So here we are, game-week 38. It’s been a strange old season and I’ve moaned most of the way through it! I’ll try and remain positive today but I can’t make any promises. It has been a funny old season and predicting where the points were going to come from has proved tricky. As I type my final intro of the season the highest scoring players in their respective positions are Heurelho Gomes, Toby Alderweireld, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy…
At the beginning of the season I’m not sure if anyone would have picked any of those four players to be at the top. The fact that the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, United and to a lesser extent City have had such poor seasons has also made it tough as many of us have found it difficult to look past their players and focus instead on some of the lesser lights. Before this turns into another moan I’d best turn my attentions to GW38.
For our final Tips article of the season we’ve decided to pick the team which we feel will score the most points on Sunday afternoon. It will be a 3-4-3 and we’ll stick to the rules and allow ourselves only pick three players from the one team, and we suspect the team will come in under the £100million mark.[separator type=”thin”]
Now I don’t have any stats to back this up but clean sheets are notoriously difficult to come by on the final day of the season. With this in mind I’m going for what must be described as a home banker and of course this is Manchester United’s David de Gea. The chances of United actually finishing in the top four took a battering on Tuesday night as they slipped to an agonising defeat at some ground in London. Should they somehow manage to finish in the top four it will be thanks to a defence that have conceded just 34 goals to date, the 2nd best in the league.
However, it’s at home that their defence has excelled with de Gea only picking the ball out of his net on eight occasions over the 18 games. Tuesday night aside they’ve shown some decent form at the back of late keeping six clean sheets in their last 10 games. So they’ve got a great record at home, they’re in good form and it gets better. They’re up against a Bournemouth side who have long been on their holidays, they’ve taken just four points from the last 21 on offer and have scored just six goals in that period.
A couple of other keepers who are worth considering this week are Arsenal’s Petr Cech, Leicester’s Casper Schmeichel and Sunderland’s Vito Mannone. Like United, Arsenal must be considered as a banker for a clean sheet on Sunday as they face a Villa side who have scored just five times in their last eight games. However we have plans to pick three outfield Goonies and therefore we have overlooked the Czech on this occasion.
Many expected Leicester to be off their game following Jamie Vardy’s party but they turned in yet another impressive performance against Everton and were unlucky not to pick up a clean sheet. They’ll be keen to finish the season on a high and I wouldn’t be at all surprised should Schmeichel claim his 16th clean sheet of the season.
As dear old Cilla would have said, ‘surprise surprise’, the first defender on our team-sheet is a Gooner. Now there is undoubtedly a case for doubling up on Arsenal at the back and we’re sure many of you will but we have someone in mind to take the 3rd Arsenal spot. I would feel confident picking any one of Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal. If we assume that Arsenal will win by a minimum of 2/3 goals to nil the likelihood of a defender picking up any bonus points for just a clean sheet are pretty slim. Therefore we need to consider which of the three offer the greatest attacking threat.
Over the course of the season Koscielny has scored four and Bellerin one, while Bellerin has five assists and Monreal two. Clearly Koscielny and Bellerin offer the greatest attacking threat. If we take a look at the attacking stats of the three of them over the past eight games we find Bellerin top in nearly every category. The game is likely to be open and the pace dictated by Arsenal and therefore if I’m forced to choose just one of them it would be Hector Bellerin.
With just one round of games left it would appear as though Spurs will finish the season with the league’s best defence. Unfortunately they’ve shipped two goals in each of their last two games but they will want to ensure they finish the season with a win so as to ensure they finish 2nd and more importantly they finish above Arsenal. Had Newcastle still been in a position to secure their top flight status I’d have been somewhat reluctant to include a Spurs defender but with they’re relegation confirmed I don’t see them putting up much of a fight. With four goals and three assists to date the choice of Toby Alderweireld is an easy one.
So we’ve decided to double up on the United defence and that means a place in our XI for Chris Smalling. We’ve already discussed their defensive record at Old Trafford above so we you’ll understand why we’re doubling up. Of course he’s the most expensive United defender but thanks to LvG he’s the only one who is guaranteed to start and it’s for that reason he’s taken the final defensive spot.
With Arsenal at home to Villa it’s no surprise to see Alexis Sanchez feature in our GW38 team. The Gunners know that a point on the final day of the season will secure 3rd spot whilst they also know that they can finish 2nd if Spurs slip up against Newcastle, so suffice to say they will be keen to finish the season with a big win. If they do manage to rack up the goals I would be amazed were the Chilean not to be involved.
By his own high standards he has had a quiet season but he is finishing the season in great form and has seven goals and three assists in his last 10 games, picking up nine bonus points in the process. Over the course of the season Villa have the worst defence in the league, conceding 72 goals to date, and things haven’t improved of late, they’ve conceded 17 in their last eight. It’s pretty simple, Arsenal are going to score quite a few goals and it will take a brave manager who enters GW38 without Sanchez as he will be captained by the masses!
When City failed to beat Arsenal on Sunday last it looked as though their chances of CL football next season were all but gone. Thanks to United’s slip up on Tuesday night City are now back in the driving seat and they know a draw over Swansea on Sunday will secure a top four spot. Since his return from injury Manuel Pellegrini has carefully managed the game-time of Kevin de Bruyne as City concentrated on their European semi-final with Real Madrid.
