Goal takes a look at the best players to select or avoid, the bargain buys and the top choice for captain's double points ahead of this weekend's Premier League action
|START 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU PICK?
Should Manchester City lift the Premier League title on Sunday, it will be in no small part thanks to the efforts of Yaya Toure (9.0). The Ivorian netted another sensational goal against Aston Villa in midweek, bringing his tally for the season to 20 – Frank Lampard is the only player to have netted more goals from midfield in the Premier League era. City are likely to look to Toure for inspiration once more against West Ham.
After over a month on the treatment table Robin van Persie (13.0) returned to action this week, netting against Hull City in a half-hour cameo. The Dutchman’s campaign has been plagued by injury yet he’s still maintained a healthy strike rate – scoring every 126 minutes – and will be eager to continue his search for match sharpness against Southampton, a side he has averaged a goal a game against.
Tottenham and Director of Football Franco Baldini did not get much right in the summer, though Christian Eriksen (7.5) has proven to be a fantastic acquisition. The Dane has nine goals or assists in his last seven Premier League appearances and will be looking to continue his stunning recent form against an Aston Villa side with nothing left to play for and who worked extremely hard on Wednesday night only to ship four goals.
The last time Manchester City hosted West Ham, they obliterated Sam Allardyce’s men to claim a 6-0 win in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final back in January. David Silva (9.0) is likely to be central to City’s hopes of repeating that scoreline; the diminutive Spanish playmaker – who makes the side play better when he’s on the field – has seven league goals or assists since mid-March.
|SIT 'EM - WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
Wayne Rooney (8.5) has arguably been Manchester United’s best player this season, though a variety of injuries have seen him miss the Red Devils’ last two outings. With James Wilson and Van Persie both netting in his absence, the 28-year-old – so important to England’s hopes in Brazil this summer – is unlikely to be risked so close to the World Cup.
A groin injury picked up against Aston Villa curtailed Sergio Aguero’s (10.5) involvement in the past week, and scuppered many double gameweek plans in the process. With Edin Dzeko flourishing in the Argentine’s absence there is little need for Manuel Pellegrini to risk his star forward against the Hammers.
Liverpool’s slim hopes of winning the Premier League not only require City to drop points, but also to overhaul the league leaders’ goal difference advantage. Expect the Reds to go down swinging, which is bad news for Fabricio Coloccini (4.5) and the rest of a Newcastle back-line that have conceded 15 goals in their last seven matches.
Ryan Giggs’ caretaker appointment has been bad news for Juan Mata (10.0), who has barely played under the Welshman. He may have netted twice off the bench in the Welshman’s first game in charge, but failed to register a goal or assist against Sunderland and did not even get on the field against Hull. The Spaniard is best avoided at such a crucial stage of the season.
|THE BARGAIN BASEMENT
Liverpool’s 19-year-old winger Raheem Sterling (5.0) has had a sensational season, scoring nine goals and assisting a further seven. His pace and trickery has caused countless problems for defences and, as he looks to guarantee his place at the World Cup and bump up the Reds’ goal difference, he can be expected to terrorise a Newcastle back four that have struggled away from home this season.
Injuries briefly looked set to derail Manchester City’s title tilt, but Edin Dzeko (7.5) stepped up at key moments for his side. The Bosnian has scored more goals in 2014 than any other player, and netted in each of his last three matches – even bagging back-to-back braces against Everton and Aston Villa. West Ham have been hard to break down on their travels but Dzeko has shown he can be relied upon to net when it really matters.
Sunderland have managed to find the miracle they needed to stay up, thanks in no small part to their solid defence. The Black Cats have kept a cleansheet in three of their last four games, and Marcos Alonso (4.0) is a particularly appealing member of the back-line after picking up another assist against West Brom last time out.
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel (5.0) has netted seven times this season, the most of any defender in the Premier League. The Reds will look to use his prowess from set-pieces against Newcastle as they eye a massive score at Anfield. Another Merseyside defender looking to end the season a high is Everton’s Seamus Coleman (4.5). The Irishman can add to his six goals against a Hull side preoccupied with the FA Cup final.
|CAPTAIN'S CHOICE - TOP TIP FOR DOUBLE POINTS
Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez (10.0) has had an exceptional season, picking up the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards. His tears at Selhurst Park, though, show that those particular individual accolades mean little compared to a league title. While Liverpool’s slim chances of winning the league remain, the Uruguayan will be itching to ensure the club do everything possible to thwart City.
With 31 goals and 12 assists, Suarez is both the most prolific player in the English top flight and the most creative, contributing to a goal every 66 minutes. He is now one goal away from setting a new record goal tally in the Premier League era, breaking Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo’s joint record. A limp Newcastle defence with one cleansheet in their last seven matches could be the fodder Suarez needs to try and overhaul City’s goal difference and end his own season on a personal high.
|GAMEWEEK 38 - BEST XI
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