Thursday, 19 May 2011

Week 38 - Player Picks

Week 38 - the final week of the 2010/2011 Premier League season - is here, and with that comes my final Player Picks posts of the season.

It's always a very difficult weekend to pick a team for as there's often a carnival atmosphere at grounds on the final Sunday, especially where things have already been secured or there is very little to play for. Manager's are likely to give fringe/youth players a run-out, games can descend in to training ground matches and you end up with some quite strange results.

For these reasons you should look to avoid picking too many players from teams whose seasons are pretty much over already and focus on players involved in the fight for survival and the race for Europe. This has led me to a different approach this week, looking at individual teams rather than stand-out fixtures.

Lets start with the "nothing to play for" teams...

Man Utd
Aston Villa

West Ham
West Brom

I suppose a lot of the sides in mid-table could still improve on their final league positions which will earn them some extra prize-money, but there's no specific target for any of them, so it's unpredictable how the teams will line-up and how motivated players will be to perform. I don't expect any side to roll-over easily - especially those playing in front of their own fans - but I'm wary nonetheless.

Man Utd are already Champions and have a Champions League final next weekend, so they'll rest most the first choice XI. Chelsea and Everton meet at Goodison where neither side can improve their league position, Villa have a tough home game vs Liverpool and out-of-form Bolton face majorly in-form Man City.

Fulham host an Arsenal side looking to end a disappointing season on a high note, Newcastle and West Brom, two very evenly matched teams, face-off at St James' Park and relegated West Ham and Sunderland meet in a game neither side will want to play.

If I had any preference out of these teams it would be Man Utd, a winning mentality existing throughout the squad, with some big names still involved (Berbs, Nani) and Newcastle, with 50,000 Geordies cheering them on after a fine 1st season back in the top flight and a Top 10 finish possible. Other than that, not a lot to get excited about.

No such worry for the teams fighting to avoid relegation, to avoid the qualifying rounds of the Champions League or to to secure Europa League football....

Wolves - Survival
Blackburn - Survival
Wigan - Survival
Blackpool - Survival
Birmingham - Survival
Spurs - Europa
Liverpool - Europa
Man City - 3rd Place
Arsenal - 3rd Place

Wolves have hit form at the right time and I expect them to beat Blackburn, which will leave Blackburn looking at other results in their hope for survival. Wigan could grab 3 points as they travel to a Stoke team broken by their FA Cup final loss, with injuries starting to mount up.

Blackpool will go for it at Old Trafford, and even though I think United might win, it'll be a very open game with lots of attacking points available. Spurs host Birmingham, with Spurs needing a win to secure 5th and Birmingham needing a win to get out of trouble, so it should be a cracker!

Liverpool have had a great run in the past few months and will still believe they can grab 5th if they win at Villa and Birmingham do them a favour. Man City are flying and I expect them to win at Bolton to secure an automatic Champions League spot, while Arsenal will be trying to claw back 3rd from them to avoid the qualifying rounds.

I expect all 9 of these teams to be setting out with the intent to attack and win their games. This is likely to mean we see less clean sheets, but there'll be more chances for defenders to pick up points by getting forward at set pieces and winning tackles/blocking the numerous goal attempts coming  their way. Obviously it's the midfielders and strikers where you'll really see the benefit, with goals, assists and attacking points galore!

With all that in mind, for the final time this season, here are the players...


Cudicini has played the last 2 games for Spurs and conceded just 1 goal, the own goal by Crouch which he had no chance with. The defence looks solid with King alongside Dawson, so he could be a fine option. Krul is dirt cheap and Newcastle have a good chance of a win at home to West Brom (Odem/Brunt giving him save opportunities), while Hennessey is my pick of the relegation threatened keepers, at home to Blackburn.


Quite a random array of options here - even though Verm scored poorly vs Villa we know what he's capable of, so at 5.6 he really is the pick of the bunch. I can't see Fabio starting the Champions League final so I think he'll continue, while Ledley King was immense against Liverpool despite it being his first game since October and I expect him to show his class against Birmingham.

Jody Craddock has been in the list as a filler for the past couple of week, but I've always been aware that he carries a goal threat at set plays (5 PL goals last season) and he proved it last weekend - he remains a great pick this weekend. Kaboul is a cheaper option than King if you want a Spurs defender while Wilson is a guaranteed starter for Stoke at a price that will enable you to spend more elsewhere.

John Spector is playing midfield for West Ham and is below 4, while Mr Heitinga closes the defenders list. He's only a filler, priced below 2.00, but be prepared for possible negative points from the tough tackling Dutchman.