However, they now have no such worries and this is a game they must win so the Belgian will start. He’s had an excellent debut season in the Premier League and as things stand he’s got seven goals and 10 assists, and you have to assume that City would not have found themselves in their current predicament had he not missed all of February & March. It had appeared that Swansea had headed off on their holidays following heavy defeats to Newcastle & Leicester but they’ve bounced back with impressive wins over Liverpool & West Ham. Despite this, we cannot see City slipping up on Sunday and we foresee de Bruyne once again being their creator in chief.
Had Southampton’s season not gone completely off the rails between mid-November and the beginning of January they’d certainly be in the hunt for a top four spot as we head into GW38. However, a win against against Palace will ensure they finish no lower than 7th in the table, their joint highest ever top flight finish with their highest points total. This is thanks to a great end to the season which has seen them pick up six wins and a draw in their last eight games. The goals have also began to flow of late, they’ve scored 19 times in their last eight games.
At the time of writing Sadio Mane is yellow flagged, having left the win over Spurs early due to illness. Had it not been for this flag he would certainly have been included thanks to seven goals in his last seven appearances. Instead we have decided to include his midfield colleague Dusan Tadic. The Serb has really come to the party of late and has two goals, six assists and six bonus points in his last four games. He now has 13 assists for the season with only Mesut Ozil (remember him?!) and Christian Eriksen claiming more. The Saints play a Palace team this weekend who despite a lack of clean sheets have actually been relatively solid at the back of late. However, following their victory over Stoke last weekend they are now safe and they will surely turn their attentions towards the small matter of an FA Cup final, and it’s for this reason we’re tipping Saints to run riot!
The final midfielder to make our team is West Ham’s Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman has enjoyed s superb debut season and currently has nine goals and 13 assists to his credit. He hasn’t scored since GW32 but has picked up four assists in his last four games. The Hammers ended life at Upton Park on a high and they will be keen to finish the season on a high as they bid to bring European football to their new home at the Olympic Stadium. They couldn’t have asked for an easier game on the final day of the season than a trip to Stoke, a team who have completely switched off in recent weeks. They’ve conceded 20 goals in their last eight games and on three occasions in their last five games they have shipped five goals. This game really does have an easy win for the Hammers written all over it and should this happen I’d expect Payet to once more be amongst the points.[separator type=”thin”]
The key on the final day is to try and identify teams and individual players who still have something to play for and Sergio Aguero ticks both boxes. City as we are all well aware can secure a top four finish with a draw over Swansea while Aguero could yet win the golden boot for a 2nd consecutive season, he’s currently tied on 24 with Jamie Vardy one behind Harry Kane. The figure of 24 is made even more impressive when you consider he has sat out eight games this season thanks to a combination of injuries and naivety on the part of Pellegrini. He’s enjoyed a great finish to the season with eight goals in his last six games and this has seen him named player of the month for April. Having been dropped by a significant number of managers ahead of GW37, I suspect there will be something of a scramble to get him back. As I’ve noted above Swansea are coming off the back of two impressive performances, but I don’t expect them to offer much in the way of resistance to a City team who know how important a win is.
The 2nd forward to make his way onto our team-sheet is a slightly more controversial pick as its Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman had a relatively decent start to the season scoring ten goals across the opening 17 game-weeks. However following his brace against Liverpool in GW21 he went 15 games without scoring until he scored last time out against City. So what the hell is doing in our team? One word, Villa! The fact that any player is playing Villa is a good enough reason to pick them although those of us who brought in a Geordie last week may not agree. There’s more to it than just the opposition though. Again I have no stats to back this up but I’m pretty sure Arsenal have a decent record on the final day of the season and I really do expect them to knock a few past Villa. With Danny Welbeck injured there is no good reason for Giroud not to start and with a goal and two assists in his last two games he is belatedly finding some form.
There were a number of candidates for the final place on our team but when Sunderland condemned Newcastle to the championship we decided to go with Harry Kane. As we’ve already mentioned above Spurs will be desperate to finish above Arsenal and they really shouldn’t have any problems against the Geordies. Obviously Spurs will once again be without Dembele and Alli, and we’ve seen how Kane struggles particularly when Dembele is not in the side but against a Newcastle side who have conceded 64 goals to date Kane should get a number of opportunities to add to 25 goals as he bids to secure the golden boot.
Others considered were United’s Anthony Martial who has three goals in his last three games and United know they must win to have any chance of a top four finish. Southampton’s Shane Long has three goals & three assists in his last five and is up against a Crystal Palace team who will have the FA Cup final on their mind. Had it not been for Jermain Defoe I’m not sure if Sunderland would have survived, he’s scored 15 over the course of the season and has three and an assist in his last five games. Had Sunderland needed to win on Sunday he’d have made the team. Jamie Vardy will want to finish his superb season on a high and he knows a couple of goals might just secure him the Golden Boot. Andy Carroll caused many fantasy manager to utter a number of expletives across GW37 but with a game against Stoke on Sunday he could finish the season on a high.
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