Well, it’ s Matchweek 34 and that means there is but 5 precious weeks remaining in the campaign. Is the state of your fantasy league similar to that of the EPL? Does chaos and uncertainty still abound? Are you looking to finish at or near the top, or are you staring relegation straight in the face? Hopefully it’s the former, but in any case it can’t hurt to maximize your chances as we head into the home stretch. Which is why this week I thought it best, instead of focusing on one specific player, to highlight several who are in form, or those who are out of form and may cause you to look elsewhere when setting your lineups.
Luis Suárez + Daniel Sturridge/Forward – Liverpool (“S n’ S”) (£13.3m/£10.3m)
Despite not scoring last week (first Liverpool victory this year in which either failed to do so), both are obviously still must-starts, assuming you’ve already selected them for your side. And if you haven’t, it may be time to do so especially if you’re in dire need of points as they are the clear cut best strike partnership in the league. Suárez is averaging an insane almost 10 fantasy points per game (per fantasypremierleague.com), while Sturridge is averaging just over 7. Liverpool’s magical season has seen them go top of the league, and they’ll need their dynamic duo to continue their goal-scoring ways if they’re to fend off Manchester City and Chelsea.
Romelu Lukaku/Forward – Everton (£9.1m)
The “Toffee’s”, aside from their red neighbors, have been the hottest team in the league of late, winning their last 6 matches and now find themselves within a point of 4th place Arsenal. And with 4 goals and 2 assists over that span, Lukaku is one of the chief reasons why. With 66% shot accuracy this year, the Belgian international has been particularly deadly when he does get room to turn loose a shot. The price is steep (though it’s much less than Suárez), but given his current form it might be prudent to hop on the Everton momentum train and pony up some of that dough for Luakakuuuuuuu. A favorable schedule works in his favor as well, with Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, and Hull City all on the agenda.
Peter Odemwingie/Forward – Stoke City (£5.4m)
Odemwingie only has 6 goals this year, but 4 have come within the last 4 games. And really, it’s as simple as that. Stoke don’t have much in the way of a go-to goal scorer, so if somebody’s gonna find the back of the net it may very well be him. And his price is ideal if you’re trying to bag some cheap goals.
Juan Mata/Midfielder – Manchester United (£9.2m)
It took some time, but it appears this midfield maestro is finally settling into the role that David Moyes envisioned when he surprised everyone by bringing the former Chelsea man in right before the transfer deadline. Mata has found the back of the net 3 times over the past two games, and has notched 2 assists over that span as well. He’s created 28 chances in the 11 United games he’s appeared in which shows that while it may not have shown on the score sheet until recently, he’s still been creative in the middle. The Red Devils have little to play for other than pride for the rest of the year, but Mata could be someone to invest in as it looks like he’s hitting his stride.
Christian Eriksen/Midfielder – Tottenham (£6.6m)
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A couple nagging injuries have slowed Eriksen down this year, but since returning from his latest one back in week 30 he’s bagged 3 goals, 3 assists, and has clearly been the best Spurs player over that time. He’s an ideal play because he combines a relatively cheep price while giving you a good shot at a return on your investment.
Chelsea Defenders + Petr Cech/Goalkeeper (£6.4m)
Wether it’s Terry (£6.9m), Ivanovic (£6.6m), Cahill (£6.2m), or Azpilicueta (£5.7m), Chelsea have been a rock at the back, only allowing 24 goals all season. Cech no doubt has a role to play in that as well, and if any part of your back line or keeper have been out of form recently it might behoove of you to make a swap for one or two of these Chelsea stalwart’s. Defenders obviously don’t get as many goal scoring opportunities as forwards or midfielders, so the name of the game when deciding which one’s to choose for fantasy is Clean Sheets. And Chelsea defenders give you the best chance at getting them. Terry and Ivanovic do provide slightly more in the way of offense as Terry occasionally will head the ball home off a set piece and Ivanovic is often an attacking presence out on the flanks, but any will do if you’re merely looking for some sheets of the clean variety. And with Liverpool potentially the only club remaining on the schedule that you might say could crack Jose Mourinho’s defense, pulling the trigger on any one of these players should result in getting the points you’re looking for.
Out of Form
Oliver Giroud/Forward – Arsenal (£8.5m)
Giroud got off to a hot start this year, netting 4 goals in the first 4 games, but since then he’s been rather hit and miss, with more miss than hit recently; over his last 6 games, he’s only found the back of the net once, while also failing to record an assist. With a Take On rate of 29% (20/68), Giroud obviously is someone who usually doesn’t create enough space for himself to make plays. Instead, he relies on his instincts, movement off the ball, and especially his supporting cast to create his opportunities. You may have noticed Arsenal has been in somewhat of a free fall lately, and this has had a direct effect on the Frenchman. And if the team is struggling and can’t provide him with the necessary chances, coupled with teams focusing on stopping him, Giroud’s going to continue to fill up the stat sheet with goose eggs.
Oscar/Midfield – Chelsea (£8.6m)
Other than an assist in week 29 and a brace in week 31 in that thrashing of Arsenal, Oscar hasn’t seen the score sheet since week 20. And you have to go back even further – all the way back to week 12 to find his next most recent goal . In a year that started with Oscar being a focal point of Mourinho’s attack, it looked like he was on his way to a career season. But somewhere along the line, he’s fallen out of favor with his enigmatic manager, and now finds himself taking a back seat to Willian most weeks. His run of poor form coupled with his fairly high price tag make him almost unplayable, even if he does crack the first 11. But hopefully you’ve already made that call.
Santi Cazorla/Midfield – Arsenal (£9.3m)
Another pricy midfielder who carries more name value than actual value. He’s created 53 chances, but those have only yielded 4 assists, and the lack of scoring options up front seriously damper his fantasy value. He shouldn’t be started.
Raheem Sterling/Midfield – Liverpool (£5.8m)
I’m not doubting the ability that lies within Raheem Sterling; he’s certainly one of the most exciting, young talents in English football, but his fantasy output does not warrant him being selected 11.9% of the time. At 19, he’s still very raw and is still maturing as a footballer. The time will come where he settles into his role at the club and Brendan Rodgers will no doubt find the best way to utilize this prized youngster, wether that be out on the wing or up the middle where he has featured a few times this year. But until then, steer clear when setting your lineups.
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