VDV*/Modric (*injury dependent)
Hitz (@5 only)

A definite relegation feel to the top 4 in this list, Charlie Adam, Charles N'Zogbia, Jamie O'Hara & Seb Larsson are the set piece takers for Blackpool, Wigan, Wolves & Birmingham and I expect them to be behind everything good their sides do this weekend, with plenty of successful crosses and various other attacking points. My preference is the order I've listed them, although Adam will stretch the budget at full price.

I'm fairly certain Nani will start the CL final on the bench with Fergie preferring Park, Giggs, Carrick, Fletcher & Valencia in the bigger games. I therefore think he'll get a start this weekend and you have to think he'll (a) be looking to impress, and (b) have plenty of chances to score great points in an open game. Van Der Vaart would be a great pick but he's a doubt with a calf injury - Modric would take set pieces & penalties in his absence with Bale out.

Ryan Taylor is an old YFF favourite, a fantastic option with terrific dead-ball delivery when fit, which sadly for him has been rare this season. The good news now is he's back, and I grabbed him on the barndoor at 5 last weekend, but even at current price he's a good pick. Hitz should be kept if you have him at 5, Ward is still priced at 4, playing as a support-striker and Paul Scholes could be set for his final Old Trafford appearance.

Van Persie
DJ Campell

Tevez was back with a bang on Tuesday night and as noted by Neal in The Week Ahead, it looks like a straight shoot-out for the Golden Boot between the City man and Dimitar Berbatov. They're currently tied on 21 goals each, so expect both to start - and shoot at every opportunity! Van Persie would've been up there had he been fit, but 17 goals is still a fine return and I'm sure he'll add to his total at Fulham.

The pick of the relegation strikers are Wolves' Fletcher, whose goals have been vital in the run in, Hugo Rodallega, who is dangerous and should score more goals and DJ Campbell, a player who has surpassed everyone's expectations with 13 goals. All 3 are fine choices as they look to fire their teams to survival.

Luiz Suarez goes to Villa looking to finish his half-season at Liverpool with another strong performance so I'm probably keeping him at 7. Ba is one of the few bright spots in West Ham's torrid campaign so despite his price he's not a bad call and the final player in my players list is Michael Owen, who should start alongside Berbatov and who costs just 1.75.

Done for the season!

My own team looks like this at the moment:

Krul, Craddock, Wilson, Vermaelen, Hitzlsperger, R.Taylor, N'Zogbia, Adam, Suarez, Van Persie, Tevez

I'm still holding Cudicini & Kaboul at discount behind the scenes and I'm still considering Fabio, O'Hara, Nani & Berbatov. There's no doubt my strike-force + Adam is hurting other areas of my team, so it's possible I make some quite big changes before deadline. I'll let you know what those are once I know!

Remember that the deadline for Week 38 is midday (UK time) on SUNDAY, so my Update post will be written on Saturday afternoon. I'll be at my mate (Wolves fan) Luke's birthday BBQ all day/night and I'm taking my laptop with me to write it, so expect the post to be written in stages, with the quality taking a severe nose-dive as beer consumption increases. Hopefully Wolves will be celebrating survival come Sunday - out of all the teams they're the side I'd most like to see stay up.

Two final things:

1. With no football over the summer I'll be taking a bit of a break from blogging in the off season, but I'll definitely be back next season. There may well be some changes coming, so please join the AM Blog Facebook Group or follow me on Twitter to allow me to keep you updated on any exciting developments!

2. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for all your amazing support this season. The blog continues to be hard work but it is 100% worth it when I see the community we've created here; the fantastic comments offering advice to your fellow players, the non-stop assistance in the chatroom and the amazing success people have had, with the [AM.Blog] tag littering the leaderboard. I'm very proud to have started it all but I'm even prouder to be a part of what it's become.

I'll leave it there. Please let me know how your final team of the season is shaping up and I'll see you back here for the drunken Saturday Update post!



Anonymous said...

First, sorry rwlwhite

Nicky said...

thx nick v.nice post and helpful as always. ur hardwork all years is noticed and apprciate it. pls could you provide me a email address for u? I like to send a small donation but dont like use paypal, soz!

Anonymous said...

I beleive O'Hara will be on P.k's?

Anakin Fung said...

Great post as always AM... But u missed out one player who still have something to play for - Fernando Torres.... LOL


bengoh91 said...

