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Week 31 Premier League Player Picks

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Its a massive weekend for Premier League football with maybe the biggest Newcastle v Sunderland game ever. Lets take a look at some of the fantasy picks you may consider.

A must have this week?
A must have this week?
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Week 31 and we are back to a full week of Premier League action and therefore a full selection of players to pick from.  As with Gavin's picks last week I'm going to look at the 10 matchups and then give you my thoughts on the picks involved.

The Red Devils could move within 1 point with a surprise win on Sunday.  City's players do have the look as side focusing on the Champions League to me and lacking drive in some of the more regular league games.  We saw signs of this at Norwich last week but the derby game is something different.   You can expect both sides to play their strongest fit 11.  The midweek injury to Vincent Kompany is a huge blow and if Otamendi is also out the match up may be a little more even than recent seasons.    The difference then as it often is seems to be is a certain Argentinian forward.


But of course.

David Silva

At 30 and injury prone we may be seeing a player in slow decline.  Regardless he still has a great playing relationship with Kun and is always the obvious pick to get the assist.

West Bromwich Albion v Norwich City

Norwich should have a boost in confidence after a fantastic point against Man City last time.  WBA have less to play for but are in great form. At this stage of the season it is often the side that wants it more that shows.   Whether that is Norwich right now is hard to say but it has logic.

Salomon Rondon

Norwich back to back clean sheets sounds pretty unlikely and Rondon seems to have found his feet scoring.  That hasn't yet translated to big fantasy hauls but he is the most likely to profit.

Saido Berahino

Playing for his dream summer move I think the young man scores a brace/hatty before the season sends.  Maybe it is in week 31.

Southampton v Liverpool

The Saints had a much needed win last time out but showed once again a few flaws defensively.  Liverpool head into this one on the back of Thursday night's European events.  In all likelihood they are in good spirits but you never know what can happen under the floodlights in a match with Utd.

Fraser Forster

He has been my starting keeper in Fantrax for a number of weeks.  In the last few I have strongly fancied the opponent to score but regardless I have held onto him with disappointing returns.  So to this week then.  At first I once again thought maybe this week is the week to let him go.  But we know the club captain Jose Fonte returns to the Saints side which should immediately improve matters.  Plus, I also keep thinking back to the league cup hammering Liverpool gave them at St Mary's.  I can see a Saints side a little better after their hard fought win at Stoke looking back at that league cup game all week and having a point to prove.  The extra distraction for pool of Europe can add up to Forster looking the budget pick of choice this week.

Graziano Pelle

All forwards feed on confidence.  Pelle has had little to none for quite a long time but it should be back after the brace against Stoke.  All season long Liverpool haven't been able to defend set pieces and crosses into the box.  Considering that's what Pelle thrives on most then he is a great alternative selection this week.

Everton v Arsenal

The toffees will be brimming with confidence coming into this one which is the exact opposite of Arsenal.  When the Gunners scored with the final moment of the game against Leicester I really thought I had seen the beginning of the title winning run in.  I could not have imagined the collapse since.  Even for Arsenal and their recent reputation for doing so this season has rightly frustrated their fans. Very surprising defeats to sides missing players in Swansea and Manchester United followed by coming from behind to secure a draw at White Hart Lane with 10 men shows the inconsistency.  Using that evidence then whilst many will like Everton chances hot off the heels of beating Chelsea in the cup, I can see the away win that just about keeps the Gunners within a sniff of the title.

Romelu Lukaku

No longer the Troll king?  Well that's a debate for the summer but the young forward is bang in form.   Whether he still holds penalties is the only question.

Mesut Ozil/Alexis Sanchez

The two stars of the Arsenal side have gone a little quiet.   Sanchez in particular hasn't got going nearly all season.  Ozil has been fantastic most of the season.  Both will enjoy the time and space the Everton tactics allow.  They are two players no matter the form that you want to give time and space to.

