing this poorly. The good news here is that Michu returned from injury and made a short appearance off the bench. He is a very risky play in week 31 but has high upside. Bony has been playing well and can also be considered next week, when Swansea face Everton and Arsenal. Personally, considering the matchups, I would avoid both. I also wouldn’t call you crazy if you choose to play either one. West Brom only have one match next week and it’s hard to justify playing anyone from their squad.
Aston Villa 1 – 0 Chelsea
What a crazy game this was! Chelsea and Villa both played really well up until Willian was sent off for a second yellow. The call was questionable, but Villa took the opportunity of playing a man up and scored through Fabian Delph minutes later. Chelsea didn’t regroup well after the goal and Villa controlled the last few minutes of the game. Frustration kicked in and Ramires was sent off for a nasty tackle on Karim El Ahmadi. Jose Mourinho was also sent to the stands for being involved in a small altercation after Ramires’ tackle. The result: Willian will likely miss one match while Ramires will probably miss three. Chelsea only have one game next week so it’ll be hard choosing their players over some of the other available options from Manchester City or Liverpool. Villa also have one game and are in the same situation. Fabian Delph deserves extra praise here as he has had an incredible season at Villa and probably deserves a spot on England’s World Cup squad this summer. His fantasy price and average fantasy returns make him a mediocre option at best, but his real world value is much higher.
Manchester United 0 – 3 Liverpool
The score says it all so I’ll refrain from saying much about this game. Fantasy wise, we saw why Steven Gerrard is a must own player. Liverpool lead the league in penalties and Gerrard takes them all. Ever since returning from injury, Gerrard has had only one game in single digits (out of 9 games), which was a five point return in week 24. The consistency and upside are the best from any midfielder in the game. We saw another poor fantasy return from Sturridge, but he played fairly well in the game and should see an improvement next week, especially since Liverpool play two games. His price has now dropped to £21.45M and all managers should consider him next week. Luis Suarez finished with 15 points and a goal and continues to be the best player in the Premier League.
Tottenham 0 – 1 Arsenal
Arsenal’s main moment of brilliance came in the second minute when Tomas Rosicky scored a rocket to put them up by one. The rest of the game saw Arsenal defend desperately. Tottenham controlled a big part of the game but saw many of their crosses cleared and they just couldn’t break the Arsenal defense. Emmanuel Adebayor played a great game in my opinion and there was just something missing from his supporting cast. He played a few great balls out to the wings and the crosses back in just weren’t good enough. Andros Townsend was one of the bright spots for Spurs but even he couldn’t break the Arsenal fortress. A Spurs fan noted that they lacked “that dynamic player that can control a loose ball and get a shot on target quickly”, and he has a good point. With two big losses in a row, Tim Sherwood has to find a way to create goals and he has to do it soon considering Everton and Manchester United are closing in on Tottenham’s fifth place.