I'm really not a fan of double weeks for only two teams, but that's what we've got for Week 28 as Liverpool and Everton play out the Merseyside derby rearranged due to the clash with the Carling Cup Final.
The fixtures for the two teams are:
LIVERPOOL @ Sunderland
EVERTON v Tottenham
LIVERPOOL v EVERTON
Those of you who have followed me for the past couple of season will know I usually recommend filling your team with as many double game players as possible, especially when you have 4/6/8 teams to choose from, but both Liverpool and Everton face tough first fixtures against Sunderland and Spurs respectively before they meet each other in what is almost always a fiery clash, plus neither team's players have set the fantasy world on fire so far this season.
Add in the fact that there are some nice match ups for single gamers, plus of course many of us are holding players in red-hot form at big discounts, and for once I actually don't recommend gutting your entire team for the double gamers (DGers). However, it's always worth ensuring some representation from DGers to give you two bites of the cherry, so I think a nice balance of Liverpool (defenders in particular), Everton and single gamers is the way forward this week. Personally I'm expecting to field 5 or 6 DGers depending on team news.
Away from Everton & Liverpool, the teams with attractive fixtures for me are ...
ARSENAL v Newcastle - Arsenal seem to have turned the corner and I expect them to beat Newcastle comfortably at home.
NORWICH v Wigan - This could be a real thrashing, Norwich are excellent at home and Wigan are struggling.
I have a funny feeling Wolves could beat Blackburn while I also think Chelsea could beat Stoke, but I'm not 100% confident on either. Swansea could easily hold Man City to a draw at home and I'd avoid Bolton v QPR and Aston Villa v Fulham unless you're holding big discounts as I can see two low scoring draws.
Something else worth mentioning - Week 28 is the Semi-Final of The Blog Cup where we reduce the remaining 100 teams down to 40 ahead of the final in Week 32. However, please remember the Blog Cup is just a bit of fun, so never sacrifice your long term season aims / discounts for it (unless you really want to).
Right, lets have a look at the players ...
I wouldn't blame anyone for holding on to their existing goalkeeper at discount but if you're looking to bring in someone new for Week 28 then I'd choose paying 10.16 for Pepe Reina for the double week (as I've mentioned I expect Liverpool to keep at least 1 clean sheet) or Norwich's John Ruddy who had been playing very well and faces Wigan at home, priced at 7.62.
Distin / Jagielka
At the beginning of the week I wasn't even considering Leighton Baines because of his price, but then I started researching yesterday and it hit me. Despite his low average compared to his cost, he's guaranteed two starts, he's the Everton set piece and penalty taker who has the added bonus of possible clean sheet points. If you have the money I think he's worth it.
As for Liverpool defenders, Jose Enrique and Martin Skrtel are both around the 10.00 mark but guaranteed two starts and Jamie Carragher could also play twice in Daniel Agger's absence for the bargain price of 4.61. If you want to get involved in Everton's defence but can't afford Baines then I'd go for Sylvain Distin over Jonny Heitinga as the latter is a major c risk - although keep an eye on the news regarding the returning Phil Jagielka.
Away from the double gamers, I'm probably sticking with Onuoha at discount but my pick of the full price single gamers are Kieran Gibbs 6.43 for Arsenal at home to Newcastle, Jonny Evans for Man Utd at home to West Brom or Norwich's goal-line clearance expert Russell Martin against Wigan.
Kenny Dalglish has confirmed Steven Gerrard is back in training so I imagine he'll be fit to play but there's no doubt it's a risk as to whether he can start both games. At less than 10.00 I'll probably gamble on him as a set piece / penalty taker but if you don't want to take that risk then Charlie Adam is the alternative as he will play both, although he's pricier.
I barndoored Royston Drenthe and David Moyes has suggested they are starting to see the best of him, so I think he'll end up as my Everton representative, shooting from everywhere and being generally unpredictable. If you don't fancy Drenthe than Leon Osman's price has dropped and we all know he's capable of big scores on his day.
As for the single gamers, Ashley Young is back on the radar in a big way after his 2 goal salvo at Spurs last weekend. If Young can get back to his early season form then a home game against West Brom is definitely interesting, especially if you barndoored him last week for 12.62 (he's pricey now for a double week). Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has probably also done enough to earn himself a place back in the starting line-up after a magnificent showing against AC Milan and he's certainly someone I'm interested in now his price is back down to 6ish.
I think Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson is worth hanging on to at discount even at home to City given his recent form, Andrew Surman edges out Anthony Pilkington as my pick of the Norwich midfielders, Ryo Myachi could be a decent option at home to QPR having impressed since joining Bolton on loan and Wolves' Michael Kightly is a very cheap and should get a share of set pieces at home to Blackburn.
I imagine the majority of fantasy managers will be squeezing Luis Suarez in to their line-up this week and I'd say that's a wise move as Liverpool's main goal-threat across the 2 games (Craig Bellamy will probably only play one). Nothing much needs to be written about Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney - you know why I'm listing them here. they have home games and they will almost certainly score so hold them at discount. However, Norwich's Grant Holt is my pick of the single gamers at home to Wigan for a cost of 12.02.
Sergio Aguero's benching screwed many of us over last week but I'd expect to see him start upfront at Swansea and we know he's world class, so he remains on the list despite the tricky fixture. Pavel Pogrebnyak has had a sensational start to his Fulham career and could easily continue the goalscoring run at Aston Villa, QPR's Djibril Cisse is back from suspension and costs just 5.12 at Bolton and at the bottom of the list is Everton's Nikica Jelavic. who is listed only as a filler (1.61) and may get 20-30 minutes off the bench in both matches.
That's it for the players - there will be plenty of fallout from the midweek FA Cup and European matches so please ensure you check back here on Friday for the important team, injury and suspension news which should help clarify any doubts you may be having.
This is what I have on my team page at the moment ...
Reina, Onuoha, Carragher, Skrtel, Sigurdsson, Silva, Drenthe, Gerrard, Aguero, Pogregnyak, Suarez.
Currently on 6 double gamers - 5 Liverpool, 1 Everton - but it's definitely still a work in progress. As you can see I'm banking on at least one Liverpool clean sheet but I cannot shake the feeling that I need to fit Baines in - unfortunately his price is likely to be a bridge too far as I'm not prepared to lose discounts on Aguero, Siggy or Poggers.
However, I'm probably going to get rid of David Silva because I have Ashley Young held at 12ish behind the scenes which could prove a really handy discount for the run-in. It will require the downgrading of another player to free up a few units but Young is capable of big scores due to his direct approach and Silva's scores have been low for a while. I'd also love to field Grant Holt but I doubt I'll be able to fit him in.
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Let me know how your team is shaping up for Week 28. Are you still in The Blog Cup?