Danny Welbeck

Wenger is still using his forward with cautious game time.  But Welbeck has been the best Arsenal; attacker for 2-3 weeks now and I think he starts again here.  In the Fantrax format he is a bargain price.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City

The Foxes are really starting to look like champions both when viewing the league table but also in the way they have been digging in during matches.  Back to back 1-0 wins sees them clear at the top.  Palace meanwhile have an eye on the cup semifinal to come but they also rather surprisingly have an eye on the relegation battle.  They don't need much to pull clear and in Alan Pardew have a manager that will keep driving the players on.  It may be me once again underestimating Leicester but I think they drop points in this one and possibly all 3.

Jamie Vardy

Despite think the Foxes are in a tough game they do face a Palace side that struggle to prevent opposition scoring.  The attack minded tactics of Pardew should mean a little more space for Vardy to operate than he has had in the last couple games and he is due a goal.

Yannick Bolasie

Any time I am writing the player picks and Palace are home then I have to include Bolasie.  Back fit and playing well he isn't the bargain price I'd hoped but he looks certain to return his value minimum.

Emmanuel Adebayor

That old itch is back.  K2 at under 2m in Fantrax with a home fixture.  Finally the key piece of information - he is playing to obtain a contract which has always been the time he is at his best.  Those of you looking to do something clever/bold could be tempted once more.

Tottenham v Bournemouth

Spurs young side are playing well and all they can do is apply pressure in the title run in.  Bournemouth are pretty much safe now but they are in form meaning this isn't as straightforward as game as it looks.  As I think Leicester drop points I have to judge how Spurs players will react.  Will they tense up with the chance to close the gap and win narrow or will they smell blood and pound the Cherries.  Tough to say but you have to cover their options this week.

Harry Kane

Must have

Christian Eriksen/Deli Alli

Both due a goal.  I went with Eriksen due to Allis injury worries last week which proven the wrong move.  They are very expensive and you need a goal or assist to justify the price in Fantrax.

Max Gradel

Was fantastic for me last week and is one of those brilliant fantasy players.  I have yet to sell him at around 3m and I'm tempted to stick with him as he is certain to return 2 or 3 times his value.

Swansea City v Aston Villa

The always pick against Villa tactic has worked for a while and I won't talk you out of it this week.  I will point out that after their fantastic win at Arsenal I thought they would rip into Norwich. The pressure of expectation though was completely different and Swansea found the game very hard going.  This could happen again in this one where the Swans possibly just need one more win for safety.

Lukasz Fabianski

Playing Villa at home so a great shout of a clean sheet win double result.  On paper at least he is the no1 keeper choice this week.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

He isn't the fantasy god from years ago despite his best ever goal scoring season in the Premier League.  A couple years ago a Siggy goal could be added to his 10-12 phantom points for monster hauls.  The phantoms aren't there anymore it seems, meaning he isn't must have but he is pretty hard not to run with.  Player in form, at home facing team out of form and conceding chances.

Watford v Stoke City

All the talk last week from the Stoke camp was that after their win over Newcastle and draw at Chelsea the players had the bit between their teeth to finish the season as high as possible.  Then the game kicked off against the Saints and the talk meant nothing.  Give a player a reason to lose and they lose is the saying.  Stoke's players probably don't mind as much as has been said as to whether they finish 10th or 9th or 8th.   Watford are also safe and have their eyes firmly on cup glory.  So it's the Hornets players that have the most to lose.  Playing to play in the cup semifinal side is an incentive which can produce a home win here against a Stokie side missing their form horse Shaqiri.

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo has won many a fantasy player plenty of fantasy points this season but they have dried up somewhat in recent weeks.  The cause wasn't a result of reduced chances or disappearing in games, he just lost his confidence.  The goal at Arsenal in the cup hopefully his brought that back and I think he scores at least once this week.

Sebastian Prodl

The player came into the Premier League with a reputation for being a goal scoring centre back.  There has been no sign of that since his move and indeed he had lost his place in the 1st team that he had started the season.  The starting spot is back and as I like Watford this week I'm tipping a potential clean sheet and finally that breakthrough goal to go with it.


