ROUND 36: FANTASY EPL REVIEW
Nine of the 20 teams that took the pitch in Round 36 failed to score. Liverpool and Stoke, as well as Burnley and Brighton, played goalless draws. Owners of Liverpool attackers in fantasy must have been disappointed, but owners of goalkeepers and defenders from these matchups certainly profited.
Chelsea and Tottenham kept clean sheets, too. The Blues defeated Swansea in Wales thanks to a 4th minute strike by Cesc Fabregas, while the Spurs easily disposed of Watford with goals by Dele Alli and Harry Kane. Crystal Palace was the highest scoring club of the round, putting five past drowsy Leicester City. Zaha, McArthur, Loftus-Cheek, van Aanholt and Benteke (penalty) all wrote their names on the scoresheet.
Everton and West Bromwich were the remaining two squads that didn’t concede. The Toffees left Huddersfield with three points thanks to goals by Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye, whereas West Bromwich keeps holding on to the thinnest thread of hope thanks to a 1-0 win at Newcastle. Matt Phillips scored the lone goal in the 29th minute, only his second goal of the season.
In the game of the round, Manchester United’s farewell message for Arsene Wenger was a small honorary trophy and a 92’ goal from Marouane Fellaini. It gave the Red Devils a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford. Pogba initially gave the lead to the home team before Henrikh Mkhitaryan evened the scoring in the second half. Manchester City blew past West Ham in London, recording a 4-1 win courtesy of Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and an own goal by former City player Pablo Zabaleta. Southampton earned a much needed 2-1 victory against Bournemouth. Serbian international Dusan Tadic scored both goals. Overall, Round 36 was a round of high-scoring midfielders.
ROUND 36: HIGHEST FANTASY SCORERS
Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (Brighton), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) and the rest who kept clean sheets.
Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace), Leighton Baines (Everton), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Gaetan Bong (Brighton), Ragnar Klavan (Liverpool), Ahmed Hegazi (WBA).
Midfielders: Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Matt Phillips (WBA), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Forwards: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Josh King (Bournemouth), Cenk Tosun (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham).
ROUND 37: FANTASY EPL PREVIEW
Brighton vs. Manchester United
– This matchup cuts the red tape for EPL’s penultimate Round 37. The home team is not completely out of the woods just yet, and it will try to earn a valuable point in its efforts to ensure safety. United played a relaxed game against Arsenal and that is likely what we’ll see today as well. With Lukaku out, I expect Rashford to start. Don’t be surprised to see some other new names in Mourinho’s starting lineup.
Stoke vs. Crystal Palace
– Stoke’s chances of survival are slim at best, so it mustn’t afford lose its remaining two encounters. Considering the form Crystal Palace is in, I doubt that will happen. Zaha, Milivojevic, Townsend, Diouf and Crouch are the players you should be after in your fantasy leagues.
Bournemouth vs. Swansea
– The Welsh side is clinging on to its Premier League status and a good result here could be critical to keeping it. They’re playing a team that has won only once it its last 10 matches. Regardless of that, I believe Bournemouth has the upper hand in this contest. Joshua King would be my player of choice.
Leicester vs. West Ham
– Last week’s drubbing at the hands of Crystal Palace must’ve been painful for the Foxes, who seem to have given up on this campaign. West Ham needs the points and will try to earn them, so we might see a high-scoring game here. Claude Puel might want to punish some of his starters for last week’s performance, but considering the lack of roster depth, he probably won’t be able to. Marc Albrighton will not play because of last round’s red card, while Wilfred Ndidi is doubtful. Arnautovic and Lanzini are the Hammers’ main threats.
Watford vs. Newcastle
– This is another potentially high-scoring affair in which you’ll be better off avoiding defenders and goalkeepers. Will Hughes and Abdoulaye Doucoure would be my picks from Watford and I’d take Kenedy and Ayoze Perez from Newcastle.
West Bromwich vs. Tottenham
– West Brom has shown resiliency, but its hopes of avoiding relegation likely end here. Tottenham is still trying to fend off Chelsea’s last-gasp attempts at reaching the Champions League. Since the Spurs have something to play for, it is unwise to go against them. Other than Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen is the player who my gut says will have an at least decent fantasy day.
Everton vs. Southampton
– A team with Southampton’s talent shouldn’t be dropping out of the EPL. The Saints are currently in a dangerous position, but their faith still depends on them. The visit to Goodison Park won’t be easy. The game has all the makings of a draw.
Manchester City vs. Huddersfield
– The Terriers are just another stop on Manchester City’s road of destruction. Expecting at least four goals in Huddersfield’s net is not optimistic, it’s realistic. Pick your poison with the Citizens. There’s no player I don’t like.
Arsenal vs. Burnley
– The Gunners are coming off a heart-breaking Europa League exit, but this is Wenger’s last home game as Arsenal manager. I can’t imagine the team not finding enough strength and motivation to ensure a proper send off. Burnley will give its best not to concede, but it will. I like Nacho Monreal, Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from this matchup.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
– Well, this is going to be fun. Chelsea trying to catch Liverpool with a CL berth on the line, Salah against his former club, the Reds coming off a trip to Rome that saw them book a place in the Champions League final against Real Madrid – storylines aplenty in this match. Can’t wait. I give the slight edge to Chelsea, mostly because Conte had more time to prepare and because Liverpool is on an emotional high that may contribute to a lack of necessary focus. Time for Eden Hazard to shine.
Those are all the games from this round. However, there are several delayed fixtures on the schedule for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday:
Swansea vs. Southampton (Round 31)
– This is going to be a direct battle between the two most endangered teams after West Bromwich and Stoke. The result might decide who’s in and who’s out.
Leicester vs. Arsenal (Round 31)
– A meaningless contest for both clubs could end up being a relaxed draw in which Wenger gives an opportunity to his youngsters once more.
Manchester City vs. Brighton (Round 31)
– What I wrote about Manchester City vs. Huddersfield pretty much applies here as well.
Tottenham vs. Newcastle (Round 31)
– Tottenham should cruise here, mostly because it overpowers Newcastle in the depth department.
Chelsea vs. Huddersfield (Round 35)
– An excellent matchup for fantasy owners of Chelsea players. If the Blues defeat Liverpool, they’ll be full of energy. If they don’t, they’ll be wounded and dangerous.
West Ham vs. Manchester United (Round 31)
– Manchester United can afford to be on cruise control until the end. Since it’s probably going to be an important match for West Ham, I expect The Hammers to step up.