Apologies for my lack of input over the past month. As I mentioned in the deadline countdown thread on Saturday, a change of roles at work has changed my life in terms of travelling and workload and it is making it very difficult to find the spare time to do any writing. I'm hoping things will level out, but for now I'm extremely thankful to Neal and Jeremy for carrying the blog.
A quick word on Week 28 - I had a very poor time of it with a meagre 68 points halting my charge up the standings and I expect that I may well find myself out of the NMA Blog Cup when I calculate the results early next week. For the record, I currently sit 250th overall on 2,703 points.
Now only 12 teams have matches in Week 29 so it's a blank for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Fulham, West Ham & Wigan. With time running out you shouldn't be taking zeros to keep discounts, although Santi Cazorla @5 is the exception to that rule.
From the teams that do play the games appear evenly matched with the exception of Newcastle v Stoke, where I'm expecting a comfortable home win.
Many of the relegation threatened teams face each other - QPR v Sunderland, Reading v Aston Villa, Norwich v Southampton - and we have an interesting battle between 8th & 9th in West Brom v Swansea before the week concludes with Liverpool v Tottenham on Sunday. Every team needs points for different reasons, be it survival or European qualification, so I'd expect some open, attacking games and plenty of goals.
The players I'm looking at are below.
Elliot - Newcastle's reserve keeper has a good chance of a clean sheet at home to Stoke and he's dead cheap so there's no reason to look elsewhere unless you're holding Lloris long-term.
Harte - Set piece king Ian Harte is worth a look as Reading host Villa.
Debuchy - He's made a solid start to his Newcastle career and has a clean sheet chance.
Samba - The man-mountain's price has stayed reasonable despite some good early fantasy returns and QPR will be lifted by the vital 3 points at Southampton.
Assou-Ekotto - Should start again after keeping Theo Walcott quiet on Sunday and is well priced considering the output he often produces.
S.Kelly - Cheap, at home and guarenteed to start.
Yang-Mbiwa - Ditto for this man if Fabricio Coloccini remains on the sidelines.
Bale - The lack of games for many of the big teams means you'll have a lot of spare cash so Bale @ 36 may not be out of the question. Is he worth it? You'll have to decide.
Cabaye - He's playing as well as I've seen him since he joined Newcastle and the fact he's on set pieces give him the edge over Sissoko this week.
Coutinho - I'm fairly sure he delivers my newspapers each morning but you can't deny the impact he's had in his first few games and he must be strongly considered despite in form Tottenham coming to town.
Sissoko - Still an excellent choice for the Stoke game.
Ramirez - With Adam Lallana apparently injured again (he was subbed after 40 minutes on Saturday) Gaston Ramirez is my choice. He's been playing just behind Lambert and is capable of causing Norwich problems.
Michu - A tricky trip to West Brom, but this is Michu we're talking about, and his price is back down to 11 and change.
Sessegnon - Steph looks like he might be going on one of the those runs where he looks really good for 4 or 5 games before settling back in to medicority. QPR beware.
Suarez - Brilliant at Wigan, at the top of his game - if you're spending big on one player I'd choose him over Bale.
Snodgrass - He's enjoyed a fine first season in the Premier League and is an outstanding pick at home to Southampton.
Remy - He's not fully fit but Remy is already showing his quality and Sunderland's defence won't be looking forward to facing his pace and power.
Lukaku - Should be restored to the line-up after missing the game against his parent club Chelsea and has been in terrific form.
Benteke - I love Christian Benteke, he's one of my favourite players in the Premier League at the moment and he is Villa's sole hope of staying up.
Lambert - Southampton's talisman and penalty taker is worth a look for the trip to Norwich.
- Capable of the spectacular.
My current team is
Lloris, S.Kelly, Debuchy, Harte, Cazorla, Ramirez, Coutinho, Cabaye, Snodgrass, Remy, Suarez
I must admit, I kinda love it.
How's your team shaping up?