Jeremy Spitzberg

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First XI: Early Week 30 Picks

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Back to our regularly schedule programming this week.

Between last week's truncated schedule and next week's big double-game week for the top teams, this week feels like the eye of the storm. It's a bit easy to overlook these matches. But there are points to be had this week and in the Yahoo! game, with unlimited transfers, there's no reason not to put together the best team possible for THIS week.

After a quick selection this morning, the team looks like so:

Value - £148.29M
Available - £1.71M
Total Points - 3175

1. Loic Remy - £17.93M - Two goals in as many matches since he returned from his, rather unfortunate, ban. It's looking like Newcastle were missing him more than they were missing Yohan Cabaye, as was the common wisdom. But more on that in a moment. Newcastle travel to Fulham, who this past weekend conspired to make Cariff City look like a viable team. I expect the Magpies good form to continue here, and it would be against trend if Remy were not in the thick of the action.

2 Romelu Lukaku - £14.12M - Speaking of Cardiff City.. it is Everton who host the Blue(red) birds next, so loading up on a few Toffees seems a good strategy. Lukaku is a no-brainer pick then. Except. Except that too many times this season, Lukaku has disappeared in the easier match-ups, retruning a shot on goal, or maybe an assist for all his effort. There are some other decent matches this weekend - notably Southampton hosting Norwich City - so this pick is likely to change by Friday. The question is, how many times will it change, and how many times will it change back?

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3. Luis Suarez - £19.70M - Welcome back, Luis! It's a match against Liverpool's biggest non-Everton rivals, and on the roald, no less. However, he's Luis Suarez, and it's this year's Manchester United. This is why some of you held Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, and Steven Gerrard on your bench, or in your XI, last week. Start him, captain him, and enjoy.

4. Samir Nasri - £10.14M - I'm a little less sure about this pick. The pros are that it's Manchester City's return to league play, and Nasri has been in goal-scoring form in the recent Cup matches. The cons, well con, is that they play Hull City - whom I don't bet on, or against. I think City need this match as they need to win to catch Chelsea, and they'll be smarting from their Cup exit against Wigan. David Silva is als a reasonable, and reasonably priced, pick, but Nasri is cheaper, and again, he's on a scoring streak.

5. Wes Hoolahan - £9.65M - Hoolahan sure has a funny way of showing Norwich that he doesn't want to be there. After a botched tranfer request, he was handed his favoured role "in the hole" behind the striker. After two matches, it's one goal, four shots on target, and four points for the struggling Canaries. The fact that it took a hamstring injury to Leroy Fer to get the Irish Messi into the line-up is an indictment of Chris Hughton's management. I don't know if he thought he had another Mauroane Fellaini on his hands, but despite a good few weeks early in the season, Fer hasn't contributed. This certainly doesn't excuse the poor play of strikers Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, or of Norwich in general, but I imagine that the extra creativity that Hoolahan brings can only help as they try to stay in the Premier League.

All that being said, it's not a good matchup. Come Friday, I may move Hoolahan for someone else - David Silva? - but for now, I'm happy enough with his performances to keep him.

6. Vurnon Anita - £9.58M - Anita is a big reason why Newcaslte haven't missed Yohan Cabaye as much as they might have. Alongside Cheick Tiote in midfield, he's been been a key man in their consecutive wins, and helped himself to a goal against Hull City. He may be a bit expensive at retail, but the matchup is right.

7. Michu £9.67M - This would be a bit of a flyer. However, the Swans attacker is back in training and could make the West Brom match. No Swanea player has made the role off Wilfried Bony their own. Neither Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo Hernandez, nor Alejandro Pozuelo have been consistent enough. If Michu is available this weekend, there's no reason for him not to go straight back into the side for what should be a very winnable match.

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8. Sylvain Distin - £11.46M - With Everton hosting Cardiff City, an Everton defender seems like a good idea. With Leighton Baines obviously the top choice, but he's expsenive. Phil Jagielka is an injury doubt, John Stones would deputize, and of course Seamus Coleman is listed as a midfielder in the Yahoo! game. Sylvain Distin seems to be the right mix of price, form, and reliability.

9. Branislav Ivanovic - £11.09M - Chelsea visit Aston Villa this weekend. The threat of Christian Benteke, et al, won't overly bother the Blues and Ivanovic is value for money at this barn door price. At market price, I'm not sure any Chelsea defender is worth it, especially without a double game-week next week.

10. Luke Shaw - £14.37M - Speaking of value for money, Luke Shaw turned out to be just that last week. Two shots on target on top of clean sheet! However, with a full slate of matches, there are more options for you money. I think Southampton's hosting Norwich bodes well for a clean sheet and the potential for attacking points again. So until there are two-gamers to pick from next week, I think I'll stay with Shaw.

11. Joe Hart - £9.94M - Welcome back, Joe Hart! Negative eight points combined from my keepers over the last two weeks and I'm reminded yet again why I love Hart as my fantasy keeper. No, Manchester City aren't rolling over teams. In fact, at times, they're not even beating other teams. But for the most part, they're eeking out wins and between that and Hart's making a few saves in matches, he's at least been in the black (positive fantasy points) every week since his return to the City starting lineup.

And yes, I'm well aware that I've just horribly jinxed the whole thing. I'm sorry.

Bench
Lewis Holtby - £6.36M I was holding on to him for the Cardiff City match, and he didn't diasppoint. Now that Fulham are back to facing Premier League opposition, Holtby will find himself back on the bench.
Martin Kelly - £1.20M - Cheap as you can get, save for...
Ryan Bertrand - £1.00M - Betrand! Betrand can't play in this match as he's on loan from Chelsea. Honestly he would have been on the bench regardless. However, a starter for a buck that I'm willing to put into my fantasy team when the matchup is right... priceless.
Ben Foster - £2.08M - Cheap, and starting. A cheaper, non-starter may be safer than Foster the way West Brom are playing, and I'll have to consider that. But for now...



Jeremy Spitzberg writes about fantasy soccer (football) and is a Rotoworld contributor. You can find him on Twitter @JSpitzberg.
Email :Jeremy Spitzberg





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