The following wrap up is for the midweek games only. Check out my review of the first ten games of week 31 here. We had three games on Tuesday including the big Manchester Derby and two more on Wednesday. Some of these games had huge title implications so lets get right to it.
Manchester United 0 – 3 Manchester City
Many Manchester United fans had big hopes for this game after two very impressive wins by the Red Devils but David Moyes and his men failed once again. City took the lead in the first minute and controlled the game the entire way. United struggled in defense and in midfield, failing to switch coverage when needed. You could have thrown a stun grenade in the City defense and they would have been more organized than United. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini were both trying to play the 10 at times and that was problematic at best. United seem to have lost the battle for a spot in the Europa League and Moyes’ clock is ticking. On the other hand, City are putting big pressure on Chelsea and are now only three points behind the Blues with two extra game left to play. The title race is in full swing and as entertaining as ever.
Fantasy implications: The fantasy implications from these two teams are also big. Edin Dzeko scored twice for City and has established himself as the current number one striker option for City. The only problem is Manchester City’s tough schedule over the next three games, but even considering the tough games, Dzeko could be worth the money. If Sergio Aguero is deemed fit, that could be problematic, so make sure to check Aguero’s status before you play Dzeko. Yaya Toure scored again, making it four goals for the gameweek. He is also a tempting option ahead, but is similarly affected by the tough schedule. As for United players, it’s hard to recommend anyone for the rest of the season outside of Wayne Rooney. Danny Welbeck can contribute when he starts (he had 9 points on Tuesday even with a yellow card) but he is not guaranteed a starting spot and is a risky option. David De Gea can be an option in easer matchups and is relatively cheap at the moment.
Arsenal 2 – 2 Swansea City
Speaking of the title race, Arsenal took themselves out of it in the last three days. With a loss to Chelsea and a draw against Swansea, Arsenal have gone from title contenders to a battle for a spot in the Champions League. Their confidence has shot down and for the majority of this game they looked like they’d given up on the title. Everton are only six points behind and have played one less game. This could get interesting fast. Swansea, on the other hand, are trying not to enter a relegation battle. They are currently five points clear of the relegation zone, but Sunderland have played two games less than them.
Fantasy implications: With Arsenal playing this poorly, it’s hard to trust their players. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain only put up 10 points in a game and a half with Cazorla putting up the same amount in two games. Their defense has also struggled and clean sheets are no longer the norm. Don’t get me wrong, there is value to be had there, but it’s not as good as it was at the beginning of the season. When Aaron Ramsey returns from injury, I will be very tempted to invest in him as well. On Swansea’s side, Bony continues to pick up steam and should be considered next week in a home match versus Norwich City.
Newcastle United 0 – 3 Everton
There isn’t much to say about Newcastle nowadays. They are the epitome of a mid-table team with nothing to play for. Everton are a whole different story. Romelu Lukaku is in the middle of a renaissance after struggling during the middle of the season and Everton are rolling along with him. They’ve won four of their last five Premier League games and are going to make Arsenal sweat as we approach the end of the season.
Fantasy implications: Lukaku looks to be on fire and is shaping up to be a must own. Leighton Baines is also in great form. Ross Barkley is finally healthy and contributing. I’ve had a hard time trusting Everton players this season, but if there is ever a time to buy, it’s now. On Newcastle’s side, things are not as promising and I recommend avoiding everyone.
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West Ham 2 – 1 Hull City
West Ham continued to struggle in attack but a penalty and an own goal were enough to give them all three points. Hull City were clearly hurt by the sending off of goalkeeper Allan McGregor and they will be questioning the decision. West Ham were solid in the back but a huge deflection took away their clean sheet. The win takes the Hammers up to 11th place and takes Hull City down to 13th. Both teams have separated themselves from the relegation zone and right now it’s just about getting some momentum to carry into next season.
Fantasy implications: West Ham haven’t had a clean sheet in a while but their defense is still good. Their defenders will be good picks when they face Sunderland next week. In attack, there is probably no worse picks than West Ham players. Andy Carroll is a very risky play and if his price were any higher, he wouldn’t be an option. On Hull’s side, Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long are scoring goals but are not the most consistent options. It’s a hit or miss at the moment. In defense, Curtis Davies is one of the best defenders in the game and should be considered for fantasy squads. With Allan McGregor facing a suspension and an injury, reserve goalkeeper Steve Harper could be an option, especially since Hull face Stoke City and Swansea next.
Liverpool 2 – 1 Sunderland
Liverpool struggled to break Sunderland down early on but a spectacular Steven Gerrard free-kick put them up ahead before the half. Daniel Sturridge made it 2-0 right after the break and Liverpool cruised to a win after that. They never really felt threatened, even when Sunderland scored a goal to make it a one score game. The Reds are on fire and seem to have a strong belief that they will win the league. The attack looks scary to any team out there and if the defense can step up, Liverpool have as good of a chance as anyone to win it all. They still have to face Manchester City and Chelsea and if they can take care of business, they won’t need much help from other teams. Sunderland are in the exact opposite situation. They are in the relegation zone and despite having an extra game to play than those in front of them, they are three points back and have some extremely tough games coming up.
Fantasy implications: After a 0 point return over the weekend, Steven Gerrard produced a double-digit performance. He is the best midfielder in the Premier League, at least fantasy wise. The Liverpool defenders are not as great as some would expect, as they have trouble keeping teams out. Despite that, Glen Johnson has been returning to form and can be good going ahead. There isn’t much to say on Suarez or Sturridge that you don’t already know. On Sunderland’s side, there aren’t many good options to choose from. Phil Bardsley had a tough outing and is hard to trust. The fact that Sunderland don’t get many clean sheets doesn’t help him much. Ideally, you would avoid Sunderland’s players for the rest of the season.
My team performed very poorly this week. Outside of Gerrard, Toure, Hart, and Davies, no one on my team cracked 14 points. I ended with a disappointing 269 points and saw red arrows on the board. I hope all of you chose a better squad and I wish you the best of luck next week. I’ll leave you with a reminder to check out Neal’s player picks this week.