There are a few big problems with picking players from either of these teams with the first problem being that they play each other in the midweek fixture. Additionally neither team has any truly favorable matchups.
Over the weekend Sunderland face off against Leicester City where a draw would be a positive result for both teams where a single point would be just about enough for either team to be safe, depending on results around them. Arsenal have a difficult away trip to Manchester United with third place on the line for both clubs.
I could very easily see the Sunderland v Leicester match ending a dull 0-0 draw while The Manchester United v Arsenal match should have goals in it.
This leaves the Wednesday fixture of Arsenal v Sunderland which should be a fairly comfortable Arsenal win, however, this does depend on Sunderland getting favorable results over the weekend. If they do not get these matches to go there way the midweek game could become very interesting.
There are many questions to look at for picking players from either club this gameweek beginning with how much to risk? Should FPL managers go all out and pick 3 each from Sunderland and Arsenal? This would be a pretty massive risk, particularly if you have already used your wildcard, but it is one that could reap major benefits.
For myself, I am planning to take this risk, even to the point of taking a hit on points. My reason for doing is that I have already brought in a few Arsenal and Sunderland players in recent weeks and this is my last ditch effort to move up the ranks. If it fails, I will most likely be dropping down the ranks significantly, but I’m willing to take that chance at this point.
Let’s look at some of the options:
David Ospina (£5.0) vs Costel Pantilimon (£4.5)
Pantilimon has been one of the top fantasy goalkeepers this season while Ospina would be up there, but for the fact that he did not begin the year as the starting keeper for Arsenal. For this weekend it’s a tossup as to which to take. It’s probably best to go with Pantilimon and save the cash to spend elsewhere.
Alexis Sanchez (£11.5) is in a world of his own here. He is the third highest fantasy points getter in the official game with 200 points to date. Nobody would blame you for picking him as your captain this weekend. The only problem with Alexis is that he blows hot and cold. In the last seven matches his points tallies have been 2, 2, 13, 3, 3, 15, 2. There’s nothing wrong with picking him as captain, but there could be better options out there (such as Aguero, who seems to have rediscovered his scoring form).
Santi Cazorla (£8.4) vs Aaron Ramsey (£8.8) vs Mesut Ozil (£8.9)
Analyzing these three is difficult to do especially since Ramsey seems to be the only one capable of playing with either of the other two. Ozil and Cazorla generally seem to get in each others way. Over the past three matches Ozil has created 11 chances (3, 3, 5) with only 2 shots on target and his successful takeons are dropping from 5 against Chelsea down to 2 against Hull and 1 versus Swansea.
In these same there matches Cazorla did hardly anything against Chelsea with 1 chance created and 3 successful takeons and 0 shots on target. His big match came against Hull with 1 assist, 2 shots on target, 5 chances created and 2 successful takeons. He was then poor against Swansea City with just 2 shots on target 1 chance created and 2 takeons.
Aaron Ramsey is my pick for this gameweek despite the stats not entirely bearing this out. He did nothing against Chelsea, but against Hull scored a goal, created an assist along with 3 chances and 2 takeons. Against Swansea he had 1 shot on target 4 chances created and 1 successful takeon.
I’m picking Ramsey due to his ability to both create and score goals. Aside from him, Cazorla has the same abilities (particularly being on set piece and penalty duty), but tends to be more of a creator than finisher.
Sebastian Larsson (£5.3) vs Adam Johnson (£5.9)
It’s unfortunate that Jordi Gomez is out because he would be my overwhelming pick for this week. Instead we are left with Larsson and Johnson. Larsson has only played in the last two matches in which he has had 1 shot on target 4 chances created (2 and 2) and 0 takeons. Defensively he did have 3 tackles and an interception against Southampton, but nothing against Everton.
Johnson hasn’t been any better in these same two matches with 2 takeons and one tackle (against Everton).
I would say that money spent on Sunderland players is much better spent elsewhere, better to avoid both of these guys.
Hector Bellerin (£4.8) vs Patrick van Aanholt (£4.1)
Both Bellerin and van Aanholt have been excellent young (and cheap) additions for any fantasy Premier League team. The two fullbacks have done well providing both offensive and defensive points for their respective teams.
Bellerin didn’t have such a great game against Swansea City, but then again, none of the Arsenal defenders did. The win against Hull was much better where he contributed with 1 shot on target and 2 chances created in addition to his 3 interceptions and 1 tackle. Against Chelsea he managed to create 1 chance along with points for a clean sheet, 1 interception and 1 tackle.
Van Aanholt has been a true attacking full back where his job has been to overlap and provide width for Sunderland’s front players. In the last three matches he has created a total of 5 chances along with 6 successful takeons. In addition he has provided 9 interceptions, 6 tackles, and 1 clean sheet. Discipline wise he has been dispossessed 5 times and allowed 2 goals, but has only 4 yellow cards all season.
Olivier Giroud (£8.7) vs Connor Wickham (£5.6) vs Jermain Defoe (£5.0)
Of these two strikers Wickham has been in better form having scored 2 goals in his last four games while you have to go back 5 games for Giroud’s last goal.
In these four games Wickham has put three shots on target with 4 chances created and 6 takeons. However, it does seem that he has been asked to put in much more defensive effort recently. Against Southampton he had made 5 tackles and two interceptions which was followed last week by 2 interceptions.
Giroud has looked better in his last two matches with 2 chances created and 1 takeon against Hull followed by 1 shot on target, 1 cross and 1 takeon. Still, none of this looks outstanding by any means.
Defoe has looked decent in the last matches, nothing special, but enough to get some points. He has had 2 shots on target, 1 chance created, 2 takeons, and 1 goal. In addition he provided 3 interceptions and 2 tackles. He is a goalscoring threat and could make things difficult for Leicester and Arsenal.
Choosing either of these strikers will be something of a risk, but considering Defoe’s price tag he might be the better bet, especially since Aguero is the best striker to have at the moment. It should be noted that Danny Welbeck is not expected to be available this week.
That’s a quick rundown of some of the options for choosing Arsenal and Sunderland players in gameweek 37.
If you are picking 3 from each team here is what I would recommend.
GK: Pantilimon (£4.5)
Def: van Aanholt (£4.1)
Mid: Sanchez (£11.5), Ramsey (£8.8), Cazorla (£8.4)
For: Defoe (£5.0)
That is a total £42.3 leaving you with £57.7 left to spend on the rest of the team. Plenty enough to add the likes of Aguero, Trippier, Morgan, Gerrard, and Henderson, that is, if you are completely revamping your entire squad.
This weekend Chelsea travel to West Brom and Mourinho has already made intimations that he will be resting players and starting a young team. However, he also has commented that the starters will be playing in their final match of the season at home to Hull.
This certainly makes things tricky for gameweek 37. It’s very likely that nearly every starter (including Hazard) will be rested this weekend, but will then return for what could be a scoring fireworks display in gameweek 38.
This might be the time to add Steven Gerrard to your team. His goal last weekend gave him 10 points for gameweek 36 and you know that he will be taking every free kick from here on out to give him every chance to get more goals. With two Premier League matches remaining and Liverpool basically out of the running for fourth place, I’m expecting Rodgers will push Gerrard further forward and give him much more freedom in order to give him more chances at getting goals to end his career in England.