GW37 Preview: Manchester United and City play twice!
UPDATE Friday 2nd May: Wayne Rooney is now a potential injury doubt for Manchester United’s game against Sunderland.
In his Press conference at 10am this morning, manager Ryan Giggs has said Rooney will be assessed over the next 24 hours before a final decision is made.
Whether or not Ryan Giggs’ tenure in charge of Manchester United stretches beyond these few weeks remains to be seen, but the Welshman could hardly have wished for a better start to his managerial career than the one he got last weekend.
All thoughts of David Moyes were banished at Old Trafford as United strolled to a 4-0 victory over a troubled Norwich City, with smiles returning to faces which has only seen scowls for the vast majority of this season.
Key to those smiles was Wayne Rooney (£11.7m), who returned to form with two goals as his side blew their relegation-threatened visitors away.
Both Rooney and United will have the chance to keep the goals flowing when they entertain both Sunderland and Hull City in the next week, with all three clubs making up half of the sides who face Double Gameweeks in this penultimate week of the Fantasy Premier League season.
Of the six, United have surely been dealt the best hand with two home matches against a side struggling near the bottom of the table then a mid-table Hull outfit who are now just hanging around for the FA Cup final.
Either one or both of those matches seem certain to feature goals for Rooney, whilst some of United’s other attacking talents should also be eyed. Juan Mata (£9.7m) may have only come off the bench last weekend but he scored twice, whilst despite being in and out of the team for the vast majority of his career in England, Shinji Kagawa (£7.1m) has now started five of the last six matches, and all of the last four.
Further back in the team, there is the potential for some more points from Giggs’ men too.
Selecting United defenders has never been a task for the faint-hearted, but the one man you can usually rely on in the side is Patrice Evra (£6.5m), with the Frenchman no doubt keen to put in some good performances at the end of what could be his final season at Old Trafford.
The left-back is ageing and might not be the player he once was, but as United double up this week he could provide valuable points.
Elsewhere, the other side of in Manchester also face two matches this week, with theirs of course being far more important.
With Liverpool’s loss at home to Chelsea opening up the title race once more, City know that only perfection will be needed from here.
They face a huge clash at Everton on Saturday before the slightly gentler task of hosting Aston Villa, and you can be sure that Yaya Toure (£10.3m) will be fit and firing for both of them.
Any concerns over Toure’s potential injury were dispelled with that wonderful lung-bursting run and finish in the win at Crystal Palace, and his influence will be crucial as City go into two matches in which they simply cannot drop points.
Sergio Aguero (£12.7m) will also be key of course, but it has been Edin Dzeko (£7.1m) who has been in the greater form recently and he’ll also be a threat.
Of the other sides facing two matches this week, some interesting options leap out.
Having drawn at City and won at Chelsea, Sunderland surely won’t feel too overawed heading to Manchester United, and if you don’t believe that Rooney, Evra and co are the men to back there then either Fabio Borini (£6.2m) and Connor Wickham (£4.6m) could be useful, whilst Hull’s front two of Shane Long (£5.5m) and Nikica Jelavic (£6.5m) are another pair who need to be respected.
Back in the land of those that only play once this week, Swansea’s Wilfried Bony (£7.3m) has been in inspired form of late and will look to be so again as the Swans host Southampton, whilst Eden Hazard (£10.3m) could return to Premier League action for Chelsea against Norwich.
GW36 Preview: Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski could offer valuable points in closing weeks
Now removed of the pressure associated with a title race, Arsenal seem to have gone back to playing attractive, attacking football, at least if the second half against West Ham and the Hull game which followed are anything to go by.
Also key to those Gunners victories has been the presence of Lukas Podolski (£7.8m) in the starting lineup, with the German managing to double his tally of Premier League goals output for the season in the space of six days last week.
Owned by just 2.3% of Fantasy bosses at the time of writing, the key problem with selecting Podolski for your team has always been the fact that he tends not to last the full 90 minutes for Arsenal, but he did just that against West Ham and was withdrawn with just seven minutes left against Hull.
Arsene Wenger appears to have noted that his side play better with another attacking threat playing off Olivier Giroud (£8.5m), and although both Mesut Ozil (£9.5m) and Aaron Ramsey (£7.2m) have returned from their injuries in recent weeks and both are worth considering for selection, Wenger surely has to keep Podolski in his team based on recent form.
The Gunners are now widely expected to sew up their usual spot in the top four in the coming weeks, as they host Newcastle on Monday, then face a home game with West Brom before going to Norwich on the final day.
Podolski will be key to that effort as they bid to go into the FA Cup final in the greatest possible mood, and having more than made his point to his manager in recent weeks, he could make your team a few more before the end of the campaign.
Elsewhere, another potentially decisive Premier League weekend will see Liverpool host Chelsea knowing that a win would place them within touching distance of the Premier League title.
Of course this will be a hugely difficult game for the Reds, but the form of Raheem Sterling (£5.8m) is proving impossible to ignore, and he could again be turned to in another clash which is sure to have Anfield rocking.
The fact that six clubs face double Gameweeks next week should be uppermost in your thinking though, especially given that Manchester City are one of them and are refusing to give up on their title challenge.
Sergio Aguero (£12.5m) has bounced back from injury and scored in the win over West Brom on Monday, and although City face a tough trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday and Aguero perhaps isn’t quite 100% fit yet, he is still one of the top performers in the division even when he’s not in full working order.
David Silva (£9.8m) got injured in that game and things don’t look good for him, but Samir Nasri (£8.6m) remains in fine fettle and he’ll be crucial if City are going to continue to have a say in the destination of the title.
Another side who double up in Gameweek 37 are Sunderland, and following their stunning win at Chelsea they’ll be bouncing into this weekend’s crucial game at home to Cardiff full of confidence.
Fabio Borini (£6.2m) proved his worth to the club with the winning penalty at Stamford Bridge, but perhaps it will pay to back winger Adam Johnson (£6.4m) to rediscover some of the form that he found earlier in the season and impress in a match which is bound to go a long way towards deciding who’ll stay in the Premier League for next season.