Thursday, 29 March 2012

Fantasy Football: Gameweek 31

Last gameweek saw Manchester United go three points clear at the top of the Premier League after they won and City drew. Arsenal continued their fantastic form to cement themselves in the top 3, and it seems that it will be between Chelsea and Spurs to decide who gets the final Champions League place. With 8 games to go, we’re at the business end of the season where every match feels like a cup final with millions at stake at both ends of the table. The marathon descends into a sprint, and teams must ensure the hard yards run aren't compromised by silly mistakes.

On to Gameweek 31 now

Gameweek 31 fixtures:

Aston Villa v Chelsea
Everton v West Brom
Fulham v Norwich
Manchester City v Sunderland
QPR v Arsenal
Newcastle v Liverpool
Blackburn v Manchester United
Tottenham v Swansea
Wigan v Stoke
Wolves v Bolton

Player picks:

The Premium Players

After a couple of indifferent results (albeit forgivable, considering they came against City and Spurs), Chelsea seem back on track after squad rotation bore fruition in a very tough away game against Benfica midweek. Villa have injury problems, and could be vulnerable to a fresh Chelsea side who’ve lost just once since the visit to Naples.

A lot of Chelsea’s old guard received rests midweek, and could be raring to go. The break is probably what Didier Drogba needed. It has been a long while since Daniel Sturridge scored, this could be his day.

Liverpool’s trip to Newcastle could see their season go from bad (pay no attention to that Carling Cup stuff) to worse. The Reds come into this one on the back of two defeats in eminently winnable games, and you sense the Geordies smell blood. Demba Ba is on his longest barren run, but Liverpool’s defence seem to be keen on ending barren runs of late. Papiss Cisse is a man in form, and should trouble Liverpool. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard are the form men for the Reds, who Liverpool will hope can keep them in the top 7.

Tottenham hosting Swansea would have been a plum tie a few months ago but the form of both sides has drastically changed from October, and this now seems like a very evenly matched tie. Gareth Bale is getting back into nick, and Louis Saha is fresh from netting midweek. Swansea have form men of their own though in Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair.

City hosting Sunderland is probably the plum tie of the gameweek given the Citizens’ home record. A stroll is in order, and you’ll probably be the beneficiary of good points if you pick any of Joe Hart, Micah Richards or David Silva.

Arsenal are the league’s hottest team, and won’t do a Liverpool at Loftus Road. Robin van Persie should be the centre of everything for Arsenal (as usual), while Bobby Zamora will want to make his mark in this London derby. With Djibril Cisse suspended (again), you sense another Arsenal win in the offing.

Manchester United are flying high, but Blackburn haven’t been too bad themselves lately. That, along with the fact that they pulled off a shock result at Old Trafford earlier on which is what stops me short of labelling this a plum tie. But Wayne Rooney will no doubt succeed in proving me wrong, coupled with the excellent Antonio Valencia. David Hoilett hasn’t been too bad himself lately, and could continue his vital role in Rovers’ revivial.

The Ones You Don’t Think About

Everton enjoyed a cup replay win at Sunderland midweek, and will be on a high from progressing to the FA Cup semifinal. Nivica Jelavic is finding form for Everton, and could extend it against West Brom, aided by Steven Pienaar. Peter Odemwingie and Chris Brunt may have other designs though.

Fulham will be desperate to find some form after losses to Swansea and Man United, and could end their barren run against Norwich. They will need good form from Clint Dempsey and Pavel Pogrebnyak to do it. Norwich’s will be without skipper Grant Holt after his sending off ruined his brace last week. Antony Pilkington will be out to spoil the party at Craven Cottage though.

Wigan had a shock win at Anfield last week, and will be eyeing a home game against Stoke as their chance to get out of trouble. Shaun Maloney was a driving force in their Anfield win, and could be so here as well. Mathew Etherington will be key for the Potters in this match.

Wolves hosting Bolton is a relegation 6-pointer that both sides badly need to win. Matt Jarvis is expected to be the source of salvation for desperate Wolves again. Ryo Miyaichi will likely continue his excellent play for the Trotters after an assist last week.

Hunch of the Gameweek:

Reports suggest he might start, and this blogger feels that naughty boy Carlos Tevez deserves to be this edition’s illogical stab-in-the-dark.

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