By AVI CREDITOR
We've finally reached the end.
After a long, grueling season, there's still prizes to be won, which makes the final week of the Premier League season a fantasy-friendly one.
Chelsea and Manchester United each have favorable home matchups in their respective quests to win the league title. Arsenal, a team trying to hold on to third place, hosts a Fulham team that could care less about the Premier League season as it focuses on the Europa League final. Tottenham, guaranteed a Champions League berth for the first time ever, could finish as high as third with a win at Burnley and an Arsenal slip-up. You get the point: The big hitters all have something to play for against beatable competition on the last day of the season.
Here are the final picks of the 2009-2010 Barclay's Premier League campaign:
CAPTAIN OF THE WEEK
Frank Lampard, Chelsea, £13.5
The Blues expect a coronation ceremony after their home tilt with Wigan Athletic, and if they get one, Lampard will likely be the reason why.
The English international is enjoying perhaps his finest season at Stamford Bridge, and he'll be able to put a stamp on it with a vintage performance to clinch the title.
With 21 goals, 15 assists and 11 double-digit fantasy outputs, Lampard is by far the fantasy game's leading scorer (268 points – next closest is teammate Didier Drogba at 226). His penalty-taking proficiency is another weapon that makes him fantasy gold, and he's been at the top of his game the last few weeks as Chelsea has zoned in on the Premiership crown. Lampard has been a regular in this space, and it's fitting that the best player on the top team gets the final armband of the season.
Other candidates: Chelsea's Drogba; Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (vs. Stoke City); Everton's Mikel Arteta (vs. Portsmouth); Arsenal's Robin van Persie (vs. Fulham); Tottenham's Gareth Bale (at Burnley); Manchester City's Carlos Tevez (at West Ham); Liverpool's Steven Gerard (at Hull City).
BEST TRANSFER BUYS (owned by less than 10 percent of managers)
Tim Howard, Everton, £5.6 (3.4 percent owned)
In Howard's final competitive match before this month's friendlies, the American gets to face last-place Portsmouth at Goodison Park. Aruna Dindane has caused some problems for the opposition, but he's struggling with an injury, and the Toffees should be up to the challenge anyway.
Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United, £7.8 (5.3 percent owned)
Yes, he's pricey, but you would expect that the clean-sheet return is nearly a certainty given the importance, location and opponent of United's season finale.
Ashley Cole, Chelsea, £7.2 (8.0 percent owned)
The price-tag has probably scared away most owners from picking up Chelsea's fullback, but if you invest heavily in a strong defense, then Cole belongs in your squad. The Blues have recorded back-to-back clean sheets since his return from an ankle injury, and they've got a great shot at making it three in a row against Wigan.
Stephen Warnock, Aston Villa, £4.9 (4.1 percent owned)
Considering that Warnock is the least popular of Aston Villa's four dependable fantasy options in the back, he's got a shot to make a difference in your table, assuming that Villa blanks Blackburn at home.
Michael Dawson, Tottenham, £5.3 (5.7 percent owned)
Do you see Burnley scoring on Tottenham, even if the match is at Turf Moor? Less probable things have happened, but I'd take my chances on a Spurs team that's feeling pretty good about itself after its midweek triumph over Manchester City.
Andrey Arshavin, Arsenal, £10.1 (8.0 percent owned)
The Russian's health is no longer an issue, and he should be able to have plenty of chances to salvage a disappointing, injury-plagued season with a strong finale against Fulham. He costs plenty, but if you are seeking a less-popular option to try and make up some ground, Arshavin could be a difference-maker.
Tim Cahill, Everton, £8.3 (8.1 percent owned)
The Aussie has become a fixture in these selections and for good reason – he's had either a goal or an assist in five of his last seven games, and his return to the lineup has coincided with Everton's top form. After Cahill returned from missing three matches, the Toffees have gone unbeaten in nine games.
Nani, Manchester United, £6.7 (7.0 percent owned)
Few wingers are in better form than Nani, who has almost single-handedly kept the Red Devils in the title chase with his last two performances. Stoke's midfield has been put on notice.
