It's the final week of the season, and I'm finding it more stressful that any that preceded it -- save for maybe the opening weekend (when I stayed in the hotel room at Disneyland to follow the games!) or the two-game weeks around the holidays. This weekend there are no second chances and because holding cheaper options doesn't matter every player is on the table. However, very few clubs have anything to play for and those that do, most of those clubs are TERRIBLE. After all, that's why they're fighting for their Premier League survival. Add to that a healthy dose of injuries, a smattering of suspensions, the wholesale changes that some clubs (*coughManUcough*) are making, and the smaller changes - blooding youngsters or giving veterans an appropriate sign off - and it's the hardest week to pick.
Or is it the easiest? Just pick players for whom you want to root. Pick the Ashley Youngs and Liam Lawrence's of the Premier League. Gamble on Brunt or Arshavin. Maybe Bale, if you're an eternal optimist. This is the MDOT, but indulge me as I break it down TWA style.
I probably should have sold Arshavin two weeks ago when he was suffering from the flu. A big zero and then just 1.50 last week was quite the climb down from his fantastic run of games. Contra Neal, I think Arshavin will play at home to Stoke. And Arsenal have been known to hand out the final day smackdowns before. I remember Henry's hat-trick on his final Highbury appearance (the final Highbury appearance) against Wigan a few years back. So he stays.
Speaking of Arsenal strikers, Anelka is gunning for the Golden Boot. And with CRon rested the Elk just needs one goal. Look for Chelsea to get a few against Sunderland and the Elk to be in there.
Otherwise, you could go cheap or expensive. I'm casting my eye over Emnes, Macheda, Geovanni, and Agbonlahor.
There are a couple of cheap options here playing as, or off, striker. Utatka? Yes, Pompey have given up and are lousy on the road, but Wigan are worse. That sounds like a children's taunt, but it's not. That sound's like a taunt as well, doesn't it? Johnny Utah has been busy for Pompey and scored last week. And they'll be without Hughes, so a place off Kanu or Crouch could be had. Fagan? Hull are terrible, yes. But have you seen ManU's team sheet. They're kids. And yes, they're still likely better than Hull. But a middie playing at striker - who also scored last week - costing you 5? Too good to be true (and likely is).
Other cheap middies, with reason for price, would be SDavis of Pompey (decent return over his last few matches and taking kicks), MPet (good bet but not a nailed on starter), Tosic for ManU, or Kilbane (see Fagan, above).
I'm sticking with Lawrence. He returned seven points when that's what he cost. And last week he cost ten and kept up with the increase. Perhaps Stoke get played off the pitch @ the Emirates. They have nothing to play for. But Arsenal's weaknesses - too short, too light-weight, both things making them vulnerable at set pieces - play right into Stoke's strengths.
BFAY, if fit. I was sure to pick him. Love him. Would love to root for him. Same reasoning as last week - NUFC have to go for it which plays right into Villa's counter-attacking style. But he's an injury doubt. All the news says he's sure to be ready, but I just can't go for that. So I'll keep my premium money on Gerrard. Spurs aren't the best matchup these days, but they are a bit thin at the back for the match and I see him getting his points. And recently his points have been in the twenties. So hopefully that will continue.
Paintsil. Bos if you still have him. Bale if you think he'll play and take kicks. Dawson if you have the money. Neville if you believe in the kids. Shorey, Rodwell or Givet, perhaps. Hyypia should get to play but either he won't start or he'll start and be given the honor of being taken off early to get the cheers from the Anfield faithful. Either way he's not getting clean sheet points.
Looks like Fabianski will be fit - for better or worse. Myhill is your cheapest option if you think that desperation wins the day. PRobbo has been good at home and is facing a relegated WBA side who have been bad on the road. But they haven't stopped playing football, and with Nelsen out , and well PRobbo being PRobbo, it gives one pause. Kuszscak is a possibility for ManU, but they could go for Amos, who isn't in the game, so I wouldn't recommend that.
So were does that net out for me? I'm at:
PRobbo, Paintsil, Shorey, ADawson, Gerrard, Utaka, Fagan, Lawrence, Arshavin, Geovanni, Anelka
- Hull duo in contention
- Stoke duo set for recalls
- Cole back in frame
- Brown poised to return
- City short of options
- Hyypia to say Anfield farewell
- Johnson doubt for Fulham
- Toffees in fine fettle
- Nelsen blow for Rovers
- Team news: Newcastle in crisis
- Fantasy: Choose 'em, Lose 'em?
- Mannone may make Arsenal bow
- Downing out of England clashes
- Youngs doubtful for Newcastle clash
- Nelsen out of Confederations Cup
- Hiddink to field big guns
... and I look forward to your take on the final day in this, your matchday open thread.
- Liam Lawrence
- Premier League