To view previous editions of Fantasy Premier League: The Comprehensive Guide, please click here.
It’s another exciting double gameweek for Fantasy managers to look forward to once again. At this stage of the game, many managers should have more or less figured out the core of their squad for the remaining round of matches. The problem doesn’t lie with who to purchase or sell anymore, but rather who to captain.
Gameweek 34 is giving me a headache, but we’ll discuss about that later. For now, let’s start with this week’s fixtures.
Crystal Palace play hosts to Aston Villa this Saturday. There have been 11 penalties awarded in Premier League games involving Palace this season; only Liverpool games (16) have seen more. With star striker Christian Benteke out for the foreseeable future, Villa could be in a lot of trouble, having only scored six goals in the six Premier League games that the big Belgian didn’t play a part in this season.
Norwich City visits Fulham, who have won five and lost none of seven previous Barclays Premier League meetings with the Canaries, conceding just three goals in total. Fun fact, despite making 83 substitutions this season, Norwich’s subs have produced just one goal and no assists.
Southampton face Cardiff City at St Mary’s Stadium, where they are unbeaten in 13 home meetings with the Bluebirds in all competitions (W10 D3), last losing to them on home soil back in October 1962. Cardiff, meanwhile, are the only side yet to concede or win a penalty kick in the Premier League this season.
Stoke City do battle with the struggling Newcastle this weekend. 75% of the points the Potters have won this season have came at the Britannia Stadium (30/40), with no side having won a higher proportion of points at home. Further good news for Stoke, as just nine players have scored a Premier League goal for Newcastle United this season (excl. own goals); fewer than any other team.
Everton travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. The former’s Romelu Lukaku has scored 30 Premier League goals since the start of 2012-13. Only Luis Suarez (52), Robin van Persie (37) and Daniel Sturridge (31) have netted more in this period. Strangely, no side has used more substitutes before the start of the second half in games this season than Sunderland (17).
West Bromwich Albion play hosts to Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday. This will be just the seventh time that Tottenham have played a Premier League game on a Saturday this season – every other team have already played at least 12 PL games on a Saturday in 2013-14.
On Sunday, Liverpool and Manchester City clash in what should be the title-deciding match of the season. This game will see the two players with the most goals from dead ball situations in the Premier League this season (free kicks + penalties) – Steven Gerrard (12) and Yaya Toure (10). The former has also provided the most assists from dead ball situations this season in the Premier League (7).
In the other Sunday fixture, Chelsea take on Swansea City at the Liberty season, desperately preventing another ‘Aston Villa’ from happening. The Blues wouldn’t have much to worry about though, as the Swans have won just one of their previous 10 Premier League games in the month of April (W1 D4 L5). Chelsea meanwhile have won 11 and drawn one of their last 12 Premier League games played on a Sunday, and have won their last nine in a row.
Arsenal, who are fighting against Wigan Athletic for a place in the FA Cup final, will play West Ham United on the 15th of April. The struggling club have nothing much to worry about though as they are unbeaten in their last 11 Barclays Premier League games against West Ham (W9 D2 L0), including winning the last six in a row. Arsene Wenger will also be delighted to hear that the Hammers haven’t won two successive PL away matches since December 2007.
Everton and Crystal Palace participate in another round of games, with Manchester City and Sunderland being the other fixture being played next Wednesday.
*Stats provided by Opta.
How Did My Recommendations Fared Last Week
Players You Should Definitely Buy:
Peter Odemwingie – 2 points
– Minutes played: 90 (2 points)
Joe Hart – 2 points
– Minutes played: 90 (2 points)
Players You Should Potentially Buy:
Jon Flanagan – 6 points
– Minutes played: 90 (2 points)
– Assists: 1 (3 points)
– Bonus points: 1
Players You Need To Drop:
Aaron Lennon – 2 points
– Minutes played: 83 (2 points)
Phil Jagielka – 0 points
– Hamstring injury – 25% chance of playing
// Players You Should Potentially Buy
5. Steven Naismith
– Team: Everton
– Position: Forward
– Value: £4.6m
– Selected by: 1.9%
– Total score: 60
– Points from last 4 games: 20 (avg. 5 ppg)
– Next 4 fixtures: Sunderland (A), Crystal Palace (H), Manchester United (H), Southampton (A)
It is worth noting that Naismith got his 20 points from just 141 minutes of playing time, meaning that he averaged 12.8 points per 90 minutes based on his statistics from his previous four games.
The 27 year-old Scottish forward have mostly been involved in numerous cameo appearances off the bench, but with form going for him at the moment, he will very likely be used significantly in Everton’s matches against Sunderland and Crystal Palace to provide some rest for the main strikers before their clashes against a much-improved Manchester United and overachievers Southampton.
