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AM's Week 38 Player Picks

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It's there for the taking boys ...
It's there for the taking boys ...

So here we are - the final week of the 2011/2012 Premier League season. It's been a magnificent 10 months of football - one of my favourite seasons since the Prem began in 1992 - and it's all set for a thrilling conclusion on Sunday as teams battle it out for the title, Champions League places and to avoid relegation.

It's also been a fantastic year for Neal, Jeremy & myself, with our new partnership and our move to SBNation for the creation of Never Manage Alone proving hugely successful. Thank you for all your support and contributions, it makes the blog what it is and we're excited about the future as things continue to grow.

Now Neal has already summed up exactly how I feel about Week 38 regarding the teams who have something to play for. A team having something to play for doesn't guarantee the players from that teams will perform above and beyond those who don't have anything up for grabs, but it does mean we have a far better idea over starting line-ups, as you're likely to see the strongest XI possible out there on the pitch for the vital final game.

The teams with something to play for are:

Manchester City (Title)
Manchester United (Title)
Arsenal (3rd/4th/5th)
Tottenham Hotspur (3rd/4th/5th)
Newcastle (3rd/4th/5th)
Queens Park Rangers (Survival)
Bolton Wanderers (Survival)

Manchester City are at home to QPR which makes City players very attractive and QPR players far less so despite the fact they'll be fighting for a result to avoid the drop. Manchester United face a tricky trip to Sunderland but it's a game you expect them to win, while Arsenal have a tough game at the Hawthorns as West Brom look to give Roy Hodgson a big send off; the Gunners will need RvP at his best. Spurs are up against a Fulham side in good form, but Jol's men rarely play well on the road, so I'm expecting (praying) for a home win. It's tough to get excited about Newcastle travelling to Everton who will be looking to finish the season on a flourish in front of their own fans and I'm sensing a score draw. The team battling it out with QPR for survival is Bolton, and they MUST win at Stoke to have any chance of staying in the Premier league - a big ask, but something they are capable of.

Away from these teams you have to fancy Chelsea to give already relegated Blackburn a hiding, despite the fact they'll rest players ahead of the Champions League next weekend. They still have a very strong squad of players to choose from including the players suspended from the final - Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ramires and Raul Meireles - who should all start (although Meireles is a slight injury doubt). I'd also expect Wigan to beat Wolves and Norwich to beat Aston Villa, although it's difficult to judge if full strength teams will be on display in these fixtures. The same goes for Swansea v Liverpool, where I'm predicting a draw.

With all that information in mind, here are the players I recommend considering for Week 38.

KEEPERS
Ruddy - Norwich have had a terrific season and Ruddy has played a big part. I expect a win and possible clean sheet at home to a poor Villa side.
Al-Habsi - A major factor in Wigan's survival (how Bolton could've done with him), another win and possible clean sheet at home to rock bottom Wolves
Friedel - If you're confident of a Spurs win then Friedel at home to Fulham is a good option with his price dipping after red numbers last weekend.
Turnbull - We're await team news but there's a decent chance Petr Cech will be rested again; if so Turnbull at home to Blackburn for 1.76 is close to a no-brainer.

DEFENDERS
Ivanovic - His price plunged after a poor performance at Liverpool, he should be guaranteed a start against Blackburn and we all know his goal potential.
P.Jones - With Jonny Evans & Chris Smalling out, gigantic man-child Phil Jones will continue at Sunderland and is great obtainer of phantom points from his all action style.
Gallas - Likely to be shifted out to left-back with Benoit Assou-Ekotto out and Danny Rose suspended, can do a job there and is nice and affordable.
Naughton - Bit of a hunch that he could have a strong week against Villa.
Ream - For the simple reason that he's starts every game, rarely gets booked and more-or-less returns his value with or without a clean sheet.
Ferreira - Should get a start at full-back as RDM keeps his defence fresh for next weekend.
Romeu - Should get a start in the holding role as RDM keeps his midfield fresh for next weekend.
Boyata - Back in favour with the Bolton manager and playing very well; always looks dangerous from set pieces too.

MIDFIELDERS
Van Der Vaart - I've discarded Bale from the list as his form just hasn't been good enough. If you want to spend big on a Spurs middie, it has to be VDV.
Nasri - Like Neal, I have a feeling he'll pop up with a goal this weekend;'I definitely prefer him over David Silva
Valencia - Another hunch here; his workrate should mean he gets the the start on the right leaving Young & Nani to fight it out for the other wing. He's been quiet recently and is due a big performance.
Y.Toure - Saved City last weekend and could find himself starting in that advanced role against QPR.
Ramires - Will surely start with his suspension next weekend and has started adding goals to an already excellent all-round game.
Rosicky - He'll be making Arsenal tick from his position behind RvP and is well priced in a must-win game
M.Petrov - Bolton's star man during the run in and now on penalty duty as well, what's not to like? His price sadly, but he could reward those taking the risk.
Malouda - Another Chelsea player unlikely to start in Munich next weekend and therefore has a decent chance of starting against Blackburn
Beausejour - If you want a Wigan midfielder this weekend then lean towards Beausejour who has been unbelievably consistent with the fantasy points since joining.
Lennon - If can't stretch to VDV then Aaron Lennon is an interesting and affordable option. This is his last chance to impress Hodgson before the Euro 2012 squad is announced so I'm expecting a performance.

STRIKERS
Aguero - Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Sergio Aguero can crown a superb first season in the Premier League with a couple of goals to seal the title. He'll be my captain in the FPL fantasy game.
van Persie - Enough has been said already; just know that he'll give everything to secure 3rd for the Gunners.
Tevez - A great alternative to AGuero; or why not have both? It's something i'm considering.
Holt - Grant Holt has one final chance to show Hogson what he can do and I'm expecting a goal or two from him. I'd take him to Poland as I honestly believe he's better than Andy Carroll at this point in time.
Di Santo - The striker has been really important to Wigan with Hugo Rodallega out injured for much of the season and could cap it off with a goal against Wolves.
Jelavic - Oh Jelly Jelly, tough game against Newcastle, but he's on a hot streak
K.Davies - Captain Kev will need to be at his boisterous best to get Bolton out of trouble so you know he'll be in the mood; a undoubtedly risky pick for fantasy managers looking to do something different
Kalou - Keep an eye on team news; a massive bargain if there's a hint he'll start.

That's it for the players - please remember the deadline this week is at 12:00BST on SUNDAY, so the Injuries & Suspensions post will be up tomorrow to ensure you have the latest information.

My own team currently looks like this:

Ruddy, Ream, P.Jones, Ivanovic, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Rosicky, Ramires, Tevez, Holt, Aguero

I love the back line and the forward line, but the midfield looks quite weak so I'll have to have another look at how I might be able to shuffle things about (possibly bringing Turnbull in to free up cash). I'm still holding van Persie at 28 in Aguero's spot, but those 4 extra units are very proving very handy for the rest of my team so it's a switch that's likely to become permanent.

So for the last time this season, that's it! Let me know how your own team is shaping up for the final week and I hope to see you back here on Sunday for the final Live Chats.