Our main goal this week is to identify those players likely to play twice and give your fantasy squad the best chance to perform well. Eight teams go into Week 37 with double matches: Norwich City, Chelsea, West Ham, Manchester United, Liverpool, Sunderland, Everton, and Watford. Of those eight, four sides boast two home matches: Liverpool, Norwich City, West Ham and Sunderland. Therefore, the majority of my picks will focus on the teams with home advantage as well as some outside picks for those looking to close a point gap on a fantasy rival. As stated above, the best groundwork we can lay for a positive fantasy week is to select players with the best chance of playing twice, easier said than done however. Which players should you be considering for Week 37? Let's jump into the possible picks!
David De Gea - Manchester may have not lit up the scoring charts this season, but under Louie van Gaal, the Red Devils have been staunch at the back. Only Tottenham Hotspur have conceded less goals this season, 28 to United's 31. Two away matches could prove tricky for Van Gaal's men as they chase City in the race for 4th, facing Norwich and West Ham respectively. De Gea has been instrumental to United's fine defensive record and is the safest goalkeeper pick given price and potential.
Adrian - Two home matches for the Hammer's shot stopper, starting with a very winnable game against Swansea, who have hardly been a goal threat on the road. Those who have defensive cover from United elsewhere and want a differential in goal without taking on too much risk should look no further. West Ham have already beaten some of the biggest clubs this season and no one would bet against them giving United an awkward night at Upton Park.
Vito Mannone - The dark horse pick of the goal keeper selections. It would take a very brave fantasy manager to select a keeper from a side who have conceded 58 goals this season, 5th worst in the Premier League. However, Sunderland are fighting for their lives to avoid relegation, have two home matches, and have two clean sheets in their last three league matches. If Sunderland can keep just one of Chelsea or Everton off the score sheet, picking Mannone could be the differential boost needed to overhaul a fantasy rival.
Aaron Cresswell - Sticking to the West Ham theme, Cresswell represents solid value for investment this week. As mentioned above, West Ham have played some incredible football against the top clubs this season. The Swansea match at Upton Park looks like the perfect opportunity for West Ham to win and keep a clean sheet, leaving the match against United as a bonus. Considering both matches for West Ham are at home, most fantasy managers could do with Cresswell's attacking potential from the defensive position.
Cesar Azpilicueta - The Spaniard is pushing into the premium category due to cost, but the Chelsea fullback has been an evergreen starter for the Blues, which will likely see him play twice. With 2 goals and 4 assists this season, Azpilicueta has been involved in both sides of the pitch, garnering decent fantasy returns in the process. Although Sunderland have been a bogey team for Chelsea through recent seasons, I expect the Blues to finish out their remaining matches in top gear.
Patrick van Aanholt - Leading defensive goalscorer for the entire Premier League with 5 goals and 3 assists already this season. PvA is priced right, has two home matches (albeit tricky ones), and the goal threat you want if clean sheets just aren't on the cards. A great attacking fullback pick with a huge upside and relatively low downside given his price. A must have this week, especially to enable bigger spending further up the pitch in your fantasy selection.
Chris "Michael" Smalling - Oh that joke never gets old for me (for those who don't know what I am talking about - Louie van Gaal has referred to Chris not once, but multiple times by the wrong name - how embarrassing!) Jokes aside, Smalling is the safest option into United's defensive line besides De Gea. Two decent matches, although away, are both winnable, especially the first match against relegation threatened Norwich. Out of any United defender, Smalling is guaranteed to play twice and is the best option to pair with De Gea if you fancy doubling up on the Red Devil's possible clean sheets. Smalling has also been a threat at set pieces and may just pop up with a headed goal in the run out.
Antonio Valencia - LvG has handed Valencia a start in the past 3 consecutive league matches, with the former Wigan winger providing 2 assists and contributing 2 clean sheets in that run. With a nice low price and the prospect of more game time, Valencia is a perfect dark horse selection this week. Evidence from his performances suggest he will likely be involved, but ol' Louie will have the final say. Potentially worth the risk as a great differential for Week 37.
Russell Martin - The Canaries defender started the season on fire with 3 goals in the first 6 matches. However injury and rotation has seen the defender in and out of the Norwich back line. With Timm Klose out for the season, Martin comes back onto our radar as a utility pick. His cost is low and the chances for a clean sheet in one of their two home matches is good. United haven't been the offensive force of seasons past and Watford have just about gone on holiday suggesting relegation threatened Norwich have a chance to grab some vital points in Week 37.
The Liverpool Defense - A lot will be determined after Jurgen Klopp's team selection is revealed for Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg at Anfield. The frustrating aspect of Liverpool's run in Europe, is the dramatic rotation that Klopp has been forced to make in the domestic league. Of the preferred back line, no player is 100% safe from being rotated, as was evident in the young Red's humbling at the hands of Swansea last match. If I had to wager a guess I'd say Lovren and Moreno look the safest bets during the double. But all will depend on whether or not Liverpool can over turn a 1-0 deficit to Villarreal and advance to the finals. The best strategy now is to wait and see the result of that match before buying or selling any Liverpool defenders.
Dimitri Payet - Must have if price is no option. If you need to look elsewhere but still want some cover from the Hammer's midfield than Michel Antonio and Mark Noble are cheap and having excellent fantasy seasons. If you can get the Frenchman however, he is worth a few enablers in your side. Quite possibly the leading captain choice this week and Triple Captain contender in the Official Fantasy set up.
