Nik Argiropoulos

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AM's Week 34 Player Picks

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Tim Howard - The pick of the keepers given Everton have two very winnable fixtures at Sunderland and home to Crystal Palace, but it will take some clever manoeuvring of funds to have any chance of fitting Howard in to your team at his current price of almost £20million.
Joe Hart - You can save yourself £4million by going with Hart instead of Howard, but there is that worry that he could concede at Liverpool. If you're confident he'll be able to limit the damage at Anfield then he should then reward you with a clean sheet at home to Sunderland.
Julian Speroni - The reverse of Hart, in that Speroni has an excellent chance of a clean sheet at home to Aston Villa in the first match of Palace's double-week, before the far more daunting task of keeping out Everton. Still, for £13million he's a decent option, playing very well behind Tony Pulis' rock solid defence.
Artur Boruc - Southampton's keeper missed the 4-1 hammering at the Etihad with a minor back injury but is expected to return for Week 34. Boruc only plays one game, but it's at home to Cardiff, so you'd expect him to keep a clean sheet and he costs less than the double-week options above.
David Stockdale - Yes, I am recommending Fulham's goalkeeper as the best budget keeper option of Week 34. Felix Magath has installed a bit of steel in to Fulham over recent weeks and the win at Villa prolonged their slim hopes of survival. They must beat Norwich this weekend, and I think they will, so Stockdale at £5million could prove a decent enabler to allow big spending on outfield double-gamers.


Leighton Baines - There's little doubt that the England man is doing less attacking under Roberto Martinez then he did under David Moyes, but he's still a threat, still taking set pieces and still on penalty duty. With two winnable games it's difficult to ignore Baines, even at a price in excess of £20million.
Joel Ward - A contender for Palace's player of the year award, and his fine performances have translated in to an extremely productive fantasy season. Expensive, but he rarely lets anyone down, and his two games make him an excellent choice.
Vincent Kompany - With a price of less than £10million and two matches, Kompany will find his way in to the majority of fantasy teams this weekend. The Manchester City captain should be in yours.
Sylvain Distin - If you fancy an Everton clean sheet or two, but can't quite stretch to Baines, then Distin gives the chance to cover the blanks and save £6million.
Pablo Zabaleta - If you want two Man City defenders or simply don't fancy picking Kompany, then Zabaleta is the next best choice given his reasonable price and guaranteed two matches.
Scott Dann - Do not underestimate the importance of Dann's acquisition in the January transfer window. The ex-Blackburn man has come in alongside Damian Delaney and formed the basis of the defensive solidity that has given Palace a realistic chance of avoiding relegation. Cheaper than Ward by £3million, he's a good alternative option if you want to do something a bit different.
Phil Bardsley - Despite Sunderland's continued struggles and impending relegation, Bardsley can hold his head high as he continues to perform at the top of his game. His recent fantasy performance have been disappointing but he's capable of defensive and attacking points and loves a shot from distance, so he remains a solid option for the double week.
Santiago Vergini - Not a particularly strong fantasy performer, but Vergini seems good for two start and is available at the ridiculously cheap price of £3.9million. A double-game filler.


