1. Are you surprised by the news that Steven Gerrard will be leaving Liverpool in the summer?
The Liverpool captain dropped a bomb by saying that he will not be suiting up for the one and only club he represented since 1998. The rumor is that Gerrard will be joining the Los Angeles Galaxy on an 18-month contract worth $6 million per year. Gerrard might even win a league title now (put intended), but the news certainly came as a surprise to me. I understand that he does not want to play for another Barclays Premier League team, but plenty of well-known European teams playing Champions League football would be interested in having Gerrard in their squad and the level competition would certainly be more exciting than the Major League Soccer, which makes the move to the United States confusing. What do you all think?
2. Which team has a better chance of staying up: Crystal Palace with Alan Pardew or West Bromwich Albion with Tony Pulis?
Both teams are separated by just one point in the standings. Both teams need to buy to remain competitive. While West Bromwich Albion has an easier remaining schedule, both teams have very tough last four games: Crystal Palace plays Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Swansea while West Bromwich Albion plays Manchester United, Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal. Both teams have very good managers who will be able to motivate their players, although I would give a slight edge to Alan Pardew – he is keen on bringing in foreign talent. So, who do you think stays up, Crystal Palace or West Bromwich Albion, both or neither?
3. Has the refereeing been poor this season?
It seems like every game week has some questionable decisions made by the referees whether it is a bad offside call, unnoticed cheap shot, weak penalty given / clear penalty not given, or a poor yellow / red card, to name some. Am I the only one who thinks that the level of Premier League officiating has been substandard this season? I, for one, would like to see Sian Massey-Ellis (pictured) back in the league – she was brilliant in every Premier League game I saw her referee and made some gutsy calls that some of her male counterparts would not have the cojones to make.
4. The loss of which one player to the Africa Cup of Nations / the Asian Cup will have the biggest impact on their respective team?
To me it has to be Mile Jedinak – the captain of the Crystal Palace team struggling to stay out of the relegation zone. From Week 22 until Week 25, Crystal Palace plays its "weakest" opposition of the second half of the season: Burnley, Everton, Leicester City, and Newcastle. Depending on how well Australia does as the host nation of the Asian Cup, Jedinak could potentially only be back for the Newcastle game. What do you guys think?
5. Who is your "hunch" player for Game Week 21?
I misstated in Stall's "West Brom's New Boss" article that Stephane Sessegnon is an attractive fantasy option for Tony Pulis' team "once he is back from AFCON." The thing is, Benin, did not qualify for the final round of the competition and, as a result, Sessegnon will be in the West Browmich Albion starting 11, home to Hull City. Priced at £9.05, he is my hunch player of the week and I expect him to have a big week. Who are your less orthodox picks for this weekend?