Mark Noble - Emerging as a strong differential pick in West Ham's midfield, with back to back doubles and low price, Noble looks a fine alternative to those without Payet. Noble is expected to play twice, although he is not traditionally a goal threat so don't expect a third consecutive double.
Eden Hazard - Way too expensive in the Official format to justify his poor returns this season, but the former PFA Player of the Year winner has begun to show glimpses of his previous seasons exploits in recent weeks. Hazard struck the nail in the coffin of Spur's title hopes and recorded a double against Bournemouth a week earlier. Could we really see Hazard back to his best for Chelsea's final stretch of matches? This fantasy manager hopes so as the Belgian could be an expensive but potentially explosive differential for Week 37. For those not sold on buying in Hazard, I'd rate Willian next (based on production and price), followed by Cesc Fabregas, who is more expensive but also showing signs of finishing the season in strong fashion.
Alexis Sanchez - Worryingly for fantasy owners, the Chilean has gone off the boil after a flurry of 6 goals since scoring on Tottenham when Arsenal drew 2-2 with their North London rivals. Back to back blanks against Sunderland and Norwich City have been hard to take, especially with many giving the Arsenal winger the captain's armband. I am not advising to buy in now given the double week, but certainly don't sell. Arsenal have a tasty season ending match up at home to Aston Villa in Week 38.
Firmino/Coutinho - It has been frustrating on all accounts for fantasy managers investing in Liverpool players as Jurgen Klopp rotates his side to battle on two fronts. As Liverpool play Thursday against Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final, we will get some answers on who is likely to play the majority in Week 37. Two pieces of advice, hold which ever player you currently have and don't buy in until we know if Liverpool are through to the finals. A lot will change depending on the result Thursday but I assume both Coutinho and Firmino will be involved in alternating matches for Week 37 regardless.
Ross Barkley - The young midfielder's form has crashed and burned much like Everton's season. Fantasy managers across the spectrum were especially frustrated as the Toffees failed to perform in their two previous double weeks. The case could be made as to why we would allow any Everton player to grace our team selection again after such a dismal fantasy display. But Barkley jumped back onto the radar with an assist in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth. With Martinez's job likely on the line regardless of results, it would take a weary fantasy manager to find value in Everton currently. However, Leicester City may come into Week 37 with Title-winning blinders on, allowing Barkley et al to repay some of the faith many of us showed them in previous weeks with some decent fantasy returns.
Anthony Martial - Likeliest of Van Gaal's side to play twice in Week 37, Martial also scored the lone United goal in their draw with Leicester City. With Rooney on the pitch, Martial loses penalty duty, slightly reducing his potential. Two away matches in a side that has only scored 43 goals (to put that in perspective the top 4 teams have scored 64, 67, 59, and 68 respectively), doesn't fill me with much confidence either. But price versus production plants Martial as the best way into United's troubled offense.
Marcus Rashford - Still nicely priced and a differential enabler for Week 37. Wayne Rooney's return from injury was supposed to signal Rashford to take a bow and head back to the bench, but the youngster has kept Van Gaal's faith. Rashford has played the majority of minutes stretching back to his electric display against Arsenal in which he bagged himself a brace. If you want some United offensive cover but need funds elsewhere, then Rashford looks the ideal selection.
Romelu Lukaku - I know, unthinkable to recommend King Troll after the pile of nothing he has produced across Everton's two previous double matches, but third times a charm right? For those fantasy managers, like myself, that have him in the Official format and don't want to take a -4pt hit to remove him, we must hold and pray he finally repays us for the previous match weeks. Lukaku loves to troll, so what better time to troll then when everyone has dropped you to the fantasy bench?
Andy Carroll - Slaven Bilic urged Carroll to seize his opportunity and attain his full potential. Well 5 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 matches certainly fits that bill. Carroll is an affordable selection with all the reason to fight until seasons end or until a path to CL qualification finally shuts. But two home matches, starting with Swansea, make the former Newcastle striker hard to ignore.
Diego Costa - Should be a sure starter over two matches, but a bit too expensive in many formats. A premium differential none the less.
Daniel Sturridge - Obviously not happy with the team's result against Swansea and never happy to be not playing each and every match. It was a bit shocking to see Klopp leave Sturridge on the bench when Liverpool were holding Villarreal to a 0-0 midway through the second half. Surely his introduction could have swung the tie in the Red's favor? Regardless, we need to wait for team news Thursday to see whether or not the former Chelsea and City striker will play a large role in the Week 37 doubles. No doubt Sturridge will want to score a few against his old side.
Jermain Defoe - The only Sunderland offensive player worth investing in as the former Spurs striker is the heart beat of Sunderland's survival campaign. With penalties in his locker, Defoe will have to be on point if Sunderland hope to get anything from two tricky home matches with Chelsea and Everton respectively. However both opponents have hardly been solid at the back so I expect Defoe to have plenty of opportunities to add to his 14 goal tally.
Troy Deeney - Odion Ighalo has gone completely MIA in the second half of the season but strike partner Deeney revived half of their dynamic duo with a stoppage time double against Aston Villa. Deeney is also on penalties and his price makes the Wartford striker a solid differential for Week 37.
For official I am currently on: De Gea, PvA, Moreno, Cresswell, Hazard, Payet, Firmino, Sanchez, Lukaku, Carroll, Sturridge. A triple captain move could be wise with two matches for many of my players. Right now Payet is currently leading my captain race, as he is likeliest to play twice and actually score.
How are your teams shaping up? Who do you like for Week 37 that I didn't mention?