We focus on three of the upcoming fixtures as we head into gameweek 34 and pick out some key players to consider in our FPL and PlayOn squads.
Sat 16 Apr 2016 – Premier League
Manchester United v Aston Villa 13:00
United’s 3-0 defeat at Spurs was quickly forgotten thanks to an imposing 2-1 victory at Upton Park in the FA cup. A fifth straight home win looks inevitable here, with only Arsenal having scored at Old Trafford over the last four league matches and United’s 10 clean sheets at home the best record in the division.
Such an impressive tally makes David De Gea the stand-out keeper for Gameweek 34, but Chris Smalling is the only defender guaranteed to start as coach Louis van Gaal tends to rotate and substitute full-backs.
Jesse Lingard offers a budget route into the midfield and could be influential against Villa having recently switched to a more central role. Marcus Rashford also provides a bargain goal option in the forward positions, having found the net again against West Ham in mid-week. Wayne Rooney may oust the youngster but is more likely to start on the bench. After creating both the goals in the win over the Hammers, Anthony Martial should also be considered but the Frenchman is less effective on the left than upfront.
This is liable to be the match that condemns Aston Villa to relegation, and there shouldn’t be much interest in their players even as differentials. Jordan Ayew would be worth considering, but after 8 consecutive defeats, it’s better to avoid the basement-dwellers assets altogether.
David De Gea Goalkeeper Fpl 5.8, PlayOn 8
Chris Smalling Defender Fpl 6.5, PlayOn 8.1
Jesse Lingard Midfielder Fpl 4.3, PlayOn 6.5
Anthony Martial Forward Fpl 7.7, PlayOn 9.2
Sun 17 Apr 2016
Leicester City v West Ham 13:30
Jamie Vardy may have gone the previous six outings without a goal, but he struck twice against Sunderland to secure the Foxes a fifth successive victory. Leicester kept clean sheets in all of those wins, but managing another against a Hammers side that have scored ten goals over their last four will be a stern test for the league-leaders.
Riyad Mahrez remains a prime candidates for inclusion in our squads each week alongside Vardy, but there are several other options to consider. N’golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater both outscored Mahrez by over 1000 points in PlayON last time out, with their owners benefiting from high interception and tackle points. They should be busy once again at the King Power Stadium.
In defence, there are a host of options after that excellent run of shut-outs. Even if they concede, full-back Christian Fuchs’ set pieces and the aerial threat of centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth mean there could be returns at the other end of the pitch.
West Ham will have been disappointed to have been kicked out of the FA cup, but can still secure a European spot via the league, so Slaven Bilic’s men still have plenty to fight for. They have drawn three high-scoring matches in a row and are undefeated in seven.
Dimitri Payet is always a tempting pick, although the Frenchman blanked against Arsenal. Three goals and four assists from his previous six league appearances make him hard to ingnore. Youngster Manuel Lanzini provides a value option, having scored back-to-back goals before the 3-3 draw with Arsenal. Andy Carroll has also emerged as a differential after scoring a hat-trick against the Gunners, and assisting James Tomkins’ goal against United.
N’golo Kante Midfielder Fpl 5.0, PlayOn 7.6
Jamie Vardy Forward Fpl 7.7, PlayOn 9.6
Dimitri Payet Midfielder Fpl 8.5, PlayOn 10.5
Andy Carroll Forward Fpl 6.3, PlayOn 8.6
Arsenal v Crystal Palace 16:00
Following back-to-back wins over Everton and Watford, Arsene Wenger’s side let a two goal lead slip to draw 3-3 with West Ham. Now that the title is out of reach, there should be less pressure on Arsenal and anything other than a home win would be a surprise.
Alexis Sanchez maintained his hot streak at Upton Park – adding a third goal adding to his four assists over the last five outings – while Mesut Ozil also netted to record his first returns over that period. After serving up two assists against the Hammers, Alex Iwobi confirmed his status as a bargain route into the Gunner’s midfield. The youngster has two goals and two assists in three starts.
Petr Cech could return after a four match absence, but is best avoided as David Ospina could retain the starting role. Safer bets are Laurent Koscielny who scored the equaliser against West Ham and Hector Bellerin. The full-back has created three goals and netted once over the last four matches.
Crystal Palace are looking for an unlikely third consecutive clean sheet for the first time this campaign. After the important win over Norwich, and a battling draw against Everton mid-week, Alan Pardew’s team have all but avoided relegation and may now take their foot off the pedal.
Scott Dann’s threat from set-pieces could be worth backing against an Arsenal defence that has conceded the second most attempts in the league from set pieces (23) over the last four (only West Ham have allowed more (24)). That also puts Yohann Cabaye on our radar, though the Frenchman is out of form. Conor Wickham should start after scoring four goals in two starts prior to a recent injury.
Alex Iwobi Midfielder Fpl 4.6, PlayOn 6.6
Alexis Sanchez Midfielder Fpl 10.9, PlayOn 14.5
Scott Dann Defender Fpl 5.7, PlayOn 7.3
Yohann Cabaye Midfielder Fpl 6.4, PlayOn 9.1
You can take me on in the gameweek 34 £500 guaranteed pot this week at PlayON and follow me on twitter @tomfenley.