Back at you once again with the EPL Wrap, and this time it’s a bumper Easter fixture list, with some teams in action twice. With that in mind, were going to go with a different format this week. We’ll take a look at some of the top performances and try and wring out that last bit of value going into the final 3 games that might win you a league title.
Before we start, I’ll reiterate a few things from previous wrap pieces. Ditch your duds, it’s too late to carry them now. Pick players on form and value, name value means little in the way of Fantasy points. Lastly, with so few games left, look at teams with games in hand (Man City and Sunderland) when doing your transfers, any edge you can get, however slight, could be vital. Having an extra game on the docket for any of your players is invaluable.
Lets start with the Gunners. Since last we spoke, they’ve played twice; at home to West Ham and on the road at Hull. They despatched the Hammers 3-1 at the Emirates with a double from Podolski and a lovely strike from Olivier Giroud. They then went on and beat Hull 3-0 with another Poldi brace and Aaron Ramsey marking his return from injury with a goal. It’s an impressive return to form for the men from North London, albeit against teams they should be beating. They looked to be on a slippery slope after their loss at Everton, and it was hard to start any of their players with reasonable confidence. Their remaining fixtures are against Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich, and I’m telling you to go full steam ahead. You cannot ignore 4 in 2 games for Podolski, he should be in line ups. Ramsay was the best player on the park at Hull and will be given games with a view to being full speed ahead for the FA Cup final. Giroud is another player I like to finish strong, and I would not be shocked if Arsenal take maximum points from their 3 games and grab a couple of clean sheets in the process. Koscielny and Mertesacker have been solid all season, Sagna too, but keep an eye on the left back position, where Monreal seems to be getting the nod over Gibbs, but I feel that could change at any time. Arsenal should be a good source of points in the final weeks, take advantage.
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This one is a little ugly. City drew 2-2 at home with bottom club Sunderland in what was a blow to their title charge, they then beat West Brom at home 3-1 but lost David Silva for the rest of the season and Sergio Agüero also came off injured. Consider that Yaya Touré is still missing with a groin strain and that is their 3 most valuable fantasy players out of the equation. So who picks up the slack? Agüero has a chance to play at the weekend, but if he doesn’t then as usual you get Edin Dzeko playing at an elite level for a mid tier price. Samir Nasri should pick up Silva’s production. He scored in the Sunderland game, but missed a glorious chance to win the game at the death. Nasri is a quality player but not as consistent as Silva. A combination of Javi Garcia and James Milner have been replacing Touré in midfield, neither should be on your Fantasy radar. Looking at their remaining fixtures (Palace, Everton, Villa, West Ham) some clean sheets could be in the offing. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaletta, Vincent Kompany and Martin Dimichelis are all safe plays apart from maybe at Everton. City must win their remaining 4 games, and whichever team they field will be capable of doing so, I just feel if there is any doubt over their real superstars it’s very hard to predict who will be their match winner. Tread carefully.
THE RELEGATION SCRAP
The race to stay in the Premier League gets tighter every week, and is one of the more entertaining survival battles of the last few seasons. Cardiff were dead and buried 2 weeks ago, but a win at Southampton and a draw against in form Stoke has them right back in the mix. It’s extremely hard to endorse any of their Fantasy players though. Peter Whittingham got the goal that earned them a point at Stoke it was only his 5th of the season. He was free scoring at Championship level. Fulham are also still in the mix despite a 3-1 defeat at Spurs. Steve Sidwell got their goal, he’s had a good season, but won’t set your Fantasy team alight. At this point you’re looking for upside and I still think Hugo Rodallega has it. He’s getting the regular start up front with very little to trouble him off the bench. Whatever happened to Darren Bent? Sunderland took a point away from Man City and all 3 points at Chelsea giving them genuine hope of survival despite propping up the table. 2 incredible results, they nearly won both games, a howler from Goalkeeper Vito Mannone letting a 2-1 lead slip at City. Young target man Connor Wickham has 3 goals in that period. The England under 21’s striker is supremely talented, but has never put it together in the EPL. He has rewarded manager Gus Poyet’s new found faith with goals, and as long as he is playing big minutes he is well worth a look at only £4.6m. Fabio Borini scored the winner for them at Chelsea and he is also a nice play. 3 of Sunderland’s last 4 are against relegation rivals, their could be some Fantasy goodness here. Norwich battled bravely against leaders Liverpool but ultimately lost 3-2. They have a tough remaining fixture list but they look a little more direct under new boss Neil Adams and I feel they will win a game before the season is out, good luck guessing where though. Robert Snodgrass is the only player you can start with any confidence. West Brom lost at Man City as we covered earlier, Graham Dorrans seems to have sprung to life in the last few weeks, but I dont see a scenario where you put him in your starting line up.
