Welcome to Week 24 of my player picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Premier League game. The first thing to note this week is that we enter the 3rd Round of The 2015 Rotoworld Cup, where 750 team from the remaining 1000 will go through to the 4th round and 250 teams will be knocked out. If you're not sure whether you're still in the competition then you can check the 2nd round results here.
Week 23 could have been an excellent one for AM FC but for two terrible Friday night decisions. I was so confident that Southampton would beat Swansea to nil that I decided to sell Thibaut Courtois to bring in Fraser Forster. The only issue here was finding the extra £2million to fund the move, but this problem was quickly solved when an Arsenal-supporting work colleague revealed that Calum Chambers was likely to replace Hector Bellerin against Aston Villa. I therefore sold Bellerin for certain starter Philipp Wollscheid to cover the “likely” Stoke clean sheet against QPR. Those two changes caused a negative 30 point swing to leave me on a terrible 75 points for the week and, looking at other team’s scores, I can safely assume I'm now miles away from my season target of a top 500 finish.
Can anyone top that disastrous Friday trading tale with one of their own? If so I'd love to hear the details in the comments section at the bottom of this column …
Week 24 Fixtures
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Burnley v West Brom
Everton v Liverpool
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Man City v Hull City
Newcastle v Stoke
QPR v Southampton
Swansea v Sunderland
Tottenham v Arsenal
West Ham v Man Utd
We've got some potentially cracking match-ups this weekend, with a North London derby between 6th placed Tottenham and 5th placed Arsenal, a Merseyside derby as Liverpool travel to Everton and an intriguing clash between West Ham and Manchester United. However, while the derbies could throw up some goals (making attacking discounts worth keeping) none of these game should be your main focus when selecting your Week 24 fantasy side.
Instead you'll want to home in on players from the teams who have a clear advantage over their opponents, namely Manchester City hosting struggling Hull City, Chelsea travelling to goal-shy Aston Villa and Southampton for their trip to manager-less Queens Park Rangers. All three of these matches should end in comfortable victories for the sides in bold, so a player or two from each would seem a sensible starting point.
The remaining matches - Burnley v West Brom, Leicester v Crystal Palace, Newcastle v Stoke and Swansea v Sunderland look like low scoring affairs on paper, so defensive players may be of interest, but the majority of attackers are best avoided unless you've got a hunch for a goal-scorer.
With that in mind please click over to the next page to view my Week 24 player recommendations.
Joe Hart - Manchester City's goalkeeper, at home to struggling Hull City, available in Yahoo fantasy for less than £8million - what's not to like?
Thibaut Courtois - Chelsea's goalkeeper away to 11-goal Aston Villa, for a shade over £7million .... you get the picture. Hart is the slightly preferable option due to City being at home, but you could pretty much flip a coin to decide between the two.
Fraser Forster - An alternative to the duo above is the man who let me down last weekend, but I personally expect Southampton to bounce back against 'Arry-less QPR, and the -5 last week makes Forster affordable.
Tom Heaton - The bargain GK option of the week, as detailed by Steve in this week's Bargain Hunter column.
Aleksandar Kolarov - Call this one a hunch. Kolarov has had limited opportunities to impress this season but a home match verses Hull is one Manuel Pellegrini is likely to give him over Gael Clichy. Attacking runs down the left flank, crosses, shots, corners and free kicks should all be on the menu.
Branislav Ivanovic - If you want a guaranteed starter in the Chelsea defence to cover the likely clean sheet against Aston Villa then look no further than Ivanovic. Solid at the back and a threat at set pieces, the Serbian is due a goal.
Kieran Trippier - One of my biggest regrets for the season is hopping off the Trippier bandwagon back in Week 16 (I can't even remember why the decision was made). The Burnley man is now the top scoring defender in the Yahoo fantasy game and showing no signs of slowing down.
Patrick van Aanholt - Heavily backed in this column for the first few months of the season until that shoulder injury, PvA has returned with scores of 10 points, 6 points and 20 points over the past three weeks. The left-back is fast approaching “fixture-proof” status.
Aaron Cresswell - Super consistent all season and still affordable. West Ham face a tricky match at home to Manchester United but it will be interesting to see the left-back up against right wing-back Antonio Valencia. It's a battle Cresswell is good enough to win.
Vincent Kompany - Once again Steve and myself are on the same page regarding the value offered by Kompany. Check out the reasons here.
Maya Yoshida - An extremely cheap way in to the Southampton defence for the away match QPR, with Yoshida costing less than £4million. Matt Targett is another sub-£4million option, covering for the suspended Ryan Bertrand.
Kurt Zouma - More of a risk than Ivanovic as there is the possibility of a recall for recently out of favour Gary Cahill, but Zouma hasn't put a foot wrong so it would be a surprise to see the young man relegated to the bench. Another absolute steal at less than £4million if team news confirms another start.
