Fantasy Football Preview: Gameweek 31

After the thin gruel of the international window, the Premier League returns with a feast of exciting matches this weekend, although rotation and suspension make picking the right players tricky business.

Fixtures Analysis: With their FA Cup replay coming on Monday, both Manchester United and Chelsea will likely rotate players in their matches against Sunderland and Southampton respectively, but it still will be worth selecting a couple of their players. Arsenal's match against Reading gives the Gunners a perfect opportunity to extend their recent fine form, whilst Wigan's now traditional end of season charge might see them do well at home to Norwich. Liverpool travel to Aston Villa aiming for revenge after their loss to Paul Lambert's team at Anfield earlier this season, whilst Everton will have to beat Stoke without Pienaar and Fellaini, making picking players from their team a little harder than normal.

Transfers In: Several big guns will probably be rested for Manchester United's trip to Sunderland, which could give the likes of Javier Hernandez (6.6) and Shinji Kagawa (7.9) to chance to shine. Keep a close eye on Alex Ferguson's press conferences before making any transfers, although the Scot is not in the habit of giving too much away.

There will be similar issues in picking Chelsea players, but in this case keeping faith with the in form Eden Hazard (9.4) and Juan Mata (9.8) is a fair gamble, as both only need a couple of minutes on the pitch to create or score a goal.

Arsenal will be completely focussed on the league match, and their upturn in gives plenty of options in defence and going forward. Without Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla (9.4) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.9) look like the men to have in midfield, with Olivier Giroud (7.5) an option in attack. Carl Jenkinson (4.0) has been excellent in recent matches, and should keep his place ahead of Bacary Sagna.

From Wigan, Arouna Kone (6.5) stands out as the best forward to pick, and Shaun Maloney (4.9) is a fine bargain considering his dead ball duties. Emerson Boyce (4.7) is also good value, as he carries plenty of attacking threat in Wigan's current system.

Everton will be without Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini for their next two games, making Leon Osman (6.4) perhaps the best man to have from their midfield. Victor Anichebe (4.3) is a ridiculous price, and should also be considered, and Leighton Baines (7.6) could pick up points at both ends against Stoke.

Liverpool are a hard team to predict, but should at least grab a couple of goals against the leaky Aston Villa defence, Luis Suarez (11.2) and Daniel Sturridge (7.4) are both fine choices in a week where there is little certainty over which players will get 90 minutes.

Captain Choice: With so much uncertainty over who will play this weekend, the safest place to go with the armband is the Emirates, where Santi Cazorla will be hoping to replicate the hat trick he netted against Reading early in the season.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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