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The Week Ahead - The Big EPL Finale

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Bad Kompany.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Bad Kompany. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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What a huge day Sunday will be. The title will be decided. Third place will be decided. 18th place will be decided. Nik, Jeremy, and Neal will fight it out for bragging rights after Season One of the Never Manage Alone era. And... As an added bonus Neal and Jeremy will be in the same place to blog for the first time in recent memory and certainly for the first time since we started doing live chats. Throw in some lovely Southern California weather and the chance to see some other friends out here and it is shaping up to be an amazing (long) weekend.

Before we get to all the fun though, teams must be selected. I must admit to everyone that come this time of year I generally start defaulting to players and teams that "have a lot to play for". A couple problems with this theory. First, if a team has something to play for then it REALLY means that two (or more) teams have something to play for like the title or a Champions League spot or to avoid relegation. As it turns out, only one of the teams with that particular thing to play for will actually achieve it. Someone will stumble or choke or put in a solid performance but come up short because they were playing from behind in the standings and the team they were chasing also won. There is no evidence to say that having something to play for predicts performance. I think all of us who bet on Chelsea over Liverpool on Tuesday can attest to this. Chelsea was still within distance of fourth whereas Liverpool was DONE and Liverpool just CRUSHED the Blues.

I think the only reason to focus to some extent on teams with something left to play for is that their line-ups will be somewhat more predictable. We KNOW the managers of the top 5 clubs and those fighting at the bottom will put out their best team. We may not always know what that team is but we have a pretty good idea. Alternatively, a team like Chelsea who are locked into sixth place (and who would have bet on that at the start of the season no matter the odds given?) could play someone like Romelu Lukaku because, why not? Still, there will be entirely meaningless matches and we shouldn't overlook them if we have even reasonable assurance that a specific player will play.

With that, we're off to the final EPL player picks of 2011-12. Thanks again to everyone who made the leap with us from our old blogs and to those of you who found us here for the first time. The chats, comments, FanPosts and other interactions have been great. I think I can speak for Jeremy and Nik when I say this has been our best year yet and we look forward to it continuing to get better I the future.

Forwards

  • Sergio Aguero - I'd probably bet on van Persie for more points but unless you have a great discount then Kun is the best combination of price and potential to explode (in a good way).
  • Carlos Tevez - The benefit here is that he isn't terribly expensive for a guy who could hit for a hat trick. Not saying he will but for 12 and change there's the possibility which is nice.
  • Romelu Lukaku - it isn't certain that he'll start but watch the team news and remember how cheap he is. If he gets a SOT as a sub he's worth the investment. If he scores, he's a steal. Heck if he gets two SOTs he's a steal.
  • Franco di Santo - Just one of Nicky Butt's patented funny feelings except I had it on a Thursday
  • Andy Carroll - He seems to be coming up big when the pressure is off.
Midfielders
  • Florent Malouda - over the years I've learned to trust Jeremy's gut - not that he has a gut with all the triathlon training he does.
  • Rafael van der Vaart - our last VDV recommendation of the year and I recommend that in honor of it that everyone commenting post a link in the comments to their favorite Sylvie photo. That should make the comments even better reading than usual.
  • Samir Nasri - because he's not that expensive and wouldn't it just figure that he'd get he title winning goal after being so useless all season just to piss me off and give Luke (Huge Tracts of Land) something to tease me about all Summer.
  • Maxi Rodriguez - Because the last day of the season is a Maxi brace sort of a day.
  • Tomas Rosicky - because a random Arsenal midfielder will score and lightning isn't likely to hit Yossi twice and seems very unlikely to hit Ramsey at all (at least not in a good way)
Defenders
  • Vincent Kompany - not likely to hit huge but seems like a solid investment in a fairly certain decent return. Plus, he's just a bad@ss and even in fantasy I'd rather have a bad@ss on my team.
  • William Gallas - I don't love it but the price is right.
  • Tim Ream - see Gallas, William
  • Paolo Ferriera - if you need a cheapie who may well start as Chelsea puts all their CL Final-eligible first team defenders is shrink wrap
  • Oriel Romeu - another inexpensive player who could get a start with a good match-up
  • Outside of those choices, I'd look at the team news for young players who may get a chance at a cheap price.
Goalkeepers
  • Joe Hart - yup, I found a way to do it.
  • Szczesny - if you believe Arsenal can do it this weekend
  • Pepe Reina - if you think Swansea is toast (which they've certainly been resembling down the stretch)
  • Ross Turnbull - if you're desperate and want to bet on Chelsea's B team to offset the expensive players from City, Spurs, Arsenal and wherever else you may be buying.
If you're wondering why I'm down on Manchester United compared to City, it isn't my anti-United bias (which I definitely have) it's more that if given the choice between expensive City or United players, I favor he City ones. If your gut tells you this wil be United's big weekend then I wouldn't begrudge you substituting Rooney, Valencia, and Hernandez over Aguero, Tevez, and Nasri. I could also see mixing and matching. That just isn't what my gut is telling me.