If Rafa Benitez could pick his first home tie you may think he would wish to avoid a derby game against a Sunderland side that has a great record against Newcastle.  Sunderland have won 6 on the spin against the Magpies and not conceded in the last 4 matches.  Not for me though.  This has all the potential to be the right timing for Benitez.  With the Magpies a far trickier tie would be one they are expected to win, hosting Bournemouth for example.   The crowd will be behind the Magpies and they side will without doubt have less fear and more drive about them than we have seen in recent matches.

The key may be the temperament of know hotheads Aleksander Mitrovic, Jonjo Shelvey and Lee Cattermole.  The match looks certain to be full of talking points then and a great watch.  We saw a much more committed set of Newcastle players against the Foxes on Monday night and while I do think Sunderland can and probably will score, I also like the wave of optimism to carry the home team to a win.

Rob Elliott

The Newcastle back four were largely in much better alignment in Rafa's first game and we can expect to see further improvement with a week's work on the training pitch.   In a game likely to be tense, 100 miles an hour and one neither side want to lose Elliot is as cheap as you can get and if I'm correct about the home team a way into the win points with a few saves along the way.

Andros Townsend

If I was sure he would start I would pick him.

Aleksander Mitrovic

The young serb is /was one of those hot prospect players all the scouts have been watching.  If he can hold his temper I think he is the match winner in this one.

Wahbi Khazri

Has shown his inconsistency he is known for but a better fantasy player than real world player.  This could go either way star man or eaten alive in the tempo of the derby.

Chelsea v West Ham

I don't remember the last time a Chelsea side at this stage of the season had nothing but pride to play for.  You can also add a number of players may already know they are not in the clubs/new manager's plans for next season and you have a team where it is difficult to know what to expect from.  The hammers meanwhile have been one of the teams of the season.  They will be favourite to progress in the cup replay and sit on Man City's coattails in the race for 4th spot.   It's a derby game and we should expect a committed performance from the home team.  Certainly with nothing left in their season there is no pressure and you could argue many of the players are playing for their Chelsea future.   Had Diego Costa been playing I would have liked Chelsea to end the unbeaten West Ham run, now I'm unsure.   One of those games any result is possible.

Dimitri Payet

He may be the Premier leagues most in form player and at the heart of much of the side's success this season.  Whilst a tough fixture on paper it's hard to not recommend him.

Bertrand Traore

We all love an out of position player and here we have a listed midfielder who will play as a forward.  The matchup is tough and he has only played partial games so far but has looked good in doing so.  A potential filler to free cash up elsewhere in a one week play.

I haven't touched my FPl side but with a wildcard and all my chips left will be looking to plan ahead this week.  Wildcard week 33, bench boost week 34 is as of now my chosen path.  For week 31 I may not make many changes but am considering selling Cech


Huth, Otamendi, Van D /Moreno, Reid

Mahrez, Eriksen, Siggy, /Redmond

Vardy, Ighalo, Kane

Usual suspect in Togga

In Fantrax it will be my normal Saturday morning swap I expect.  However as stands I just have my BD side

Forster, Klose, Kompany, Wimmer, Rangel, Ali, Siggy, Silva, Kun, Gradel and Kane

It's a 442 side that will not stay.  As I said above Forster may go, Kompany obviously will now he is injured.  The only certs to remain are Rangel, Wimmer, Kun and Kane.

Siggy probably will also stay but I have a gut feeling he is the trap pick of the week without any justification.  We often talk about fantasy ticks for example listing your players in as close a real life position as possible in your player list etc.  I think I have one with Siggy.  During that wonderful season I bought him for 7m in the Yahoo game and watched him score 20pt game after 20 point game under Brendan Rodgers system.  I think then paying the 14m I have to in Fantrax and seeing him just roughly return his value makes me feel like I'm getting ripped off, strange thought process isn't it.