Manchester City Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Milner, Silva, Nasri, Dzeko Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Fernandinho, Negredo, Jovetic Aston Villa Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Bowery Subs: Steer, Bacuna, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Grealish, Tonev. Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, O’Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Larsson, Colback, […]
And so it’s come to this. The final day of the Premier League season, and with it the Fantasy one as well.
But before we all start looking up Algeria’s left-backs and start considering our teams for the World Cup editions of the game in the summer, there are still some precious points to play for in the final week of the campaign.
Manchester City know that they’ll be able to seal the title as they host West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and whilst the likes of Yaya Toure (£10.4m) and Sergio Aguero (£12.8m) have been the main attractions for plenty of teams all season, it is forward Edin Dzeko (£7.3m) who can round things off with a bang.
The Bosnian has been in fine form in the closing weeks of the season, and although the time of writing is before City play host to Aston Villa in their penultimate game of the campaign on Wednesday, with Aguero confirmed as missing out on that one then Manuel Pellegrini is sure to be relying on his No. 10.
Dzeko scored twice in the win at Everton last weekend, and with his relatively cheap price and his status as City’s new No. 1 forward to take into consideration, he could be the player to make the difference in your final week.
A forward with almost half the ownership percentage of Dzeko but exactly the same price is Swansea’s Wilfried Bony (£7.3m), and as the Swans round off their season at Sunderland then his is another name you need to consider. If it comes down to a straight fight between him and Dzeko though, go for the Bosnian as he has something left to play for.
And that is the key to this final week. Finding players who have a task in hand is crucial, as the rest of the matches will just be too unpredictable. Remember the 5-5 draw between West Brom and Manchester United this time last year?
Unlike Manchester United, Liverpool have been heavily involved in the title race this season, with their sheer amount of goals being the key reason why.
Luis Suarez (£13.1m) has of course taken the headlines, but it could well be that Daniel Sturridge (£9.8m) comes up trumps as the Reds round off their season at home to Newcastle. Recommending Magpies players hasn’t been a feature of this column this season, but Loic Remy (£7.9m) could find the net against the Reds’ famously suspect defence. Expect goals at both ends in that one.
Elsewhere, Arsenal will be looking to play themselves into form ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final, and although that isn’t strictly a good reason to choose their players it is a decent enough one this week.
Mesut Ozil (£9.5m) perhaps hasn’t wowed fans in the way that many expected him to this season, but the German has shown flashes of inspiration in recent weeks and could be worth a punt if you’ve got imaginary money to burn. Olivier Giroud (£8.5m) and Lukas Podolski (£7.8m) will also be dangerous.
The Gunners will face Hull City in that final at Wembley, and no doubt they’ll be delighted that they won’t be coming up against the Tigers’ front two of Shane Long (£5.5m) and Nikica Jelavic (£6.5m), who are both cup-tied.
Of the pair, it’ll be the Croatian who will be more eager to sign off from the season in style as his side host side former club Everton on Saturday, with the law of the ex-player suggesting that he could bury any chance which comes his way and bite the hand which used to feed him.
Thanks for reading all season, and have a great summer.
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It’s safe to say that defences were on top throughout Fantasy Premier League last week, with no fewer than nine teams registering clean sheets. That meant that defenders from almost half of the division were raking in the points, but with a couple of heavyweight clashes and yet more intriguing fixtures on the agenda for […]
Mini-leagues are being furiously checked and the points difference between you and your rivals are being totted up. It’s the final day of the season.
Unlike the Premier League this one was always destined to go down to the wire, and so the key question as we enter the final weekend of Fantasy Premier League matches is whether or not you need to find a left-field pick to try and catch up with those around you.
Whilst the likes of Gareth Bale (£11.0m and surely the weekend’s safe captaincy choice), Theo Walcott (£9.2m), Juan Mata (£10.2m) and Robin van Persie (£13.7m) are sure to be the popular picks, perhaps your net needs to be cast a little wider in the search for a player who can give you that extra push over the finish line.
That player could well be Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla (£9.6m).
Fresh from providing four assists in the Gunners’ 4-1 victory over Wigan on Tuesday night, the Spaniard goes to Newcastle to face a side who conceded six goals in their previous home game against Liverpool.
With Arsene Wenger’s men needing a win to secure a top four finish ahead of rivals Tottenham, Cazorla is sure to be crucial on an afternoon when he is likely to be a creative force.
Those four assists against Wigan took the Spaniard’s tally to 13 for the season, level with the likes of Walcott, Van Persie and Steven Gerrard for the campaign, with only three players registering more.