It's the last gameweek of the season! I'm going to be dead bored for the next 3 months! =(

Best post of the season, Nik! Very well written and excellent analysis of the final gameweek. Thanks for all the hard work and dedication you put into the blog. Looking forward to seeing you next season! =)

This week is tough due to a lack of funds as the strikers that are most sought after (Berbatov, RVP and Tevez) are very expensive. Even with the cheap options in defence, I find myself with a lack of funds. I want to have all three but just can't afford it. I'm even struggling to form a good team with RVP and Tevez as I don't have Tevez pre-update. In FPL, I'll probably have my dream strikeforce though.=p This probably means I'll end up with a Berbatov-RVP-Suarez strikeforce in my YFF team, although I would really like Tevez in there. Will see if I can fit him in without damaging the balance of the rest of my team.

My team as it stands:

Vermaelen Craddock Heitinga
VDV@6 Hitz Adam O'Hara
Suarez Van Persie Tevez

I don't like the look of Krul and Heitinga in there but they are necessary evils to afford both Tevez and RVP. I can choose to downgrade RVP to Berbatov and upgrade the defence but not sure if it is worth it seeing as RVP is in good form whereas Berba hasn't played for a long time and may have lost his sharpness. Spending 42 units (almost half my budget) on two strikers is killing me. If they misfire, I'm going to have a poor week.

Lots of season-defining decisions to be made. Currently ranked 158 and hoping to break into the top 100 for the first time in my YFF career.

bengoh91 said...

@Fung: Torres has been an absolute flop this season. His 50 million price tag was due to his reputation. In YFF terms, everyone was saying he is due and will come good and the age-old phrase: Form is temporary. Class is permanent. But it has never happened and he has scored just one goal since joining Chelsea. Moreover he is not a good phantom point scorer and always scores poorly without a goal.

lucidswirl said...

Kicking around keeping Sturridge at 2.XX rather than dropping Cudicini (rather than Pepe) for Krul to afford Berbs. That would let me get O'Hara rather than Taylor, and I'd still have 5 in the bank with a squad I'm quite happy with.

HarambeeStars said...

Nik, this blog is fantastic and a huge thank you for your hard work every week.

Just to put things into perspective, I found this blog in December and my rank went from 25,248 to 3,375 (332 overall for 2nd half)!!!!

This week I'm hoping to break the top 3000 and to do so I'm putting my faith in Torres! ;)

I wish everyone an amazing summer and see you all next season!!!


KRB said...


Brilliant observation on Tevez/Berba. Would never have thought of it. Certainly shook up my entire side to fit them in, and even dumped a few discounts who as you point out, have nothing more to play for. Currently:

Verm - King - Wilson - Spector
Modric - Zogbia - Scholes - R.Taylor
Berb - Tevez

Assistant Manager said...

KRB - Thank Neal on FantasyEPL for that one, it was his Week Ahead post that triggered it for me, I hadn't even realised how close it was between Berbs & Tevez! :)

Emon said...

my current line up is...


possibly tryin to get rid of 3 players hart,zenden,anichebe, which trio would you go with? i like the second one the best.



hennessey or cudicini, zenden, r.taylor

hart, ohara, riveros

Ken M. said...

An old joke has raised it's head around these parts and for whatever reason, I may live to regret, I feel a need to share. Sort of a going away for the summer thing. It (can be) offensive to some so please do not continue (mainly women) if certain words are not to your liking. Sorry in advance if that is the case:

A little boy comes home from school and is somewhat confused because he has heard certain words being said on the playground that he does not know the meaning of. He figures he would go ask his mom. He calls her over and explains the situation and asks if she would help. "Sure son" what are the words?
The boy whats a pussy?
The mom replies..well, that's a cat son
The boy then asks..then whats a bitch?
The mom replies...well, that's a female dog son.

The boy thanks his mom and leaves but is still confused as the definitions just did not add up.

The boy figures he would go ask his dad to see if things could be made clearer...

He goes into the family room and explains the same situation to his father and asked he if could help with the words.

"Sure son" What are the words?
Dad...whats a pussy?
The dad figures old enough to ask.. old enough to know.
The dad reaches under his chair and pulls out a Playboy and opens it up to the centerfold..takes his pen out and draws a circle around the woman's pussy.
SEE THERE SON...That there is a pussy!
Great said the son..that makes a lot more sense

The boy asks...then whats a bitch???


Sorry ....

Good luck all!

Irons said...

Great post Nik. Another storming season's blogging from you!

