Gameweek 31 preview

March 20, 2014

22 Mar 12:45 Chelsea v Arsenal
22 Mar 15:00 Cardiff City v Liverpool
22 Mar 15:00 Everton v Swansea
22 Mar 15:00 Hull City v West Brom
22 Mar 15:00 Man City v Fulham
22 Mar 15:00 Newcastle v Crystal Palace
22 Mar 15:00 Norwich v Sunderland
22 Mar 17:30 West Ham v Man Utd
23 Mar 13:30 Tottenham v Southampton
23 Mar 16:00 Aston Villa v Stoke City
25 Mar 19:45 Arsenal v Swansea
25 Mar 19:45 Man Utd v Man City
25 Mar 19:45 Newcastle v Everton
26 Mar 19:45 West Ham v Hull City
26 Mar 20:00 Liverpool v Sunderland

 

It’s here. It might be a bit forward to predict that this week could decide the destination of the Buckets title, particularly with two more double gameweeks on the horizon, but if Romeo’s post a massive points total; particularly if they post the highest points total of the week, then it may be very difficult to catch them. Last week they scored more than 20 points more than their closest rivals, widening the gap at the top to 47 points. Another 20 point swing over the likes of Sporting, Panza, Magico, Shakin Stephens and Neil Madrid may be too much of a mountain to climb for those teams. It’s very likely that the highest gameweek score of the season will be achieved this week. The current leaders are Romeo’s with the 110 points they accumulated in gameweek 14.

Anyone with a wildcard can fill their boots this week. There are ten teams playing twice, and two of those teams appear in every double gameweek remaining. Manchester City and Sunderland’s progress through the domestic cups mean that they both have 11 games to play in the eight remaining weeks. With unlimited transfers, picking three from each team wouldn’t be a bad tactic. Even Sunderland, still languishing in the bottom three, offer plenty of point scoring opportunities, particularly with their budget priced defenders. January signing Marcos Alonso has started and completed seven games, amassing 24 points. That’s an average of just over three points a game – and not a bad return for a £4.5 million man. Vito Mannone leads the way as bargain goalkeeper of the season. A third of the games he has started have ended in him scoring double figures. They’ve two away games to negotiate, and it’s the first game against Norwich that promises the most. A clean sheet there and then whatever they can muster out of their away trip to Liverpool shouldn’t disappoint too much.

With City, you’re spoilt for choice. Their home tie against Fulham should assure big returns. They are on a run of three consecutive clean sheets – the first time they’ve managed that all season. They have to cope without Vincent Kompany for the Fulham game, but welcome him back for the Manc derby. Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart looked nailed on for a place in both games. As does Martin Demichelis, despite being widely criticised every time he takes the pitch. It’s always difficult to predict who’ll get the nod at left back. Alexander Kolarov has been the most productive, but it’s Clichy who has started two of the last three. Nasri, Toure and Silva may start both games. Almost certainly starting the Fulham game will be Edin Dzeko. Dzeko seems to be ahead of Alvaro Negredo in the pecking order up front for City. Taking a punt on Sergio Aguero being fit for both games could be a costly mistake. Even if he is back in contention for the United game, it may only be as a sub, and Dzeko is almost certain of game time in both matches – and at virtually half the price.

Away from the triple double gameweekers, you could also consider the double double gameweekers. Everton play twice this week and twice in gameweek 34. And Manchester United play twice this week and in gameweek 37. Banking some Everton and United players could bear fruit in later weeks. This week, Everton in particular, look capable of scoring highly. They have a home tie against struggling Swansea, and an away trip to a Newcastle side without a manager in the dug out, a striker on the pitch or a care about whether they win, lose or draw.

Concentrating solely on this week though, and it’s Liverpool who must offer the best scoring returns. They’ve two games against teams in the bottom three. The only quandary is which player to pick as your captain. Apart from Suarez and Sturridge, who top the striker form table, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson are in the top 10 current form midfielders, and they’ve even contrived to keep two clean sheets in their last two games.

It’s time to start tinkering.

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