Add that to his 12 goals and you’ve got an extremely successful first campaign in England for the former Villarreal and Malaga man, but he’d only look back on it fondly if he can help his club into the top four. He has every chance to do just that at St James’s Park.
Elsewhere, Tottenham’s attempts to secure their own European football for next season will of course be helped by Bale as they host Sunderland, but it could be a rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor (£9.0m) who proves crucial following two goals in his last two games.
Following their Europa League heroics, Chelsea host Everton seeking to make sure of their third place finish. Demba Ba (£7.8m) was cup-tied for the Benfica victory and so he could prove crucial as the Blues seek to make it an unhappy last game in charge for David Moyes.
Away from the challenge for Europe, Liverpool draw the curtains on their campaign with a home game against relegated QPR.
The Reds and retiring defender Jamie Carragher (£5.0m) will fancy their chances of keeping a clean sheet, but further forward in-form striker Daniel Sturridge (£7.3m) will be seeking to follow up last weekend’s hat-trick at Fulham with another impressive display. Against QPR’s defence he has a great opportunity.
As the campaign draws to a close, those who have impressed throughout it such as Michu (£7.8m) and Rickie Lambert (£6.9m) have chances to finish their seasons on a high as Swansea and Southampton host Fulham and Stoke respectively, whilst the champions Manchester United go to West Brom seeking a winning end to their season. Javier Hernandez (£6.5m) started and scored against Swansea last week and will be looking to do so again amidst the uncertainty surrounding the future of Wayne Rooney.
Everyone knows about the future of Roberto Mancini by now, and in his absence Manchester City will be looking to round things off with a victory at home to Norwich.
Their forwards have impressed at various stages throughout the campaign, but with two goals in his last two league appearances perhaps it’ll be Edin Dzeko (£6.8m) who steps up to the plate again this time.
His addition could prove vital as the campaign draws to a close and we all look forward to the next one.
Roll on August.
We’ll see you then.
Whatever happened it could never be as exciting as the end to last season, but the closure of this campaign looks to be somewhat quieter for Manchester City.
Of course they have an FA Cup semi-final against either Manchester United or Chelsea to prepare for, but as much as fans will enjoy that day and acknowledge that it was winning this trophy in 2011 which really kickstarted City’s time amongst the big boys, it’s not quite the ending to the season they envisaged.
This was supposed to be the year when City – fresh from that remarkable ending to last season and buoyed by their title of champions – made a big impact both home and abroad; starting an era of dominance in the Premier League and establishing themselves as a big hitter in the Champions League.
That hasn’t happened.
With neighbours United running away with the league title in England, and having fallen foul of a devilishly tricky Champions League group for the second season running, this has so far been a year of standing still for City.
Of course they could still rescue it by winning the FA Cup back at Wembley in May though, and that prospect alone should be enough to convince City’s infamous owners that manager Roberto Mancini should be allowed another crack at the job next season. Whether or not he will is another matter of course.
As we discussed on these pages back in October, City’s summer signings didn’t look as though they were going to significantly improve the squad. Maybe this year it will be different.
With Mario Balotelli having packed his no doubt eccentrically coloured bags for Italy and Edin Dzeko an apparent target for Borussia Dortmund, Mancini will almost certainly be in the market for another forward to complement Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in the summer. He simply must be allowed to spend big this time.
Missing out on Robin van Persie last year was one thing, but Mancini then had to watch the Dutchman slot into Manchester United’s winning machine and only add to their ruthless nature. That simply can’t be allowed to happen again.
Providing the Italian with a top class forward in the summer – in other words a Radamel Falcao, or maybe even a Luis Suarez – is simply essential if City want to be challenging for the type of honours they want to be in the mix for at the end of next season. A statement needs to be made.
Sadly, a much more likely statement could be made with the removal of Mancini, a man who has been in his position at City since December 2009 but has frequently made enemies during that time.
Just like Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez before him – and right now come to think of it – Mancini has frequently paid the price for being a bit different, and for saying things that we don’t normally hear from the mouths of managers in the Premier League.
He shouldn’t be shunned just for simply having a personality though, and if he can spend the summer finding the personality that his team produced in their epic Premier League victory last season then there is nothing to suggest that they won’t be celebrating success again next year.
It’s safe to assume that if this were Chelsea then Mancini would have lost his job already, but this is Manchester City and they have admirably stuck by their man so far.
Stick by him a little more, give him some better players and they might find out that they won’t regret their decision come 2014.