I'd be careful on the Spector pick as Parker and Collison are back. He probably won't play. Seeing Adam on the top of the midfield picks has made me bash my head against a wall even harder. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I sold him, a stupid decision right at the death! Anyway, plenty of other choices I suppose.

Good luck all!

Stefan said...

Thank you for all your help AM! It has been another fantastic Fantasy season! I'm 292nd and I hope to break into the top 250 which would not be impossible!This is mainly because of your blog! My current team is:

Hitz,O'Hara,VdV, Modric


I'll probably drop Kolarov,VdV but I will need some help ... for the last time this season :)

Wish you all fantastic scores!


MB said...

I'd be very surprised if ANY of the 17 players that will be involved vs Barca make the Untied team on the weekend. The United squad will be the same that played Chelsea. The only one that may play is Valencia because he needs minutes on the pitch.

I wouldn't expect Fabio, Berbatov or Nani to play. Its more likely that Lindegaard, Fletcher, Rafael, Obertan and Owen will play. And I'm picking Gibson as he'll be on most FKs. I'd expect to see a stand out performance from Paul Pogba if selected, its a shame he's not in the YFF game - from what I've seen and heard he will be special.

Anyway, my team:

foster, verma, king, craddock, valencia, gibson, modric, adam, nzog, fletcher & H-Rod.

Stefan said...

I just made a nice change and I like my team better:

Hitz,O'Hara,Nani, Modric

Looks better!


Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Great stuff as always, AM! Thanks for everything you do...I hope you're thinking of charging a modest fee for access to the blog starting next year. It would probably go a long way to chasing some of the clowns from this site, will remunerate you for your efforts and might also fund a prize or two for winners of the various AM Blog cup competitions. I think YFF should do the same thing, btw...if it charged $5/team and actually invested the funds in some back office support, we'd have a much better game experience.

Currently, my last lineup of the year looks like:

Vermaelen Craddock Kaboul
O'Hara Hitz Adam N'Zog
Suarez Tevez Berbatov

I still own Lampard and Modric at discounts in the background. I could swap out Kaboul for Fabio. Really hoping that if I do stick with Berbs, he does not leave a bad taste in my mouth during the offseason as he rarely (never?) comes through for me when I pick him.

Doctor Teeth

kendo said...

Great post nik it's gonna be a long summer!

Top of my own private league by only 10points so this needs to be a good week

Lescott Vermaelen kaboul
Adam hitzl r Taylor Modric
Rvp Suarez ba

Any advice?


greginho said...

great season to all and thanks for the blog nik.
my last team is a little different.
ben foster
vermaelen, fabio, craddock
van der vaart, mulumbu, m taylor, ashley young
van persie, suarez, odemwingie

i am trying to make up some ground so am rolling the dice. villa always play well and usually beat teams bigger than them, so i expect a win over liverpool and a brace for ashley. i can afford adam, but everyone has him.

mulumbu and m taylor are really not picks i like, but could work out. the player i most want is larsson, so i might change them to larsson and stephen ward.

girish Ramjuttun said...

Mate thanks for your fantastic work all this time

Anonymous said...

how come Stoke isnt listed in neither Teams "nothing to play for" OR "something to play for"?

Alexandra IX said...

Any thoughts on Kranjcar? will he play if VDV is injured?

munafix said...

this one will be week 38 FAQ:
1. (flecher/rodalega)+king+hitz
2. hitingga+scholes+tevez

no 1 or 2?

Anonymous said...

Well i have fletcher Hitz King and Tevez. So its neither 1 or 2

Ian Sanderson said...

Taking a gamble with Green in goal this week.

Ken M, I stuck up for you in the last thread but remember this is a FF site not a joke site, especially such an old vulgar one, lol.

Ken M. said...


Point well taken...

Look at it as one LAST rookie mistake from a guy before he thinks.

I will make the attempt to hold true to form on all other future post.

Good luck to you this week...

IndoSietsmas said...

Hey AM, we do have some decent football this summer! What about the Copa America in Argentina?

capiTeno said...

no loving for barton this week ? set pieces and home to west brom

S.P. said...

finally got round to joining this "signing in" lark ! :) . another top post from AM. i've over 100 pt lead in my pvt lge but i still don't feel 100% safe as this is not a normal week. didn't chelsea smack wigan for 9 on last day of last season. glad fergie has confirmed Berbs. bit worried now about Tevez openly stating he wants to leave. hopefully the race to be top scorer should ensure he plays & is motivated.

good luck to all ! ( apart from my direct opponents ;) ).

gman26 said...

