Player Picks - Week 32Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I'm not sure who has had a worse March, Arsenal or my fantasy team. Surprisingly, one has nothing to do with the other as I've had very little Arsenal representation on my fantasy team since the injuries started piling up in late December. Still, over a three week period, I've had an Arsenal-like implosion that has seen me go from somewhere in the mid-1000s to somewhere in the mid-5000s as far as overall rank goes. Even worse, that includes a respectable (but not as good as it should have been but for a technical glitch - don't get me started) 293 over this past match week.
Apparently, Arsene Wenger isn't the only one who has it in him to pick the wrong line-up when the crucial matches of the season arrive. Where Wenger mistakes were that he went on the attack at Stamford Bridge leaving Mathieu Flamini on the bench when he clearly should have played it conservatively and tried to win a close match 1-0 or settle for a 0-0 draw and then went conservative with Arteta and Flamini against Swansea when he should have gone with an attacking line-up. My mistakes in March were probably too numerous to mention but it seemed like one of those months where even when I picked the right match-ups to invest in I ended up with the wrong player. If I went with Jay Rodriguez the Rickie Lambert went off, if I went with Yaya Toure then David Silva was the man that day, if I went Raheem Sterling then Jordan Henderson went crazy, and, well, you get the idea. Sometimes you have those months but it would be nice if the fates managed to schedule those luckless fantasy months for me when Arsenal is playing well. Life is tough sometimes, on to the schedule...
The Match Week 32 Schedule
For me, the matches to focus on are Manchester United at home vs. Aston Villa, Everton visiting Fulham, Liverpool hosting Spurs (because Liverpool are a buzzsaw at home), and maybe Swansea hosting Norwich. I'd also consider investing in either defense for Stoke City's home match against Hull City as well (but I'd stay away from either attacking group). The other big question is what to do with Manchester City's visit to the Emirates. Arsenal hasn't been embarrassed at home this season in the way they have been on the road at Anfield, the Etihad, and Stamford Bridge but their home matches with Chelsea and Liverpool came much earlier in the season when they were much healthier both mentally and physically. It wouldn't be a stretch to invest heavily - or as heavily as possible given the prices - in Manchester City even as they travel to the home of another top four team. I don't think I'm going to dive in beyond maybe one or two City players but I could certainly see the logic behind investing more heavily than that.
You'll likely notice the absence of Chelsea's match against a Crystal Palace team that is stumbling in a big way on my list of matches to overinvest in. I have a few reasons for that and none of them is related to my residual bitterness over the 6-0 drubbing last Saturday. Reason number one is that Crystal Palace is the type of physical team that Chelsea has struggled with this season Chelsea struggled against other bruising teams in Stoke and West Ham at various points in the season and I wouldn't be shocked to see it happen again. I'm not saying that Palace wins the match but that they make it difficult enough on Chelsea that you don't want to be over-invested in Chelsea's expensive fantasy players who all seemed to score a goal, get a clean sheet or both last weekend. There is also the danger of squad rotation ahead of Chelsea's mid-week trip to Paris for their Champions League quarter final match with PSG. Add in a dash of "trap game" potential between the big Arsenal win and looking ahead to PSG and I don't think you want to be oversubscribed on Chelsea this week even if Palace have been pretty rotten recently.
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- Sergio Aguero - His price has dipped into the 18s and the recent news points to him having a good chance of returning for this weekend's match at the Emirates.
- Romelu Lukaku - Fulham are really bad and Lukaku seems to be back in the goals.
- Wayne Rooney - Manchester United didn't ever really look like they were in the Manchester Derby but Aston Villa aren't exactly Manchester City are they? Against West Ham (a far better comp to Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney looked back at home leading the line. He isn't likely to score from half field again but you can't argue with him being far more engaged.
- Suarez/Sturridge - You kinda have to have 'em both, so everything else is about filling that third forward spot, isn't it?
- Wilfried Bony - He hasn't been consistent but he has been much better over the second half of the season compared to the first half and the visit of Norwich is almost always a fantasy bounty.
- Michu - He hasn't looked back in form yet but if you're looking for a low-priced option that could come through in a big way then Michu in the low 7s at home against Norwich seems like a good bet.
- Ross Barkley - Hopefully you have him at one of his many lower BD prices but if not, this may be a weekend where it is worth paying a double digit retail price for the ascending midfielder.
- Samir Nasri - The way Arsenal's week is going Nasri will beat them up and heap insult on top of injury, won't he?
- Jonjo Shelvey - If you can't tell, I'm expecting Swansea to beat Norwich handily this weekend and Shelvey is priced at a reasonable level.
- Steven Gerrard - I'm not sure if he's worth it at retail but with the volume of penalties Liverpool are earning he's almost worth it for those alone. That he scored from a garden variety free kick against Sunderland makes him all the more attractive. If Gerrard's retail price is too much then it seems that Coutinho and Henderson are the lower-priced alternatives most likely to start these days.
- Oscar - If you decide you want in on Chelsea I wouldn't be shocked if his goal against Arsenal restarted his productivity after an extended slump.
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- Jonny Evans - It seems likely that he'll finally be ready to return to the starting line-up after being on the bench for the derby. His price and the arrival of Aston Villa make him an attractive value play.
- Leighton Baines - If you can afford it...
- Ryan Shawcross - A solid choice if you need to spend money elsewhere
- Ryan Bertrand - If you didn't get in on him at 1.00 and need a solid point producer no matter the result for his team he's still not a bad option in the mid-5s.
- Jose Fonte - I don't love the match up but I don't hate it either and Fonte always has a solid shot at points on both ends of the field.
- Vincent Kompany - His price jumped significantly after the Manchester Derby clean sheet but he's still not in the double digits which is a solid value at this point in the season.
- Steven Harper - His price is so low and the match-up is promising enough that you should consider him as prices escalate on players everywhere else on the pitch.
- Michel Vorm - Another very solid option at a very low price - he is priced at 3.79 for a home match with Norwich which seems pretty solid.
- David De Gea - His price is surprisingly reasonable and the match-up gives you good reason to expect positive things.