Yaya Toure - The one midfielder you must have in your side for the double week. Admittedly a lot of Yaya's recent points have been coming from penalties, and he may lose that responsibility to the returning Sergio Aguero, but I simply don't think you can afford to be without him in the very possible scenario of a 30 point performance against Sunderland in City's second game.
David Silva - Manchester City's player of the month for March has really stepped up his game in the absence of Aguero and cannot be ignored for the double week. Samir Nasri is also well worth a look, but two City midfielders is probably all you need and they should be Toure and Silva if you can afford both.
Ross Barkley - With Everton spoilt for choice when it comes to attacking midfielders there is always concern regarding Barkley's starting status, but his recent form has been key to his side's assault on the top four. If he's fully recovered from his calf injury (and judging by his performance as an early substitute against Arsenal, he's ok), then the young man has an excellent chance of two starts.
Jason Puncheon - The problems with buying players during the barndoor last week means that unless you owned Puncheon in Week 33, you probably can't afford to spend £20million on him this week. To be honest he isn't worth that much, but if you're lucky enough to have him at his previous price then he should be staying put. If not ...
Joe Ledley - ... then Ledley is your man. Playing in an advance midfield role in support of Marouane Chamakh, he's already popped up with a couple of goals but he remains affordable and is probably the best value Palace option. Although his team-mate Mile Jedinak may have something to say about that.
Seamus Coleman - The attacking full-back continues to put in consistent performances for Everton, although admittedly the fantasy points have dried up recently after his February goal-glut. However, the fact he is more-or-less guaranteed 180 minutes in Week 34 makes him preferable over someone like Adam Johnson, who has been on the bench for two of Sunderland's past three games.
Adam Lallana - The top "single-game" midfielder, Lallana should be able to take charge of the game against Cardiff and reward long-term owners with a big weekly total. I'm not sure I'd be spending £18million on him in a double-week, but if you're holding him at a reasonable discount I wouldn't blame you for hanging on. The same can be said for Christian Eriksen.
Lewis Holtby - On-loan from Tottenham, Holtby has been superb for Fulham as they continue their unlikely late charge to avoid relegation. The midfielder has been pushing up in support of the striker on a regular basis, taking set pieces, shooting from distance and comes up against Norwich at home in a must-win game.
James Ward-Prowse - The injury to Jay Rodriguez will open up a space in Southampton's starting XI and it's a space that Ward-Prowse is being tipped to fill. A set piece specialist, the young midfielder is well priced and faces an attractive fixture at home to Cardiff.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Surely set to start after Arsenal's capitulation against Everton, the Ox is good value below £8million and faces a West Ham side who often struggle on the road.


Romelu Lukaku - Despite his obvious quality, I've lost count of the number of times Lukaku has let me down when I've picked him. However, given Everton's fixtures I don't see any way around it - he'll play both games and will get chances, so he has to be in your Week 34 team.
Sergio Aguero - The general consensus in the UK media seems to be that Manuel Pellegrini has been playing it safe with Aguero, and that the striker is fully fit and ready to return for the clash against Liverpool. We await official team news tomorrow, but if he's going to start I will pick him in the hope that he'll get at least 120 minutes across City's two games. That's all he needs.
Edin Dzeko - Now the question is, if Aguero is back, does Pellegrini go back to using two strikers? If so, Edin Dzeko remains an interesting option as he's been preferred to Alvaro Negredo in recent weeks and is scoring goals, but if there's any doubt when the news comes out tomorrow then he's probably best left alone this week.
Luis Suarez - Big game player faces biggest rival for the league title. I'll probably hand the captain's armband to someone playing twice, but there was never any question of selling Luis Suarez despite the toughest of tests against Manchester City.
Stephen Naismith - Everton's unlikely hero in recent weeks, assisting and scoring some vital goals, yet somehow still priced below £10million. Naismith will get at least one start and could prove a terrific enabler to free up the funds to spend on some of the premium double-week options. I prefer him over the far-more-expensive Kevin Mirallas.
Rickie Lambert - At the top of the "one-game" strikers, facing Cardiff at home. On penalty duty and with added responsibility in the absence of the desperately unfortunate Jay Rodriguez, Lambert should be able to provide big returns.
Peter Odemwingie - Wildcard! Odemwingie has been rejuvenated by his switch to Stoke comes up against a Newcastle side decimated by injuries and in terrible form. I'm not brave enough to pick him in a double-week, but he could reward the risk-taking managers among you.

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So those are the players I'm considering for Week 34. Check back here on Friday for Neal's team and injury news post, which will cover all the fall-out from the midweek Champions League matches.


My own team currently looks like this:


XI: Stockdale, Bardsley, Kompany, Baines, Ledley, Barkley, Yaya, Silva, Suarez, Aguero, Lukaku
Subs: Bertrand, Amero, Nocherino, Davis


It's a solid double-week team (9 DGers), although I need to have a think about who gets the captaincy - Lukaku, Aguero, Yaya or Baines. There is also a nagging feeling that I should perhaps downgrade one of my outfield players to allow the purchase of a better goalkeeper than Stockdale. I'll have to think about that one over the next couple of days.


How's your team shaping up?

Nik Argiropoulos is a London-based soccer writer for Rotoworld and co-founder of Never Manage Alone. You can find him on Twitter @nikarg.
Email :Nik Argiropoulos

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