Although the logic to stay away from teams that have nothing to play for makes sense, I guarantee there will be a brace or hat-trick from one of those teams. Professional athletes are professional for a reason. They are paid to do their job. They are not going to just lay down because the game means nothing. Maybe they are looking to impress their manager, there could be a contract incentive or Mom is in the stands. Whatever it is, I wouldn't shy away from a good matchup with a sure starter.

KRB said...


I currently have King, but Yahoo Fantasist reckons Skrtel is a better pick over King. Thoughts?

kwyjibo said...

@IndoSietsmas - Thank you, yes, I will be watching!

paulyff said...


Hi to all for the last time this season- if you’re looking for a bargain then look no further!

Krul Newc 1.76 H **
Carson WBrom 3.45 A *
Friedel A Villa 5.04 H *
Jaaskelainen Bolt 5.19 H **

Craddock Wolv 4.74 H **
Wilson Stoke 4.47 H **
Vermaelen Ars 5.59 H **
Heitinga Evert 1.95 H **
Fabio Man U 4.89 H ** ?
Spector Wham 3.93 H * ?

Scholes ManU 1.90 H ** (He might get less vicious for his last match for the club?!)
Reo-Coker Avilla 4.12 H *
Kranjcar Tott 4.92 H ** ?
Riveros Sund 1.59 A *
Scharner WBrom 5.64 A **
Ward Wolv 4.21 H *

Owen ManU 1.75 H ** ?
Anichebe Evert 5.17 H *
Ranger Newc 2.19 H **

* Good filler ** Top pick
H – Home ; A – Away match
?= Check team sheets & updates!

Thanks to you Nik for another season of your clarity, investment & great writing.
It’s been a pleasure to read you, and to take part in this tantalising game with you all.
Good luck

kwyjibo said...

Some stats from OptaJoe on Twitter:

Only two away players have scored at Old Trafford on the final day of the Premier League (Tevez 2007, Les Ferdinand 1999).

Note: Not looking good for Blackpool?

Spurs have had more shots blocked (187) en route to goal than any other Premier League team.

Sunderland are the only team to have played in at least 5 PL seasons & NEVER won on the final day.

There has been only one red card in West Ham's 37 PL games, fewer than any other team.

Torres scored with 22% of shots with Liverpool, compared to 7% with Chelsea.

Fleeties said...

I need opinions on this one, its either

Cudicini/ Fabio/ Suarez @7.2
(Cudo and Fabs aren't playing?)


Krul/ Heitinga/ Berbatov

Saul said...

hey AM - I was thinking of loading up on Arsenal players since they're against Fulham(possible europa league spot due to fair play). I remember when Middlesbourg or somebody played Manchester city on the last day a few years back and had a possibility to qualify for the competion for the same reasons and the game ended 8-3 in City's favor. I'm assuming Fulham will be hesitant to tackle and giving Arsenal lots of space and chances. What do you think?

gaius marius said...

credit to AM and the rest of you lot for making this the best YFF blog out there. finding it has been a revolution in my experience with YFF, so thanks for that.

gaius marius said...

oh right, and...


verm - craddock - king

n'zog - o'hara - adam - VdV or anderson

suarez - s fletcher - berbatov

gaius marius said...

VdV, odemwingie out...

kwyjibo said...

I was all set to drop Kolarov after the big 0 last week, but now this:

"The news appears to be less encouraging on Pablo Zabaleta however and he is set to miss out having undergone stitches to the head wound suffered against Stoke. That should mean a start for Aleksandar Kolarov at full-back."

@4.43 he's cheaper than both Craddock and Wilson. So now I think I'll keep him.

Kicking myself for missing N'Zog on the BD, that's hurting right now. Not sure what to do about the goalie yet, still have Carson @1:


I want to switch Sturridge to Berbs but don't have the funds. So I'll probably have to switch him for somebody else, especially if I want to upgrade the goalie.

SCOTT said...

Looks like for the final:

S. Carson
J. Lescott
J. Craddock
L. King
D. Silva
J. O'Hara
Sebastian Larsson
Stephen Ward
E. Dzeko
D. Berbatov
C. Tévez

Thanks again Nik, getting better every year thanks to you and all the fellow posters on board here. Went from overall 2400ish total points last year (1st season) to easily over 3000 this go around.

Cheers everyone!


kendo said...

kwyjibo switch carson to krul and see the fun you will have with the extra £ and berbs!

kendo said...

lescott vermaelen kaboul
adam hitzl nzog modric
suarez rvp berbs

feel better now with krul giving me more choices!

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