With the international break now firmly in the rear-view mirror, attention returns this weekend to the Premier League for the final dash towards the end of the season. As always at this time of year, the fixture list is now a bit of a minefield – we are two weeks away from a bumper gameweek in which 8 teams play twice, but then the following week 8 teams (some different from the week before) don’t play at all. Plus there are still 12 teams with postponed matches that have not yet been rescheduled. All of this makes it hard to maximize your minutes in Fantasy Premier League, but here to help are our friends at Armchair Fancast - the weekly podcast discussing all the latest happenings from the Premier League – with their top five player picks for this week. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, and follow them on Twitter here!
- Cesar Azpilicueta (CHE, £6.9): As a general rule it makes sense to focus your selections right now on teams that have two matches in gameweek 34 and also either a match in week 35 or a game still to be scheduled. That gives you a choice of Brighton, Leicester, Spurs, Man Utd, Southampton, Burnley and Chelsea. In the case of the last of these teams, the smart money is surely to go with defenders: in the next three weeks Chelsea play a Kane-less Tottenham, a crisis-hit West Ham and two often low-scoring sides in Burnley and Southampton. We’ve picked Azpilicueta over Alonso purely because the latter is a bit more expensive, but either is a good bet.
- Serge Aurier (TOT, £5.9): Even though Tottenham are in that list of clubs above, you should hesitate slightly before splurging on Pochettino’s men – two of their next three games see them visit the current champions and the champions-in-waiting, both of which will be tough challenges. That being said, it’s hard to ignore the form of Serge Aurier who scored a goal and an assist against Bournemouth three weeks ago, and was instrumental in a pair of Spurs clean sheets in the two games prior to that. He’s worth a gamble on that basis alone.
- Kenedy (NEW, £4.7): The clubs to avoid at present are the ones who only play once in gameweek 34 and don’t have any games still to be scheduled – that means steering clear of Palace, Liverpool, Stoke, Everton, Watford and West Brom. We would also avoid Huddersfield – not only are they without a game in week 35, but this week they have to travel to a buoyant Newcastle, who will know that a win on Saturday all but guarantees their survival. Kenedy was the Magpies’ driving force in a similarly crucial game against Southampton recently, and he will be looking to prove he’s more than a one-hit wonder.
- Nemanja Matic (MUN, £4.7): According to his own manager, Nemanja Matic was an “island of personality” amidst a sea of mediocrity when United squeaked past Brighton in the FA Cup quarter finals a fortnight ago. The language might be a little dramatic but it’s still a good point – a lot of what’s good about the Red Devils at the moment is coming through the Serbian midfielder. He’s cheaply priced because his deep position often stops him from picking up goals or assists, but he netted against Palace at the start of the month and it looks like his boss is going to be leaning on him heavily during the final few weeks of the season.
- Ashley Barnes (BUR, £5.3): There is only one team that plays three times during weeks 34 and 35, and that team is Burnley. The Clarets have shown signs of rediscovering their early season form in the past three games, in no small part because Ashley Barnes found the net in all three. He could easily have added to that tally too, with more shots on target than anyone else in the league during that time. Burnley has a relatively easy run-in and an opportunity to secure a top-six finish by leapfrogging Arsenal, so there’s every reason to see Barnes making it four in four when his team visits a despondent West Bromwich this week.
Author: Dave Bradshaw