Sunderland and Crystal Palace are unlikely to provide much trouble for the Toffees, with both of them fighting against relegation at the moment. Having Naismith will also provide a glorious opportunity for him to contribute double-digit points for your squad this week since Everton will be playing twice in this round of fixtures.
If Everton can beat Arsenal, I don’t see how they can’t grab themselves a victory over United to keep up the pressure on 4th placed Arsenal, who they can overtake should they win both their matches this gameweek.
However, Naismith has only played a full 90 minutes for Everton on three occasions this season, and with Romelu Lukaku being able to deliver in tough games, Naismith probably wouldn’t get much playing time or feature very prominently after they finished playing Crystal Palace this weekend.
His eye for goal, while not renowned, has not been questioned this season, having registered a decent shot accuracy of 64% this season. He, however, has trouble building a consistency as his momentum is constantly disrupted by irregular gametime.
Should he fail to establish himself firmly into Roberto Martinez’s plans in the final stretch of the season, don’t count on him getting you any serious points.
For me personally, I’ll include him in my starting XI this week as Everton are playing twice, with Naismith poised to start and get himself a good result.
Even if things do not go according to plan though, you really have nothing to lose at a price point of £4.6m. Naismith will be a good benchwarmer in your team that will deliver when called upon, both in reality and in fantasy.
4. Rickie Lambert
– Team: Southampton
– Position: Forward
– Value: £7.4m
– Selected by: 12.1%
– Total score: 154
– Points from last 4 games: 34 (avg. 8.5 ppg)
– Next 4 fixtures: Cardiff City (H), Aston Villa (A), Everton (H), Swansea (A)
Following the injury of Jay Rodriguez, Southampton are left with only two fit first-team strikers, one of them being English international Lambert and the other being Sam Gallagher, which you probably never heard of.
What does this mean?
Lambert will be in for a huge point haul towards the end of the season since he’ll be taking the bulk of the team’s scoring duties due to his teammates’ untimely injuries. Fixtures against Cardiff and Aston Villa should be fine for Lambert, who I expect will register at least an average of six points in both appearances.
As Brazil 2014 is drawing closer, Lambert is expected to step up his game further to be guaranteed of a spot in Roy Hodgson’s final 23-men squad. The reliable forward has contributed three goals and three assists in his last five games, and his hot streak looks to continue with matches against troubled teams in the Saints’s next couple of fixtures.
However, Lambert has not been a consistent performer in the Fantasy Premier League despite being the 5th highest scoring forward in the game. His spread of points make him an ideal choice in the long run, but with only five games remaining for Southampton, this could be an uncertain task for Lambert, especially when his team is ending the season with three tricky games.
After observing him since the start of Q2, I’m still not entirely convinced that Lambert is consistent enough to continue his fine form in front of goal.
With that being said however, he’s worth the calculated risk.
3. Joel Ward
– Team: Crystal Palace
– Position: Defender
– Value: £4.4m
– Selected by: 8.1%
– Total score: 100
– Points from last 4 games: 24 (avg. 6 ppg)
– Next 4 fixtures: Aston Villa (H), Everton (A), West Ham United (A), Manchester City (H)
Crystal Palace has kept three clean sheets in their last four games, and one of the major why that happened is 24 year-old English defender Joel Ward.
Ward is steadily climbing the leaderboard charts, like his selection rate. 8.1% of Fantasy players currently have the defender in their squads, and should he continue playing well in his next four games, his stock will definitely increase by at least £0.1m.
As this is a double gameweek, Ward once again has a chance to notch up some double-digit points, although it might a little hard as they will very likely suffer a defeat at Goodison Park.
The thing with jumping on bandwagons is not about the act itself, but about the timing which people start following the trend. Ward is one of those players who I’ll strongly recommend a few weeks ago to have him stay in your squad for another three or four games before transferring him out.
As tempting and dizzying the thought of Ward striking gold is, it seems unlikely that Palace as a whole will enjoy their remaining games after the clash against Everton. Having to face Liverpool and Manchester City, West Ham United and Fulham are perhaps Ward’s only chance to get a sizeable amount of points.
However, at £4.4m, he’ll make a good substitute if you decide to take on a risky gamble in holding him further.
// Players You Need To Drop
2. Ashley Cole
– Team: Chelsea
– Position: Defender
– Value: £5.8m
– Selected by: 3.0%
– Total score: 73
– Points from last 4 games: 1 (avg. 0.25 ppg)
– Next 4 fixtures: Swansea City (A), Sunderland (H), Liverpool (A), Norwich City (H), Cardiff City (A)
I think Ashley Cole’s place in this section doesn’t need much justification.
£5.8m is awfully expensive for a defender who only tasted 13 minutes of action in Chelsea’s past 12 matches in the Premier League.
To put this into perspective, Liam Rosenior, who cost £1.8m lesser and currently plying his trade at Hull City has earned himself 36 points during the same amount of time, 36 times more than Cole, who has been capped 107 times for the England senior team.
