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Week 30 Player Picks: Big Buys and Bargains

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With the double weeks looming on the horizon, many managers could be forgiven for losing a bit of focus on their Week 30 teams. But, as Week 29 showed, a single week can have a major impact--positive or negative--on your overall ranking.

The eternal struggle: Getting the right balance of bargains and big purchases
The eternal struggle: Getting the right balance of bargains and big purchases
Laurence Griffiths

As I took a cursory look at the fixtures for this week, I noticed many of the players with the best match ups are in the premium price category, so I'll look to balance that out with a few bargains if possible. Of course, I won't skip over the mid-range options if they stand out, so let's jump into the fixtures and see what we come out with on the other end.

Hull City v. Manchester City

Everton v. Cardiff City

Fulham v. Newcastle

Southampton v. Norwich City

Stoke City v. West Ham United

Sunderland v. Crystal Palace

Swansea City v. West Bromwich Albion

Aston Villa v. Chelsea

Manchester United v. Liverpool

Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal

We'll have the lineup for the Hull-Man City match to kick off the weekend and close out with the North London derby between Spurs and the Gunners. On paper, the best overall options appear to be from Everton, Southampton, City and Chelsea, with consideration for attackers from Liverpool, United, Spurs and Arsenal. Let's get started!

Goalkeepers

Petr Cech - The biggest of big buys at the keeper position, Cech will cost you a hefty £18m+ at retail, but if you have him at any sort of discount, Chelsea seem to be in lockdown mode on defense as they inch their way closer and closer to the title, and with just a few saves, a clean sheet win against home strugglers Villa will earn Cech his value back.

Joe Hart - Hull still have a lot to fight for to stay in the league, so they could pose some problems at home against Manchester City, but the England #1 should still be considered as the Sky Blues look to keep pace with Chelsea. A clean sheet will go a long way to building team confidence ahead of the match against Manchester United next week.

Tim Howard - With United and Spurs facing difficult matches this week, Everton will surely view the match against Cardiff as an opportunity to improve their chances of a top four finish. The Bluebirds will be confident after their win over Fulham, but their road woes combined with the Toffees' strong home form provides the American with a good chance at a clean sheet.

Artur Boruc - If you grabbed Boruc on the Barn Door, he's the best of the bargain options for the Saints' home match against Norwich, but even at his £10m retail price tag he's a very good option against one of the weakest away offenses in the League.

Maarten Stekelenburg - With Newcastle safe but not looking likely to be involved in the fight for a European place this season, I like Fulham's chances for a win in this match as they look to pick up the pieces from the defeat at Cardiff last time out. The Dutch keeper's price is very enticing under £4m, and it won't take much to return value if you want to spend heavily elsewhere.

Gambler's Pick: Ben Foster - The cheapest starting option this week, Foster is currently priced just a shade over £2m. A trip to Wales for the match against Swansea may not be the best match up, but for the price it's reasonable to expect the England hopeful to return double his value. There aren't too many other options you can comfortably say that for. Of course, the gamble is that he could easily return that amount in the red, so buyer beware.

Defenders

Leighton Baines - Still among the top 7 scoring defenders for the season despite playing at least 4 fewer games than any of the players above him, Baines earns a spot in my picks this week despite his steep £17m price tag. I'm also a fan of Everton's matches during the double week, so if you won't be able to do any work on the barn door I'd highly recommend pulling Baines into your team a week early.

Joel Ward - I can't say enough about this man, and I still regret dropping him at 11 earlier in the season. A 15 point haul last weekend--without a clean sheet--should tell you the Palace man is well worth his price tag now that he's back in his preferred right back position.

Branislav Ivanovic - The Serbian is my choice of the Chelsea defenders this week, though they're all fairly similarly priced, so take your pick based on your personal preference if you like the clean sheet potential for the Blues this weekend. All are good picks in my opinion, but Ivanovic gets into the attack more regularly than any of his fellow defenders.

Aleksandar Kolarov - We'll have to see what team Manuel Pellegrini rolls out this weekend after starting with Kolarov in the defeat against Barcelona midweek, but if the Serbian gets another start he's well worth the investment against the Tigers. If Gael Clichy gets the nod at left back instead, Vincent Kompany is a good option at just over £11m.

Dejan Lovren - Southampton have benefitted greatly from the return of Lovren to the heart of defense after his ankle injury. He still managed to return 6 points last week despite being on -5 points at one point in the second half, and should have plenty of opportunities to rack up the points when his side welcome Norwich to St. Mary's.

John Arne Riise - Felix Magath surprised us all when he rolled out the Norwegian left back in midfield against Cardiff, with Kieran Richardson taking up the fullback role behind him. If we get any indication this trend is to continue against Newcastle, Riise's well worth a shout.

John Stones - If Baines is too pricy for you but you still want some Everton defensive coverage, young John Stones is a very affordable option as he fills in for the injured Phil Jagielka. It may even be worth considering both players if you feel strongly about the Toffees' chances of keeping Cardiff off the scoresheet at Goodison Park.

Gambler's Pick: Jordi Amat - With Chico Flores suspended for this match, Amat should be called upon to fill in at center back for the Swans. The defender's returns have been a bit of a mixed bag when he's played this season, but for a touch more than £5m he could be a cheeky pick for the home match against the Baggies.

Midfielders

Yaya Toure - Consistency has been the key to my personal success in fantasy of late, and Yaya has been City's most consistent performer in the midfield this season so I'm tipping him to continue with another good performance in the engine room, especially with Fernandinho allowing him the freedom to join the attack.

Adam Lallana - He disappointed us all (or at least the vast majority of us) with his paltry 3 point return last week, but the Saints captain continues to dazzle in real life even if he doesn't always return big points. I think he'll continue to be heavily involved in everything Southampton does against Norwich, and wouldn't be surprised to see a big score this match to make up for last week.

