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May 9, 2014

Gameweek 38: Fantasy Preview

Alas, it is the final week of the Premier League season and the end of fantasy competition for 2013-2014. Thanks to all who took part and followed the blog.

All matches for gameweek 38 start at the same time so there are chances to see every announced lineup before the game locks.

Sunday, May 11 Cardiff (7-9-21) vs. Chelsea (24-7-6) The Bluebirds are relegated after just one season in the top division. After deflating the bus tires at Anfield, Chelsea faded badly in a 0-0 stinker at home against Norwich. Leading goal-scorer Eden Hazard is at odds with manager Jose Mourinho and Oscar, John Terry, and Samuel Eto'o are injured, while Frank Lampard is ill. They have only conceded 26 goals in 37 matches.

Fulham (9-4-24) vs. Crystal Palace (13-5-19) After 13 years in the Premier League, the Cottagers fell through the trap door. Fulham have conceded 83 goals and more will fill their nets on Sunday. Crystal Palace on the strength of Dwight Gayle's second half brace against Liverpool will be out to put an exclamation mark on manager Tony Pulis' impressive reclamation project. They have won their last three road games.

Hull (10-7-20) vs. Everton (20-9-8) Hull bottomed out at the end while avoiding relegation and are thinking more about their FA Cup final. Everton will be in Europa League play next season, but went limp in their last two matches.

Liverpool (25-6-6) vs. Newcastle (15-4-18) This had the makings of a meaningful slaughter until the Reds blew a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace. A Champions League spot is assured, but barring something freakier than Sunderland's escape, Liverpool will know that they blew the league title. Luis Suarez got his 31st goal and Daniel Sturridge ended a six-game goalless drought. Even with title hopes shattered, expect the Reds to do a number on their opponent with Jordan Henderson back from suspension. The Magpies stopped a six-game rot with a 3-0 drubbing of Cardiff, Loic Remy got his 14th goal of the season.

Manchester City (26-5-6) vs. West Ham (11-7-19) City need only a draw for the title. A second half resurgence Wednesday brought two goals from Edin Dzeko and he now has five goals in his last three matches. Yaya Toure got his 20th of the season and tops fantasy scorers with 254 points. Sergio Aguero is available. West Ham put Spurs to sleep on Saturday and got a believe-it-or-not world-class free kick goal from Stuart Downing against Tottenham after the Spurs' wall wimped out.

Norwich (8-9-20) vs. Arsenal (23-7-7) The Canaries are almost certain to leave the Premier League but hope for a last hurrah upset in front of the home supporters against an opponent thinking about Wembley. Arsenal, secure in fourth and their focus on the FA Cup Final, expect to have Aaron Ramsey back from injury and possibly Jack Wilshere.

Southampton (15-10-12) vs. Manchester United (19-6-12) The Saints' tidy season has eighth place guaranteed. James Wilson's dream debut featured a brace but look for Robin van Persie to start. Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, and Jonny Evans are out injured and Juan Mata mysteriously did not make the team sheet, so it is anyone's guess who starts in Ryan Giggs' final game as interim manager.

Sunderland (10-8-19) vs. Swansea (10-9-18) The "Wonderland" Black Cats will be all smiles for their giddy fans after they pulled off their miracle relegation escape act and could conceivably finish in 12th place. Connor Wickham, Fabio Borini, and Sebastian Larsson have all had big recent fantasy weeks and the team has won four straight. Swansea have given interim boss Garry Monk a three-year contract. Wilfried Bony has 15 goals.

Tottenham (20-6-11) vs. Aston Villa (10-8-19) Spurs were as bad as they come in their road surrender at West Ham and need a point to guarantee Europa League play. Younes Kaboul is suspended. Aston Villa clogged things up for as long as they could against Manchester City, but seem clueless in getting the ball in their opponents' net.

WBA (7-15-15) vs. Stoke (12-11-14) The Baggies have been more like the Saggies, finishing the season with their heads barely above water. Stoke are a confident side looking to finish in the top ten and will get Ryan Shawcross back from suspension.

Recommended fantasy captains: Suarez, Sturridge, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Olivier Giroud, and Ramsey.