Another double gameweek, combined with some sure-bet fixtures, presents fantasy football managers with a glorious chance to gain serious ground and enjoy a deluge of points as a tumultuous 2015/16 season reaches its climax.
1/2/3. David de Gea, Chris Smalling & Anthony Martial
vs Aston Villa (H) & Crystal Palace (H)
Manchester United’s humiliation began long before Sunday’s kickoff at White Hart Lane, with traffic problems delaying what became a comprehensive thrashing at the hands of likely Premier League runners up Tottenham Hotspur.
Mercifully for the Red Devils, a therapeutic duet of home games await, the first of which is against none other than the whipping boys Aston Villa. Memories of a famous Villa win at Old Trafford under Martin O’Neill are now painfully distant, and it is only a matter of how many goals United will score this time out.
By the same token, United’s back line should not struggle against Villa, whose relegation will be made official by anything other than the mother of shock wins.
If the magnitude of Villa’s thrashing does not make the entire universe implode, then United are expected to ‘entertain’ Palace in a similar fashion – even though Alan Pardew’s men have now, finally, scalped a league win in 2016.
4/5/6. Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny and Oliver Giroud
vs Crystal Palace (H) & West Brom (H)
Though conceding a hat-trick to Andy Carroll may be the lowest point of the season for any defender, Gabriel remains excellent value for money – and in GW34 this is especially important. Two home games against Crystal Palace and West Brom provide the perfect opportunity for Arsenal’s backline to score consecutive clean sheets.
Laurent Koscielny’s personal statistics are also strong at present, and his experience will be invaluable, with the Gunners eager to overturn their newly erratic reputation.
Long bereft of FA Cup duties, West Bromwich Albion are set to show more defensive resolve than semi finalists Crystal Palace, but the Baggies’ midweek visit is still Arsenal’s game to lose. Expect an impressive tally for Olivier Giroud in GW34.
Unprecedentedly, for this game week only, here are three more players which are absolutely crucial investments in GW34…
James Milner & Daniel Sturridge
Bournemouth (A) & Everton (H)
Liverpool are heavy favourites to score a double blast of wins in GW34. Bournemouth are now safe from relegation, having shown impressive unity and energy throughout their debut Premier League season.
For Daniel Sturridge, the green shoots of recovery are in no doubt, while James Milner continues to deliver cultured football when a game is slipping away from Jürgen Klopp’s men. Liverpool’s attackers undoubtedly possess the firepower to dispatch Bournemouth with ease.
Unbeaten in sixteen editions of the Anfield derby, there is little chance of Liverpool slipping up in midweek against a nosediving Everton side that currently has an extremely discontent fanbase.
Large swathes of blue Merseysiders are calling for Roberto Martinez’ head, with the club boasting just six league wins since October, and rooted firmly in the lower half of the table. Sturridge should enjoy a productive evening against a back line that is likely to be without captain Phil Jagielka.
Given the apparently unstoppable opposition faced by West Ham on the road in GW34, relatively fewer managers will make the decision to invest in West Ham’s dead ball specialist.
Under Slaven Bilic, West Ham’s players have shown a refreshing contempt towards teams which allegedly play at ‘fortresses’. With a Champions League agenda of their own, the Hammers will fight until the bitter end at the King Power Stadium this weekend.
If Leicester are to throw away this once-in-a-generation chance of glory, it can be assured that the history books will point to Bilic’s battlers as the team that tore up the script and annihilated the dream ending.