Yet, Cole’s selection rate is still at 3%. What’s wrong with you guys man. Ya’ll paid so much only for a player to sit on the bench and get virtually nothing week in and week out.
Don’t get me wrong, Cole’s talents are undoubted. He’s still one of the world’s better fullbacks despite being 33, but his place in the starting line-up has safely been replaced by the fledging César Azpilicueta this season.
With Chelsea having only a minor chance of winning the tile after unexpected losses against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, Jose Mourinho will know better than to continue shuffling his lineups and disrupting the team’s momentum and chemistry.
Hence, Cole will see very little playing time as the season starts drawing to a close. It will only be wise, and common sensical, for you to sell him away and splurge the majority of the funds on your midfielders, who are going to be extremely pivotal at the ending stages of every campaign.
1. Jay Rodriguez & Christian Benteke
– Team: Southampton / Aston Villa
– Position: Forwards
– Value: £6.5m / £8.7m
– Selected by 12.7% / 9.0%
– Total score: 152 / 103
– Points from last 4 games: 28 (avg. 7 ppg) / 10 (avg. 2.5 ppg)
– Next 4 fixtures: Doesn’t Matter.
Jay Rodriguez was on fire throughout the season, and especially so before his season-ending injury got to him against Southampton’s clash against Manchester City the previous week.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke suffered a Achilles injury that will keep him out effectively till the World Cup in Brazil this year is over.
Both were on getting a steady stream of points before their respective injuries crushed their World Cup dreams, not only pissing them off, but also Fantasy players around the world as well.
It is hence surprising to see that majority of players playing the game right now have either of these two players in their squad. The price point for them are relatively high, and selling them right now before their value drops will free up some cash that you should be using to polish up your midfield, which, like I mentioned above, will be crucial in the ending stages of every Premier League season without fail.
So, this is more of a reminder than a recommendation really, but if these numbers don’t start to decrease anytime soon…
Captain Who? Your Instinct.
Romelu Lukaku is the obviously the choice for many Fantasy managers this gameweek, due to Everton playing twice, and against easy opposition on both occasions. However, Lukaku has been known to fail spectacularly when we expected him to perform well. If you look at his history, he tends to perform well only in matches against bigger opponents.
David Silva and Yaya Touré are pretty good options as well, but the thing is that whenever one of them is playing well, the other, while not playing atrociously, will falter in terms of points gained for that match. Hence, with two games, the gamble will grow even bigger and the selection headache gets stronger.
Dzeko is currently on a rhythm right now, and he’ll relish an opportunity to score against their main threat in the title race in their next match. With him somehow cooking plenty of points despite missing more often than not in front of goal, I’m expecting at least an assist in the match against Liverpool, and a goal when City host Sunderland next week.
Here are some other recommendations for you guys to ponder about as well:
– Seamus Coleman / Leighton Baines (Everton) vs Sunderland (away), Crystal Palace (home)
– Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) vs Liverpool (away), Sunderland (home)
Baines has been entrusted with set piece duties, and will likely be getting a lot of points should Everton play with an offensive mindset from the get-go, while Coleman, well, for obvious reasons. Agüero just recovered from injury and will very likely only enjoy 90-110 minutes of gametime, the Argentine has proven time and time again that time is really not an issue. However, he’ll probably require a little more time to get back his scoring touch, so captaining him will either reward handsomely, or leave you wishing you’d had captained another player instead.
Although his points tally for the past couple of weeks hasn’t been really good, Vito Mannone still remains in goal for the double fixture lineup this gameweek. Sunderland’s chances of getting anything out of their upcoming opponents are really slim, so hopefully the reliable Mannone will save my point tally in the goalkeeper department with some heroics this weekend.
In defense, Seamus Coleman and Martin Demichelis, who both have double matches this week, partners up with Ivanovic, whose Chelsea side will probably not concede against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
Christian Eriksen, drafted in to replace the injured Jay Rodriguez, joins Yaya Touré, who is expected to shake off a knock in time for the two games, Steven Gerrard, and Adam Lallana in the midfield department.
Naismith, a surprise revelation in the past couple of matches for Everton is transferred in to provide a good backup option to Luis Suárez and Edin Dzeko. As the Toffees are playing twice this week as mentioned earlier, Naismith will replace the injured Eden Hazard (that I’ll replace next week) to form a 3-4-3 formation.
Martin Skrtel drops to the bench as City looks likely to score.
In total, I’m expecting a 32-points performance from the guys at the back, 38 from the midfield, and 41 at the front for 111 points in total for Gameweek 34.
Who are your picks for this double gameweek? Let me know in the comments section below!
Check out the previous editions of Fantasy Premier League: The Comprehensive Guide right here.
All the best this week guys!