By AVI CREDITOR
Things went pretty much as expected in a wild, high scoring Matchweek 31 (with the exception of the Aston Villa defense), and hopefully you were able to capitalize with a triple-digit-fantasy-point output.
The Premier League reverts back to normal this week with a slate of 10 matches. Some figure to be pretty one-sided (Tottenham-Portsmouth, Liverpool-Sunderland, Wolves-Everton, Manchester City-Wigan), and the teams on the right side of the mismatches are the ones to key in on when selecting your squad.
Without further adieu, this week's picks
CAPTAIN OF THE WEEK
Mikel Arteta, Everton, £8.4
The Spanish midfielder has been as hot as can be over his last four games, showing that he is not only healthy, but downright lethal.
His streak of four man-of-the-match performances is on the line when the Toffees travel to Molineux Stadium to face Wolverhampton, and there's no reason to think he can't keep up his current form.
With either a goal or an assist in four of his last six games, Arteta has been a fantasy difference maker for those who picked him up as he came back from injury. He has double-digit fantasy performances in three of his last four matches and is still owned by only 4.6 percent of managers.
He has taken control of Everton's set pieces as well, creating offense both in the run of play and in restart situations. Arteta commands the captaincy with another favorable matchup this week.
Other candidates: Manchester City's Carlos Tevez (vs. Wigan), Liverpool's Fernando Torres (vs. Sunderland), Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (at Birmingham), Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba (vs. Aston Villa).
BEST TRANSFER BUYS (owned by less than 10 percent of managers)
Tim Howard, Everton, £5.6 (3.1 percent owned)
He won't come cheaply, but the American No. 1 has two straight clean sheets and a great matchup this week with Wolves. As long as the minor injury he suffered on Wednesday doesn't prevent him from playing this weekend, he should be a safe choice.
Glen Johnson, Liverpool, £7.5 (6.4 percent owned)
Remember how hot Johnson was to start the season? He's recovered from his injury and has a decent matchup at Anfield with Sunderland. An added bonus is his propensity to come forward and get involved in the attack.
Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United, £6.6 (2.3 percent owned)
The English captain is back to full health, playing the full 90 in the last three matches. Granted the Red Devils are on the road, but they face Bolton and have as good a shot as any at securing the clean sheet.
Leighton Baines, Everton, £6.1 (7.8 percent owned)
Everton as a whole is in pretty good form, but Baines has been the best of the bunch on the back line and has a great chance at turning in another staunch performance at Wolves.
Aaron Hughes, Fulham, £4.8 (7.5 percent owned)
Playing against a drop-zone team this late in the year can sometimes be dangerous, but Fulham has already blanked Hull City this season, and with Brede Hangeland's return to the back line the Cottagers have a decent shot at doing it again.
Gareth Barry, Manchester City, £7.4 (8.9 percent owned)
With three assists in his last four games, Barry is getting more involved in facilitating the offense. The Citizens have a home matchup with Wigan and should be able to tally multiple goals while fighting for the league's fourth Champions League spot.
Niko Kranjcar, Tottenham, £6.9 (5.5 percent owned)
Going on the assumption that Spurs will have a field day against Portsmouth, Kranjcar should be a nifty play. He's achieved bonus points in his last two games, and the team is on a roll with four consecutive league victories.
Steven Pienaar, Everton, £6.5 (9.0 percent owned)
Like Arteta, Pienaar is in a groove. He's received two bonus points in the three of the last four games and the two of them are firmly entrenched in the "best midfield tandem" conversation, at least as of late.
Matthew Etherington, Stoke City, £5.4 (7.3 percent owned)
Quietly putting together a marvelous fantasy season, Etherington gets to face West Ham at Upton Park. He has four goals and eight assists on the season and has outscored the likes of Steven Gerrard (fantasy-wise) at a very low cost.
Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United, £9.4 (1.3 percent owned)
With Wayne Rooney potentially missing this weekend's game, Berbatov's role could increase immensely. He had a goal and an assist in his last league game, and although he has vastly underperformed he could salvage his 2009-2010 campaign with a strong finish in Rooney's stead.