5 points clear at the summit with 3 games to go. Safe to say, if they don’t win the title this season, they probably never will. This Fantasy analysis is a little like a broken record, but it goes something like this….Their defenders cannot be trusted, Norwich with all their misfiring forwards breached them twice. Steven Gerrard is an excellent Fantasy play every week, he has 90 minutes, team of the week and set piece potential. Suarez should be your captain. The only thing that has changed is you can now have Sterling and Coutinho in your line up, as Brendan Rodgers has them both playing in harmony. Sterling in particular is on fire. 2 Goals and an assist against Norwich. He is the most exciting young English player since a 16 year old Wayne Rooney. A genuine world class player beyond his tender age. Did I mention he’s English?! Watch out, Brazil!! He’s coming.
EVERTON V’s MANCHESTER UNITED
I thought it better to isolate this game in particular because of the shocking dismissal of David Moyes in the days following the games. Just 11 months in to his reign at Manchester United, it has been an unmitigated disaster. That’s another debate for another time. Fantasy wise I think it’s a positive that they have appointed Ryan Giggs as interim manager until the end of the season. I don’t see anymore negative tactics and a more direct, attacking approach should come into play. Yes it’s only 3 games, but if Giggs can get that Rooney, Mata and Kagawa axis playing like they can, the men from Old Trafford could make a bigger impact on your Fantasy team than they do the Premier League table. Their defenders and goalie are off limits. Everton continued their impressive season; Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley are their highest upside plays, and young John Stones has been a rock in the middle of their defense. Well worth a long look at him.
BEST OF THE REST.
Harry Kane scored again for Spurs against Fulham. As I said last week, he’s cheap and will get a ton of minutes. Worth a pick up for sure.
Villa and Southampton drew 0-0. Villa are all but safe and Saints seem to be a little rocked by Jay Rodriguez’ season ending injury. Both teams are ready for the summer.
Swansea clinched a vital win at Newcastle to all but secure safety. I said last week that Wilfried Bony would grab the goals to keep the Swans safe, and I was over the moon when he grabbed 2 in this game. Should be in line ups, he’s been great all season long.
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Marko Arnautovic scored his second in 2 games for Stoke against Cardiff. Worth a long look at, as he’s coming to terms with the EPL as the season goes on. And, he’s talented.
Palace beat West Ham 1-0. Palace are a good bet for a clean sheet when they play any team outside the top 5 or 6. Very well organised with pace to burn on the flanks, they are well coached. Jason Puncheon is in rich form. I’m still clinging on to Andy Carroll’s prospects for West Ham, needs to play well to realise his World Cup ambitions.
And Finally Chelsea…Jose Mourinho’s first loss ever at Stamford Bridge was a bitter blow to their title hopes. They face Liverpool on Sunday, I couldn’t recommend anyone’s defenders against their potent attack, not even Chelsea’s. Good luck predicting who will score the goals for them too. A bit of a Fantasy puzzle at the bridge in recent weeks, one best to avoided in truth.
WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY NEIL DONOHOE FOR THE FAKE PREMIER LEAGUE. FOLLOW ON TWITTER @NEILDONOHOE