Eden Hazard - Expensive, but worth the investment. Extra responsibility will be placed on Hazard in the absence of Diego Costa and after a tough match against City the Belgian should be able to spread his wings against Villa. Penalty duty adds to the attraction.
David Silva - It's been a strange fantasy season for Silva, in that he's undoing a lot of his good work by conceding silly fouls and picking up yellow cards, In fact, on two occasions he's ended games on just five points despite scoring a goal, which is just plain silly. However, City should have the majority of the play in attacking areas against Hull and I'm tipping the little Spaniard to find those pockets of space to create double digit fantasy returns.
Raheem Sterling - Three goals in four games suggests the mini winter break has done Sterling the world of good and his pace is certain to trouble the likes of Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry in the Merseyside derby.
Southampton Attacking Mid - A Saints attacker is certainly worth considering for the trip to QPR. However, at this point in time it's very difficult to predict who starts and who gets benched when Ronald Koeman has Eljero Elia, Dusan Tadic, the returning Sadio Mane and new signing Filip Djuricic to choose from. My gut is telling me Elia is the safest bet, but it should become clearer after Friday's press conference.
Remy Cabella - After a slow start under Alan Pardew we're starting to see some real improvement from Cabella under John Carver and the Frenchman is by far the best attacking option from the Newcastle v Stoke fixture.
Jesus Navas - If you don't fancy Silva this week then you could go with Navas instead, with the winger producing better "phantom" fantasy points in comparison to his team mate in recent weeks.
Santi Cazorla - I certainly can't recommend bringing Cazorla in for the North London derby given his current price but if you own him around the £16million mark then he's worth the hold given Arsenal's upcoming schedule.
Christian Eriksen - Again, a decent discount on Eriksen should be kept, but if you're buying new then that £16million is better spent on Hazard this week.
George Boyd - After a good run of form, Burnley have now lost two in a row and will know they must go for the win at home to fellow strugglers West Brom. Boyd is the midfield man to go for if you feel they can be successful in their quest.
Theo Walcott - Walcott has a terrific record against Tottenham over the years and - with Alexis Sanchez out - he's the Arsenal player I'm most concerned about ahead of the North London derby. Theo offers frightening pace and a goal threat for less than £8million.
Juan Cuadrado - Added to the Yahoo game this week at just £5million and a possible starter at Villa Park with Cesc Fabregas still a doubt and Willian struggling with an unspecified muscle injury. We'll clarify the situation in Friday's team news column.
Sergio Aguero - There's no denying that Aguero has looked off the pace since returning from injury but eventually there is going to be a "break out" match. Do you dare go without him with Hull visiting the Etihad? It's not a risk I'm willing to take.
Loic Remy - We got it wrong last weekend when predicting Didier Drogba would start against Manchester City. Remy was given a rare chance, scored and played well in general, so deserves to continue to lead the line against Villa. A bargain at just £8.34million.
Olivier Giroud - As mentioned, Arsene Wenger has ruled Alexis Sanchez out of the North London derby, so Giroud is the striking option if you fancy a Gunners victory. Like Walcott, the Frenchman has a great goalscoring record against Spurs and has been in fine form.
Daniel Sturridge - Two weeks of full training and two cameos from the bench should have Sturridge in shape to start the Merseyside derby, and the striker has already shown his finishing ability is as deadly as ever with that goal against West Ham,
Harry Kane - The last time Spurs faced a difficult London derby at White Hart Lane Kane put in a two goal, two assist, man of the match performance. Like Eriksen and Cazorla he's perhaps too expensive to consider at full price, but keep that discount if you have it.
Jermain Defoe - One thing on this earth is certain - if you feed Defoe chances, he will score goals. The ex-England forward opened his Sunderland account against Burnley and will be looking to add to it as the Black Cats travel to Swansea.
Danny Ings - Burnley's talisman has had a couple of poor weeks as transfer speculation swirled around him but the closing of the window on Monday should bring Ings back to full focus. Expect to see him back on the score-sheet against West Brom.
Diafra Sakho - An alternative option if you're looking to do something a bit different. Sam Allardyce wasn't able to play Sakho against Liverpool in Week 23 due to the controversy with Senegal, but that's now been settled by a fine and the striker will be back to spearhead the Hammers attack against Manchester United.
So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 24 Yahoo team. Please make sure you check back here on Friday for Ben Dinnery's team and injury news column, where he'll run through all the squads ahead of Saturday's deadline.
My own team page currently looks like this ...
XI: Courtois, Kelly, Cresswell, Kompany, Fabregas, Elia, Silva, Walcott, Hazard, Sturridge, Aguero
Subs: Okore, Blackett, Sanchez, Robles
It's unfinished and unbalanced at the moment so expect changes between now and the deadline with Hart, Zouma, Kolarov, Cabella, Sterling, Mane, Defoe and Remy all under serious consideration. Feel free to follow me on @nikarg and I'll tweet my updated line-up out on Friday night / Saturday morning.
How's your Week 24 team looking?