Peter Crouch, Tottenham, £7.0 (5.5 percent owned)
With Jermain Defoe out with an injury and Roman Pavlyuchenko not 100 percent, Crouch becomes the top target man for Spurs in their matchup at White Hart Lane against Portsmouth. It could be a feeding frenzy for Tottenham, and Crouch is likely to be at the center of the action.
SLEEPERS (owned by less than 5 percent of managers)
Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham, £4.9 (2.7 percent owned)
A home fixture with Portsmouth is any team's best shot at a clean sheet these days. Gomes has yielded a goal in three straight games, but you've got to play the odds considering the matchup.
Daniel Agger, Liverpool, £6.2 (1.0 percent owned)
Like Glen Johnson, Agger's matchup is favorable and he'll get the starting nod. Rafa Benitez' crew is in dire need of a strong performance to save some face, and I'm thinking they'll get one this weekend.
Gareth Bale, Tottenham, £5.4 (1.8 percent owned)
With at least two bonus points in five of his last eight matches, Bale has been a surprising source of fantasy success. He has been playing in the midfield, too, meaning you can poach clean-sheet points while hoping he gets involved in the offense. He has two assists in his last four matches.
Alex Song, Arsenal, £5.3 (2.5 percent owned)
I've professed my feelings on Song's fantasy value before, but it's worth repeating: Like Bale, he has been lining up in the midfield, so not only does he get the full four clean-sheet points, but he also can contribute offensively. His 14 bonus points are fourth most among defenders.
Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City, £4.9 (1.0 percent owned)
You'll need a clean sheet from the Citizens to make selecting Zabaleta worth your while, but a home fixture with Wigan is just the recipe for that to happen.
Denilson, Arsenal, £6.8 (2.1 percent owned)
With a goal and an assist in his last two games, including earning man-of-the-match honors last time out against West Ham, the Brazilian is playing well and has a good matchup at Birmingham. The Gunners are hot right now, and it's time to take advantage of the run.
Adam Johnson, Manchester City, £6.1 (1.5 percent owned)
Playing time is still an issue, but there's no questioning Johnson's skills or that he belongs on the pitch in City's quest at a Top-4 spot. He has a favorable matchup, and even if he doesn't start he can contribute (i.e. tying goal against Sunderland, Matchweek 30).
Eidur Gudjohnsen, Tottenham, £5.5 (0.2 percent owned)
Injuries to Defoe and Pavlyuchenko not only opened the door Crouch but also for the former Barcelona and Chelsea striker, and he responded with a goal against Stoke City in league play and a goal against Fulham in FA Cup action. He's listed as a midfielder even though he plays up top, so goals are worth an extra fantasy point for him. Gotta love the glitches.
David Dunn, Blackburn, £5.2 (2.4 percent owned)
His man-of-the-match performance against Birmingham upped his goal tally to seven, and he has another good matchup at Burnley.
John Carew, Aston Villa, £7.6 (2.2 percent owned)
With three goals and an assist in his last three games, Carew has stepped up for the Villans in place of the unfit Gabriel Agbonlahor. He doesn't have the best matchup – playing at Stamford Bridge – but Chelsea's defense isn't what it once was, and Carew could sneak one into the net.
David Nugent, Burnley, £5.1 (0.7 percent owned)
Burnley is a much better attacking team at home, and Nugent has two goals in his last four matches. With a matchup against Blackburn that's pretty close to a must-win in order to stave off relegation, Burnley could look to Nugent for a spark.
LAST WEEK'S PICKS
Frank Lampard (18×2=36 points)
KEEP IN MIND: Manchester City and Everton pickups will be popular this week, but they'll also be useful for next week. The Citizens will be at Burnley, and the Toffees will host West Ham.
Soccer By Ives standings (Top 10)
1. AC Vols……………………….1929 pts
2. Maple Gooners……………1885
3. the unholy passion………1885
4. AdiosAde, HolaSlvrwr…..1863
5. Big Apple FC………………..1859
6. The Jackson 4……………..1857
9. Grassington AFC………….1838
10. Sporting Club Delica…..1836
Who will be your captain this week? What is your lineup looking like?
Share your thoughts and questions below.