Adam Johnson, Manchester City, £6.3 (4.6 percent owned)
The Citizens are out of the Champions League picture, but Johnson still has something to play for – a spot on England's World Cup roster. He may be a longshot, but with the way he's played since he transferred to Manchester it wouldn't come as a complete surprise to see Fabio Capello give him a chance. Sunday's matchup with West Ham is in his favor.
Peter Crouch, Tottenham, £6.9 (5.8 percent owned)
The Champions League-clinching hero has cemented his place in Tottenham lore already. He can cement a spot in your personal lore by guiding Spurs to a last-week win with a strong performance at Burnley.
Louis Saha, Everton, £6.8 (5.1 percent owned)
It's been quite a while since Saha found the back of the net (10 matches to be exact), but facing Portsmouth's defense can be the elixir for said scoring problem. He notched the Toffee's only goal in a 1-0 victory over Pompey earlier this season.
SLEEPERS (owned by less than 5 percent of managers)
Edwin Van der Sar, Manchester United, £6.3 (2.8 percent owned)
Yeah, so calling Van der Sar a sleeper is a stretch. Sue me. He's hardly owned, so if you've got money left in the bank and need a keeper, he's your man. United shouldn't have any problem handling Stoke City at Old Trafford in a meaningful match for the Red Devils.
Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea, £5.8 (4.1 percent owned)
A cheaper option to Cole and John Terry, Ivanovic can provide the same fantasy impact with a Chelsea clean sheet.
Jonny Evans, Manchester United, £4.8 (1.3 percent owned)
Dusting off the old school SAT analogies: Evans is to Vidic as Ivanovic is to Cole – a less expensive option with a similar fantasy output given the favorable matchup.
Sylvain Distin, Everton, £4.8 (4.2 percent owned)
Distin gave a strong performance in Everton's scoreless draw with Stoke last week, and he could easily be in line for another clean sheet at home against Portsmouth.
Ronald Zubar, Wolves, £3.8 (2.4 percent owned)
If you need to stretch your budget to make room for a big signing, then look no further for the dirt-cheap, potentially effective Zubar. Sunderland has trouble scoring on the road, and it would not surprise to see Wolves finish off the season with a shutout.
Theo Walcott, Arsenal, £7.7 (1.5 percent owned)
Last chance to impress before World Cup roster selection for ambitious, young winger.
Salomon Kalou, Chelsea, £7.4 (0.6 percent owned)
Digging deep into the midfielder player pool you can uncover a potential big-game player in Kalou. His hat trick against Stoke just confirmed his nose for the goal, and when given the minutes the Ivorian can really light up the scoreboard.
Alberto Aquilani, Liverpool, £7.2 (0.4 percent owned)
There are plenty of more reliable midfield options, but Aquilani's minutes are up, as is his productivity. If you've got nothing left to play for, you might as well give him a try. Heck, that's what Rafa Benitez did.
Matthew Taylor, Bolton, £6.1 (3.1 percent owned)
A home match against Birmingham provides Taylor with the chance to cap off his season on a high note.
John Carew, Aston Villa, £7.5 (2.6 percent owned)
The Villans are still in a fight for table position, as they can finish as high as fifth and as low as seventh. Turning to Carew, their in-form striker, wouldn't be a bad move if you're looking for a sly play.
Kevin Doyle, Wolves, £5.4 (2.5 percent owned)
Doyle's eight goals and strong play up top are big reasons why Wolves is clear of the drop zone. He scored against Sunderland earlier this season and could put a nice bow on his campaign with another tally.
LAST WEEK'S PICKS
Tevez (11X2=22 points)
Soccer By Ives standings (Top 10)
1. AC Vols………………………………..2312
2. Preening Narcissists…………..2304
4. The Jackson 4…………………….2270
5. Tick Tick Boom!…………………..2260
6. aston villains……………………….2260
7. the unholy passion……………..2257
8. Big Apple FC……………………….2255
9. Maple XI………………………………2254
10. Hub Tiger fc………………………2243
Who are you counting on to help you climb to the top of the table? Who's your biggest sleeper pick? Who will you pick to be your captain this week?
Share your thoughts and questions below.