Jonathan De Guzman - The Swansea midfielder is similar to Lallana in that he either returns a big score or hardly anything, but I think he's worth a shot at home against a West Brom side that is dealing with a lot of issues right now. The fact that De Guzman takes kicks gives him the edge over Jonjo Shelvey, but he's also a solid choice.

Steve Sidwell - The Fulham midfielder was another popular choice who provided a disappointing return in Week 29, with Lewis Holtby taking the lions share of the points for the Cottagers. However, Sidwell was only marginally offside with the goal that was ruled out and I think he'll have more opportunities for points on both sides of the ball against a Newcastle side without their manager and without anything to play for.

Adam Johnson - The Black Cats have had a few weeks off in the League, so we haven't mentioned AJ's name in a while. He hasn't continued the form that earned him an England call-up in the past few matches, but I think he'll be desperate to work his way back into the conversation for the trip to Brazil and facing off against Crystal Palace could be just the platform he needs to make a statement.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - I've been really impressed by the Ox this season and I think his fantastic form will continue for Arsenal against their bitter cross-town rivals in a massively important derby match. With injuries and suspensions plaguing the Spurs back line, I'm anticipating the youngster's pace causing loads of problems.

Nemanja Matic - Seemingly a nailed on starter for Jose Mourinho, the holding midfielder has been quietly turning in very solid performances for Chelsea since his return to the squad in January. I think he's also right on the verge of contributing with some attacking returns, so for less than £8m he looks like a great option.

Ross Barkley - After making a strong case earlier in the season to be included in the conversation for Young Player of the Year, Barkley's form has fallen off a touch and has resulted in him not being an automatic starter for Roberto Martinez. The price is right for a risk, though, especially if you can have some bench cover.

Stephane Sessegnon - With the news that Chris Brunt is set to be out for a number of weeks through injury, Sessegnon's return to the squad will be essential to West Brom's hopes of survival. The trip to Swansea isn't an easy one, but if the Baggies are to get a result you have to think Sess will play some part.

Gambler's Pick: Tomas Rosicky - With Mesut Ozil sidelined with an injury picked up in the Champions League, Rosicky could be in line for a start in central midfield and for the low price of £4.5m, should definitely be considered for a bench role, if not a place in your starting lineup if you think the Arsenal-Tottenham match will be high-scoring.

Forwards

Luis Suarez / Daniel Sturridge - After a week off, you have to think the League's deadliest strike partnership will be ready and raring to go against Manchester United. With Suarez getting back on the scoresheet against Southampton last time out, he gets the advantage in my mind this week, though if you kept both at discount they're both worth playing in what should be a high-octane encounter at Old Trafford.

Sergio Aguero / Stevan Jovetic - Kun was withdrawn at halftime in the match against Barcelona, reportedly as a precaution after he felt some tightness in his hamstring, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be fit for the weekend. If he's in the starting lineup it'll be hard to ignore him against Hull, but it he's out and Jovetic is his replacement he's an excellent bargain pick this week.

Eden Hazard - Perhaps a bit lucky to get the 14 points he managed last week thanks to Frank Lampard earning himself an early shower with a yellow card, but Hazard has still been Chelsea's best player this season and will likely be heavily involved yet again for the trip to Aston Villa.

Romelu Lukaku - The Belgian's return from injury seems to be perfectly timed with injuries to the other strikers in the Everton squad looking ominous for the remainder of the season. He's frustratingly inconsistent, but we all know the potential for a breakout match is always there. Facing Cardiff should afford him plenty of opportunities.

Jay Rodriguez - He's a bit of an unfanciful pick considering he's technically a midfielder, but every time I hesitate to pick J-Rod he pops up with a double digit performance. Norwich haven't travelled well all season, so the Saints attacker should find a few chances to add to his goal tally.

Wayne Rooney - At retail he's almost certainly too expensive, but if you held onto Rooney from last week he's a fair-to-good option for the visit of Liverpool. As a former Evertonian and current Manc, Rooney loves doing damage to Liverpool and has a pretty good track record against them.

Emmanuel Adebayor - The Spurs hitman always seems to have a little extra energy when facing off against his old club, and you shouldn't bet against seeing him sprint the entire length of the pitch to taunt them yet again. I think there will be goals from both sides in this match, and I'd be surprised if K2 wasn't involved in the action. A red card is also a strong likelihood, though, so consider yourself warned.

Wilfried Bony - With Michu nearing a return, we may soon see an end to the good form of Bony, who has flourished in the absence of his Spanish strike partner. Bony should be on the end of the majority of the attacking moves for Swansea this week, though, and could easily pop up with another goal or more against West Brom.

Kostas Mitroglou - We got our first taste of the Greek striker against Cardiff in Week 29 and he definitely looks like a fantasy favorite in the mold of Kevin Prince-Boateng or Adel Taarabt, taking shots at every opportunity. If you're bargain hunting, you could do much worse than the Fulham striker, available for just £4.57m.

Gambler's Pick: Andy Carroll - For about the same price as Mitroglou, you can call on the services of Big Andy Carroll for the trip to Stoke. The former Newcastle and Liverpool man still hasn't reached his full potential at West Ham, especially this season, but the good form of Kevin Nolan could lead to a goal or assist for his good buddy this weekend.

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I've still got plenty of work to do on my team, but for now I'm trying to choose a starting 11 made up primarily of the players listed above. I haven't decided where I'm going to be placing my bargain bets, but I definitely like the looks of Mitroglou and Barkley this week, so they may make my final team. How is your team shaping up? Also, with all the teams back in action, the inevitable question arises: